Traveling to India

When you visit (or return to) India, you will be given India Arrival Card (Foreigners only, not for Indian citizens) in the plane. A separate customs declaration form is needed only if you have anything dutiable goods to declare and it is not required for everyone. Please complete those forms and keep them ready. As soon as you deplane, you will have to stand in line for immigration clearance. Give the arrival card (if applicable) and customs forms to the officer. They will return your passport and stamped customs form. An officer will check to make sure you have the required passport, visa, etc., and will stamp your passport as proof that you legally entered India on a given date. Make sure your passport is stamped and has the correct date before you leave immigration counter.

Once you clear immigration formalities, you will proceed to the luggage trolley to retrieve your luggage from the conveyer belt. (Luggage trolleys are free.)

Before you leave the airport, you will see two channels to exit.

There are two channels for customs clearance:
  1. The Green Channel is for passengers not having any dutiable goods.
  2. The Red Channel is for passengers having dutiable goods.
Passengers walking through the Green Channel with dutiable/prohibited goods are liable to prosecution/penalty and confiscation of goods.

In either channel, give the stamped customs form to the customs officer.

Penal Provisions
The Indian Customs Act empowers imposition of heavy penalties for those passengers who:
  • attempt to walk through the Green Channel with prohibited, restricted or dutiable goods.
  • misdeclare their goods at the Red Channel
  • attempt to export prohibited or restricted goods.
  • abet the commission of any of the above offences.

The Penal Provision may lead to:
  • absolute confiscation of goods, or
  • imposition of heavy fine in respect of the concerned goods if these are released;
  • imposition of penalty on individual or concerned entities upto five times the value of goods or the duty involved.
  • Arrest and prosecution including invocation of preventive detention in serious cases.

Detained/Mishandled Baggage
Detained Baggage
A passenger may request that Customs detain his baggage either for re-export at the time of his departure from India or for clearance subsequently on payment of duty.

The detained baggage will be examined and full details will be inventoried.

Such baggage is kept in the custody of the customs.

Mishandled Baggage
In case the baggage has been lost or mishandled by the Airlines, a simplified procedure is in place for clearance of such baggage which allows the passenger to have delivery of his baggage at his door step by the Airlines.

There is no need to handover the passport or the keys of the baggage. The passenger is merely required to complete the Custom declaration form authorizing the Airline to complete the formalities when the baggage arrives. The passenger is required to obtain a certificate to that effect from the airlines and get it countersigned by Customs indicating specifically the unutilized portion of the free allowance. This would enable the passenger to avail the unutilized portion of the duty free allowance when his baggage is delivered by the airlines.

The passenger is required to submit all these documents with the concerned airlines for clearance and delivery of goods on his behalf.

Immigration Check
Immigration check is done for all passengers, Indians or foreigners, both at the time of arrival and departure. The passports are duly stamped at arrival as well as departure. Passengers should be careful to see that their passports are stamped before leaving the immigration counter.

Foreigners (but NOT Indian citizens) arriving into India are required to fill Arrival Card. Indian citizens (but for NOT foreign citizens) departing India are required to fill Departure Card. The following information is required to be provided by the passengers in these cards:
  • Name and sex.
  • Date of birth, place of birth, nationality.
  • Passport details, viz. number, place and dates of issue/expiry.
  • Visa details, viz. number, place and dates of issue/expiry (for arriving foreigners only).
  • Address in India.
  • Flight number and date of arrival/departure.
  • Occupation.
  • Purpose of visit to/from India.

Refusal to Enter
Under the Foreigners Act of India, permission to enter India can be refused if:
  • the foreigner is not in possession of a valid passport or visa for India, and has not been exempted from the possession of a passport or visa;

  • is mentally disturbed or a mentally defective person;

  • is suffering from an infectious disease dangerous to the public health, including HIV;

  • has been sentenced in a foreign country for an extraditable offense under the Indian Extradition Act;

  • or whose entry is prohibited either under an order issued by a competent authority or the Central Government;

  • his/her entry is prejudicial to the interest of the country.

Contravention of the Foreigners Act carries a maximum penalty of one year's imprisonment (with or without fine).

Satellite Phones
Satphones being brought in baggage/hand baggage are liable to confiscation/detention in the absence of a license from the DoT

Illegality of use/carrying Satellite phones in India

The use of any telegraph services/ devices including wireless is regulated by the Indian Telegraph Act, 1885. As per existing guidelines issued by Department of Telecommunications (DoT), INMARSAT Satphones excluding BGAN system can be used by the Government, Corporate Houses, members of Mountaineering Expedition and other such categories with prior permission from DoT. It may be noted that Thuraya Satphone or any other service is not permitted in India.Anyone using satphone without prior permission of DoT violates the Indian Telegraph Act and can be penalized under that Act.Moreover, Satphones being brought in baggage/hand baggage are liable to confiscation/detention in the absence of a license from the DoT.

In case of import as cargo, a declaration should to be given by the person importing the goods about the details of the goods/systems being imported. All intending visitors are advised to make a declaration to Indian Customs to this effect at the first port of entry.

The No Objection Certificate (NOC) for carrying satphone into India is issued by the DoT on a case by case basis. Details of the procedure can be obtained from DoT website

The only authorized provider of INMARSAT services in India is Tata Communications Limited, which provides such services after a No Objection Certificate (NOC) for carrying satellite phones into India is issued by DoT on a case by case basis.