- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the risk of terrorism, civil unrest, crime and vehicle accidents.
- Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security risks. Terrorist attacks could occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning.
- Possible targets include public places in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities, and Indian security and political interests. Major secular and religious holidays could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack.
- A number of terrorist attacks in India have resulted in significant casualties. For example, in 2008, over 170 people were killed and more than 300 were injured in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks targeting places frequented by Westerners in Mumbai. Australians were among the casualties. More recent attacks causing significant casualties have occurred in Varanasi in December 2010, Mumbai in July 2011, New Delhi in September 2011, Hyderabad in February 2013 and Bengaluru in April 2013.
- Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Australians are urged to avoid protests, to monitor international and local media, and to follow the instructions of local authorities.
- Parts of India are subject to earthquakes, flooding and cyclones. In the event of a natural disaster it is likely that severe disruptions to services may occur. See under Natural disasters, severe weather and climate for more information.
- Due to the risk of harassment and assault, women should take particular care in all parts of India and exercise caution even if they are travelling in a group. See under Crime for more information.
- Due to frequent accidents, you should exercise particular caution when travelling on buses, trains, cars and motorcycles in all parts of India. See under Local travel for more information.
- There is a high incidence of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases in India. Before you travel, you should consult your doctor or travel clinic about disease outbreaks, preventative measures, immunisations and vaccinations. See the Health section for more information.
- We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Ladakh region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir and to reconsider your need to travel to the cities of Jammu and Srinagar (including the Jammu-Srinagar highway). We advise you not to travel to other parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, due to frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations.
- We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at the international border crossing at Atari-Wagah.
- We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur because of the risk of armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism-related incidents. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution.
- Be a smart traveller. Before heading overseas:
- organise comprehensive travel insurance and check what circumstances and activities are not covered by your policy
- register your travel and contact details, so we can contact you in an emergency
- subscribe to this travel advice to receive free email updates each time it's reissued.
Entry and exit
Visa and other entry and exit conditions (such as currency, customs and quarantine regulations) change regularly. Australians must obtain a visa before travelling to India. If you arrive in India without a visa, the Indian Government will likely refuse you entry. The Indian Government has relaxed rules on re-entering the country whilst on a tourist visa. The rule preventing holders of tourist visas from re-entering India within two months of departure no longer applies to Australian passport holders.
In 2012, the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs issued new visa guidelines pertaining to foreign nationals intending to visit India for commissioning surrogacy. Further information about these requirements and general information regarding international commercial surrogacy is available on the Australian High Commission’s website . You should also familiarise yourself with Fact Sheet 36a on International Surrogacy Arrangements, available on the Department of Immigration and Citizenship website. These websites include an overview of the legal issues affecting Australians considering overseas surrogacy arrangements and strongly encourage Australians to seek independent legal advice.
If planning to stay in India for more than 180 days, you are required to register within 14 days of arrival with the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Kolkata) or with the Superintendent of Police in other areas. Failure to register may result in a jail sentence or fine, or preclude departure from India until permission is granted by the Ministry of Home Affairs.
There are heavy penalties, including jail sentences, for overstaying your visa.
There is no provision for changing visa categories (i.e. tourist to work) once admitted into India.
If you are arriving from a country where yellow fever is endemic, you will be required to present a valid yellow fever certificate to be allowed entry into India.
If your passport is lost or stolen while in India, an exit visa is required to depart from India. Exit visas can be obtained by presenting a police report, two current passport size photographs and a letter from the High Commission or Consulate General advising of your lost or stolen passport to the local Foreigners Regional Registration Office. As the Indian authorities generally need to verify entry details prior to issuing an exit visa, the process can take several days.
As Indian law requires hotels and guest houses to verify your visa before check-in, it is highly recommended that you make copies of your passport details and Indian visa in case your passport is lost or stolen. You should carry copies in a separate place to your passport and leave a copy with someone at home.
Make sure your passport has at least six months validity from your planned date of return to Australia. You should carry copies of a recent passport photo with you in case you need a replacement passport while overseas.
Safety and security
We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in India at this time because of the risk of terrorist activity by militant groups. Pay close attention to your personal security at all times and monitor the media for information about possible new safety or security threats. Terrorist attacks can occur anywhere at any time in India with little or no warning.
We continue to receive reports that terrorists are planning to attack India. Terrorist attacks in India sometimes involve multiple, consecutive explosions. Many past attacks in Indian cities have been indiscriminate rather than directed against a particular target. Possible targets include public places, including hotels and tourist locations, in New Delhi, Mumbai and other major cities. Indian political and security interests may also be targeted.
In planning your activities, consider the kind of places known to be terrorist targets and the level of security provided. In the past, terrorists have targeted areas frequented by tourists, such as hotels, markets, tourist sites and transport hubs, and Indian security and political interests, and could do so again. Attacks have included explosions at market places, sporting events, local courts, a cinema and local transport networks. These risks apply in all of India’s cities and tourist centres. Take into consideration the level of security provided when deciding where to visit. Security arrangements at airports have been enhanced, reflecting the threat of terrorism to Indian aviation interests.
The Indian Government has in the past issued public alert warnings about possible terrorist attacks. You should take such alert warnings seriously and avoid any areas identified as a possible target of attack.
Major secular and religious holidays and periods of religious significance, such as Ramadan, Eid, Diwali, Christmas and New Year’s Eve could provide terrorist groups an opportunity or pretext to stage an attack. You should also be vigilant in the period surrounding days of national significance, such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August), and other notable anniversaries and observances as militants have in the past marked such occasions with attacks.
Terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir have actively targeted foreign nationals for kidnapping in the past, although there have been no reported kidnappings of foreign nationals in Jammu and Kashmir since July 2000. The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath Shrine, conducted from June to August, has been the target of terrorist attack in the past.
On 14 March 2012, two Italian nationals were kidnapped in Odisha (Orissa) state. For more information about the general threat of kidnapping, see our Kidnapping Threat travel bulletin.
Maoist insurgents (or ‘Naxalites’) are primarily active in the states of Jharkhand, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Odisha, primarily targeting the Indian Government and security forces, infrastructure and government buildings. Civilians, including foreigners, have been kidnapped, killed and injured in suspected Naxalite attacks. Naxals may also call strikes in local areas affecting rail and road transport networks.
On 6 April 2010, Maoist insurgents reportedly killed 76 members of the security forces in an ambush in Chhattisgarh. On 29 June 2010 a further 26 members of the security forces were reportedly killed by insurgents in the same area. Naxals were thought to be responsible for derailing a train in West Bengal on 28 May 2010 that killed 150 people and injured a number of others. Visitors to these areas should monitor the local media and remain vigilant.
Terrorist attacks have also occurred in the state of Rajasthan; in Ahmedabad in Gujarat; outside a market in Alipurdar, West Bengal; and in Chhattisgarh.
Recent incidents of terrorism include:
- On 17 April 2013, a bombing at a political office in Bengaluru, Karnataka state, injured 16 people.
- On 13 March 2013, gunmen attacked a police camp in the Benima area of Srinagar, killing five policemen and wounding others, including civilians.
- On 21 February 2013, bombings in public places in Hyderabad killed more than 20 people and injured 80 more.
- On 1 August 2012, a number of explosions occurred in public places in Pune, Maharashtra. There are reports that one person was injured.
- On 29 February 2012, police uncovered plans for a bomb attack on the Chandi Chowk market area in Old Delhi.
- On 13 February 2012, an Israeli diplomatic vehicle was attacked with an explosive device in central Delhi, injuring one person.
- On 7 September 2011, a bomb exploded outside New Delhi's High Court, killing a number of people and injuring many others.
- On 13 July 2011, bombings occurred at Zaveri Bazaar, the Opera area and Dadar in Mumbai. At least 17 people were killed and over a hundred injured.
- On 7 December 2010, an explosion occurred in Varanasi during a popular Hindu festival. The explosion and subsequent stampede resulted in two deaths and injuries to over 30 people, including six foreigners.
- On 19 September 2010, two foreign nationals were injured in a shooting incident at the Jama Masjid Mosque in New Delhi.
- On 17 April 2010 two explosions outside a cricket stadium immediately prior to the commencement of an Indian Premier League match in Bangalore injured eight members of the security forces.
- On 13 February 2010, a bomb exploded at the German Bakery in the Koregaon Park area of Pune, 100km south-east of Mumbai. Sixteen people, including three foreigners, were killed and 70 were injured. The bakery is well-known and popular with Westerners.
- In November 2008 more than 170 people, including two Australians, were killed in a series of coordinated attacks targeting places frequented by foreigners in Mumbai. The targets included two luxury hotels, the Oberoi-Trident and the Taj Mahal Palace; a Jewish centre; the Victoria Terminus railway station; a hospital and a cafe.
Terrorism is a threat throughout the world. You can find more information about this threat in our General Advice to Australian Travellers.
Civil unrest/political tension
Violent protests and demonstrations occur frequently throughout India. Civil unrest and communal violence has in the past claimed a significant number of lives. Australians could be caught up in attacks directed at others. You should avoid locations where protests and demonstrations are being held as they may become violent. You should be aware that international events, political developments in the region and local events can trigger demonstrations in India.
In the event of a protest or demonstration you should monitor international and local media for information concerning your safety and security and to follow the instructions of local authorities. You should obey any curfews imposed by the authorities in response to civil unrest.
Religious ceremonies and gatherings attended by large crowds can result in dangerous and life threatening stampedes. In response to such events, Indian authorities may impose curfews and restrict activity in the affected location.
Outbreaks of anti-Christian violence have taken place in India. Religious missionary activity may attract resentment and is illegal without an appropriate visa. In January 1999, an Australian missionary and his two young sons were murdered in the eastern state of Odisha (Orissa).
Andhra Pradesh: There have been sporadic, sometimes violent, protests and strikes in the State of Andhra Pradesh, including in the capital Hyderabad, in relation to the proposed formation of a separate state of ‘Telangana’. Further protests and strikes are possible, which may result in disruption to government and transport services. Australians are urged to avoid any protests, to monitor developments in the state through international and local media, and to follow any instructions given by authorities.
North-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur: We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to the north-eastern states of Assam, Nagaland, Tripura and Manipur. If you do decide to travel to these areas, you should exercise extreme caution. Armed robbery, kidnapping, extortion and terrorism occur frequently in these states. Insurgent groups have attacked civilians and bombed buildings. There is also a risk from insurgent groups in rural areas of these states.
Public transport, including buses, trains and railways, police stations and markets have been targeted in terrorist attacks in the north-east, including in Karbi Angalong and Guwahati, the largest city in Assam. In November 2010, a series of attacks across Assam killed 23 people, including at markets and on an inter-district bus. In April 2009, a series of bomb attacks in Guwahati killed six people and injured over 20. In late October 2008, a series of explosions in Assam, including in Guwahati, killed more than 70 people and injured hundreds.
In July 2012, inter-communal violence in the Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts of Assam reportedly caused a number of deaths and injuries. There are reports of displacement and disruption to transport services. Various districts have put curfews in place. Further violence may occur.
Manipur has experienced extensive disruptions from general strikes and blockades. In November 2011, a 100-day blockade of Manipur came to an end. The blockade resulted in acute disruptions to essential services and shortages of food, medicine and fuel. Violent clashes occurred during the blockade in which resulted in a number of deaths.
Jammu and Kashmir - Ladakh region: We advise you to exercise a high degree of caution in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir state. All travel to the region should be via Manali, or by air to the region’s main city of Leh, in order to avoid potential troublespots elsewhere in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir - Cities of Jammu and Srinagar (including the Jammu-Srinagar highway): We advise you to reconsider your need to travel to Jammu and Srinagar due to the risk of armed clashes, terrorist attack and violent demonstrations. While there has been an overall decline in violence in these areas over recent years, the threat of acts of violence and armed unrest persists.
Travellers to these locations are strongly advised to arrive and depart by air.
Other Parts of Jammu and Kashmir: We advise you not to travel to other parts of the state of Jammu and Kashmir, due to frequent armed clashes, terrorist activities and violent demonstrations. There is an ongoing dispute between India and neighbouring Pakistan regarding Jammu and Kashmir. Serious security problems remain in parts of the state, particularly in rural areas.
Attacks have targeted tourists and tourist buses. Foreigners have been kidnapped in Kashmir.
Continuing civil unrest, attacks and violent demonstrations in Jammu and Kashmir have resulted in a large number of deaths, with more than 100 people reportedly killed between June and September 2010. The arrest, detention or death of those involved in protests could become catalysts for further violence. Curfews can be imposed in the Kashmir Valley at short notice, resulting in restrictions on movement, disruption to road transport and suspension of flights in and out of the area.
Borders with Pakistan: We advise you not to travel in the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan (northern and western India), other than at the international border crossing at Atari, India and Wagah, Pakistan. Both India and Pakistan maintain a strong military presence at the border. Landmines pose a serious risk along some stretches of the India-Pakistan border.
Women should take particular care in all parts of India. Women travellers often receive unwanted attention and we continue to receive reports of verbal and physical harassment by groups of men against Western women. Women should exercise caution when travelling in India even if they are travelling in a group. There have been a number of sexual offences reported against foreign women in different parts of India, including in major cities and tourist destinations such as Goa. Women should exercise vigilance, and avoid walking in less populous and unlit areas, including city streets, village lanes and beaches. We have received reports of harassment against women, particularly in taxis and auto rickshaws.
There are persistent allegations and media reports of sexual misconduct involving religious groups and their leaders in India.
Petty theft is common in crowded areas such as markets, airports and bus and railway stations. There have been cases where property has been stolen from travellers on overnight or long-distance trains. Thieves on motorcycles commonly snatch shoulder bags and jewellery.
Travellers have been robbed and assaulted after consuming 'spiked' drinks or food. Incidents of tourists being robbed and assaulted while riding in taxis and rickshaws have been reported. Taxis already carrying passengers should be avoided.
Some travellers have been intimidated or tricked into buying overpriced items after accepting unsolicited offers of assistance, particularly help with shopping for jewellery, gems and carpets.
Hikers have been attacked and have disappeared in the Kulu/Manali district in Himachal Pradesh, particularly on more remote trekking routes. Hikers are strongly urged not to hike alone and to obtain detailed information in advance about proposed hiking routes. Australians should register their presence with the local police and online with us.
Money and valuables
Before you go, organise a variety of ways to access your money overseas, such as credit cards, travellers' cheques, cash, debit cards or cash cards. Australian currency and travellers' cheques are not accepted in many countries. Consult with your bank to find out which is the most appropriate currency to carry and whether your ATM card will work overseas.
Make photocopies of valuables such as your passport, tickets, visas and travellers' cheques. Keep your copies with you in a separate place to the original documents and leave another copy with someone at home.
While travelling, don't carry too much cash and remember that expensive watches, jewellery and cameras may be tempting targets for thieves.
As a sensible precaution against luggage tampering, including theft, lock your luggage. Information on luggage safety is available from Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority.
Your passport is a valuable document that is attractive to criminals who may try to use your identity to commit crimes. It should always be kept in a safe place. You are required by Australian law to report a lost or stolen passport. If your passport is lost or stolen overseas, report it online or contact the nearest Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate as soon as possible.
You are required to pay an additional fee to have a lost or stolen passport replaced. In some cases, the Government may also restrict the length of validity or type of replacement passport.
You should exercise particular caution when travelling on buses, trains, ferries, cars and motorcycles in all parts of India.
Standards maintained by transport services and tour operators, including adventure activities, may not be comparable to those in Australia. Check operators’ credentials and safety equipment beforehand and ensure your travel insurance policy covers your planned activities.
Delays in travel can be expected throughout India, including due to additional security measures, especially in the lead up to and on days of national significance such as Republic Day (26 January) and Independence Day (15 August). Fog often affects northern India, particularly during December and January, and may delay air and rail travel, and may make road travel more dangerous.
Driving in India: Travelling by road in India can be dangerous, and accidents are commonplace. Roads are often poorly maintained and congested, and shared with pedestrians, carts, cattle and other livestock. Night driving may be particularly dangerous due to insufficient or non-existent street lighting, and the presence of other vehicles driving with headlights off or on high beam. Vehicles may be poorly maintained and may not have seatbelts fitted.
Local driving practices are often undisciplined and aggressive, and vehicles are often poorly maintained. If a vehicle hits a pedestrian or cow, the occupants are at risk of being attacked or becoming victims of extortion. If it is unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident drivers may instead wish to seek out the nearest police station. For further advice, see our road travel page.
To drive in India, you must have either a valid Indian driver’s licence or an International Driving Permit together with an Australian driving licence. An Australian licence alone is not sufficient.
Motorcycle riders must wear helmets. If you intend to ride a motorcycle, you should check that your travel insurance policy covers motorcycle riding.
Buses and trains: Bus and train services are often overcrowded and drivers may lack adequate training. Buses and trains are often also poorly maintained and may not meet international standards. If you choose to travel by train, you should familiarise yourself with the emergency exits due to the risk of fires.
Avoid touts in public places: Touts are often found at airports, railway stations and bus stations and may use aggressive tactics to persuade travellers to buy tickets on tours. They may not have any connection to the relevant commercial service providers and you may be overcharged.
Restrictions on movement: State and Union Territory governments may impose restrictions on the movement of foreign tourists in particular states and near tribal areas. You may need to obtain permission from the Indian authorities to visit those parts of the country, particularly in the northeast. Permits are generally required for Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu District and Spiti District of Himachal Pradesh, tribal areas of Odisha, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttarakhand (formerly Uttaranchal), parts of Rajasthan adjacent to the international border, the Tibetan settlements between Hunsar and Madikeri in Karnataka, Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. There are severe penalties for entering a protected or restricted area without prior permission. Indian authorities generally require at least four weeks to process permit applications. You should seek advice from the nearest Indian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate; or the Ministry of Home Affairs, (Foreigners Division) at Jaisalmer House, 26 Man Singh Road, New Delhi.
Travellers should exercise caution while visiting areas around the coastal town of Mamallapuram (also known as Mahabalipuram) in Tamil Nadu, as the restricted area surrounding the Indira Gandhi Atomic Research Centre, Kalpakkam, is nearby and may not be clearly marked.
Piracy: Piracy occurs in the coastal areas of India. See our travel advice on travelling by sea for more information. The International Maritime Bureau issues weekly piracy reports on its website. Tourist boats and other small commercial craft may not carry life preserving/saving equipment.
There are concerns about the safety and maintenance standards of commercial helicopters operating in the north-eastern states of India.
For further information, please refer to our air travel page for information about aviation safety and security.
When you are in India, be aware that local laws and penalties, including ones that appear harsh by Australian standards, do apply to you. If you are arrested or jailed, the Australian Government will do what it can to help you but we can't get you out of trouble or out of jail.
Matters concerning dowry have resulted in some Australian citizens being subject to arrest upon arrival in India. The act of giving or receiving a dowry is prohibited. Claims for dowry can result in an arrest alert notice being issued by a court at the request of an aggrieved party.
Information on what Australian consular officers can and cannot do to help Australians in trouble overseas is available from the Consular Services Charter.
Legal processes in India generally take several years to conclude. Australians arrested for major offences may be imprisoned for several years before a verdict is reached in their case. The requirement for official approvals by Indian authortiies can cause delays in consular services being provided to Australians in prison.
Penalties in India for some crimes, such as murder, kidnapping for ransom, armed robbery with murder, and treason, include the death penalty. Penalties for drug offences are severe and include mandatory sentences and the death penalty.
You are required by law to carry your passport at all times and you will need your passport to check into hotels.
Trespassing and photography of airports, military establishments and dams is illegal with penalties ranging from three to 14 years imprisonment.
It is illegal to carry or use a satellite phone in India without permission. The penalty for doing so could include imprisonment.
Some states prohibit the carriage of alcohol brought in from outside the state, and police may perform checks on vehicles to enforce this law.
Maiming or killing of a cow is an offence which can attract a punishment of up to five years imprisonment.
Some states within India have passed religious anti-conversion legislation making conversion to another religion by force or inducement an offence. Penalties include imprisonment. Foreigners planning to do missionary work must have a missionary visa. Those who don’t risk criminal prosecution and deportation.
Strict regulations apply for the possession and export of antiques, with penalties of up to three years imprisonment. The government of India requires the registration of antiques. For further information contact the High Commission of India in Canberra or the Indian Central Board of Excise and Customs.
There are strict rules governing the purchase of property by foreigners in the state of Goa. The Reserve Bank of India website has some information, however Australians should seek reliable legal advice and familiarise themselves with applicable laws before entering into agreements to purchase property.
Some Australian criminal laws, such as those relating to money laundering, bribery of foreign public officials, terrorism, child pornography, child sex tourism, and commercial surrogacy, can apply to Australians overseas. Australians who commit these offences while overseas may be prosecuted in Australia.
Australian authorities are committed to combating sexual exploitation of children by Australians overseas. Australians may be prosecuted at home under Australian child sex tourism and child pornography laws. These laws provide severe penalties of up to 25 years imprisonment for Australians who engage in child sexual exploitation while outside of Australia.
There are strong codes of dress and behaviour in India, particularly in northern India and at religious sites, and you should take care not to offend.
Physical contact between men and women in public is not considered appropriate. If in any doubt, seek local advice.
Homosexual acts are no longer illegal, but same-sex relationships are not widely accepted.
During Ramadan, eating, drinking and smoking between sunrise and sunset is forbidden for Muslims.
Information for dual nationals
The Indian constitution does not allow dual nationality. However, local law allows persons of Indian origin in a number of countries, including Australia, to apply for Overseas Citizenship of India. Further advice is available from the Overseas Citizenship of India section of the Indian Government's Ministry of Home Affairs website. In some instances, access to Australian consular assistance by Australian/Indian dual nationals may be limited by Indian authorities, particularly in cases of arrest or detention.
Our Dual Nationals page provides further information for dual nationals.
We strongly recommend that you take out comprehensive travel insurance that will cover any overseas medical costs, including medical evacuation, before you depart. Confirm that your insurance covers you for the whole time you'll be away and check what circumstances and activities are not included in your policy. Remember, regardless of how healthy and fit you are, if you can't afford travel insurance, you can't afford to travel. The Australian Government will not pay for a traveller's medical expenses overseas or medical evacuation costs.
Your doctor or travel clinic is the best source of information about preventive measures, vaccinations, immunisations (including booster doses of childhood vaccinations) and disease outbreaks overseas. The World Health Organization (WHO) provides information for travellers and our 'Travelling Well' page also provides useful tips for travelling with medicines and staying healthy while overseas.
Tap water in India may not be safe to drink, depending on your location. Travellers are advised to drink only bottled water.
There is a high incidence of food-borne, water-borne and other infectious diseases in India (including polio, meningitis, cholera, typhoid, hepatitis, tuberculosis, HIV/AIDS, diphtheria and rabies). We recommend you boil all drinking water or drink bottled water, avoid ice cubes and raw and undercooked food. Seek medical advice if you have a fever or are suffering from diarrhoea.
You should not consume home-made or unlabelled alcohol as it may be adulterated with harmful substances.
Dengue fever: Dengue fever is prevalent in India. There is no vaccination or specific treatment available for dengue. You should seek to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes (see below).
Precautions against mosquito-borne diseases: In addition to outbreaks of the mosquito-borne disease dengue fever, malaria is a risk in most parts of India, including major cities. There is also a risk of other mosquito-borne diseases (including Japanese encephalitis, chikungunya fever and filariasis). We encourage you to: consider having vaccinations before travelling; ensure your accommodation is mosquito proof; and take measures to avoid insect bites, including using an insect repellent at all times and wearing long, loose fitting, light coloured clothing.
Medical facilities providing an adequate standard of treatment can be found in India's major cities; however in remote and rural areas facilities can be very limited or unavailable. Most hospitals require up-front payment or confirmation of insurance cover prior to commencing treatment. In the event of a serious illness or accident, medical evacuation to a destination with appropriate facilities may be necessary. Medical evacuation costs could total in excess of A$300,000 depending on circumstances.
For divers who experience compression problems, decompression chambers are located at the Indian naval base in Port Blair, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and at the Goa Medical College, Goa.
"Medical tourism", including for cosmetic and experimental stem cell treatments, has become more common. Australians should ensure that they do not attend discount or uncertified medical establishments where standards can be lacking and result in serious and possibly life-threatening complications. You should find out whether you can seek compensation if you are not happy with the result and ensure you have appropriate insurance cover.
Avoid temporary 'black henna' tattoos as they may contain a dye which can cause serious skin reactions. For further information see the Australasian College of Dermatologists' website.
Air pollution: Major cities in India experience frequent high levels of air pollution, which in some places can reach hazardous levels. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions, particularly cardiac and respiratory, may be especially affected. If you live in or intend to visit India and are concerned about the levels of air pollution you should seek medical advice. You should also follow advice from local authorities about methods to reduce exposure on days with high levels of pollution.
The high levels of air pollution in industrialised areas of India may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Dust storms, which occur on occasion across the north of the country, can cause eye, nose, mouth and throat irritations and exacerbate respiratory and cardio-vascular problems.
Where to get help
In India, you can obtain consular assistance from:
Australian High Commission, New Delhi
Australian Consulate General, Mumbai
Level 10, A Wing
Opp MCA Cricket Club
G Block, Plot C 38-39
Bandra Kurla Complex
Mumbai 400 051
Telephone: (91 22) 6757 4900
Facsimile: (91 22) 6757 4955
Australian Consulate General, Chennai
Australian Consulate General
9th Floor, Express Chambers
Express Avenue Estate
Chennai 600 014
Telephone: (91 44) 4592 1300
Facsimile: (91 44) 4592 1320
If you are travelling to India, whatever the reason and however long you'll be there, we encourage you to register with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. You can register online or in person at any Australian Embassy, High Commission or Consulate. The information you provide will help us to contact you in an emergency - whether it is a natural disaster, civil disturbance or a family issue.
In a consular emergency if you are unable to contact the High Commission you can contact the 24-hour Consular Emergency Centre on +61 2 6261 3305 or 1300 555 135 within Australia.
Natural disasters, severe weather and climate
Annual monsoon rains from June to October can cause extensive flooding and landslides, particularly in the states of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in the north and east, and in Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka in the south. In the past, floods have affected millions of people, resulting in many deaths. During these periods, fresh drinking water and food can be in short supply. The high risk of contracting a water-borne disease continues after the water recedes. Transport and communication infrastructure can also be affected. If you are travelling during the monsoon season, you should contact your tour operators to check whether tourist services at your planned destination have been affected. For further information see the India Meteorological Department website.
Parts of India are in active seismic zones and are subject to earthquakes. Earth tremors are common in India, particularly in the North-eastern states, and can cause landslides in hilly and mountainous areas. In the event of an earthquake it is likely that severe disruptions to services will occur. Information on volcanic activity can be obtained from the Humanitarian Early Warning Service. Landslides and flooding occur in the monsoon season (from June to October) and may disrupt essential services, such as power, water and transport.
Coastal and some inland areas of India are vulnerable to cyclones which can cause coastal storm surges, particularly the southern states and territories of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Puducherry, Lahshadweep Island and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. You can obtain up to date advice on cyclone activity from the Indian Meteorological Department.
All oceanic regions of the world can experience tsunamis, but in the Indian and Pacific Oceans, there is a more frequent occurrence of large, destructive tsunamis because of the many large earthquakes along major tectonic plate boundaries and ocean trenches. See the Tsunami Awareness brochure.
In the event of a natural disaster, follow the advice of local authorities.
Australians are advised to respect wildlife laws and to maintain a safe and legal distance when observing wildlife, including marine animals and birds. You should only use reputable and professional guides or tour operators and closely follow park regulations and wardens' advice.
For general information and tips on travelling with children see our Travelling with Children page.