India - Formalities
Following the explosion of a boat as part of an alleged terrorist attack off the Mumbai (Bombay) coast in January 2015, there may be enhanced security measures at ports. Expect to have your paperwork checked by military or coast guard at anchorages and in ports. Contacts in Kochi say delays are no more than normal there. See news item here.
In recent years entry formalities have been simplified are officials are reported to be more cooperative; in the major ports of entry they are now more familiar with visiting yachts and therefore less troublesome. Several Customs and port organisations have their own sailing clubs and are therefore welcoming to visiting sailors.
However, wherever you check in, the system will take some time to complete. Ensure you have plenty of photocopies of all documents and multiple copies of passport photos.
When approaching any major port, at approximately 12 miles offshore, you should call first Coast Guard on Channel 16 and then port control on Channels 16 or 12. Various details will be asked including an ETA. Once at the port entrance, permission to enter must be requested. Port control will advise where to moor.
See our Noonsite page for details of the requirements for Mumbai.
If cruising along the coast of India you will need to complete formalities in each of the major ports you visit. However, be cautious with immigration stamps as "single entry" or "multi-entry" are counted according to the stamps in and out. The amount of paperwork involved is likely to make coastal cruising an unattractive option.
It is possible to cruise along the coast of India but you are likely to be visited by the coastguard from time to time, who may wish to board your vessel and check you out. They are generally very professional and worth keeping in touch with. On other occasions you may be approached by local officials, who may ask for gifts. The best advice is to refer such requests to the coastguard.
Do not exceed visa dates. Overstaying can yield significant fines or detention.
Last updated April 2017.
Passports should be valid for at least 6 months on entry.
Passports must be machine readable.
Visitors from all countries must obtain a tourist visa in advance, which must valid for a period of 180 at the time of arrival. If planning to visit a neighbouring country, request a multi-entry visa.
The visa requires two consecutive blank pages in the passport.
Tourists must arrive within six months of the date of issue of the visa. Visa extensions are very difficult to obtain. Applications for such extensions should be addressed to Foreigners' Regional Registration Offices in New Delhi, Bombay, Calcutta, Madras or the local Superintendent of Police. Apply in advance with form and three passport size photographs.
Visas can be obtained in Colombo in Sri lanka, Bangkok in Thailand, Johor Bahru and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. A 6-month visa can be obtained from the Indian Embassy in Bangkok for 3100 baht. Two passport photos are necessary and it takes up to seven working days. For information on how to obtain an Indian visa while in Malaysia, see this Cruiser's report.
Note: It can be very expensive if it is necessary to make an emergency stop here and you arrive without a visa. You may be immediately escorted to the airport and deported.
On arrival, yachtsmen are free to travel to most areas of India. A special permit, obtainable from either Indian embassies abroad or the Ministry of Home Affairs in New Delhi, is necessary to visit certain areas, such as Sikkim, or the North East frontier states. The area near Tibet is out of bounds for foreign nationals.
When clearing out of a port with the intention of visiting another Indian port DO NOT get an exit stamp in your passport. You only need to visit Immigration when you finally clear out of India. If you get an exit stamp, you will need to clear in again. If you have no mutli-entry visa, you may be forced to reapply for a new visa.
The ban on re-entering India for two months after leaving no longer applies, except for nationals of Afghanistan, China, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Sudan, Bangladesh and foreigners of Pakistan and Bangladesh origins.
Foreign nationals arriving in India on long term multiple entry visas must register with the nearest Foreigners Regional Registration Officer within 14 days of arrival.
Last updated April 2017.
Certain firearms and weapons are prohibited, and those permitted require a Possession Licence. All arms and ammunition will be sealed by Customs and treated as bonded goods onboard the vessel.
Live plants cannot be imported. Skins of all animals, such as snakes, tigers, etc. and articles made of them, cannot be exported. There are also restrictions on the export of antiquities.
Alcohol is prohibited in some states and a Liquor Permit must be obtained from government offices.
Yachts normally can remain six months, although this can be extended.
Spare parts may be air freighted from abroad without the recipient paying customs duty. Such items must arrive by air cargo and be cleared on a form called "Bill of Entry" at nil rate of duty bringing spares for a foreign vessel. Customs duty exemption is not available through air courier services. It is probably simpler to bring in such parts as personal luggage if that is possible.
Last updated April 2017.
Cholera vaccination and malaria prophylaxis are recommended.
Water must be treated everywhere.
Risk of Dengue Fever, so take all precautions against mosquito bites.
Cholera is a slight risk in some areas of India.
Take every precaution against infestation by rats and cockroaches.
Overtime fees are charged for clearance on Saturdays and Sundays.
Be aware that extra
fees are often requested for many things, especially if chartering. See Noonsite
There are many restricted areas in India which require special permits to visit, such as the island groups of Amindivi and Laccadive (Lakshadweep) in the Arabian Sea and Nicobar and Andaman in the Bay of Bengal.
When applying for the Indian visa one may also apply at the same time for the permit to visit the Andamans. Such permits are more easily obtained than in the past.
Important Note: It is illegal to use any type of satellite phone while in the Andaman Sea and in Indian territorial waters. Such communications are monitored and can result in severe penalties, even imprisonment.
Foreign yachts and tourists are not permitted to visit the Nicobars.
The Lakshadweep Islands are world renowned for the incredible diving. A permit is required which can be applied for after clearing in with Customs and Immigration. Kochi is probably the best port to do this from as applications have been made before from there.
The Lakshadweep tourist board state that a permit will take no more than 10 days to acquire once a boat has cleared into India. Locals who have made the application tell noonsite that permits are difficult to obtain.
A simpler route may be to first apply for an entry permit to Kavaratti Island - where the administrative office is located - then on arrival apply for other islands if so desired.
Permit applications for the Lakshadweep Islands must be made to:
D. KARTHIKEYAN, DANICS
SPORTS (Lakshadweep Tourism)
Opp. BSNL Exchange
Kavaratti Island P.O
Entry fees for the Lakshadweep Islands (January 2015)
Yacht Entry Fee: Rs 10,000
Landing charge per crew per day: Rs 1,500
Heritage fee per crew: Rs 200
Diving with own equipment is charged at 50% of the applicable rate. Diving with an island instructor is recommended.
India's coastal waters are teeming with small craft and great care must be taken especially when sailing at night, as most of them do not carry lights; collisions are frequent.
Last updated October 2016.
(Behind Anand Offset Press)
There are no restrictions on animals