With India opening up to tourism with effect from October 15, 2021, for charter operators, and November 15, 2021, onwards for everyone else, one major question remained about the processes to be followed for travel in India. Most countries are opening up travel on the back of increased vaccination. For India, the new Covid-related rules of International Travel to India are now prescribed by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
All travellers to India need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal at the New Delhi Airport website (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel time. They need to enclose a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test report (conducted within 72 hours of departure). Alongside, a declaration needs to be submitted about the authenticity of the report.
Airlines will allow boarding only for passengers who have filled in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report/vaccination certificate. When boarding the flight, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to board after the thermal screening.
On arrival, thermal screening would be carried out in respect of all the passengers and another check on the self-declaration form filled online will be made. They are then good to go.
For example, those arriving in India from the US will need an RT-PCR test pre-departure, and won’t need to do a test on arrival or enter quarantine.
Some travellers won’t have to get a second RT-PCR test after arrival.
Based on reciprocity, the travellers from all such Countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians are allowed certain relaxations on arrival (Category A Countries). Instead of getting RT-PCR tests done on arrival, passport holders of these countries need to upload their full vaccination certificates instead. Fifteen days must have elapsed since completion of the COVID-19 vaccination schedule to be considered eligible. Here is the list of Category A Countries as of October 20, 2021:
- United Kingdom
The rider here is that the T&C state “The travellers from Category A Countries shall upload their fully vaccinated certificate on the Air Suvidha portal.” So, in terms of full reciprocity, they will not be asked for a Negative RT-PCR on arrival in India, in case the country is one of the few where this requirement is needed for arrival into India.
Some travellers will have to do RT-PCR tests before and after arrival
Travellers from specified Countries at risk, if fully vaccinated, will be allowed to leave the airport and self-monitor for 14 days after arrival. The current list on October 20, 2021, is:
- Countries in Europe, including The United Kingdom
- South Africa
- New Zealand
However, if they are not fully vaccinated, they will need to get an RT-PCR test on arrival in India before leaving the airport and home quarantine for seven days. They will need to re-test on Day 8 and then, if negative, self-monitor for seven more days.
This means for travellers from France, the UK, and other countries on both lists are, if the travellers are fully vaccinated, they will be allowed to leave the airport no questions asked. However, if they are not fully vaccinated, they will need to get tested on arrival and then on Day 8.
For countries not on the reciprocity list, for example, Spain, their fully vaccinated people will be treated as unvaccinated and need to do RT-PCR on arrival, then again on Day 8.
Here is an easy flow chart courtesy of the authorities to understand who needs to do what in Covid Rules International Travel India.
For travel into India effective October 25, 2021, India will allow specific countries to work just with a fully vaccinated certificate and no longer need a negative RT-PCR report on arrival. For other countries, just a pre-departure RT-PCR negative test would work fine, and for specific “at-risk” countries, a pre-departure + on arrival test will be required. Fully vaccinated people will be exempt from testing.
What do you think of the new Covid Rules International Travel India?
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