Do I need any permits for Ladakh? And if yes, then how and where do I get it? And what all places do I need the Ladakh permit for? These are possibly some of the most commonly asked questions by anyone planning to visit Ladakh. To be quite honest, the topic has definitely become one of the most confusing ones in recent years with all the recent changes and updates. If you have a trip to Ladakh coming up in the near future and have been pondering over the topic of Ladakh Permits, then hopefully in this article I will be able to answer most of your questions.
Please note that the article below explains how to get Ladakh permit in person after you have reached Leh City. If you want to know about the online procedure, please read How to get Ladakh Permit Online.
First of all, yes you do need a permit for visiting Ladakh. It is a mandatory pass without which, you will not be able to visit most of the places in Ladakh. The formal name of this document is ‘Inner Line Permit’ and it can either be obtained in person from SDM office in Leh City; or from an online portal. This permit was removed back in 2014 as an effort to promote tourism in Ladakh but then was implemented again in 2017. How can you get this permit and what the related charges are is what I will be providing details on in this article.
What is Inner Line Permit Leh?
An inner line permit is a permit issued by the authorities to a civilian in order to allow and track his movement in areas close to the border. It is in fact implemented in several other areas as well like in the Northeast and Lakshadweep Islands. Since most of the tourist areas in Ladakh are right next to the China border, you are required to obtain this permit in Leh City before moving any further towards places like Nubra Valley and Pangong Tso.
Is permit required to visit Leh Ladakh
Yes, the permit is required to visit Ladakh but not Leh. What it means is that you can reach Leh City from either Srinagar or Manali without the permit. But to visit places in Nubra, Pangong or Moriri in Ladakh, you will need to get this permit from Leh City.
Is it a Mandate for Everyone?
Yes, the permit is mandatory for everyone except J&K residents and children under 12 years of age. If you reside anywhere in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, all that you need is a valid identity proof, preferably an Aadhar Card. Children under 12 years of age will be allowed to travel without any permit but you may need an ID card to prove their age if the child looks close to 12 or over that age.
Also Read: What Clothes to Pack for Ladakh Trip
Places you need permit for in Ladakh
Listed below are places that you will be required to get a permit for in order to visit.
- All of Nubra Valley : Khardung La, Khardung, Khalsar, Diskit, Hunder, Turtuk, Sumur, Takashi, Panamik and Warshi
- Pangong Tso : Chang La, Durbuk, Tangtse and Spangmik
- Changthang Valley : Man, Merak, Chushul, Loma, Koyul, Hanle, Nyoma, Mahe, Sumdo
- Leh to Tso Moriri: Chumathang, Mahe, Sumdo, Karzok (Tso Moriri)
- Leh to Batalik: Khalsi, Damkhar, Skurbuchan, Dargoo, Hanoo, Dah, Batalik
- Tangyar Trek : Leh – Saboo – Diggar La – Tangyar (Nubra Valley)
- Agham Shyok Route
- Wari La Route
Places you do not need a Permit for in Ladakh
Listed below are places that you do not need the permit for
- Sightseeing in and around Leh City: Leh Palace, Shanti Stoopa, Shey Palace, Hemis, Magnetic Hill, Gurudwara Pathar Sahib, Indus Zanskar Confluence, Monastery tour etc
- Zanskar Valley: Sankoo, Panikhar, Parkachik, Rangdum, Padum
- Suru Valley: Phey, Nimmoo
- Manali Leh Highway (For traveling from Manali to Leh or Vice Versa)
- Srinagar Leh Highway (For traveling from Srinagar to Leh or Vice Versa)
Also Read: How to Handle Mountain Sickness in Ladakh
Places that Permits do not get Issued for
Listed below are places that are high on the list of tourists and bikers but are yet out of bounds at the time of writing this article.
- Marsimik La
- Umling La
- Chumur Route
- Salsal La
- Charchagan La
How to get permit for Ladakh
There are three ways that you can obtain the permit. Well there are actually only two ways and the third one is merely someone else acting on your behalf.
- You can get the permit in person after you reach Leh
- Or you can get the permit online before you start from home
- Or you can pay someone else to get these permits on your behalf
Of these three, the third is the most convenient one and I will explain why.
Where to get Inner Line Permit in Leh
You can get the permit from city’s SDM office which remains open from 9 AM till 5 PM, Monday to Saturday. However the permits are only issued between 10 AM till 3 PM. The office remains closed on Sundays so you should plan your trip accordingly.
Also read: What to see in Ladakh – A Complete List
Leh Ladakh Inner Line Permit Online
Yes, there is an option to get the permit online but I would not really recommend it. Why? Because it is merely a paper filling formality. You will fill in all the details and make the payment online but will still need to visit the SDM office to get it stamped and signed. On top of it, the online portal is not a very reliable one. There is always one or another glitch with it and a few people even told me that they did not get the permit even after making the payment. Hence, a better way still would be to first reach Leh and get the permit on the spot.
However, if you would like to apply for it online then I have explained the entire process step by step in another article, How to Apply for Ladakh Inner Line Permit Online.
A big problem with the portal is that it will allow you to register only once. If for some reason, you want to change any details, it will not allow you to do so be very careful when submitting the details for the very first time.
Getting the Permit via a Travel Agent or Hotel
This is the most convenient way to get the permit in my opinion. It saves you all the hassle and paperwork and for a very reasonable cost. Almost every hotel in Ladakh provides this facility. The charge, at the time of writing this article, is Rs. 110 per person over and above the charges of the permit which I have explained next. It may sound a bit high to some people but considering the hassle and time it will save you, I think it is justified and definitely the easiest way.
If you are booking in advance, you can call the hotel and ask them to keep your permits arranged. You will, of course, have to send them scanned copies of your Identity proofs to do so. Or, if you did not book in advance, you can still ask the hotel after you checked in. No need to go to the SDM office; spend the day sightseeing in Leh City or just relax while the hotel arranges the permit for you. And all this for a hundred bucks. Not a bad deal I would say.
Also Read: How to Plan a Ladakh Solo Trip
Leh Ladakh Permit Cost
Charges for Inner Line permit for Ladakh are divided into two parts.
- Rs. 400 per person for environment tax
- Rs. 20 per person per day for wildlife protection fee
So for example, if you need a permit for 5 days for two people, the calculation will be something like this.
- Rs. 800 for environment tax (This is one time, not on per day basis)
- Rs. 200 for wildlife protection fee or simple the permit fee (20 x 2 x 5). This fee is on per day basis.
Hence the total cost would be Rs. 1,000 for permits. If you were paying your hotel for the permit, then you would pay a total of 1220, adding a 110 per person for the agent charge. Depending on the number of people you are traveling with, and the number of days of your trip, you can use the same calculation to come up with the total amount you will have to pay.
There is no permit required for staying in Leh City hence there is also no cost involved as long as you are in Leh. The permit duration and cost is only for the period when you leave Leh and visit other areas like Nubra or Pangong that you need permit for.
Validity of Ladakh Permit
Ladakh permit can only be obtained for a maximum of 14 days. However though it is not a one time entry pass, which means that you can, after procuring ILP, visit that particular region as many times as you wish within the mentioned 14 days. There are several check posts where you will be needing to submit your permit so do not submit the original anywhere. Keep several photocopies and submit one wherever required.
Also Read: How to Travel to Ladakh by Public Transport
Documents required for Inner Line Permit Ladakh
In order to get the permit in person, a self attested photocopy of a photo identity proof of the applicant is required to be attached with the application form. The identity card can only be a government issued one, ie Driving License, Passport, Pan Card, voter ID, Aadhar card etc. The application form can be obtained from the SDM office itself or the hotel would have it if you are paying them to get the permit for you.
If you were applying for Ladakh Permit Online, then you will have to mentioned your ID number in the portal. It will first give you an option to select the type of ID (Aadhar Car, DL, Voter ID etc) and then will ask you to enter the ID number in the next field.
Ladakh Permit from Manali
There is no option of getting a permit for Leh Ladakh from Manali. For this, Leh is the only option. However, if you were traveling by your own vehicle, you will need to get a permit to cross Rohtang Pass. This permit too can be obtained either from SDM office in Manali or via an online portal. I have explained the entire procedure of getting this permit in a different article, How to get a permit for Rohtang Pass.
Ladakh Permit for Foreigners
Foreign nationals are required to obtain a Protected Area Permit for which the rules, process, duration, and charges are different. Please read How to Obtain Protected Area Permit in Ladakh for more details.
Also Read: What to see in Leh City
Ladakh Permit for Bangladeshi Citizens
Bangladeshi citizens are not issued a permit for Ladakh from Leh City. They must obtain their permit through home ministry in Delhi. Without the permit, Bangladeshi folks can visit Leh city though. You will be free to travel between Srinagar – Leh or Manali – Leh. Sightseeing around Leh City too will be allowed but you cannot go towards Nubra, Pangong or Moriri Lake. For this, you will have to get the permit from Delhi.
Leh Ladakh Vehicle Permit
There is no vehicle permit for Ladakh. The Inner Line Permit is issued on per person basis so you will need it even if you went by Bus. Vehicle permit is needed only for Rohtang Pass and that too only if you were coming from Manali to Leh.
Timings of DC Office, Leh Ladakh
The office remains open from 9 AM till 5 PM, Monday to Saturday. However, the permits are only issued between 10 AM till 3 PM. On Saturdays, they can even refuse to accept any applications after lunch. The office remains closed on Sundays so you should plan your trip accordingly.
- Please do not forget to bring a pen and blank paper along as you will also have to write an application along with filling up the necessary details on the permit.
- Keep your original identify proofs handy with you and attest the photocopies.
- If you are traveling in a group of 2 or more people, then the details of all the people can be mentioned on the same permit form. You do not have to apply for all of them separately.
- The entire process of getting the permit can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 hours, or even more, so please plan accordingly. It would be best to reach the office as early as possible.
Hanle Permit is being issued this year. You can add it on your ILP form and visit accordingly.
Chushul Route Permits
Permits for traveling from Pangong to Tso Moriri directly via Chushul, Nyoma, Loma, Mahe, Sumdo are getting issued. But please make sure that you are mentioning the entire route on the form.
Another thing to remember is that even after getting the permit, you may be stopped en route and turned back by Indian Army or ITBP.
Hanle Observatory Permission
Tourists were allowed to visit Hanle Observatory once upon a time but it is no longer an option. You will not get to visit the observatory unless you have some strings in high government positions that you can pull.
Umling La Permit
Umling La is no longer open for tourists. Do not put this on your application form as it will be struck off or you may be asked to fill up the form once again and come back later.
Marsimik La Permit
Marsimik La is off limits for tourists and you will not be allowed to go there. Please do not add this on your application form.
That is pretty much all that you need to know about getting Ladakh Permit either in person or online. I hope the information above was of help. If you have any questions; or need any other details, please feel free to ask in the comments section below; or at our Community Forum; and I will be glad to answer.