Safety and security

Crime

Keep a photocopy of your passport, Indian visa and flight ticket separately from the originals when travelling. Leave copies at home where others can access them, and also store them electronically so you can access them easily. If your passport is lost or stolen, notify the police immediately and obtain a police report.

Sexual assault

Attitudes towards women vary across India but in general, women travellers should exercise caution when travelling in India even if travelling in a group. There has been an increase in reports of sexual assault against women and young girls, including recent sexual attacks against foreign female visitors in tourist areas and cities. Women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men. Serious sexual attacks involving both Indian and foreign nationals have been reported. British women have been the victims of sexual assault, including rape, in Goa, Delhi, Rajasthan, Mumbai and Kerala. While travelling in India you should respect local dress codes and customs and avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day. See these travel tips for women travellers.

If you’re the victim of a sex crime, see information for British nationals affected by rape or sexual assault abroad.

Taxis and public transport

Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially late at night. If you have to use a taxi, get one from hotel taxi ranks. Exercise caution when using unofficial transport at airports as there have been instances of British tourists becoming the victims of a scam by taxi drivers and others who offer cheap transportation and/or hotels, unwanted tours and extended taxi rides. Travellers who accept these offers have reported being threatened with violence when they have declined to pay. Official pre-paid taxi services are available from inside all terminal buildings and many hotels offer airport transfer facilities. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Ola are also widely available in India.

Try to avoid hailing taxis on the street. If you’re being collected at the airport by a hotel driver make sure they have properly identified themselves before you set off. If you book a taxi online, there’s a facility whereby you can let your friends/families know the details of your journey in case of an emergency. You can send your details to pre-selected contacts who can then pinpoint your exact location. If you’re the victim of abuse call 100 for police assistance or 1091 or 1096 if you’re the victim of sexual harassment.

Be particularly careful with your luggage when travelling by buses and trains, and keep your handbags safe in large crowds.

Scams

Be wary of confidence tricksters, particularly in Agra and Jaipur, who promise large amounts of cash for delivery of jewellery abroad in return for an initial deposit. The jewellery is worthless and the deposit, often amounting to thousands of pounds, is lost.

Local travel

The Indian authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus. See coronavirus

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh

The FCDO advise against all travel to Jammu and Kashmir with the exception of (i) travel within the city Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, (iii) travel within the Union Territory of Ladakh. The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCDO advise against all travel.

There have been a number of terrorist attacks against army bases and other targets in Jammu and Kashmir. The last large scale attack in Kashmir took place on 14 February 2019 targeting Indian security forces on the highway between Jammu and Srinagar, with many killed and injured.

There have previously been violent protests and operations by security forces in the Kashmir Valley, which resulted in a number of deaths and serious casualties. There is a heavy security presence; curfews and other restrictions can be imposed and lifted frequently and quickly. You should remain vigilant, monitor local media and follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company.

Foreigners remain vulnerable in rural districts and outside the main population centres and tourist areas. There is a risk of unpredictable violence, including bombings, grenade attacks, shootings and kidnapping. The long-standing policy of the British government is not to make substantive concessions to hostage takers. The level of consular assistance that the British High Commission can provide in Jammu & Kashmir is severely limited.

Other northern states

The FCDO advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan other than travel across the international border at Wagah.

Never trek alone. Trekkers should travel in groups and engage local guides. Use a reputable agency and stay on established routes. Leave a message at your accommodation about where you’re going and when you expect to return. It is extremely unlikely to get any phone signal in the mountains so please register your whereabouts using the online C form. The following hazards exist throughout the year, especially above 3000m: sudden weather changes, avalanches and snow drifts, landslides, flooding, rock falls and thunderstorms. For the more intrepid climbs you will need special permits.

It is illegal to possess and operate satellite phones in India, and British nationals have been arrested for bringing satellite phones into the country without prior permission from the Indian authorities.

There are no commercial mountain rescue services operating above 3,000 metres. In some border areas only the Indian Air Force is permitted to carry out air rescues. However, they are under no obligation to perform air rescues; have limited resources to do so and can only get clearance to carry out rescues during working hours. Make sure your insurance policy covers you for altitudes over 2,400 metres and mountain rescue and helicopter costs.

North-east India

The FCDO advise against all but essential travel to the state of Manipur except the state capital Imphal and the Meiti Valley areas, which include Loktak Lake, Keibul Lamjao National Park and the Imphal War Cemetery. If you plan to travel to Imphal and the surrounding Meiti Valley areas then do so only by air after checking the latest security conditions. There is a risk of terrorism and organised crime in Manipur, especially in rural areas. Although foreigners have not been targeted, attacks can be indiscriminate.

Violent clashes along the disputed border between Assam and Mizoram led to loss of life in July 2021. Violent communal and political clashes have also been reported in Tripura in October-November 2021 . A number of civilians were killed by security forces in Nagaland near the Myanmar border in December 2021. There have been skirmishes on the India-Bangladesh border. Travellers are advised to check with local authorities before visiting these areas.

Protests and large gatherings are common in India’s north-eastern states. They can happen without warning and occasionally result in disorder. You should avoid them and leave the scene as soon as possible if a crowd develops. Review your security arrangements carefully and follow the advice of the local authorities.

Indian government permits are needed for travel to Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You should apply well in advance (at least 3 months). In India, you should apply at the liaison office of the state for which you need a permit or the Foreigners Regional Registration Office. Permits for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands can be issued on arrival in Port Blair but this is not the case for the other states. Permit regulations can change at any time. Contact the relevant state liaison office or the Indian Bureau of Immigration for the latest guidance.

British nationals traveling to Manipur and Nagaland are advised to check guidelines issued by local authorities as traffic along National Highway 2 connecting the two states may be disrupted due to an indefinite blockade in the border areas.

East India

Maoist (or Naxalite) insurgents specifically target police officers, paramilitary forces and government officials, causing several deaths and injuries in 2019. The government of India has identified25 districts as worst affected - 21 of these are in East India. If you plan to travel to rural areas of Gaya, Jamui or Lakhisarai (Bihar); Bastar, Bijapur, Dantewada, Kanker, , Narayanpur, Rajnandgaon , Sukma (Chhattisgarh); , Chatra, Giridih, Gumla, Khunti, Latehar, Lohardaga, West Singhbhum, Saraikela-Kharaswan (Jharkhand); or to Kandhamal, Kalahandi or Malkangiri (Odisha), you should seek the advice of the local authorities beforehand.

There is a risk of violent crime in the rural areas of Bihar and Jharkhand. There are certain security guidelines that need to be adhered to by foreign tourists and researchers during their visits to tribal areas in Odisha. Check the advice of the local authorities if you plan to visit these rural areas.

Western region

The FCDO advise against all travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, except for travel across the international border at Wagah.

The India/Pakistan border in Gujarat and Rajasthan is unmarked in some areas. Approaching it away from an official crossing point could be dangerous and where unmarked could lead to you straying into Pakistan illegally.

Goa

The vast majority of British nationals visiting Goa do so without any problems. However, there have been a few serious incidents involving British nationals. Eight serious sexual assaults occurred between October 2017 and December 2019. In March 2017, a young female traveller was murdered.

If you’re a solo female traveller, you should exercise caution around people you do not know well or may have just met, including other foreigners. If you’re travelling in a group, stick together and look out for each other. Check these travel tips for women travellers.

Take particular care of your bags, purses and other personal belongings; there have been instances of bags, mobile phones, jewellery and other valuables being snatched by people riding past beton bikes. Avoid unlit and remote areas after dark. Keep your passport and other valuables safe. You should observe and respect local dress and customs.

Do not leave your drinks unattended. There have been reports of drinks, and sometimes food, being spiked and travellers, including British nationals, subsequently being robbed or assaulted. From January 2020, it is an offence to consume alcohol in public places.

You should follow warnings posted at beaches and instructions issued by lifeguards. Every year several people drown due to the strong currents in the sea. Emergency service standards may differ from those in the UK.

Road traffic accidents are common and many fatal accidents occur each year. Wear a good quality helmet if renting a motorcycle or scooter.

Possession or consumption of drugs is illegal. If arrested, you may be incarcerated for several years whilst your case comes to trial, and a conviction for either offence may lead to a very long prison sentence.

Road travel

Car and motorbike accidents are one of the biggest causes of injury and death overseas. Several British nationals die each year on Indian roads. If possible, avoid travelling at night. Always travel in a well-maintained vehicle with seatbelts. If you travel by motorbike, wear a helmet and proper footwear.

Sea travel

Tourist boats and other small crafts rarely carry life-saving equipment.

Although piracy has not so far affected India’s territorial waters, it poses a significant threat in parts of the Indian Ocean, especially for shipping/mariners that do not take appropriate precautions or follow agreed shipping industry best practice guidelines. Mariners should be vigilant.

Ships and their crew must have the necessary authorisation and paperwork before entering Indian territorial waters. They must abide by Indian laws and regulations as long as they are in those waters. If carrying weapons on board ships in Indian territorial waters Indian laws and regulations must be followed.

Swimming

There are strong currents off many coasts. Most beaches do not have warning signs, flags or life-saving equipment. Drownings are common.

Air travel

The Indian authorities have introduced new measures in relation to coronavirus (COVID-19). See Coronavirus

Additional security measures have been implemented at airports across the country. If you’re travelling through an airport you should allow additional time to complete check-in and security as you and your baggage may be needed to undergo random x-rays and baggage checks. You should allow sufficient time for transiting between flights if you need to change from international terminals to domestic terminals, even if you’re using the airport shuttle service.

There are specific rules around tourists flying on charter flights booked through a tour operator. Passengers can only fly into and out of the country by using the services of same charter operator, and are not permitted to fly on inward or outward journeys using a scheduled airline. If you have booked a package holiday to India and later find you need to amend your flights, you should contact your tour operator.

Rail travel

Do not accept food or drinks from strangers. There have been reports of travellers being drugged and robbed on trains often on overnight journeys. Take particular care of your passport and valuables when boarding and while on the train. Avoid individuals at railway stations offering tickets and tours.

Political situation

Strikes or “bandh”, political rallies and demonstrations occur frequently throughout the country and can turn violent, particularly around elections or in the wake of the death of party or government leaders. Protests may also occur at short notice especially around national days of importance. Transport and public services may be disrupted at short notice. You should avoid protests or large gatherings, follow the advice of the local authorities and your travel company, monitor local media and follow any curfew restrictions that may be in place.