Arriving in India? You need a pre-booked RT-PCR Test before departure [Effective December 20]

Given the emergence of Omicron, India had mandated testing on arrival and a 7-days home quarantine for those who arrive into India from countries designated as at-risk. The new rules were effective December 1, 2021.

a person wearing a mask and holding a test tube

Now, the Government of India has mandated that there will be a further requirement that this on-arrival RT-PCR test is pre-booked for passengers arriving from at-risk countries (or those who were in these countries in the past 14 days). For reference, the countries classified as at-risk at the time of writing this on December 15, 2021, are:

  1. Countries in Europe, including The United Kingdom
  2. South Africa
  3. Brazil
  4. Botswana
  5. China
  6. Ghana
  7. Mauritius
  8. New Zealand
  9. Zimbabwe
  10. Tanzania
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Israel

This system will be implemented on December 20, 2021, for those arriving at six airports: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.

All airlines will be required to check the mandatory pre-booking of their passengers before boarding the flight. However, if they turn up without a pre-booking, they will have to book it at the airport itself before departure but would not be denied boarding.

Here is the order from the Government of India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation.

a document with text on it a close-up of a letter


Effective December 20, 2021, all arrivals from at-risk countries into the six major airports of India will have to pre-book their RT-PCR/Rapid-PCR test on arrival before getting on their flight to India. If not done, they will have to do it at the airport before they can fly into India.

If you are flying into India from an at-risk country, take note and book that test before arrival itself.

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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. I arrived in Delhi from Moscow day before yesterday and all passengers were forced to take the RT-PCR test on arrival! People were arguing that Russia is not an at-risk country but the officials refused to listen. I messaged DelhiAirport on Twitter and they replied that “Passenger arriving from Russia have to give their samples after their arrival. They can exit the airport after giving their samples.” Well, that’s sadly not the reality. There appears so be some disconnect. We had to do our test and were allowed to leave only after getting a physical copy. Anyone arriving from any other non at-risk country who had the same issue? Or is there some update that I missed while I was away?

  2. This is a joke, New Zealand did not even have a single Omicron case when it was added on to the at risk list. And, the country has 94% if its eligible population already vaccinated.
    This just seems political, more like a reciprocation since NZ has had India on a high risk list for a good part of the last 2 years.

    • It’s nothing to do with the numbers of individual country. It’s the numbers of European Union as a whole (high no of cases in France, Spain etc)
      When you reap the benefit of staying with EU, you also bear the consequences too.

  3. Hai, i jsust want to clarify this “What is this pre booking PCR test” means. Before travelling we have already taken the PCR test.

    • Still a grey area unless someone clarifies

      I have heard 2 instances , 1 relative who returned from sri lanka and a friend who flew in from USA on a direct flight SFO DEL BOM , still BMC (Mumbai) called them up 2 days later asking them to get retested as well as send in their pre departure reports even though both came in countries not listed “at risk”

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