The Union Home Ministry has excluded 29 inhabited islands in Andaman and Nicobar from Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime under the Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963 till December 2022. This decision aims to increase footfalls and promote tourism. Government is also planning to open 11 other uninhabited islands to foreigners.
The lifting of RAP will allow foreigners to visit these islands without prior permission from the government. However, citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals having their origin in these countries will continue to require RAP to visit Union Territory. Moreover, for visiting Mayabunder and Diglipur islands, citizens of Myanmar will also continue to require RAP, which shall be issued only with prior approval of Home Ministry. Besides, separate approvals of competent authority will be required for visiting reserved forests, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves.
Restricted Area Permit (RAP) regime
RAP regime has been notified under Foreigners (Restricted Areas) Order, 1963. Under it, foreign nationals are not normally allowed to visit protected or restricted area unless Government is satisfied that there are extra-ordinary reasons to justify their visit. Every foreigner, except citizen of Bhutan, who desires to enter and stay in protected or restricted area, is required to obtain special permit from competent authority having power to issue such permits to foreigner, seeking it. Citizens of Afghanistan, China and Pakistan and foreign nationals of Pakistani origin are exception and are not allowed to enter such areas.