Sikkim Permit Information
Unlike the neighboring state of West Bengal where Darjeeling is located, Sikkim has certain entry restrictions. In fact the whole of Sikkim is under restricted area regime due to its proximity to neighboring countries like China. And therefore all foreign nationals require Restricted Area Permit (RAP) to visit any part of Sikkim. This permit is also known as Inner Line Permit (ILP). Indians however do not require this.
If you are a national of Pakistan, China, Maynmar or Bangladesh, then it gets a little more difficult to enter Sikkim. You must get a written approval from Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi before the Restricted Area Permit can be issued.
And there are other restrictions for all including Indians for few specific places in Sikkim. There are certain areas like Tsomgo Lake, Dzongri etc which are defined as Protected Areas and have special army deployment. Both foreigners and Indians require a separate permit known as Protected Area Permit (PAP) to visit such places. But few protected border areas like Nathulla are not accessible to foreigners at all, while Indians can still visit with the Protected Area Permit.
How to get Restricted Area Permit (RAP) or Inner Line Permit (ILP)?
Restricted Area Permit to enter Sikkim is applicable only for foreigners. It is free of cost. You must have a valid Passport and an Indian visa. With proper documentation, it takes less than 30 minutes to get the permit across the counter.
Update January 2015: A foreign national can now get Restricted Area Permit (i.e. Inner Line Permit) online from the recently launched website www.sikkimilp.in which saves a lot of hassles. While filling up the online application form, you will however need to choose a Tour Operator, enter date of arrival, passport & visa details, upload your photo etc, and go through the verification process. Once done, you can self print the permit. There is no charge.
You can also get the Restricted Area Permit manually at the following places:
- Ministry of Home affairs, Government of India, Lok Nayak Bhawan, New Delhi
- All Foreigners Registration Offices (FROs). There is an FRO at Darjeeling near State bank of India on Laden-la road. One at Gangtok is located at Kazi Road. Phone: +91 3592 203041.
- Indian Missions in foreign countries
- Immigration Offices located at airports of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi
- Deputy Director, SNT Complex, Siliguri, Tourism Department
- Assistant Director – Tourism Department, Sikkim House, Panchashel Marg, New Delhi, Tourism Department
- Assistant Director, Sikkim Tourism, 4/1 Middleton Street, Kolkata
- Deputy Secretary, Home Department, Government of West Bengal, Kolkata
- Deputy Director, Sikkim Tourism Office, Rangpo, East Sikim
- Resident Commissioner, Government of Sikim, Sikim House, New Delhi
- Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling, West Bengal
NOTE: Sikkim Restricted Area Permits are currently issued only by Sikkim Tourism Offices mentioned in the above list and also the border check posts including at Rangpo. Immigration Offices, FROs etc have stopped issuing the permits. There is also a Sikkim office at Bagdogra airport where they issue the permit. So for visiting Sikkim, a good option is to get the Restricted Area Permit across the counter either at Bagdogra airport or at Rangpo check post, which is the entry point for Gangtok and East-Sikkim. It takes only few minutes if you have all documentation in place. FROs and Tourism offices within Sikkim can however be approached for extending your permit.
Note: Nationals of Pakistan, China, Maynmar or Bangladesh must get prior approval from Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi before they can apply for the RAP permit.
How long is the Restricted Area Permit valid?
Initially it is issued for 15 days, however it can be extended two times of 15 days each. These extensions can be obtained from the State Home Department in Gangtok.
How to get Protected Area Permits (PAP)
This permit is applicable for both foreigners and Indians to visit protected areas. All foreigners should travel in a group of two or more in protected areas wherever allowed. Solo foreigners are not permitted in such areas. Additionally foreigners should apply through tour operators who are registered with Sikkim Tourism Department.
You will need to carry a Photo ID proof like passport, voter\'s ID card, driving license etc. Note that PAN card is not accepted.
Based on your place of visit, here is how you can get the Protected Area Permits:
- Tsomgo (Changu) Lake and Baba Mandir permits are issued at the Police Check Post. Foreigners can also get it at Sikkim Tourism & Civil Aviation Department. Easiest is to apply through a travel agent or tour operator one day in advance.
- Nathulla: Permit for Nathulla Pass is issued only to Indians (foreigners are not allowed here). You can get it at Police Check Post as well as at Sikkim Tourism Department. You should apply one day in advance. Most tourists get the permits through travel agents or tour operators who organize the trips.
- Dzongri & Goecahala Trek: Permit is issued to both Indians and Foreigners by the Adventure Cell of Sikkim Tourism & Civil Aviation Department. Trek operators can get the permits.
- Singalila Trek from Sikkim: Same as above.
- Yumthang, Yumesamdong, Thangu/Chopta Valley: Permit is issued to both Indians and Foreigners by the Tourism Department and Police Check Post. Most get the permits through tour operators.
- Gurudongmar Lake: Indians can get the permits at Police Check Post while foreigners can get it from Sikkim Tourism Department but only up to Thangu. The tour operators can get the permits.
- Namchi, Ravangla: No permit is required by Indians. Foreigners only need Restricted Area Permit to tour & trek South Sikkim.