Sikkim Tour Plan: Navigating Permits and Regulations

Essential Permits for Sikkim Tour Plan: A Comprehensive Guide

Jul 20th, 2023
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What is the need for Permits during your Sikkim tour plan? 

Sikkim shares its borders with China in the north and northeast, Bhutan in the east, Nepal in the west and West Bengal (India) in the south. Sikkim is also located close to India's Siliguri corridor near Bangladesh. Owing to this, the State has certain Restricted & Protected areas and to enter those areas, visitors have to avail applicable Permits from the Permit Issuing Authorities during their Sikkim tour plan.

Do you need Permits for North Sikkim?

Most tourists wish to have a North Sikkim tour plan but are not aware of the permits required for it. You will need permits to visit places in North Sikkim such as Lachen, Lachung, Gurudongmar lake, Zero point, Yumthang valley and Dzongu. In East Sikkim as well, certain places like Tsomgo lake, Nathula Pass, Gnathang Valley & Silk Route (Dzuluk) require all visitors (Foreign or Indian national) to avail applicable permits.

What are the permits & permits formalities for foreign Nationals?

To enter Sikkim, any foreign national visitors require an Inner Line Permit (ILP) which can be obtained from any interstate check-post (For Sikkim, it can be obtained at Rangpo Checkpost). The visitors have to submit photocopies of their valid passport, valid Indian visa and passport size photos to the ILP issuing officers at check-post (STDC). The process will take about 10-15 minutes. After availing the Inner Line Permits, the foreign national visitors can enter Sikkim. Once the visitors enter Sikkim, the Inner Line Permits are valid for 15 days from the day of issue. If they would like to extend their stay in Sikkim, they have to extend their ILP from the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation in Gangtok.

If the Foreign National visitors would like to visit restricted and protected areas of Sikkim, they have to avail the permits from Authorities. Foreign National Citizens have to avail two types of permits: one from department of Tourism and Civil Aviation first and then from Sikkim Police Permit cell. The permits are only issued to those travel agents who are registered with the Tourism Department Government of Sikkim. To avail these Permits, foreign visitors have to be two or more in a group and a local guide is compulsory. 

How to get permits & permits formalities for foreign Nationals?

First the travel agent with whom the visitors have booked the tour/car have to apply for a Tourism permit from the Tourism Department a day before their traveling day. It’s a simple process where the form application has to be filled up and attach visitor’s documents (Valid Passport, Valid Indian visa, Inner line permit and entry stamp of check-post) & passport size photos. After getting the Tourism permit, the travel agents have to apply for Police permits. The permits have to be applied online. The Travel agents have to submit the documents (Valid Passport, Valid Indian visa, Inner line permit) along with Tourism Department permits, guide documents and vehicle documents. The permits will be issued within 24 hours from the time of submission of the documents. The permit fees may vary according to group size. 

After getting the permits, the foreign nationals’ can enter Lachen, upto Thangu valley only, in Lachung till Yumthang valley, and Dzongu in North Sikkim. They can also visit Tsomgo lake in East Sikkim with those permits. 

Permits Formalities for travelers visiting Restricted and Protected Areas of Sikkim with their own private vehicle:

Any Indian nationals’ visitors visiting the Restricted & Protected area of Sikkim must avail their permits before they enter these areas. The visitors can avail the permits from Sikkim Police check post Permit Cell at 3rd Mile Gangtok. It will take about 10-20 minutes depending on rush/schedule. The visitors himself/herself have to reach Sikkim Police check post Permit Cell at 3rd Mile Gangtok early morning with their valid Id’s (all travelers in car) and valid vehicle documents (RC, Pollution, Insurance, Driving Licence) 

PLEASE NOTE:  THE PERMITS ARE ISSUED ONLY TO THE OWNER OF VEHICLE. THE OWNER OF THE VEHICLE HAS TO BE PRESENT AT THE PERMIT CELL AT THE TIME OF APPLICATION. Authorization from Vehicle owner to drive will not work if the vehicle owner is not present on the spot.  

Once the submission of documents is done, the permit cell officials will issue the permits with 5 days validity. With these permits, the visitors can enter places mentioned in the Permits only. 

The same permits can also be availed from the District Collector’s office in Mangan. The SDM can issue the permit after validating the documents submitted to the office. Once the permits are issued, the visitors are good to enter the areas mentioned in the permits. 

Are there any restrictions on permits for Foreign Nationals?

Due to Government restrictions, foreigners are not allowed to enter certain destinations such as Gurudongmar lake, Yumesamdong (0 point), Nathula Pass, Dzuluk and Gnathang valley. However, there are many beautiful other offbeat locations that are open to all and we at OurGuest specialize in providing such options to our guests.

How to get a Permit for Citizens of Indian National?

The process to apply for the permits is very simple. Once you book your cab services from any Travel Agents registered with the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation, Government of Sikkim, they will process the permits. The permits are issued along with vehicle pass, once you submit your valid Photo ID issued by government of India (voter card, driving license or Passport) for adults and (Birth Certificate or any other IDs with father’s name visible on it along with any valid ID’s as supporting documents (For children below 18 years) and passport size photos. The process is a simple 1-day process once the agents submit your IDs along with other formalities and forms. The permits are issued within 24 hours if the vehicle document and the visitor's IDs are all okay. The submission of permits is online where only registered travel agencies can access the portal. 

Visit to Nathula Pass is only allowed to Indian citizens because of international borders and foreign national visitors are not allowed to visit the area. Once you book your visit to Nathula Pass registered Travel Agents in Sikkim, they will process the permits formalities, The Nathula Pass permits are applied a day before the traveling date before 1 PM, to the Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation. Nathula pass permits are only issued to travel agents who are registered with Sikkim Tourism Department. Due to limited Passes to Nathula Pass, the Department issues some of the permits on a clubbing basis. Which means, from half way (Nathula Gate) till Nathula Pass, visitors have to share a vehicle with other fellow travelers who are visiting Nathula Pass which is approx. 5 kms. (10 mins drive). The permit fees may vary according to group size. 

The permit to visit any Restricted and Protected area permits can be availed for a maximum of 5 days. If any visitor(s) would like to extend their stays in those areas, they have to reapply or extend their permits as per their requirement. 

Where can you get Permits for Citizens of Indian National?

The permits to visit Tsomgo lake, Dzuluk, Gnathang Valley in East Sikkim and Lachen, Gurudongmar lake, Lachung, Yumthang Valley, Yumesamdong (0 point) in North Sikkim are issued by Sikkim Police Permit cell, and to visit Nathula Pass the permits are issued by Department of Tourism and Civil Aviation. We at OurGuest can help you with all applicable permits to ensure a hassle-free North Sikkim tour plan!

Can you drive or ride a bike to North Sikkim ?

Scooters are not allowed, only geared bikes will be allowed for self drive to North Sikkim (Restricted & Protected Area Permit for Bikes). The bikes have to be owned by the rider or hired from within the state of Sikkim. Rental bikes from other states or bikes that have only authorization letters from owners will not be eligible for permits.

What are the documents required for Restricted & Protected Area Permit for Bikes?

Like any other permits, bike permits require documentation to be submitted  

  • Valid Vehicle Insurance
  • Valid Pollution Under Control (PUC) document
  • Valid Registration Certificate 
  • Driver’s  valid Driving license and supporting documents (Passport or Voter card)
  • Co riders doc (Passport/Driving license or Voter card) only if there is co-rider
  • Passport size pictures

What is the process for getting a Restricted & Protected Area Permit for Bikes?

Only registered Travel agencies can avail the permits in Sikkim. We at OurGuest are a registered travel agency and can help you with this upon request during your North Sikkim tour plan.

The permit process for bikes is a 2 days process, as permits are issued from the Tourism Department and Police Permit cell. So, contact the travel agency beforehand so you won’t have to waste your full day chasing after a permit. The process for Bike permits starts with a bike permit form, where you have to fill in details and attach all the documentation (mentioned above) and submit it to the Tourism Department, the permit officials will verify the documents and when everything is okay they will issue the permit by late afternoon. Once the Tourism permit is ready, the Travel agent has to apply for a Police permit - the agent has to fill up the details online, along with other bikes/rider documents. After all the verification, the Police permits are issued early morning or same day late night.

Why are your Sikkim permits rejected? 

Some of the reasons for rejection of permits are:

  • When your documentation are not clear/proper
  • When Roads are blocked due to landslides/ other natural calamities
  • Heavy snowfall/bad weather
  • Late submission of applications


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