Permits for travel to Northeast India

Travel On The Dollar
May 15, 2009  •  4 min(s) read

Map of Northeast India
Map of Northeast India

Permits are essential for traveling to the northeastern states of Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur in India. Entry without one is a serious matter. Indian citizens need an inner line permit, issued with little fuss at each relevant state’s office in Guwahati, Kolkata or elsewhere. The rest of this section applies to foreigners who’ll require a Restricted Area Permit (RAP).

Indian citizens can pick up Inner Line Permits at the relevant state offices. However, foreigners shouldn’t expect the slightest morsel of permit assistance at these offices.
Arunachal House (Tel: +91 361 2452859) Head south from the GNB flyover, take the first left off RG Baruah Rd, then turn right up an unmarked dead-end lane.
Manipur Bhawan (Tel: +91 361 2540707; Rajgarh Rd)
Mizoram House (Tel: +91 361 2529411; GS Rd, Christian Basti)
Nagaland House (Tel: +91 361 2332158; Sachel Rd, Sixth Mile, Khanapara) New office at the southeast city limits.

Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office
You can get permits for Sikkim (free) in one working day at the Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office (FRRO; Tel +91 33 2473301; 237A AJC Bose Rd; 10am-5pm Mon-Fri). For Manipur (Imphal only), Arunachal Pradesh (not Tawang) and Nagaland (Mon, Phek), FRRO has started offering limited-area permits for groups of four applicants, issued in 24 hours and for free. Each permit application requires one photo and a passport photocopy.

State Offices
The following can issue state-specific  Inner Line permits to Indian nationals. However, except at Sikkim House, foreigners shouldn’t expect any permit help whatsoever.
Arunachal Pradesh (Tel: +91 33 23341243; Arunachal Bhawan, Block CE 109, Sector 1, Salt Lake City)
Manipur (Tel: +91 33 24758163; Manipur Bhawan, 26 Rowland Rd)
Mizoram (Tel: +91 33 24757887; Mizoram Bhawan, 24 Old Ballygunge Rd) Take the lane beside 23 AC Rd for 100m. Enter to left through unmarked black gates.

Minimum Group Size
Permit applications generally need a four-person minimum group. Exceptions include the following:
– Nagaland for a legally married couple with marriage certificate
– Arunachal Pradesh for smaller groups if you pay the full four-person fee (US$200), through travel agencies only Once you arrive, authorities will be unimpressed if some people listed on your permit are ‘missing’, especially in Nagaland where the group must also stick together for crossing district boundaries. However, in Mizoram things seem much more flexible, so should the other three people on your four-person Mizoram permit become inexplicably incapacitated, you’ll probably be allowed to continue alone.

Validity & Registration
Permits are normally valid for 10 days from an exact, specified starting date. You might be able to extend your permit, but only in state capitals at the Secretariat, Home Department. In Arunachal, extending permits will cost another US$200 for up to four people. Be aware that permits allow you to visit specified districts only; you’ll need to plan carefully, as changing routes might be problematic.

Be sure to make multiple photocopies of your permit to show at checkpoints and police registration. Registration is compulsory both on arrival and on each night that you stay in a new location. If travelling on a tour, your guide will do this for you. Travelling without a guide (or ‘guardian’) can confuse authorities in Nagaland and Arunachal and might result in you being refused entry, though on-the-ground realities vary widely between individual checkposts and officers.

Where to Apply
Applications through the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi can take months and end in frustration. If it works, the best option will be the new system operated at Kolkata’s Foreigners’ Regional Registration Office. Otherwise the most reliable way to get permits is by booking a tailor-made tour through a reputable agency:

Agency Based in Best for
Himalayan Bomdila all, notably Arunachal
Jungle Travels Guwahati all
Omega Aizawl Mizoram
Purvi Discovery Dibrugarh Arunachal, Nagaland
Rhino Guwahati all
Tribal Discovery Kohima Nagaland

Start the application process at least six weeks ahead.

Costs per person:

State Through FRRO Kolkata Through agency
Arunachal Pradesh free (not Tawang) US$50 + commission
Manipur free Rs 1500 + commission
Mizoram not possible commission (Rs 400)
Nagaland free but limited commission only

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