image of people at a metro station in New Delhi getting ready to board the train

Travel in India

Security

General precautions for travelers to India is to remain vigilant, and keep a low profile. Be aware of local news reports, and consider the level of security present when you visit public places including religious sites, hotels, restaurants, and recreation venues.

Travel by air or rail is preferred over any type of road travel. Buses and rickshaws are not suitable for business travel. Metered taxis are more suitable, and should be acquired through hotels rather than hailed by travelers.

Terrorist attacks in major Indian cities are at a low level although this is subject to change. Petty theft such as pickpocketing and chain snatching remains a significant risk in tourist and urban areas, but do not typically involve physical injury. Women tend to be targets of crime in India and should adopt higher security.

Please consult the US Department of State and International SOS (ISOS) websites for region-specific guidance and updated travel advisories. Emory faculty, staff, and students are can register with ISOS to request a security briefing or other travel safety guidance at any time. Please contact Global Services (404-727-9127) for any support in contacting ISOS.

Female travelers

Female and solo travelers can sometimes experience unwanted extra attention and may be scrutinized for their dress, especially in non-tourist areas. It is advised that women refrain from returning male stares. Sunglasses, books, or electronic devices can be useful for averting unwanted conversations. However, it is important not to let phones or books distract you from your surroundings. For clothing options, women are advised to avoid wearing sleeveless tops, shorts, short skirts, or otherwise revealing clothing. It can be handy to carry a large scarf (often called a dupatta) with you, as you can drape it over your clothing for more modesty, and a scarf to cover the head may be required when entering religious sites.

International SOS advises that women take caution when traveling alone in India as well as in groups or when accompanied by men. Precautions include: conservative dress (including carrying a scarf), carrying a mobile phone programmed with useful and emergency contact numbers, carrying a whistle to attract attention, using pre-arranged, vetted transport, and refraining from hitch-hiking. When arranging a taxi, select a reputable company or seek a recommendation from your hotel, local contacts, or host organization.

Visas and permits

India requires both a passport and a visa for all nationals with the exception of those from Nepal and Bhutan. The type of visa you should obtain depends on your travel time and the nature of your work in India. With more than a dozen visa types, as well as an e-Visa option, it is advisable to confer with your colleagues and counterparts on the appropriate visa type for your application.

A visa agency can be a useful vendor when dealing with Indian visas, and many Emory personnel use CIBT Visa. Regardless of whether you apply through a general visa agency or wish to apply directly to the Embassy, you will likely be routed through Cox and Kings Global Services, which is the Embassy of India’s authorized service provider. Cox and Kings has an office in Atlanta, and an Indian Consulate is located in Atlanta as well.

If you are facing unexpected constraints to your visa, please contact Global Services.

Some parts of India are restricted or require special permits for entry. A list of protected/restricted areas can be found on the Bureau of Immigration's website.

Resources:
Government of India visa website
Cox and Kings
CIBT Visa

Immunization

Depending on the nature of your work, as well as where you travel in India, you may require immunizations before you travel. Please consult with your physician as well as the CDC website for information on immunizations or health tips necessary for travel to India. Visit your doctor six to eight weeks prior to your departure to confirm that your routine immunizations are up-to-date. Make sure that you carry a document of your personal health record from your doctor which also explains any medications you are carrying and why. Bring copies of any essential prescriptions, and have copies in English and in the local language, if possible.

Emory resources for immunizations include the Emory TravelWell Clinic at Emory Midtown and Emory Student Health at 1525 Clifton Road (both accept Aetna student insurance). Please note for both clinics, appointments can fill up quickly in the spring ahead of the summer fieldwork season.

Arrival via Air

Major international airports include:

  • Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport
  • Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport
  • Bangalore's Kempegowda International Airport
  • Chennai International Airport
  • Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad


Customs importation restricts visitor luggage to a maximum of:

  • 100 cigarettes or 25 cigars or 125 grams of other tobacco products
  • Up to 2 liters of wines or alcoholic beverages
  • 2 ounces of perfume or 250 ml toilet water
  • Authorized personal goods

An unlimited amount of foreign currency can be imported into the country, but threshold amounts (sec. b,ii) must be declared upon arrival. Foreign travelers cannot take with them more foreign currency than the amount they entered India. Foreigners traveling to India may bring into or take out of the country Indian Rupees not exceeding Rs. 25,000.

Customs import restrictions are subject to change. The baggage rules section of the Central Board of Indirect Taxes and Customs will have the most up-to date-information, as needed. 

Recommended Packing List

In addition to the general packing lists for international travel (CDC, general, EGHI), we recommend packing the following items for travel to India:

  • $300–600 cash (US dollars), depending on your length of stay and accommodation choices
  • Approximately $20 in small bills for tipping
    • Convert to Indian currency upon arrival at the airport or at a large hotel
  • Copies of your passport and visa, stored separately from your actual passport
  • Immunization information
  • Two passport photos and a copy of your passport for obtaining a SIM card for local cell phone usage
  • Telephone numbers of important contacts throughout India and the US
  • ISOS membership card (log in to ISOS to print your card)
  • Health insurance card
  • Any prescriptions needed
  • Several flash drives
  • Camera and charger
  • Laptop (preferably a small netbook) and charger
  • Basic first aid kit for personal use
  • Bug spray with Deet
  • One or two volt adapters
  • Flash light
  • Sunhat/sunglasses
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Wet weather gear if traveling during rainy season: June–September
  • Light jacket for evenings
  • Guidebook

You may also interested in packing a "quick run bag" for your travels - EGHI details putting together a quick run bag here.

Electric supply

Electric Supply: Euro Plugs and three pin plugs are most common in India.

  • Voltage: 220-230 volts
  • Frequency: 50 Hz

Resources: Lonely Planet Electricity in India