Bureaucrats can go on a maximum four overseas trips in a year, according to a finance ministry guideline which says that secretaries should undertake foreign travels only when no one else can be deputed.

Secretaries to government departments have also been barred from travelling abroad during Parliament session unless absolutely unavoidable. Also, secretary and the minister cannot be abroad at the same time.

Prime Minister’s approval would be needed for any secretary requiring travel beyond the mandated four trips in a year, according to the revised comprehensive guidelines on foreign visit by officers of government of India issued by the finance ministry.

It said that the existing set of guidelines have been reviewed in order to "regulate foreign visits of government officers and delegations and to make these visits more effective".

The foreign travels of bureaucrats will be authorised by a screening committee of secretaries (SCoS). The visits of officials of PSUs and autonomous bodies have, however, been kept out of the purview of the SCoS.

Foreign visits, the new rules said, should not exceed five working days.

"There shall be no objection in accepting international air travel costs and hospitality from an international body of which India is a member or the visit abroad is covered under bilateral/multilateral agreement or under a regular exchange programme," the new rules said.