While foreigners need a Protected Area Permit, Indian citizens need an Inner Line Permit, to visit the ‘protected areas’. Indian citizens do not need any permit to visit the ‘restricted areas’.
Protected Area Permit (PAP)
Under the Foreigners (Protected Areas) Order, 1958, non-Indian citizens require a protected area permit (PAP) to visit border areas and security sensitive areas that are designated as ‘protected areas’ under the law. Protected areas lies between the Inner Line (as defined in the law) and the International border.
A PAP is required for areas in the states of: Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand.
Earlier, a PAP was also required for Nagaland, Manipur, and Mizoram, but in 2011 the government relaxed the requirement (until 2022) to promote tourism in these states. The Ministry of Home Affairs is considering to relax the PAP regime further, following such requests by several states.
Restricted Area Permit (RAP)
Under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963, non-Indian citizens require a restricted area permit (RAP) to visit areas designated as ‘restricted areas’.
Restricted areas cover the entire Union Territory of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and parts of Sikkim state. A restricted area permit is much easier to get than a protected area permit.
Inner Line Permit (ILP)
An ILP is required for inward travel of an Indian citizen (not resident in the protected area) into a ‘protected area’ for a limited period – for tourism, employment, etc.
Originally, the ILP regime was created by the British colonial government, with the Bengal Eastern Frontier Regulation 1873, to protect their commercial interests in the region. It continues to be in force, seemingly to protect the tribal cultures in Northeastern India from immigrants from other regions.
States covered under the ILP regime:
- Arunachal Pradesh
- ILP is required for whole of Nagaland, except for Dimapur city.
- A Nagaland issued ILP is required for entry into Manipur, if entering by road from Nagaland.