International Arrivals in India can test with Rapid-PCR test on arrival, apart from RT-PCR (Expensive but Quicker)

As of December 1, 2021, new health guidelines for arrival in India have kicked in. As per these new guidelines, everyone arriving from Europe, South African countries and some other countries considered at-risk by India, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, will undergo a test-on-arrival and a home quarantine. Maharashtra has gone a step further and required institutional quarantine for those arriving at Mumbai from these at-risk countries and home quarantine for everyone coming from outside the country.

 You can Rapid-PCR to exit the airport quicker

The original health guidelines by the Government of India mentioned the requirement of an RT-PCR test to be performed on arrival for all arriving from specific countries and 2% of passengers arriving from other countries. However, until the RT-PCR report does not come through, one cannot exit the airport or board a connecting flight. The idea is to isolate those infected rather than allow them to go into circulation.

Now, the ICMR has clarified that the following type of tests will be allowed to test for Covid-19 infection:

  • Open system RTPCR
  • TrueNat
  • GeneXpert
  • Abbott ID Now
  • Accula by Thermofisher
  • Rapid RTPCR
  • CoviDx DirectPlex

This means the Rapid PCR, which is indeed a more expensive test but generates a report in 45 minutes to an hour, will also be permitted to be used to check for infection. At Delhi Airport, the RT-PCR test with a six hours+ timeline of result comes with a price tag of INR 500, but the Rapid PCR test with a timeframe of the result being delivered with an hour comes with a price tag of INR 3900.

Not surprising then that the first arrivals at Delhi Airport after the new rules went into effect mostly asked to be tested with the rapid test.

I am aware that Rapid PCR testing is adequately provided at Mumbai airport, which has stiffer requirements for international arrivals.


If you are scheduled to arrive in India on or after December 1, 2021, new health screening rules have gone into effect, requiring passengers from Europe/southern Africa and other at-risk countries to be tested on arrival and quarantine. Whether you are compulsorily going to be tested or tested because you got randomly picked up, take note that you now have a more expensive but quicker option to get done with the testing process.

What do you think of the new addition to the testing slate for on-arrival tests in 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. We are not travelling to India until the 15thJan but my question is: We are coming from San Francisco via London Heathrow to Mumbai. Our connecting time is 1.5 hours. What are the rules for passengers in these circumstances? We are both fully vaccinated +booster shots.. Thank you

  2. Thanks for this article. Is there anyway to avoid institutional quarantine in Mumbai? If I arrive into Delhi from Milan, could I spend a day there and then fly or take the train to Mumbai? I know if I fly domestically I’d still need the PCR test, your thoughts? Thanks.

  3. Thank you, very helpful for us travelers coming in to India. Please keep us updated – your posts are crisp and clear.

  4. Is this applicable (rapid rt pcr and leave airport) even if one is returning from Singapore which as of now comes under “at risk” – it’s started getting very confusing – every 12 hours something is changing

    • @Nishank, coming to Mumbai, the people go to institutional quarantine. Other places, they go into home quarantine on arrival from SG.

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