Laws for Foreign Tourists in India – Travel Tips
Read about Laws for Foreign Tourists in India here. Foreign nationals visiting India for tourism or other purposes are advised to follow the local Indian laws. Even an inadvertent law-breaking activity can result in legal repercussions – an unnecessary hassle in a foreign land. While most laws are universal with simply term lengths and fines varying, some laws are specific to the nation.
- Each of India’s states has independent regulations concerning alcohol purchase and consumption. Legal drinking ages range from 18 to 25 and can vary by beverage type. Some states permit alcohol use for medicinal purposes only, others require you to hold a permit to buy, transport or consume alcohol. Penalties for violation can be harsh, so travellers are advised to check with Indian authorities in the states they plan to visit.
- Possession or transportation of Drugs is illegal across India, though in some places drug abuse is rampant. Even if you see others using drugs, do not follow suit as there have been cases of sting operations targeting foreigners.
- Also, be in control of your luggage at all times and avoid befriending strangers or accepting requests of transporting packages from even friends you seem to know well unless and until you know the package’s content and it has been packed in front of you. In 2013, several U.S. citizens were arrested at Indian and international airports for attempting to smuggle illegal drugs from India. All claimed that they did not realize they were carrying drugs.
- Foreign nationals planning to engage in religious proselytizing are required to have a “missionary” visa under Indian law. Certain activities, even speaking at religious meetings to which the public is invited, may violate immigration law if the traveller does not hold a missionary visa.
- Foreign Nationals engaging in missionary activity on tourist visas 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.
- 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 members of other faiths to enter all or parts of the facilities. Many places of worship also require the removal of shoes, the covering of the head and/or have other specific requirements for appropriate attire.
- Before travelling to or from India, you are urged to check the Indian Customs Rules for the list of prohibited, restricted and dutiable goods. 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.
- 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.