ENTRY FORMALITIES FOR SIKKIM
Sikkim is known as a state that boasts of natural beauty in abundance. The state takes pride in its mountains, lakes and rivers and attracts tourists from all over the world.
But each tourist that enters the state has to go through an entry formality, except Indian citizens. Indian Nationals have no formalities other than restricted areas. However, foreigners have to obtain the Inner Line Permit (ILP) to enter Sikkim.
Inner Line Permit is an official travel document that is issued by the Government of India. The ILP is not only considered to be a document but it is the efforts of the Indian Government to regulate movement to certain areas located near the international border of India.
In fact, the ILP was originally created by the British Government. It was done in order to safeguard their commercial interests. But the ILP still continues to be used in India to officially protect the tribal cultures.
Also, there are different kinds of ILP’s, one for tourists and the other kinds for people who intend to stay for long-periods. These are usually for employment purposes.
The Government of Sikkim has compiled a very simple process for obtaining the ILP for foreign nationals and just like the website of Sikkim Government says, “it is as simple as 123”.
Below is an in-depth detail of the entry formalities.
The ILP for foreigners are free to obtain and getting one is merely a formality to follow. All you have to do is bring along a passport-sized photograph and photocopies of your passport and visa. There are checkpoints where you can submit these documents and acquire the entry.
Entry Checkpoint at Melli and Rangpo: Here the permits are issues between 8 am to 7.30 pm.
Bagdogra Airport’s Sikkim Tourism Booth: Here the permits are issues between 10 am to 4 pm.
Sikkim House in Kolkata or Delhi: It is open throughout the working hours of the day. The house is shut on bank holidays.
Sikkim Tourist Office in Siliguri: It is open throughout the working hours of the day. The house is shut on bank holidays.
Permits are also available at the Pakyong Airport. In fact, one can also avail entry permits at the Darjeeling but the process at Darjeeling is more lengthy and complex. It is a two-stage process in Darjeeling that involves first visiting the Foreigners’ Registration Office (FRO) with the passport copy and then cross the town to the District Commissioner’s Office (DCO).
Foreign Nationals can also ask for 15-day Sikkim permits at the Indian Embassies abroad.
Also, there is a lack of a checkpoint at Jorethang and hence no permits are issued and indeed foreigners may not cross to/from West Bengal.
ONLINE APPLICATION FOR ENTRY PERMITS
In the world where most of us function with the help of internet, same way you can obtain entry permits online.
The Inner Line Permit (ILP) can be obtained by filling up an online application form. Although it would still be considered as a provisional Inner Line Permit unless you get the stamp on it. This stamp can be obtained at any of the border check posts of Sikkim.
WHO CAN ISSUE ENTRY PERMITS
Here is a list of who can issue entry permits.
All Indian Missions Abroad
Ministry of Home Affairs
Foreigners Registration Officers
Immigration Officers at Airports: Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and New Delhi
Deputy Commissioner, Darjeeling
Deputy Secretary/Under Secretary, Home Department, Govt. of West Bengal, Kolkata
Government of Sikkim
Chief/Home Secretary, Gangtok
Secretary Tourism, Gangtok
I.G.P. of Police, Gangtok
Resident Commissioner, Sikkim House, New Delhi
Deputy Secretary Tourism, Siliguri
Resident Commissioner STCS, Kolkata
Tourism Officer, Rangpo
The validity of any ILP lasts for only 15 days. In case, a foreign national wishes to extend their stay then on request, the stay can be extended but only for some time.
However, only The State Government is authorized to extend the stay, twice by a further period of 30 days. This extension of the permit can be obtained from Foreign Registration Office (FRO) at Gangtok and also at the office of Superintendent of Police of the North, West and South Districts.
In case of any kind of military action or any other security problems, the Entry Permits can be cancelled within 2 hours. This can happen without any prior notice and cannot be argued upon.
Also, in such a case the paid amount for the Entry Permit will not be refunded.