Special Travel Circumstances in India

Dual nationality: India does not permit its citizens to hold dual nationality. In 2006, India launched the "Overseas Citizens of India" (OCI) program, which has often been mischaracterized as a dual nationality program. It does not grant Indian citizenship. If you are a U.S. citizen and obtain an OCI card you will not become a citizen of India; you will remain a citizen of the United States. An OCI card is similar to a U.S. "green card" in that a holder can travel to and from India indefinitely, work in India, study in India, and own property in India (except for certain agricultural and plantation properties). An OCI card holder, however, does not receive an Indian passport, cannot vote in Indian elections, and is not eligible for Indian government employment. The OCI program is similar to the Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card introduced by the Indian government several years ago, except that PIO holders must still register with Indian immigration authorities, and PIO cards are not issued for an indefinite period. U.S. citizens of Indian descent can apply for PIO or OCI cards at the Indian Embassy in Washington, or at the Indian Consulates in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Houston. Inside India, U.S. citizens can apply at the nearest FRRO office (please see “Entry/Exit Requirements” section above for more information on the FRRO). U.S. citizens are required to travel on a U.S. passport when traveling in and out of the United States.

Religious activities: If you plan to engage in religious proselytizing, you are required by Indian law to have a "missionary" visa. Immigration authorities have determined that certain activities, including speaking at religious meetings to which the general public is invited, may violate immigration law if the traveler does not hold a missionary visa. Foreigners with tourist visas who engage in missionary activity are subject to deportation and possible criminal prosecution. The states of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh have active “anti-conversion” legislation regulating conversion from one religious faith to another. Arunachal Pradesh currently has an inactive “anti-conversion” law awaiting accompanying regulations needed for enforcement. If you intend to engage in missionary activity, you may wish to seek legal advice to determine whether the activities you intend to pursue are permitted under Indian law.

Tourists should also be mindful of restrictions and observances when planning to visit any religious establishment, whether Hindu temples, mosques, churches, or other locations considered sacred by the local population. Many individual temples and mosques do not permit non-members to enter all or parts of the facilities, and may require the removal of shoes, the covering of the head, or have other specific requirements for appropriate attire.

Customs restrictions: Before traveling to or from India, you are urged to thoroughly inspect all bags and clothing that might inadvertently contain prohibited items. Since January 2010, several U.S. citizens have been arrested or detained when airport security officials discovered loose ammunition and weapons in their luggage. If you are found to have loose ammunition or bullets (including empty bullet shells used in souvenirs) on your person, you could be charged with violation of the Indian Arms Act, incarcerated, and/or deported from India. In addition to firearms and ammunition, Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of such items as, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. Permission from the Government of India is required to bring in restricted items, even if you are only transiting through India. If you do not comply with these regulations, you risk arrest or fine or both and confiscation of these items. If you are charged with any alleged legal violations by Indian law enforcement, have an attorney review any document before you sign it. The Government of India requires the registration of antique items with the local police along with a photograph of the item. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington or one of India's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. More information is available from the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs.

Indian customs authorities encourage the use of an ATA (Admission Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located at the U.S. Council for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United States. For additional information call (212) 354-4480, or email USCIB for details. Please see our Customs Information.

Natural disaster threats: Parts of northern India are highly susceptible to earthquakes. Regions of highest risk, ranked 5 on a scale of 1 to 5, include areas around Srinagar, Himachal Pradesh, Rishikesh and Dehra Dun, the northern parts of Punjab, northwest Gujarat, northern Bihar, and the entire northeast. Ranked 4 (high damage risk) is an area that sweeps along the north through Jammu and Kashmir, Eastern Punjab, Haryana, Northern Uttar Pradesh, central Bihar and the northern parts of West Bengal. New Delhi is located in zone 4. Severe flooding is common in hilly and mountainous areas throughout India. In June 2013, flooding in Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh left thousands of people presumed dead and stranded dozens of U.S. citizens. August 2010 flash flooding and mudslides in Leh killed 300 people and stranded hundreds more for several days.

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You are responsible for ensuring that you meet and comply with foreign entry requirements, health requirements and that you possess the appropriate travel documents. Information provided is subject to change without notice. One should confirm content prior to traveling from other reliable sources. Information published on this website may contain errors. You travel at your own risk and no warranties or guarantees are provided by us.

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