A Guide to Filming in India – Process, Permissions, and Policies – for Foreigners

Filming in India, a land of vibrant colors and diverse landscapes, can be an enriching experience for foreign filmmakers. However, navigating the legalities can seem daunting. This guide simplifies the process for you. Firstly, understand the visa requirements. Foreigners typically need a Film Visa (for feature films, commercials etc.) or a Journalist Visa (for documentaries) obtained after project approval by the relevant ministry. Secondly, secure filming permissions. The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) grants central permission, while state or monument-specific clearances may be needed additionally. Don’t forget to factor in important considerations like temporary import of filming equipment and potential restrictions in sensitive areas. Finally, ensure cultural sensitivity throughout your shoot. With careful planning and adherence to regulations, your filming adventure in India will be a resounding success!

Understanding Filming Permissions

The type of filming permission required depends on the nature of your project:

Scripted Dramas (Feature Films, TV/Web Series, Reality TV): The Film Facilitation Office (FFO) serves as a centralized platform for obtaining filming permissions for scripted dramas. Foreign production companies can either register and apply directly on the FFO website or partner with a local production house/fixer to facilitate the application process. The FFO subsequently routes the application for approval by the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (MIB) and the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Required Documents for FFO Applications:

  • Comprehensive synopsis and detailed script of the film/series.
  • Passport details (including copies) for all cast and crew members.
  • Specific details of filming locations in India, including dates and duration of filming.
  • A complete list of equipment intended for temporary import into India for filming purposes.
  • A “No Objection” letter, if the film portrays a living person, obtained from the individual or their legal heirs.
  • A copy of the co-production agreement (if applicable for a co-production project).
  • A signed undertaking on company letterhead.

Fees and Timelines:

A non-refundable processing fee of USD 225 needs to be submitted online with the application. For non-controversial content, processing typically takes approximately 21 working days (excluding holidays). However, content deemed sensitive or controversial may lead to delays and require further consultations.

  • Documentaries, AV Commercials, Corporate Videos, and Music Videos: For these projects, it’s necessary to reach out to the Indian Consulate or High Commission in your home country. Contact the Press & Information Officer and submit a signed application along with all relevant documents on your company letterhead.

Documents for Indian Consulate/High Commission Applications:

  • Clear and concise synopsis of the film/video.
  • Specific details of filming locations in India, including dates and duration of filming.
  • A complete list of equipment intended for temporary import into India for filming purposes.
  • Detailed information for all crew members, including names, nationalities, date of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, and copies of passports.
  • A signed undertaking on company letterhead.
  • A letter of support from a local fixer/production house (optional, but can expedite processing).

Timeline for Consulate/High Commission Applications:

Processing typically takes anywhere between 2-8 weeks (excluding holidays) for non-controversial content. For projects with potentially sensitive content, consultations may be required, leading to potential delays.

Pro Tip: Ensure all documents are clear, comprehensive, and submitted on official company letterhead. This minimizes back-and-forth communication and expedites the application process.

Visa Requirements

Once you’ve secured the relevant filming permission, it’s time to apply for the appropriate visa:

  • Film Visa (F-Visa): This visa applies if your filming permission was obtained from the FFO.
  • Journalist Visa (J-Visa): This visa is required if your filming permission was granted by your local Indian embassy/consulate.

General Visa Information:

  • Applications can be submitted online through IndianVisaOnline or the relevant Indian High Commission/Embassy website.
  • Processing time for both F-Visas and J-Visas is typically 5-10 working days, assuming all documents are in order.
  • Each crew member will be required to visit the local Indian Consulate as part of the application process.

Additional Considerations

  • Protected Area Permits (PAP) & Restricted Area Permits (RAP): Filming in certain areas of India necessitates obtaining special permits for foreigners. It’s crucial to research thoroughly and determine if your filming locations fall under these categories.
  • Cultural Sensitivity: India boasts a rich and diverse cultural heritage. Be mindful and respectful of local customs and traditions while filming.
  • Local Fixer/Production House: Partnering with a local fixer or production house can be highly beneficial. They can assist with navigating logistics, securing additional permits if required, and ensuring a smooth filming experience overall.


Filming in India presents a unique and enriching opportunity for foreign production companies. By carefully planning ahead, adhering to regulations, and demonstrating cultural sensitivity, you can ensure a successful and rewarding filming experience in this captivating land.

If you have any queries regarding filming in India, do drop in a message @ dileep@otrproductions.com