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Moving to India

Are you planning on moving to India for an expat assignment? Be prepared to enter a country rich in various cultures and regional traditions. Our InterNations Expat Guide offers you a brief introduction with advice on visa options, health, and safety, to assist your move to India.
When moving to India, take the time to visit its renowned sights!

At a Glance:

  • India is a vast country with a huge diversity of cultures and languages as well as the second largest population worldwide.

  • Expats should make sure that they are protected by vaccinations against diseases, like dengue fever, that are relatively common in India.

  • There are many types of visa for India and they can all be applied for online, though you will need to visit an Indian embassy, consulate, or mission to hand in paperwork.

 

Playing an important role in global trade throughout the centuries, India has a long cultural and commercial history. It is therefore no surprise that this country still exudes an air of fascination that tempts many foreigners to relocate to India.

The People and Their Many Languages

With over 1.3 billion people and comprising 17% of the world’s population, India is the second-most populous country in the world, following only China. India is a union consisting of 29 federal states and seven union territories; operating as a sovereign, socialist, secular, democratic republic with a parliamentary system of government, according to the 1949 Indian Constitution.

India has thousands of languages, including 18 national ones, but Hindi is the only official language. Expats-to-be should not be deterred by their lack of Hindi skills, though: English, the subsidiary official language, is widely spoken, especially among the educated urban population. It is not only used in business, hospitals, etc., but English is widely used in government, higher education, as well as the media, and has 35 million speakers across India.

India’s Unique Mix of Climates

The climate you need to prepare for depends on the part of the country you are planning to live in. While the very north of the country and some mountainous regions in the northeast have a mostly dry alpine climate, people in other northern parts will mostly find themselves in subtropical humid climes.

Expatriates moving to India’s southern half can expect a hot tropical climate, with heavy monsoons from the southwest during June and July. In most of the country, the summer is extremely hot, with heavy rainfall during the southwest monsoon season (June – September) causing heavy flooding. The northeast monsoon is short but intense, and falls around November and December.

Health Risks in India: Are All Your Shots Up To Date?

Expats should consult their embassy in India for health and safety advice when in India. If you are still planning your move, seek advice from the Indian mission in your home country. While most foreigners encounter no major problems, you should plan your move well. Terrorist warnings are issued on a regular basis, and people moving to India should be aware of that risk.

Most governments advise against moving to India’s states bordering on Pakistan, especially Jammu and Kashmir where terrorist attacks are frequent, as well as the northeastern regions, for instance, Manipur. Tourists and expats are also asked to keep security considerations in mind when visiting public events or places which attract large international crowds.

If you require emergency medical assistance when in India, dial 112. Common health risks include: dengue fever, chikungunya (a mosquito-borne tropical fever), malaria, Japanese encephalitis, diarrhea, cholera, typhoid fever, rabies, and influenza (mainly during monsoon season), as well as hepatitis type A and B. Good precautions against mosquito bites are highly recommended when you move to India.

Standard vaccinations such as DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus), polio, and MMR (measles, mumps, and rubella) should be redone before moving to India. You should also get immunizations for influenza, pneumococci, typhoid, rabies, Japanese encephalitis, meningitis, and both types of hepatitis. Although there is no risk of yellow fever in India, the country requires proof of a vaccination if you are arriving within six days of departure from an area with yellow fever transmission risk. If you are unsure which vaccinations or preventative medication you need, please consult your family doctor before your departure.

Taxis: The Preferred Mode of Transportation

India’s transportation networks might be challenging at first, since infrastructure across most of the country is poor. Roads in urban areas are constantly congested, and driving is chaotic at best. Don’t expect regular public transportation or good connections to hospitals or other facilities in smaller towns or rural areas. While all major Indian cities have some form of public transportation — mainly rickshaws and crowded buses — foreigners often prefer taxis as a means of transportation.

However, traveling by taxi requires a certain degree of local know-how as fares are often haggled over rather than charged according to a taxi meter. It is also likely that if you speak in English and with a particularly strong foreign accent, some taxi drivers may try to charge you a higher fare. Newcomers moving to India should therefore get advice on taxi fares before traveling, or calculate a rough taxi fare in advance, for example at Taxi Autofare.

Riding the Indian Railway

The romantic image Indian trains may conjure up among some visitors harks back to India’s colonial past. A number of tour operators cash in on this “nostalgia tourism” by offering luxury train journey packages.

Traveling on a regular Indian train can also be an exciting and pleasant experience. People who attach greater importance to the latter should make sure they plan their journey well and book a seat in the first-class compartment. It is more comfortable and less crowded than other cars.

Expats wishing to travel India by train should be prepared for frequent and severe delays — according to Indian Railways, a delay of up to 15 minutes is to be considered on time. As well as poor infrastructure, this is partly due to the sheer amount of traffic on the railways: 30 million people use Indian Railways each day, more than the entire population of Sri Lanka.

Indian Railways is a government-run enterprise responsible for the complete rail network in the whole country. Information regarding timetables, routes, tickets and reservations can be obtained on the Indian Railways website or at individual stations.

 

We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete. 

Jonathan Brown

"The great events organized by InterNations helped me get to know Delhi expats from all over the world."

Sophie Poirier

"When I moved from Canada to Delhi, InterNations helped me connect with fellow Americans and feel more at home."

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