Permits needed for your Sikkim travel 2024 updated: A guide for Indians and Foreigners


Indian state of Sikkim has some regulations and accompanied restrictions with respect to travelling and trekking within the state. This is due to its international border with multiple countries. You need to obtain certain permits, depending on your:

  • Area or places of visit
  • Nationality

Here we will elaborate about the different permits and any fees required by the administration/authority. Also we hope that this will help you to plan travelling independently inside Sikkim.

There are two main type permits and are as following:

  1. Restricted Area Permit (RAP), same as Inner Line Permit (ILP) – issued to solo travellers or groups
  2. Protected Area Permit (PAP) commonly knows as “Trekking Permit” – issued to a group of minimum 2 people

In brief:

  • If you are an Indian citizen, you will need PAP to visit certain permitted areas in North and East Sikkim during your sightseeing tours. For different trekking routes you need to obtain the applicable permits
  • Otherwise if you are a foreigner, you must obtain a  RAP, commonly referred to as ILP to enter into Sikkim. This is required for Overseas Citizen Of India (OCI) as well. Additionally you will require PAP for trekking in West or North Sikkim or the permitted areas  in North and some areas of East Sikkim.

Both the Indians and foreigners need to apply PAP through a registered tour operator.

Chek official Sikkim Govt. portal for RAP and PAP.

Which are the Protected Areas in Sikkim?

Below is an outline of Protected Areas inside Sikkim. Note that you will require PAP for entire North Sikkim district and some areas of East Sikkim district. Check the full size map of Forest Department, Govt Of Sikkim here.

Protected Areas in Sikkim (Sanctuaries and Biosphere Reserve)

For Indian Nationals:

  • For trekking in West or South Sikkim districts, e.g., Goecha La, Singalila Pass, Dafeybhir Trek, or Maenam Peak, you need to get an entry permit and pay applicable entry fees and camping charges inside a national park or sanctuary. It is done on the spot at the respective trekking base camps.
  • E.g., on a trek like Goecha La or Dzongri, you need a trekking permit inside Khanchendzongha National Park (same as Khanchendzongha Biosphere Reserve) and a verification process at the SDM office in Yuksom. Carry the original and two photocopies of your ID card with address proof on it (Aadhar/Driving Licence/Voter ID/Passport; PAN cards are not accepted). You may have to submit a self-declaration at the Yuksom police outpost. Also, carry two recent passport-size photos for the verification process.
  • For sightseeing tours within the permitted areas inside North and East Sikkim districts, you will need a Protected Area Permit (PAP).
  • E.g., tours to North Sikkim (Lachung, Yumthang, Lachen, Gurudongmar Lake, etc.) or in East Sikkim like Tsongmo Lake and Nathu La, or the Old Silk Route (Zuluk, Kupup) in East Sikkim. Apply this through a registered tour operator only.

For Foreign Nationals (including OCI):

1) Restricted Area Permit (RAP/ILP):

All foreigners (some relaxation to Bhutanese citizens) will require ILP/RAP to enter inside Sikkim. This is FREE OF COST.

  • China or Hong Kong passport holders must apply for ILP/RAP through Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, New Delhi. Taiwanese citizens are not allowed in Sikkim. Bangladesh passport holders are now can normally apply and get their ILP like other foreign nationals.
  • Any other foreign nationals can apply and obtain the ILP (RAP), Free of cost, at the FRO (Foreigners Registration Officepolice check points while entering into Sikkim state. You need to have original Passport, INDIAN VISA/e-VISA with photocopies and 2 recent passport size photos.
  • Usually  it is issued for 15 days initially. It can be extended to another 15 days but to get an extension you need to exit Sikkim and apply again when you re-enter.
  • Diplomatic Passport holders need to apply directly to the Govt. Of India through their respective consulate or embassies. It takes usually a month or more to go through the lengthy process. Apply well in advance.

Below are the ILP issuing office on Sikkim road border and other places around:

Note: ILP issuing time is from 8 am to 8 pm everyday, although we recommend you to reach any of the check post  before 6 pm.

Melli check post, South Sikkim, on your way from Bagdogra/NJP/Siliguri to West Sikkim (e.g. Yuksom, Pelling, Hilley, Uttarey etc.) or to South Sikkim ( Ravangla, Namchi etc)

Rangpo check post, East Sikkim, on your way to Gangtok and East & North Sikkim.

Ramam check post, South Sikkim, on your way from Darjeeling to West Sikkim (Yuksom, Pellling etc). This West Bengal Sikkim border check post is having an FRO office now and issues ILP.

Bagdogra airport counter: This is not consistent and dont depend on this!

Darjeeling DM office: If you are already visiting Darjeeling city or around, then you can make your ILP here as well.

2) Protected Area Permit (PAP/Trekking Permit):

  • All major trekking routes in Sikkim fall under national parks or sanctuaries and hence will require a PAP.
  • Foreigners who wish to trek to Dzongri or Goecha La, Singalila Pass or Phoktey Dara (Barsey Rhododendron Sanctuary), Round Singalila Dzongri (Uttarey to Dzongri) or Maenam & Bhaleydhunga (Maenam will require an additional permit called Protected Area Permit (PAP, often referred to as Trekking Permit).
  • This is issued to a minimum group of 2 persons or more (not issued to a solo traveller), upon submitting your ILP, visa and passport.
    Adventure Cell of Tourism & Civil Aviation Department, Govt. of Sikkim, Gangtok:

Note: Green Lake trek in North Sikkim requires Alpine Mountaineering Expedition permit, which in turn needs more approvals, time and high expenses. Different permits are needed from Sikkim state/Indian Govt. plus a Liaison Officer from IMF Delhi will be appointed. This is applicable for both the Indian and foreign nationals.)

 How a foreigner can book a trek in Sikkim with us, HT? 

  • We will require at least one additional day to process the PAP/Trekking Permit. This can’t be processed in advance and we can only apply once we receive your signed copy of ILP. This means that you can’t start the trek very next day you enter Sikkim. We would recommend a couple of days in advance.
  • To open booking, we will require a minimum of 2 foreign nationals trekking together. Later we can take solo trekker booking in the same group.
  • We charge an additional 4000 as Service Charge + 5% Govt. Tax per person to process the Trekking Permit and to counter the differential of various permit fees inside Kanchendzongha National park for Non Indian nationals. It covers the cost to send someone to Gangtok for processing the Trekking Permit and get it back at the respective trek base like Yuksom, Hilley, Uttarey etc.

To summarise it is not difficult to get the required permits to trek inside Sikkim if you are:

  1. minimum of a group of two persons.
  2. have couple of additional days to spend in Sikkim before the trek; There are plenty of these places  🙂

Do carry multiple copies (both hard and soft versions) of your recent passport size photos and photocopies of your documents (Passport/Visa/ILP) to avoid a showstopper on mountains!

Feel free to get in touch with us:

WhatsApp: + 91 9477877559, 9831112469, 9163183000
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