How to Get Tourist Permits in Northeast India?
What is ILP?
ILP vs PAP vs RAP- What’s the Difference?
Why ILP is Required?
Is it hard to get an ILP?
Additional Criteria for Foreigners seeking Permits
- Solo Travel is generally not encouraged for foreigners. They need to be in a group, which means “at least two people together“. If you simply go alone, they will turn you down in your face. So, you should either actually be in a group or at least find travel mates to apply together.
- They need to provide visa and other details at the time of applying (Charges are also usually higher for foreigners).
- In spite of everything, certain areas in Sikkim are still off-limits for foreign nationals (More about it in the Sikkim section).
Which NE states need ILP?
- Indians need ILP for Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, & Mizoram.
- Indians need special permission to visit some areas of Sikkim although you don’t need ILP to enter the state.
- Foreigners need PAP for Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.
- Foreigners still need some additional permits to visit certain fronetier areas.
Which NE states DON’T need ILP?
- Both Indians and Foreigners don’t need any additional permits for Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, and Manipur.
- Indian’s don’t need any permits for Sikkim (except special permits in some areas).
- Foreigners need PAP for Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Interestingly, the requirements were eased for them in Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram a few years ago. So, they can now visit those palces without any permits while even Indian tourists need to get ILP!
Doesn’t Manipur need ILP?
No. There may be some confusion in this regard because earlier Manipur required PAP for foreigners. But that requirement has been removed. As of now, neither Indians, not foreigners, need any permit for Manipur. If Indian tourists are travelling by the road to Imphal via Dimapur-Kohima, they will have to pass through Nagaland. However, as long as you don’t stay in Nagaland, you will be fine.
ILP Process for Indian Tourists
There are various ways to get the Arunachal ILP.
- You can nowadays get it done online. It is called eILP and it is the easiest thing for tourists. It was not always so. It has been newly launched. So, consider yourself lucky.
- You can visit the designated offices at various major cities for Arunachal ILP. These offices are located in the major cities of Delhi, Kolkata, Guwahati and Shillong, and also at some smaller places in Assam near the Arunachal Border including DIbrugarh, Tezpur, Lakhimpur, and Jorhat.
- Also, some of the entry gates of Arunachal, such as those at Bhalukpong and Roing offer on the spot ILPs for a short duration (However, to be safe, I don’t suggest this one).
Mizoral ILP can be taken from the at the designated offices at New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Guwahati (Assam), Shillong (Meghalaya) and Silchar (Assam). You need to provide 2 passport photographs and a copy of your ID.
ILP can also be obtained on arrival at Lengpui Airport, which is the only airport in the state near Aizawl. Same documents as above will be needed although teh rate is a bit higher for this.
While you don’t need ILP for Sikkim, you need to acquire a special permit to enter certain frontier areas of Sikkim. However, again this process is not very strict for tourists and even your tour operator can get it if you provide them a scanned copy of your ID and Passport. Forlloing areas in Sikkim need permits.
East Sikkim: Tsomgo (Changu) Lake, Baba Mandir and Nathula Pass.
West Sikkim: Dzongri and Goechela Trek and Singalila Trek
North Sikkim: Yumthang Valley, Yumesamdong, Thangu, Chopta Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Katao. Also, a visit to Dzongu requires a special permit obtained from Gangtok and Mangan.
South Sikkim: Destinations in South Sikkim does not require any permit.
PAP for Foreign Tourists
Tourist permits in Northeast for foreigners is called PAP in Arunachal but in SIkkim the term ILP is also used. As usual, don’t get confused by the names and focus on the task.
PAP & RAP for Sikkim
- Foreigners need PAP for places
- East Sikkim: Tsomgo (Changu) Lake,
- West Sikkim: Dzongri and Goechela Trek and Singalila Trek
- North Sikkim: Yumthang Valley, Yumesamdong, Dzongu
- Foreigners are NOT allowed to visit Nathu La & Gurudongmar Lake under any circumstances
- If you want to go trekking, that still requires a seperate pemrit
Reporting for Foreigners in Manipur & Mizoram
In Manipur and Mizoram, while there is no need for any permit, Foreigners are supposed to register themselves at the designated Foreigners Registration Officer (FRO) of the State within 24 hours of arrival.