Ladakh’s Inner Line Permit (My Tourists Guide To Applying For An ILP)

Tristan Balme How to obtain an inner line permit in leh ladakh

If you’re planning a trip to Ladakh, India, you may need an Inner Line Permit (ILP) to visit certain areas. In this guide, I’ll explain what an ILP is, what areas require it, how to obtain one, and answer some frequently asked questions.

To obtain an Inner Line Permit (ILP) for certain restricted areas in Ladakh, non-Indian citizens must apply online or through a local travel agent. The permit costs INR 400 per person for a stay of up to 15 days, and INR 20 per day per person for longer stays. To apply, you’ll need to provide photocopies of your passport and fill out an application form. Once approved, you’ll need to make at least seven photocopies of the stamped permit to carry with you throughout your trip as each will be kept at the checkpoints you pass through.

Key PointsExplanation
Inner Line PermitA document required for non-Indians traveling to certain areas of Ladakh
Restricted AreasAreas close to the border with China and Pakistan that require an Inner Line Permit
Protected Area Permit/Restricted Area Permit (PAP/RAP)Documents that allow Indian citizens to visit certain restricted areas
CostINR 400 per person for a stay of up to 15 days; INR 20 per day per person for longer stays
Processing TimeHanle, Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route from Chusul, Umling La Pass, Nubra Valley including Turtuk
Minimum Group SizeTwo people. Something to watch out for if you’re a solo traveller.
Ladakh Inner Line Permits CircuitsHanle, Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route from Chusul, Umling La Pass, Nubra valley including Turtuk
How to Obtain an ILPApply online or through a local travel agent; provide photocopies of passport and fill out an application form

What is an Inner Line Permit?

An Inner Line Permit is a document that allows non-Indians to visit certain areas of Ladakh, India. This permit is required because these areas are near the border of China and Pakistan, and are considered strategically sensitive.

There are many checkpoints along the route at which you’ll need to stop, give your passport and visa details, and show this permit.

A few of these checkpoints even keep the permit papers, so you’ll need multiple copies.

Recommendation: When I got my Inner Line Permit i was recommended to take 7 photocopies PER PERSON. In the end, only 3 were taken off me (so i still had 4 left) but i’d recommend you do the same!

Tristan Balme Example of the inner line permit ILP in leh ladakh

What are the Restricted Areas?

The restricted areas in Ladakh include the Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, and Dah Hanu. These areas are designated as such due to their proximity to the border with China and Pakistan.

What is Protected Area Permit / Restricted Area Permit (PAP/ RAP)?

Protected Area Permit (PAP) and Restricted Area Permit (RAP) are documents that allow Indian citizens to visit certain areas of the country that are restricted to foreigners. The PAP is required for visiting areas that are close to the border with China, while the RAP is required for visiting areas close to the border with Myanmar.

Do I need a permit to travel in Ladakh?

In general, no, you don’t need an inner line permit to travel in Ladakh or the neighboring state of Kashmir. Ladakh is a huge area and travel and most of the state is completely uncontrolled.

But, if you plan to visit any of the restricted areas in Ladakh, you will need an Inner Line Permit. This includes areas such as Nubra Valley, Pangong Tso, Tso Moriri, and Dah Hanu.

A word on Insurance: Also be aware, most countires recognise ladakh as a safe place to travel, Kashmir which is on many countries (including New Zealands) do not travel list. This means you probably wont have any issues with insurance covering you in Ladakh.

How much does it cost?

The cost of an Inner Line Permit varies depending on the duration of your stay and the number of people in your group. As of when I visited in September 2022, the cost is INR 400 per person for a stay of up to 15 days. If you plan to stay for more than 15 days, the cost is INR 20 per day per person.

How long does it take to come through?

The processing time for an Inner Line Permit can vary depending on the time of year and the number of applications being processed. It is recommended that you allow at least two weeks for your permit to be processed.

My Experience: That said, when I was in Leh I didn’t organize an ILP beforehand so had to figure it out while i was there. It was a bit complicated and certainly stressful (hence why I’m writing this guide) but i was able to get one in about 2 days.

Be aware: Minimum group size

To obtain an Inner Line Permit, you must have a minimum group size of two people. Solo travelers will need to find someone to travel with or join a group.

My Experience: I was traveling alone so had to befriend a group of Spaniards at my hotel – so we all went in for an inner line permit together. We then took plenty of photocopies of the permit so i could travel separately.

Ladakh Inner Line Permits Circuits – What to choose

To visit the following areas in Ladakh, you will need an Inner Line Permit:

  • Hanle
  • Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route from Chusul
  • Umling La Pass
  • Nurbra valley including Turtuk

Inner Line Permits for Hanle

Hanle is a small village in eastern Ladakh, known for its observatory. To visit Hanle, you will need an Inner Line Permit. The permit application process is the same as for other restricted areas in Ladakh.

Inner Line Permits for Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri direct route from Chusul

The direct route from Pangong Tso to Tso Moriri via Chusul is a popular route for tourists visiting Ladakh. To take this route, you will need an Inner Line Permit. The permit application process is the same as for other restricted areas in Ladakh.

Inner Line Permits for Umling La Pass

Umling La Pass is one of the highest motorable passes in the world, located in the Changthang region of Ladakh. To visit Umling La Pass, you will need an Inner Line Permit. The permit application process is the same as for other restricted areas in Ladakh.

Tristan Balme map of leh and leh ladakh for inner line permit india
Taking advantage of my inner line permit in leh ladakh

How To Get an Inner Line Permit

Right, so here’s what I did to get my permit. Your mileage may vary (so I’m not claiming this is the best or only way to do it). but it worked and it was fast and cheap. [disclaimer over]

Step 1: Find some friends

As mentioned earlier, to apply for an Inner Line Permit, you must have a minimum group size of two people. If you’re traveling alone, you’ll need to find someone to travel with or join a group.

As a solo traveler, this was incredibly frustrating. I ended up going back to my hotel and making friends with a Spanish family who also needed to get a permit. We then pooled our passports and went through the rest of the process together!

Step 2: Apply Online

The easiest and most convenient way to apply for an Inner Line Permit is online. The website for applying for the permit is www.lahdclehpermit.in. You’ll need to create an account and fill out the application form.

Step 3: Get photocopies of your passports

You’ll need to provide photocopies of your passport’s first and last pages along with the application. Make sure the photocopies are clear and legible.

There are many stores in Leh which will run off photocopiers for you. I think we did all our passports and paid around 50 cents!

Step 4: Find a local travel agent

If you’re having trouble with the online application process or need help with the permit application process, you can reach out to a local travel agent. They can help you with the paperwork and submission process.

Note: I tried to do this to save a few dollars. In hindsight, I’d recommend you go directly to an agent. It makes the whole process much easier.

Step 5: Take the papers to the DC Office

Once you’ve completed the application and obtained the necessary documents, you’ll need to take them to the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh. The office is open from 10 am to 4 pm on weekdays.

The catch.

This needs to be done by a local person. (yeah, I don’t get why this is either!).

So you have two options.

  • Get a local travel agent to do it. This is the most common option. The catch is they usually pool together a bunch of applications and go down once every day or two to process. They’ll also charge you for it – duh.
  • What we did was ask our (the Spanish families) driver to do it. We checked out of the hotel, got picked up by the driver and boosted down to the DC office right on 10 am to be first in the queue (there’s always a queue lol).

Step 6: Photocopy the stamped papers 7 times

Once your permit is approved and stamped, you’ll need to make at least seven photocopies of the stamped papers. These will be required at various checkpoints throughout your trip.

Fortunately right outside (about 100m away) from the DC office is a shop that will run off photocopies for you, so you can do this at the same time.

Step 7: Let’s go!

Congratulations! You’re now ready to explore the beautiful and scenic Ladakh region of India. Make sure to keep your Inner Line Permit with you at all times and enjoy your trip.

travelling with an inner line permit to turtuk
Tristan Balme ladakh car trip pano
Tristan Balme sunset view over leh ladakh
Tristan Balme high desert in leh ladakh inner line

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How to obtain an Inner Line Permit?

To obtain an Inner Line Permit, you can apply online or through a local travel agent. You’ll need to provide photocopies of your passport and fill out an application form.

Q2. What is the process to obtain the Inner Line Permit online?

To obtain an Inner Line Permit online, you’ll need to create an account on www.lahdclehpermit.in and fill out the application form. You’ll also need to provide photocopies of your passport.

Q3. What is the process to obtain Inner Line Permit Offline?

To obtain an Inner Line Permit offline, you’ll need to visit the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh and fill out the application form. You’ll also need to provide photocopies of your passport.

Q4. Where should I make the payment?

The payment for the Inner Line Permit can be made online through the www.lahdclehpermit.in website or in person at the Deputy Commissioner’s office in Leh.

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