Ladakh, or the entire Kashmir and Ladakh for that matter, is a beautiful yet sensitive area because of the constant conflicts between India, Pakistan, and China in this region. There is a heavy army presence in the area and not all parts of Ladakh are accessible to civilians. To visit some areas, all foreign nationals, as well as NRIs, are required to procure a Protected Area Permit Ladakh.
Indian nationals living in India do not need PAP. For them, there is a different permit required called Inner Line Permit. I have covered that topic in a different article How to Obtain an Inner Line Permit for Ladakh.
The Ladakh Protected area permit only applies to foreigners and NRIs. If you were planning a road trip to Ladakh in near future, below is the detailed information on how you can procure this permit.
What is Ladakh Protected Area Permit
Protected Area Permit Ladakh, or PAP, is a government-issued document for foreign tourists. It is a permit to be allowed entry to restricted areas for a limited period of time. Places located near LOC (Pakistan) & LAC (China) require civilians to acquire this permit in order to visit. The sole purpose of this permit is to keep a check on movement in these areas.
For more details, you can also take a look at the document issued by the Ministry of Home affairs.
For Indian citizens, as I mentioned earlier, this permit is issued in the form of Inner Line Permits.
Places you need Protected Area Permit For
Places that you are required to obtain a PAP before visiting are as mentioned below.
- Nubra Valley
- Tso Moriri (Karzok)
- Pangong Tso
- Dah and Hanu Villages
No permit is required for local sightseeing in and around Leh, Zanskar Valley, Suru Valley. You also do not need a permit for traveling between Manali and Leh or Srinagar and Leh.
Foreigners aren’t allowed to go visit Changthang valley. It is the area beyond Merak Village along with Pangong Tso or Mahe Village if you are coming from Chumthang or More plains side. You also cannot visit the Hanle Village. This route is open only for Indian citizens after obtaining an Inner Line Permit.
However, after procuring PAP, any foreign national can travel as far as villages of Man and Merak or till Loma post if driving through Upshi and Chumathang. In Nubra Valley, tourists can now travel as far as Pachatang and Tyakshi villages, beyond Turtuk. Permits are now also issued for Kargil, Chitkan, Dah, Garkone, Darchik and Batalik.
How to get a Protected Area Permit
A Protected Area Permit can only be issued through a registered travel agent and a minimum of 2 people are required in order to procure PAP. You cannot apply for the permit all by yourself and must involve a registered travel agent in the process. It is also never issued to a solo traveler and it is mandatory that you have someone accompanying you on the trip.
There is a way around the second condition though. Your co-traveler does not necessarily have to be a friend or family member. In case you were traveling solo, then the travel agent will get you the PAP issued by putting your name on the list with a different group.
This doesn’t mean that you need to be traveling with that group if your PAP is issued with them. Once you have the PAP, you are free to travel solo again.
Protected Area Permit for tourists from Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan, and Burma is issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi. You cannot get it after reaching Ladakh and must obtain it beforehand.
Permits for those on an official or diplomatic visa are issued by the Ministry of External Affairs in Delhi. If you are unsure of the procedure or have no idea where to go and apply, the simplest way out is to contact a registered travel agent and have them arrange it for you.
In recent years, permits to nationals from Bangladesh, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan or middle-east have been denied completely. I will strongly recommend that before you finalize your trip and itinerary, you clarify whether or not the permits are being issued.
In the worst case, if you did not get the permit, you can still travel to Leh City from either Manali or Srinagar but will not be allowed to visit any other area in Ladakh for sightseeing.
Validity of Protected Area Permit
The Protected Area Permit can be procured only for a maximum of 7 days. However, though, it is not a one-time entry pass. After procuring ILP, you can still visit that particular region as many times as you wish, as long as the permit is still valid. After 7 days, if you wish to stay back and visit more places, you will need to reapply for PAP.
Please carry several photocopies of your PAP with you as you will need to submit one at each check post. So in case you run out of photocopies, you won’t have an option but to come back to Leh to get more.
Documents Required & Cost
Below is a list of documents that you will have to submit in order to obtain PAP.
- Photocopy of your Passport (front page)
- Photocopy of your latest Indian visa
- Rs. 20 per person per day for wildlife protection fee
- Rs. 400 per person for environment tax
Apart from this, you will have to pay the travel agent as agreed.
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 a per-day basis)
- Rs. 200 for wildlife protection fee or simple the permit fee (20 x 2 x 5). This fee is on a per-day basis.
- Travel Agent Fee as discussed and agreed upon
Protected Area Permit Application Form
Below is a scanned copy of the PAP application form. Click on the thumbnail to view in full size or save it to your disk to take a printout.
Other Things to Note
A few other points worth mentioning.
- The permit is valid only for a group of tourists, consisting of a minimum of two people.
- The permit is specific to a tourist route/area and entry or exit points of that region.
- Tourists must not visit any other area apart from the ones mentioned in the permit.
- Please ensure that you are carrying enough photocopies of the permit as you may be requested to submit a copy at each check post on the route.
- Tourists must not stay in the restricted/protected area after the expiry of the permit.
- Every foreigner, except for a citizen of Bhutan, is required to obtain a protected area permit.
Please also note that the application form, procedure, and cost may be revised depending on the year of your visit. Please discuss with your travel agent in detail about any changes in recent times and apply accordingly.
Protected Area Permit Ladakh – Conclusion
I hope this information on obtaining a protected area permit for Ladakh was helpful. Please note that being an Indian citizen, I have never obtained a PAP myself and my knowledge on the subject is pretty much limited to what I mentioned above. If you still need any further clarifications, you should get in touch with a travel agent for answers to your queries.