North East India

Travel Permits to North East India

North East India is hosting an increasingly higher number of travelers every year. Yet, many, who think of visiting the region, get disheartened by the additional paperwork involved. But. Did you know that only 2-3 out of 8 states mandate such permits and that procuring these is easier than you think? Abhijeet Deshpande, author of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey, shares tips on how Indians and foreigners can get travel permits to North East India.

For those who do not know, North East India comprises of eight states – Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Sikkim, and Tripura. The Himalayas and its waters define the region’s terrain, climate, rich biodiversity, and the peculiar indigenous lifestyles her people follow. That North East India is bound by Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet to the north, Bangladesh to the south and west, and Myanmar to the east hints at the eclectic mix of cultural, ethnic, and linguistic diversity. This is where elements of Asia come together to do what they do best – cast a spell.

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How to Get Travel Permits to North East India?

Good News First

Indians require Inner Line Permits (ILPs) for only three out of eight states: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram. On the other hand, foreigners (including Overseas Citizens of India or OCI card holders) require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for only Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland, foreigners are required to make a simple police-registration (often facilitated by guest houses or travel guides) within 24 hours of arrival. Lastly, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura do not mandate any travel permit for Indians or foreigners. How about we simplify all the above with a visual?

Entry Formalities for North East India
North East Indian StateIndians RequireForeigners* Require
Arunachal PradeshInner Line PermitProtected Area Permit
Assam
ManipurRegistration on Arrival
Meghalaya
MizoramInner Line PermitRegistration on Arrival
NagalandInner Line PermitRegistration on Arrival
SikkimProtected Area Permit
Tripura

*Certain nationals may require additional formalities. Refer FAQs.

The process to acquire these permits is fairly straightforward but the permit-requirement itself is subject to change (reviewed annually). It is best to browse through links provided in this article for current status, related fees, restrictions for certain nationalities, etc.

Travel Permits to North East India – For Indian Travelers

If you visit a state’s Resident Commissioner’s office to apply for Inner Line Permits, you may get to consult official tourism literature and potential access to expert advise on locations to go to. Alternatively, you may apply for an ILP on arrival (see details for each state), or where available, use the online facility. Depending on how and where you apply for a permit, and whether it is peak season or not, it may take from a few hours to a few days.

Inner Line Permits (ILPs) for Indians
North East Indian StateILP Before Travel (Recommended)ILP on Arrival (At Specific Entry Points)
Arunachal Pradesh
  • Naharlagun Railway Station
  • Gumto Railway Station
Mizoram
  • Lengpui Airport, Aizawl
Nagaland
  • Visit Office to Apply: Find Details* on Website
  • Online ILP: Not Available
  • Dimapur Airport
  • Deputy Commissioners’ Office, Dimapur

*Details include required official identity documents, processing fee, and a list of issuing offices

For each state, the maximum duration of validity of ILPs may be different and these can be extended by visiting the nearest concerned office (usually the Deputy Commissioners’ Office). While ILPs for Mizoram and Nagaland allow travel anywhere in the respective states, Arunachal Pradesh requires you to declare specific tourism circuits (places you intend to travel to in the state) and proposed dates of travel. Hence, for Arunachal Pradesh, it is recommended to research and plan your tentative itinerary before applying for permits.

Any Permit for Manipur?

No. Indians do not require a permit to travel to Manipur – either when flying direct or when traveling on land from Silchar (Cachar District, Assam) to Imphal (Manipur) via the hills of Jiribam. Please see map below. Beware, this route is not for the faint-hearted. The infrastructure is minimalist. Dusty paths and recurring security checks make this a slow, bumpy 9+ hours ride. It is not a recommended route. But, it remains as an alternative – if you do not have a valid ILP for Nagaland (that offers a direct and nicer Kohima-Imphal highway). Should you choose to ride a shared taxi via Jiribam, for whatever reason, you are likely to witness indigenous communities, their lifestyles, and have a chance to try their delicious food.

Route map of Silchar (Assam) to Imphal (Manipur) via Jiribam

Travel Permits to North East India – Foreign Travelers

As mentioned before, foreigners (including Overseas Citizens of India or OCI card holders) require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for only Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Whereas in Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland, foreigners are required to make a simple police-registration (often facilitated by guest houses or travel guides) within 24 hours of arrival. Attention, solo travelers – permits are issued to groups of two or more. So, find at least one more fellow traveler to apply for a PAP to Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

Permits for Foreigners
North East Indian StatePAP / RAP DetailsAgencies for Permits
Arunachal PradeshArunachal TourismApproved Travel Agencies
SikkimSikkim TourismApproved Travel Agencies

To plan ahead and get permits before you begin international travel, you may consult the Indian Mission in your home country. Please note that for Arunachal Pradesh, you will need to declare the specific tourism circuits (places you intend to travel to in the state) and the proposed dates of travel. Hence, it is recommended to research and plan your tentative itinerary before applying for a permit to this state. To learn more about the requirements for and process of PAPs/RAPs, refer to these FAQs.

Special Permits for Sikkim’s Restricted Areas

To visit North Sikkim or other protected areas along international borders, both Indians and foreigners will need special permits issued through registered travel agencies. At the time of writing, certain areas such as Nathula or Gurudongmar Lake are open for Indians only (permits required for Sikkim locals too) – a point to remember if you are with a group of international travelers. For details and current status, consult Sikkim Tourism’s FAQs.

Think North East India

The region’s innate charms have remained under-explored. Travelers, who figure out how to backpack in North East India, find gems such as Dzükou Valley all to themselves. Travel permits are a matter of routine. Think beyond.

Meanwhile, pick up a copy of Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It covers over two dozen places and attempts to answer the question – what is it like to travel in the region? Give it a read and make your own choices. Buy now!

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Note: This piece is meant to help fellow travelers explore North East India. The information herein is dynamic. If you come across a revision to these rules, please leave a comment for us to update the article. Thank you.


Have you been to or live in North East India? If yes, you stand to win a free paperback! Check out The Sweet Deal.

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Disclaimers: (1) Maps, wherever used on this site, serve a representational purpose only. Backpacking Series does not endorse or accept the boundaries shown, names, or designations used by map providers. (2) This story / article is based on personal opinions of the author. Backpacking Series is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity and it does not assume any responsibility or liability arising out of use of any information provided herein.

50 thoughts on “Travel Permits to North East India

    1. Hi Sakina. Thank you for your comment. Hope you are able to travel to the Least Explored North East India sooner than later. Happy Travels.

  1. Very useful info on different types of permits required for North East states of India. Your article will come so handy for travelers who wish to visit there.

    1. Hi Indu. Thank you for stopping by. Yes, we have experienced that sometimes, it discourages people that you need permits to get to any place. The intent here is to help travellers to the region with the handy, experiential information and show that getting permits is pretty straightforward and easy process. There are enough and more Reasons to Visit North East India.

  2. This is SUCH GOOD INFORMATION!!! NE India is literally at the top of my list for trekking, people, and food reasons. Although the trekking is primarily what draws me here. I will certainly be bookmarking this for use on my next trip (which I hope comes soon enough!)

    1. Thank you for stopping by. There are amazing trek options in the whole of North East. You would enjoy reading about those with all the relevant information in the travelogue Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey as a prep to your trip. We also hope you are able to get to the region soon enough 🙂

  3. I am an Indian, currently living in Canada. I had never visited the NorthEast when I was in India and I had no idea that we need permits to visit these states. Do we need permits to even enter the states or just the hiking and trekking routes?

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Indians require Inner Line Permits (ILPs) for only three out of eight states: Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, and Mizoram. On the other hand, foreigners (including Overseas Citizens of India or OCI card holders) require Protected Area Permits (PAPs) for only Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. In Manipur, Mizoram, and Nagaland, foreigners are required to make a simple police-registration (often facilitated by guest houses or travel guides) within 24 hours of arrival. Lastly, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura do not mandate any travel permit for Indians or foreigners.

      To hike in North Sikkim or other protected areas along international borders, both Indians and foreigners will need special permits issued through registered travel agencies.

  4. Really informational! I’ve only been to Bhutan and some other place in India, but not the ones you mentioned. Cant wait to visit India again 😀

    1. Thanks for stopping by Lisa. Hope you are able to come back to India soon to explore the Least Explored North East India.

  5. A very informative article. I had no idea about the permits needed to visit north-east India. It’s lucky for us we travel in a couple everywhere, given that in some places they are issued in pairs! Must be quite difficult for solo travellers to get sorted.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Alex. We did come across many solo travellers when we were Backpacking North East India. Usually they would team up and get the permit.

  6. Great information! Thank you for sharing, we went to India but couldn’t get this far north because it was the wrong season, we went as far a Dharamshala, and saw the Dali Lama for a three day talk. Any farther north was snowed in at the time. Great info for when we go back!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Kylee. Dharamshala is one of our favourite places as well and how lucky for you to see Dalai Lama! North East India is towards the east of India and even if you come in winters, there would be multiple options to explore the region. In fact, we backpacked for over four winter months. You could check where to go and what to see in the book Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey for your next trip.

  7. I never would have thought that you’d need additional permits to go to states within India once you’re in the country! So this is very helpful and informative, thank you!

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Glad you found the information helpful and we hope you visit the Least Explored North East India soon!

  8. A few years back, I had lost my wallet in Meghalaya. I went to Arunachal’s office to get my ILP, the officials did it for free. The main counter guy also offered so give me some cash but I didn’t take. Lovely memories.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. It is heartwarming to read about your experience in Arunachal Pradesh. The warmth from the people of North East India and helpfulness of government / tourism authorities has stayed with us as well. We too had many such experiences and you would love to read about them in the travelogue Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. The book is dedicated to the wonderful people of the region!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Monica. Hope you get that experience soon! Happy that you found the post helpful. Happy Travels.

  9. This is great information. We’re planning to travel to Arunachal later this year and it is good to know that we would need a tentative itinerary before we go.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. Glad you found the information helpful and would be able to leverage it in your upcoming trip to Arunachal Pradesh. There are many places in the state which are not known as very touristy spots and they are breathtakingly beautiful. Enjoy your exploration and feel free to reach out for any help !

  10. Have read many blogs on this, but have never come across any such perfectly written blog for it. Kudos to you girl. I am pinning it for future reference and for those who keep asking for the same.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Purvi. Glad that you have found the post helpful and would like to share it with others by pinning it. Yes, sometimes finding information can be daunting and the intent here is to share easy, quick and actionable information to ease out the travels in the region. Once you learn How to backpack North East India, there is no end to discovery.

  11. Being Indian, and not from India (I’m South African Indian), I’ve made it my aim to visit as much of India as I can. So far I’ve only done some cities but Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Sikkim are high on my list for visiting next! This post definitely helps for first time travelers to North East India!

    1. Hello Yeshi! Thank you for stopping by. Lovely to know that North East India is on top of the list for your next visit to India. We hope that happens soon. In the meantime, feel free to read Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey. It is aimed to provide with insights for travellers to the region. Get in touch if you need help for your travel planning! Always happy to connect!

  12. Great post! You’ve shared very useful information in a simplified way. I’m yet to explore North Eastern part of India and I’m glad I’m now aware of the permits required. Saving this post for future reference. Thanks for sharing.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Shaily. Appreciate your comment about how the information has been simplified! Hope you are able to use this it sooner than later and visit to North East India soon.

  13. My husband and I recently returned from a trip to Nagaland and Manipur. We love India but had never been before in the North East. And I must say that it was absolutely breathtaking. The plan is now to return at least for Meghalaya 🙂 But we did register to the police stations in both states that we visited

    1. Hi Andra. Excited to hear that you and your husband loved your experiences in North East India. Nagaland and Manipur have a lot to offer and we are sure when you return for Meghalaya, you would be eager to cover 5 more of these eight sister states! If you would like to, we would be happy for you to publish your travel stories on North East India as a guest author and we would proudly feature you among authors from across the world in the Dorm of Fame™. What more? You could win a free e-book on Backpacking North East India!

  14. I was not knowing that traveling to North East requires a permit to even Indians also. You have listed some very valuable information about how to register and all tourism website details on this article. Thanks for sharing as it is a very informative article before planning to any of the North East states in India.

    1. Thank you Yukti. As you would have noticed, not all North Eastern States require permits and the requirements varies for Indians and foreigners. We are glad you found the post helpful and that it covers relevant aspects of Travel Permits to North East India.

  15. Thanks for the useful information and I learned a lot about the region, I had no idea there are so many states in the region and it takes so many paperwork to visit there! But I think the beautiful landscape makes it worth the hassle!

    1. Actually paperwork is not a lot and very few states require permits. One can easily procure them in advance. You are right, such a beautiful region as North East India should not be missed 🙂

  16. Dude thanks for the perfect info, I wanted to travel in India there is many mountain I can hike in there.. so cool

    1. If hiking is what you love, you would get some amazing places in North East India. We have shared about our hiking experiences in the travelogue – Backpacking North East India: A Curious Journey!

  17. I never thought that even Indians needed a permit to visit other places in India. Your post is very informative and very helpful.

    1. Thank you Carmen. Only some states require the permit for both Indians and Foreigners and getting them is fairly straightforward!

  18. Never knew about permits, required for a foreigner to go to the North-East India. I always thought it is much simpler. But yea, documents normally don’t stop me from going somewhere.

    1. Getting the permits is quite simple and one must visit the Least Explored North East India. The paperwork is more than worth it.

  19. This was a very well-written and informative blogpost! And I had never thought that it could differ so much per region if you need a travel permit or not.

  20. This is super-useful post which I have saved for my future trips. The fact that in some places they issue permits only in pairs can be cumbersome.The number of permits required even by Indian nationals is a lot but I understand that this is what helps keep the ecosystem intact.

    1. Thanks Sinjana. Only 2-3 out of 8 states mandate such permits and procuring these is easier than you think. We have met many Indian and Foreign travelers, backpacking in the region for months, who found the whole process very smooth! We actually managed to get them in advance and are impressed with the efficiency. So plan your future trip to discover beautiful gems in Northeast India 🙂

  21. This is a great post and one which should help any traveller looking to go around these regions. I think that the government should relax these rules specially for Indian who are looking to travel and avoid these regions due to the sure hurdle of permits. I would love to visit the north east but due to the permits needed it might be put on the back burner. Its indeed a beautiful part of India and one which needs to be promoted but yet made easily assessable without the hassles of permits.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Amar. What’s interesting is, given this perception, the regain remains under explored and almost exclusive. However, as people realize how easy it is to get these permits, the number of travelers to Northeast India continue to rise! Don’t be late 🙂

  22. This is really great, concise information. All the details for NE India rolled into one. I especially like how you have put things into visuals. That makes life so much simpler. My father was a visiting faculty at Manipur University for some time and used to travel quite frequently there. So, I knew we did not need a permit in Manipur. But about the other states, I was quite unaware. This really helps.

    1. We are happy you found the information here insightful. Must have been a wonderful experience for your father when teaching in Manipur. Hope you get to travel to other places in Northeast India soon 🙂

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