Covid Rules for International Travel to India changed; considerably opening up India for travel from October 25, 2021

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.

Covid Related Rules of International Travel to India w.e.f. October 25, 2021

All travellers to India need to submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal at the New Delhi Airport website ( 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
  • France
  • Germany
  • Nepal
  • Belarus
  • Lebanon
  • Armenia
  • Ukraine
  • Belgium
  • Hungary
  • Serbia

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
  • Brazil
  • Bangladesh
  • Botswana
  • China
  • Mauritius
  • New Zealand
  • Zimbabwe

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.

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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About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. Hello Ajay,
    Would you know if the flow chart applies to an UK unvaccinated traveler if s/he has onward journey ticket out of the country in less than 72 hours? Ie, Arrive N.Delhi 1st December & depart N.Delhi to Mumbai to Dubai 3rd December. Wld this traveler still be expected to RT-PCR test again post arrival at N.Delhi?
    Thanks for reading.

  2. Hi Ajay — going to India in November from the US, but with a short layover at LHR. Do the UK rules apply? (Post arrival test). Fully vaccinated (in the US)

  3. Ajay, are you sure that some travellers won’t need a PCR test pre-arrival? All the guidance seems to suggest all passengers will need a pre-arrival PCR uploaded irrespective of mutually recognised vaccine certificate or not?

  4. I don’t see anywhere in Guideline mention pre departure RT-PCR is exempted from Germany.

    “Some travelers won’t have to submit RT-PCR Reports before arrival.”

    • I returned from Germany to Mumbai last night on LH756. Pre departure PCRs are still mandatory. A ‘completely vaccinated’ certificate will get you out of on arrival PCR testing. Air Suvidha, after the recent update on 25 Oct mentions this. Kindly correct the article. Thanks!

  5. Thanks for putting this together.
    Any idea, how we should interpret “Travellers from”? it should be the countries from where the journey started? OR the country from where the last flight originated and landed in India?

    For Ex. if an Indian CItizen is transiting through UK (air-side) while traveling from Canada – India… will she be considered “Travelling from Canada” OR “Traveling from UK”

      • I certainly hope it is not just by passport holders–plenty of people live or have been vaccinated in countries they don’t hold a passport from. Lots of non-Indians living in India (e.g. OCIs) as well who have been vaccinated in India.

  6. Thank you for the information.
    I don’t see my country (Switzerland) on any list. Do you know the “fresh” rules for Swiss tourists flying to India ? Thank you

  7. It would be helpful if the direct link to the original post from the Ministry of Health were included so readers can review it themselves.

    The classification of Category A and At Risk countries is bizarre, especially the laughable inclusion of New Zealand as at risk. The only reason Auckland is under lockdown for the past few weeks is because they wish to stamp out covid back to zero, taking a far more hard-line approach than most places, so that they can get back to normal like most of the past year and half has been there. There’s only been 28 deaths in New Zealand due to covid. Not today, or this year, but total since March 2020, so calling it ‘at risk’ is a joke.

    India still has no allowance for people who recently tested positive, but have since recovered. The US and Canada accept a positive test 15 to 90 days prior alongside a letter from a doctor saying the patient is recovered, in lieu of a negative pcr test, as it can be physically impossible to get a negative test for people in that situation.

    • @Jay, the direct links are all there already included from the moment the post was published. And yeah, since India is opening up after 18 months or so itself, maybe they don’t want recent Covid cases now cleared. Remember, the UK had very cloudy rules for over a year, and even now wading through it. This is not permanence, more will come I’m sure as the situation gets reviewed.

      In the end, The rules are clear, and people are welcome as long as they are checking the boxes.

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