PERMIT FOR FOREIGN NATIONALS
Under government regulations introduced in 2012, non-Indian nationals need a Protected Area Permit (PAP) to stay in Bir Tibetan Colony, within which Deer Park is located.
1. One month permit – apply in Dharamsala
A PAP valid for one month can be obtained at the District Commissioner's (DC) Office in Lower Dharamsala, a two-hour taxi ride from Bir. Bring photocopies of your passport ID page and visa, plus two passport photos. You can fill in the application form at the office, which is located in room 808 on the third floor of the new building.
The DC Office opening hours are 10am–1pm and 2–5pm Monday to Friday, plus the first and third Saturday of every month. It is closed Sundays, public holidays and every second Saturday. Permits are usually issued within one hour, although sometimes you may be asked to come back later if there is a high volume of applications or if the officer concerned is out of office.
If you need to stay longer than one month, you can return to Dharamsala to get another PAP after the first one expires. Generally the DC Office will renew permits up to two times, making a total of 3 months; however the policy on this is somewhat changeable.
Please note that NATIONALS OF CHINA, PAKISTAN, BANGLADESH and AFGHANISTAN cannot get the PAP at the Dharamsala office, but must apply directly to the Ministry of Home Affairs (see below).
2. Long-term permit – apply online via Tibet Bureau
If you intend to stay longer in Bir and are planning well in advance, you can apply online for a PAP valid for up to 12 months (or the duration of your visa) via the Tibet Bureau in Delhi. The Tibet Bureau can only process applications submitted at least 3 months before the start date of the intended visit. They pass on the application to the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs, and send the PAP to you by email when it is approved.
In addition to scanned copies of the documents listed in the section above, the online application also requires a recommendation letter from a monastery or other institution in the Tibetan Colony. Please note that Deer Park Institute can only issue this letter for persons confirmed to stay at Deer Park and attend programs or do retreat for the duration of the requested permit. If you do not have a recommendation letter, you can apply in person for PAP in Dharamsala or at the Home Ministry in Delhi (see above/below).
For more details about online application, see www.tibetbureau.in. (Note: at the time of writing the Tibet Bureau website is under reconstruction – if this is still the case, email email@example.com or call (+91) 11 26474798.)
3. Long-term permit – apply online or in person at Ministry of Home Affairs
As of 2016, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has launched its own website, through which foreign nationals can apply for PAPs:
Unlike the Tibet Bureau, this online application process does not require a recommendation letter; however you have to print out, sign and send the completed application by post to the MHA.
At the time of writing, we do not know of anyone who has yet obtained the PAP through this channel, though many have applied! The website gives no indication how long the permit will take to issue, or how far in advance one must apply. It is likely that it will take 2-3 months, as is the case with applying through the Tibet Bureau (see above). Therefore, if you intend to visit Bir sooner, it is advisable to get the PAP in person in Dharamsala.
It is also possible to apply in person at the Ministry of Home Affairs in Delhi for a PAP valid for the duration of your visa. You have to submit the application in person, then they will send the permit to you by post – this process can also take 2-3 months, so you need to apply well in advance. No recommendation letter is required if you apply in person, just the documents listed under ‘one month permit’ above. The application should be submitted to the Rehabilitation Division of the Ministry of Home Affairs, NDCC-II Building, Jai Sing Road, New Delhi. (Phone: +91 11 23092161 or 23092011)
“Can I stay in Bir without a permit?”
A PAP is required to stay at any guesthouse or private house falling within Bir Tibetan Colony – this includes Deer Park. However, some Indian-owned guesthouses located on the outskirts of the Tibetan Colony, and in the neighbouring villages of Chowgan and Upper Bir, do not require permits. Unofficially, some of the guesthouses within the Tibetan Colony will allow guests to stay a few days without a permit, however this is unpredictable. If in doubt, call to check – for contact numbers of local guesthouses, see http://deerpark.in/practical-information/bir-guest-houses/
If you need any more advice concerning PAP, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org