This blogpost gives you all the information you need to know about the permit(s) that you need to travel in Arunachal Pradesh (North-East India).
As I’ve mentioned in previous blogposts, there are some places in India (particularly those near borders or other protected areas) where tourists (Indian or Foreign) require permits to travel . Essentially, the permit mechanism exists so that the authorities can monitor who travels through these places and the period for which they remain there. It’s somewhat like a visa system (but a lot simpler).
Who needs an ILP?
Any person who wants to travel through any part of Arunachal Pradesh (in North-East India) requires an ILP (Inner Line Permit). What you need to know right up front is that (as of 2017) the process of obtaining an ILP for Arunachal Pradesh (for an Indian citizen) is far easier than it is for several other parts of India.
This requirement for a tourism permit, obviously, would not be applicable if you are a resident of any part of Arunachal Permit. I am also not sure whether these permits are granted for foreigners – there was a board at the ILP office which stated that it is only granted for Indian Citizens (please see image below). I am aware that non-Indians have travelled through Arunachal Pradesh, so I expect that there must be a separate kind of permit for foreigners, but I’m not aware of how that works.
Where can you get the ILP?
As per the information available on the Arunachal Tourism website (linked here), ILPs can be obtained from the relevant offices in Delhi, Kolkata, several cities in Assam (Guwahati, Tezpur, Jorhat, North Lakhimpur etc) and from Shillong (Meghalaya). The list is available here http://www.arunachaltourism.com/inner.php
I obtained my ILP, in person, at the office of the Deputy Resident Commissioner at Guwahati (Assam).
There is now also an online portal for e-applications for ILP (linked here), however, I am not aware of how this works and whether there is any subsequent verification required to be done.
What documents do I need for an ILP
This part is really simple. You need:
- A duly filled up and signed ILP application form;
- Self-attested photocopy of your ID and address proof (for example Aadhar Card, Passport or Drivers License); and
- 3 (Three) passport-size photographs (they require only 2 but usually ask for 3 to 4).
What is the process?
If you’re obtaining your ILP at Guwahati, then the process is as follows:
- Purchase an ILP application form from the counter at the office (picture of the form above);
- Fill up the form with accurate information (in capital letters) and sign it;
- Annexe the passport-size photos and self-attested ID/address proof to the form;
- Take the form for scrutiny and approval from the relevant officer (in the same office);
- Submit the duly attested form at the counter and pay fees for processing;
- You will be given a token with a number on it; and
- Go back at the time that you are asked to come and submit the token to collect your ILP.
How long does it take to get an ILP?
Though applications are accepted until 2 pm on working days, I was told that usually you are more likely to get your permit on the same day if you complete the application prior to 11:00 am. So, I would recommend going early and getting the process started. If you manage to do that, you will most probably receive your permit by 5 or 6 pm on the same day.
How much does it cost?
When I went in May 2017, the ILP application form cost INR 5 (Indian Rupees Five) each. In addition there was a processing charge of INR 25 (Indian Rupees 25) for each permit.
If you are obtaining multiple permits, then this cost would be multiplied accordingly. If you use the services of an agent, they are likely to charge you additionally as well.
How long is the permit valid for?
There is no fixed validity term of the ILPs. It will depend on the dates mentioned in your specific permit. Though the AP tourism website mentions that permits may be granted for up to 30 days, I was told that in practice it’s seldom granted for more than 10 to 14 days. It would be good to try and request for the period that you want with the relevant officer that you are making the application to.
Do I have to get multiple ILPs to travel to different places in Arunachal?
Yes, permits for travel into Arunachal Pradesh functions on the basis of certain pre-identified tourist circuits. So, if you want to go to different places across Arunachal, you need to get separate permits. For example, the permit for travel to Bomdila and Tawang (in West Arunachal) will usually not combine permission for places in central or East Arunachal (Itanagar or Tezu).
Therefore, if you want to go to places that do not fall under the same tourist circuit you will need to obtain separate ILPs for each of them. Fortunately, the authorities usually issue these permits simultaneously, though you do need to make applications for each of these independently (multiplies cost and process).
Can the ILPs be for staggered dates?
Yes, they can.
Since I needed to get multiple permits, I figured that it didn’t make sense for them all to start and run simultaneously, because I would only be able to complete one circuit at a time. But, I also didn’t want to waste one day each time to get a new permit for the next circuit. So, I requested for the dates on my permits to be staggered (i.e. permit for Tawang from Day 0 to Day 7 and next permit from Day 8 to Day 14 etc.). This was allowed and might be useful in case you are planning a similar trip.
Do I need a permit for my personal vehicle?
No, when I went in May 2017, there was no requirement to obtain any separate permit for my vehicle. This made the process considerably simpler as I was NOT required to submit any documents related to my motorcycle.
However, you may be required to enter the details of your vehicle and driving license no. etc in registers at checkpoints in Arunachal Pradesh. This is only for their records and no separate permission is required at these points either.
What should I do with the ILP?
Make sure to show your ILP at border checkpoints on your way in and out of Arunachal Pradesh. You may not be stopped at the checkpoint, but it’s better to do it voluntarily for two reasons: 1) your entry and exit is recorded, so just in case help/assistance is required subsequently there is no issue on this front; and 2) they affix a stamp on the ILP which may be looked at in case your ILP is checked anywhere else.
Hotels might also ask you for your ILP and then use that to record guest information. It effectively becomes an ID proof for the time that you are travelling through Arunachal Pradesh.
THAT’S ALL FOLKS
I hope you found this post useful. Please do leave a comment/like if you did and share this with people that you think might find it helpful. If you have the time, do also take a look at my travel videos from the time that I spent in North-East India on my YouTube Channel.