Status of Tibetans in India

More than 80,000 Tibetans sought refuge in India along with the Dalai Lama in 1959 after the Chinese occupation of Tibet. The population of Tibetans in India according to CTA’s survey in 2009 is 94,203.

The government of India adopted the Tibetan Rehabilitation Policy 2014 to provide for the rehabilitation and welfare of Tibetan refugees living in India. [download the Policy – PDF]

The Central Tibetan Relief Committee (CTRC), under the Department of Home of the Central Tibetan Administration, coordinates relief and rehabilitation works for thousands of Tibetan refugees in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. CTRC works in association with individuals, aid agencies, and the Government of India.

The Government of India grants a stay permit for Tibetans to live in India. The permit is stamped on a booklet or a paper called the Registration Certificate (RC) and renewed every year/five years. Some related information is below.

Indian Citizenship and Passport for Tibetans

    Indian law provides automatic citizenship for Tibetans born in India between 26 January 1950 and 1 July 1987, and their descendants. [View Citizenship Act 1955]

    This was confirmed in a judgement by the Delhi High Court on 22 September 2016. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a letter dated 17 March 2017, ordered all Indian passport issuing authorities in India and Indian missions abroad to issue passports to eligible Tibetans. [View MEA letter]

    • Judgment on the contempt petition against MEA by Justice Manmohan in Delhi High Court on 21 February 2017. [Download PDF]
    • Contempt petition against MEA, filed in Delhi High Court on 14 February 2017. [Download PDF]
    • Delhi High Court judgment on 22 September 2016 ordering government to issue passport to Tibetans [Download PDF]
    • A Petition asking for issuance of passport for qualified Tibetans was filed against the Government of India in Delhi High Court on 10 May 2016 [Download PDF]
    • Apply for Indian passport at
    • For more information about the passport issue, click here.

    Voting rights for Tibetans

    The Election Commission of India on 7 February 2014 directed all Indian states to include Tibetans born in India and their offspring in the electoral rolls. This followed a 2013 court order that granted Indian citizenship to Tibetan refugees born in India after 26 January 1950 and before 1 July 1987. [Download the EC order]

    Registration Certificate (RC)

    The Registration Certificate (RC) is a booklet or a paper issued by the Government of India which is the stay permit for Tibetans to be allowed to live in India. At 16 years of age a Tibetan must register and obtain an RC. It is renewed every year or five years.

    Identity Certificate (IC, or Yellow Book)

    The Identity Certificate (popularly known as the Yellow Book because of the colour of the cover) is issued by the government of India to Tibetans as a travel document, in lieu of a passport.

    It is issued following a lengthy procedure taking at least one year. When travelling abroad, an exit permit to leave India, and then a return visa to re-enter are needed. There are no clear rules about these permits and the responsible authorities in various states all follow their own procedures. The return visa can also be sought at Indian embassies abroad, and again the rules are not clear.

    Apply for IC online at

    • Exit permit
      Info about exit permit will be posted when it becomes available.
    • Return visa
      Info about the return visa will be posted when it becomes available.


    The Office of Tibet

    10-B, Ring Road, Lajpat Nagar IV
    New Delhi 110024
    p: +91-11-26474798, 26439745
    e: info(at)

    Other issues

There is one comment so far.

  1. 1.
    Kargue dechen, from Mussoorie, sayson 30 March 2017 at 10:23 am

    This is long overdue for the Tibetan refugees settled in India.

    Politics apart, it boils down to an individual to take this facility or not. No one can absolve of his or her status.

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