An Inner Line Permit is needed by foreigners when traveling along the restricted area of the India-Tibet border between Spiti and Lahaul Valley. Starting at Spello and ending at Losar (South to North), the Inner Line Permit allows foreign tourists unlimited access for up to 15 days. This policy does not pertain to Indian residents who, regardless of whether they are traveling with foreigners, do not need to apply for the same Inner Line Permit.
How to Get an Inner Line Permit
Tourists used to obtain the Inner Line Permit directly from the District Commissioner building located in the heart of Recong Peo on the main drag. Now applicants must go the the Himachal Tourism Office located at the far end of the parking lot of the DC building. Ask a local, they can guide lost travelers. The office is located on the second floor and clearly marked with a large blue sign. Open at 10 A.M. Monday-Friday.
Here is where applying for an Inner Line Permit gets sticky. By 10:10 A.M. the day I went to apply for an Inner Line Permit, the Himachal office hadn’t opened. Across the hallway I spotted a travel agency, name forgotten, that had a clearly marked signboard inside which read: Inner Line Permits issued starting at 11 A.M. daily.
Wandering around the parking lot was an employee of the agency who offered to open his doors early. Inside as the friendly employee and I began the application process, he notified me that his office and not the Himachal Tourism Office were the only source for an Inner Line Permit. Truth or fiction? I never found out.
A copy of a valid passport and India visa are needed to begin the Inner Line Permit application process. Travelers without proper copies can find a photostat just across the street from the DC Building.
The application process is straightforward; a representative from the travel agency will take passport and visa copies, the completed application form, the actual passport(s) of the applicant(s) and Rs 150 per person. Applicants will be asked to walk with a representative from the travel agency over to the District Commissioner (DC) building where, behind the main building, is a small set of government offices. Among other duties they begin the next step in issuing an Inner Line Permit. The applicant’s application will be entered for processing and each applicant will have their picture taken on-site.
After this process is completed applicants relocate to the DC building along with the travel agency representative and an Inner Line Permit which needs a signature and issuing date stamp. Once the stamp is applied applicants must wait until the final signature from the District Magistrate can be obtained.
Unfortunately I had to wait for this part, and wait, and wait.
Total time to obtain the my Inner Line Permit: 1 hour 35 minutes.
The Inner Line Permit is mandatory. Without it any foreign tourists will be turned away at check posts posted at Spello, Chango and Losar (heading South to North).
Foreign travelers may obtain an Inner Line Permit from any of District Magistrate offices at Shimla, Kullu, and Keylong OR from the S.D.M. offices at Rampur, Nichar, Kalpa, Kaza and Keylong.
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