Overland India Travel
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- 1 Visiting India
- 2 Entering India with a Car or Motorbike
- 3 Driving in India
- 4 Gas and Diesel price in India
- 5 Safety and Security Considerations
- 6 Camping in India
- 7 Navigation
- 8 Special Overland Travel interests
- 9 Vehicle Maintenance
- 10 Buy or sell a car or motorbike in India
- 11 References
- 12 Helpful External links
India has the second-highest population in the world, and many large cities including Kolkata, Delhi, and Mumbai. It’s known for its spicy food, in particular it’s curries.
Entering India with a Car or Motorbike
Correct as of: July 2013
(To check if you need a travel Visa for India, application instructions and fees see: India Visa online application at VisaHQ.com)
A Carnet de Passage is mandatory to enter enter India with any kind of motorized vehicle. And they are strict about it!!
Besides the Carnet de Passage you obviously need your car Vehicle registration, in the same name as the Carnet de Passage and a passport with a valid Visa. I have crossed into India many times and never been asked for insurance. The Indians check your papers thoroughly, specially when entering at Whaga/Atari border from Pakistan. From Nepal or Bangladesh things are bit more relaxed.
Process at border
Briefly describe the process at the border to enter with a vehicle
Cost of entry
Permitted length of stay
India has the rule that a foreign car can be in the country for a maximum of 6 months. After this your car should leave the country for at least 6 months! If you return before these six months the Indian customs will continue counting as if you have never left. Some travelers solve this by going to Nepal. But officially you can only stay there for 5 months so you're always a month short. Usually if you keep moving between India and Nepal there is no problem since these border crossings are easy but once you want to ship from India or leave India to go to Pakistan, the customs might check. If you have stayed to long and they find out, you might have to pay a heavy penalty or even have your car impounded.
Extension of stay
How to stay longer than 6 months.
The current (June 2014) Indian customs regulation is as follows: After the first entry of a foreign vehicle into India, the vehicle may not stay more than 6 months (i.e. 180 days) in India during the time period of 12 months after first entry. Exiting India and re-entering only means that with re-entry (during the 12 months after first entry) the clock continues running. If you overstay, Indian customs would hand over a very unpleasant customs bill. We heard of sums in the thousands of Euros! By the way, the customs regulation has nothing to do with the visa validity of the car owner!
In our own case that meant: We first entered India at the beginning of November 2013 and left India end of February 2014. We „used“ 4 of our 6 months during that first stay. We spent 4 months in Nepal and went back to India in July 2014. 2 months of the 6 months were left over. Indian customs immediately told us that we have to leave after 2 months because of the current regulation. Just to be clear: would we have re-entered India after November 2014 – i.e. later than 12 months after our first entry – the 6 months would have started from “zero”. The customs officials at the boarder were extremely friendly and professional and clearly informed us about the process on how to apply for an extension of these 6 months:
Apply in person for an extension at the customs commissioner’s office in e.g. Lucknow (detailed address below; there are other customs commissioners in India – it’s certainly best to get exact information at the boarder) Prepare a written application with reasoning why an extension is needed (e.g. India is a huge country which is impossible to visit within 6 months; additionally, some regions like Ladakh can only be entered during a specific season, i.e. summer …) In the application specify the chronology of entering and leaving India. The dates must match with the Carnet de Passagedates! In our case the customs officials also requested copies of all Carnet slips. See the application that we used below! We went to Lucknow Customs, explained our situation to the Technical Customs Super-Intendant, handed over our application, went through our 2 Carnet de Passage books (you must have a valid CdP), signed copies of the CdP slips, our passports, our visas and thought that our extension will never happen, because the customs commissioner was “out of office” for a week! The Super-Intendant promised with almost 100% certainty that we would be granted the extension for the entire validity of our new Indian visa (i.e. 6 months) once the commissioner is back and promised he would send the extension as scanned copy to us via email. We had difficulties believing him! However: after 2 weeks we received the extension via email! Pretty straight forward and as said at the beginning: the customs officials we met were extremely friendly and professional.
Should you have any question, just drop us a message. Good luck should you need an extension and safe travel wherever you are!
Address of Customs Commissioner in Lucknow: OFFICE of The Commissioner of Customs Lucknow Hall No 3 5th & 11th Floor Kendriya Bhawan Sector – H Aliganj Lucknow 226 024 Phone 0522-2329904, 2329829, 2336619
Storing a vehicle and temporarily leaving the country
Describe if/how a vehicle can be stored, and for how long.
Also mention if the owner / temporary importer can leave the country while the vehicle is in storage.
Exiting with a vehicle
Describe the paperwork requirements and process at the border to exit.
Driving in India
Recommended books for Overlanding in India
Travel insurance for India
Vehicle insurance requirements
Insurance in India is a bit of a problem. When entering from say Pakistan, you can buy insurance at an insurance office in Amritsar town. But later I heard that it is really worthless since insurance firms are legally not allowed to sell insurance on foreign cars. But I guess it's always good to show your good intentions and at least have a ( worthless) piece of paper, just in case. And it costs near to nothing.
Cost of vehicle insurance
State the price of insurance and a time period.
Where to purchase vehicle insurance
Describe where insurance can be purchased.
A valid driving permit issued in your country of residence is required. An international driving permit with the classification matching the vehicle you are travelling in is also required (e.g motorbike) though police are often satisfied with seeing a current drivers license from your home country regardless of the classification.
Driving side of road
LHD vehicles can be driven in India
Mandatory items in vehicle
State any mandatory items that must be carried in the vehicle. (i.e. safety triangle, first aid kit, fire extinguisher, etc.)
General Road quality
India has some of the worst roads in Asia. Due to a lack of maintenance, money disappearing in pockets instead of repairing, combined with heavy heavy truck traffic and heavy rains, roads can be a disaster. Potholes so deep, your whole car can disappear in one. Having said this, the government is working hard on improving but the extensive road system makes it nearly impossible to keep up. And many times the improvements make the roads worse. The main triangle, the so called golden triangle, between Delhi, Calcutta and Mumbia should now be finished but expect the worst. Local roads can surprise you, as India will never be what you expect.
On the main roads there will be signs, usually in English. Off the main roads do not expect any, nor in towns. If you do find signs they might be in Hindi or pasted over with posters.
There are more and more toll roads in India. Usually you pay Rs50.00 INR to Rs100.00 INR depending on the size of your vehicle but prices seem to be going up. As a foreigner they are likely to overcharge you so inspect you ticket!! Mostly the toll roads are the only decent roads in India but its not guaranteed. I once had a bypass for a small city which was so badly potholed it took me 2hrs for just 2 km. At the end of this they demanded a toll which I blatantly refused. In India there is also the practice for small villages to (illegally) construct a toll barrier where you have to pay local taxes. Bridges are also sometimes toll and prices are dependent on your negotiation skills.
Bribery in India
Briefly describe how common bribery is and whether it should be expected, and the best way to deal with it.
There are not so many checkpoints in India. Mostly there will be checkpoints crossing from state to state. Some of these checkpoints are horrible with often ques of some kilometers with trucks. You can just pass them but often the road is blocked and you will have to fight your way thru. Other then that, checkpoint wise India is easy.
Traveling with pets
It should be no problem entering India with a pet as long as you have the proper papers, e.g. Passport with all vaccinations. I have traveled to India with my dog and experienced no problems at the border. Do remember that India is not a pet friendly country. Except in the big cities like Delhi, Mombay and Calcuta, as well as the Goa region, it will be hard to find pet food.
Gas and Diesel price in India
Last updated: December 2018
Currency and unit to display:
|Unleaded||€1.00 EUR per Liter|
|Diesel||€0.89 EUR per Liter|
Gas and Diesel Availability / Frequency
I have never experienced fuel shortages in India.
Every town will have a gas station so you should never be to far from a gas station.
Gas and Diesel Quality
Discuss if gasoline / diesel considered "clean" or "dirty", and generally high or low quality.
State the sulfur content of diesel, if known.
Safety and Security Considerations
Driving at night
Discuss driving at night and if it should it be avoided. Mention why. Driving in night is not a problem in India,there are road lights in cities and big towns , still it is good to have a working headlight, for the bad roads. The traffic somewhat eases at night other than commercial vehicles. In short driving at night in not an issue in India. It is wise to to upgrade your high beam headlight from 55-60W to 100W or 130W so that you can drive and spot obstacles on the indian roads. These are upgrades that the locals do to drive at night.
Discuss if vehicles can be parked on the street, if they are considered "safe" at night. If vehicles can not be parked on the street, list the other options that exist.
Special driving considerations
India is the hardest country to drive in, often a nightmare. The average Indian driver has no feeling for traffic, safety or common sense. Trucks and buses are a real danger and will easily push you off the road if it is to their advantage. The common driver has never had any traffic lesson and will do as they please. Stopping in the middle of the road, just past a sharp and dangerous curve, overtaking without watching traffic ahead, speeding, anyway, you name any dangerous situation and you will find it in India. This combined with the huge amounts of trucks and buses, the chaotic situation in cities and the poor road signs make driving in India a real challenge. Expect the unexpected and drive very very defensively. In my opinion, if you can drive in India, you can drive anywhere in the world.
Watch out for speed bumps in the most unexpected places without any warning. Watch out for slow traffic like rickshaws, oxen carts, bicycles and lots and lots of pedestrians on the road. in India the road is for everyone, not just for cars. and take special care of cows. hitting one will give you a lot of problems. And please, never drive at night!
Security advisories and information
- Country Specific Information - U.S. Department of State
- Travel Reports and Warnings - Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada
- Travel advice by country - Foreign and Commonwealth office (U.K.)
- Travel Advice for India - Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Camping in India
Over the past couple of years, many private campsites have been springing up in India especially in Karnataka, Kerala, Tamilnadu, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh. There are private campsite aggregators like www.campmonk.com that have listed over 1000 campsites in India. These campsites have western restrooms, common facilities and most of them also provide food. Some campsites may be accessible via 4x4 only, so make sure you read the listing. The government of India is promoting caravan tourism through policy implementation and camping and caravanning will only grow in the years to come.
Camping guide books
A good resource for finding campsites is www.campmonk.com
Regular tap water is not safe to drink. You must boil it or obtain RO filtered water at a local establishment.You can get clean drinking water and access to toilets at gas stations or petrol pumps free of cost.Petrol pumps are not hard to find,ask and your will be directed towards one. Bottled drinking water is easily available in most local shops.
Reise Know-How are amoung the best paper maps. Purchase paper maps before arriving in India
GPS Maps of India
Review different GPS companies, quality and coverage (Tomtom, Garmin, OSM, Tracks4Africa). (with links to each).
GPS co-ordinates for camping, propane, gas, repairs, etc. in India
- iOverlander is a website and iPhone application designed by Overlanders, for Overlanders. It contains GPS co-ordinates and reviews for camping, hotels, propane, water, mechanics, borders and much more.
Link to sites that have a list of GPS co-ordinates (or directions) for camping locations (including "wild" campsites), propane filling, gas stations, repair shops, places of interest, etc.
Special Overland Travel interests
List any special items / places that are popular with Overlanders Discover here India Spanish Speaking Travel Guides including Itineraries .
4x4s / Trucks
- Toyota Global Dealer Locator
- Land Rover International Dealer Locator
- Mercedes Benz International (select country on bottom right)
- Jeep International site locator
Add known good mechanics here.
Buy or sell a car or motorbike in India
Describe how a foreigner can buy a vehicle. List any difficulties or limitations on where the vehicle can be driven.
Describe how a foreigner can sell a foreign-plated vehicle, or list not possible.'
Links to the source of any information - blogs or discussion forums, etc.
Add any helpful external links here.