Permits are one of the foremost questions when visiting a place like Ladakh or Spiti valley. Though these areas are open for tourism for both Indian and foreign nationals; considering the close proximity to the Indo-China border; to keep a check on tourism and people movement in the area becomes important. However if you are an Indian citizen; you do not need to obtain an Inner line permit for Spiti valley. The permit requirement is applicable to only foreign nationals. In this article, I will provide details on how and where can you obtain an Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley.
Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley (ILP)
The fact actually is that the term ILP is only applicable to permit that an Indian need to get. For foreigners, the term used is protected area permit. The purpose is the same for both; to authorize a civilian entry in to inner line areas however the format and the procedures are different. Since Indian nationals have no need to obtain an ILP for Spiti, I will only cover how a foreign tourist can get a protected area permit for himself or herself.
Protected Area Permit for Spiti Valley for Foreign Nationals
Starting from Shimla, there is no need to get a permit for traveling up to Reckong Peo. Anywhere beyond that and you will need to obtain a permit for places like Pooh, Nako, Tabo, Dhankar and Kaza. There is a check post after Reckong Peo where all tourists have to register themselves before proceeding any further. Indians can just produce a government issued Identity card like Aadhar card, voter’s ID, Driving incense and it will suffice.
Foreigners however will have to submit a photocopy of their permits. This permit can be obtained from DM office in Shimla and Reckong Peo. If coming from Manali; you can get the permits from DC office at Keylong. Apart from these places, permits are also issued from ADM office in Rampur and Udaipur. Offices are upon from 10 AM until 5 however in order to get a permit, make sure you reach there before 3 PM. The process of getting the permit can take up to 2-3 hours so you should plan your travel accordingly.
Validity & Procedure
Validity of the permit is 2 weeks from the issue date. If your trip extends beyond two weeks, you will again have to apply and get another permit after the current one expires. Once you have the permit, please ensure that you are carrying multiple copies of it as you will have to submit one at each check post.
Tricky part around getting this permit is the involvement of a travel agency. You will be required to get a letter from a registered travel agent stating that they are sponsoring you and a permit can be issued. Apart from this letter, you will also be required to produce a copy of your passport, visa, three passport sized photographs and a detailed itinerary of your travel plan.
You will also have to fill out the permit application form which you can get at the SDM office itself. A better and easier way to get this done to contact a travel agency and rather than asking them to give you a letter, pay a little extra and ask them to get the permit itself for you. The ILP application form however must be completed in person and all persons traveling must be present in front of the ADM when he signs the permit.
Best place to get the permit would be at Reckong Peo because there are not many people there. At Shimla or Manali, it may take you an entire day to get the permits issued. In the end, it is a government process afterall and you may end up talking to several people e
Charges & Procedure
Officially, there is no charge for these permits. Some time ago, a “Sugam Center” was set up in Shimla in order to make the process of obtaining these permits faster and easier. A charge for Rs. 200 was also added to be paid at the Sugam center as a “convenience fee”. However, quite the contrary happened. Process still remained slow and time consuming but now at a cost of Rs. 200. If either of the ADM office staff asks you to go to Sugam Center, do not do so. In the end, you will still have to submit the same form at the ADM office.
Another official rules states that the permits can only be issued to a group of minimum 4 tourists through a recognized travel agency. This rule however is only applied strictly at Shimla. If you are a solo traveler or a group of less than 4, then do not try to get the permit in Shimla as you will be denied. Rather, continue to Reckong Peo and apply there. This rule somehow is not applicable in Peo and you will easily get the permit even if you are a solo traveler.
Where to get Inner Line Permit for Spiti Valley in Reckong Peo?
In Reckong Peo, the permits are issued at the ADM office at Khwangi Road. The process is somewhat easier here. There won’t be too many people around applying for the permit so time consumed will be less; you would not have to worry about minimum 4 people; and also do not need to carry passport size photograph. They have a webcam installed using which picture of you will be clicked and pasted directly on the permit. If you do not want to go through the hassle, then there are a few travel agents in both Reckong Peo and Kalpa who can help get the permit on your behalf for about Rs. 100 to Rs. 200 per person.
In Keylong, the process is pretty much the same as Reckong Peo. There will not be many people around and the 4 people rule too is not strictly followed. You can get the permits from DC office Keylong but will have to bring in your 2 passport sized photographs.
Inner Line Permits for Spiti Valley for Indian Citizens
As mentioned previously in the article, Indian citizens do not need an ILP while traveling to Spiti valley. The only permit you will have to procure is the one issued for Rohtang Pass in case you are traveling from Manali. If going from Shimla, then this permit too is not required.
I hope this information on Inner line permit for Spiti was helpful. If you have any further questions, please feel free to ask in the comments section below or at our Community Forum and I will be glad to answer.