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Sikkim is strict in its policy of arrivals for foreigners, unlike other
states (except states like Arunachal Pradesh and other states with
International borders) in India. Sikkim has its north-eastern borders
touching China and is also a major military base for India.
If you are a foreign national visiting Sikkim, then please make sure
that you have a "Inner line permit" to enter Sikkim. These permits are
issued on arrival on the land borders of Sikkim - most popular is
"Rangpoo Check Post". Foriegn visitors are expected to have these either
on their visa itself that reads -'permitted to enter (west Sikkim, east
Sikkim) areas of Sikkim'. Or altenately visitors can have these stamped
on the border check posts. They are relatively hassel free and can be
obtained in a few minutes time.
Travellers might find 'Sikkim Permit' to be filled with confusion when
they are initially applying for it along with the visa, but applying
this at the spot is easier. You'll be required to go to the check post,
show your passport, fill in a form on where you expect to visit for
example Pelling, Yuksum, Gangtok, Kewzing etc) and then the authorities
will issue you the permit. Permits can also be obtained and they are issued from all Indian
missions, Tourism Office located in New Delhi, Sikkim Tourism Office, Calcutta and
Sikkim Tourism Office, Siliguri on the strength of an Indian Visa.
Initially Foreigners are issued a permit for initial period of 15 days duration
on the spot without any delay once presented with valid photocopies of Passport and Visa
details along with two passport photos of applicants. It can be extended for further 30 days of 15 days each.
The extension of permits then is the jurisdiction of Foreigners Registration
Office(FRO), Gangtok and Superintendent of Police of North, South and
West Districts, again a fairly easy process.
The Office of Foreign Registration (FRO) is located at Kazi Road, Gangtok and direction can be asked to anyone in gthe town.
Exception: The only exception is to visit North Sikkim and Tsangu Lake -
If you wish to visit North Sikkim or for those interested in going for
trekking in the interior regions of the state, you also require a
Restricted Area Permit (RAP) OR Protected Area Permit(PAP) which is
obtainable in Gangtok from the Police Check Post and Department of
Tourism which is available for certain specified area for groups
consisting of 4 or more foreigners subject to the condition that the
trekking program is arranged through a registered travel agency. If
you're making a day trip to Tsangu Lake then a special permit will need
to be organised through the agent/vehicle that is driving you across to
the place (relatively easy but you'll need to give agents/drivers 24
hours notice period so they can organise this for you (minimal extra
Important: RAP and PAP is only issued to local travel agents affiliated
to the local tourism board. Also ensure that you stamp your passport in
all the checkposts in Sikkim while travelling (the drivers are well
versed with these check posts).