In view of the emergence of deadly mutant strains of the Novel Coronavirus in the UK, Brazil and South Africa, the Government of India has revised the guidelines for international travelers flying into India. The latest revision of the rules for international arrivals in India will take effect on 23:59 hrs on February 22, 2021. All international airlines and Indian airports are directed to ensure that India-bound passengers from the United States, Europe, South America, South Africa and other countries follow the new/revised guidelines before departure, after arrival and on board.
Latest Rules for Travelers Flying to India Directly
All International travelers arriving in India must take an RT-PCR test not more than 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey from the first port of departure. Taking a pre-arrival RT-PCR test and uploading the negative report onto Air Suvidha within 72 hours is now mandatory for all travelers, except those flying into India in the event of death in family. However, those coming from or transiting through Europe (including the UK), the Middle East, Brazil and South Africa are not eligible for the exemption from taking a pre-arrival RT-PCR test in the exigency of death in the family.
Basically, the relaxation from taking a pre-departure COVID test (given a death-like emergency in family) applies to those traveling on direct flights to India from the US, Canada, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand and other countries except Europe, Brazil, South Africa and the Middle East. Those seeking the exemption must apply on Air Suvidha, which is subject to approval, not more than 72 hours before boarding.
Those who receive approval for exemption must give samples of their oral/nasal swab at a designated area of the arrival airport in India before proceeding to the final destination and self-monitor health for 14 days. The test result will be communicated to them via an email or through a phone call. If symptoms develop within or after 14 days of self-monitoring their health, they need to undergo a test. Another 7 days of self-monitoring health is recommended only if they test negative.
If those not originating from or transiting through Europe, Brazil, South Africa and the Middle East, travel with a negative RT-PCR test report approved on Air Suvidha past the midnight of February 22, they need not take a COVID test upon arrival in India. They will be allowed to exit the arrival airport or take a connecting domestic flight for onward travel and self-monitor health for 14 days.
New Rules for Travelers Flying Indirectly to India
Those originating from the US or any other country and transiting via Europe, Brazil, South Africa, or the Middle East must carry a negative RT-PCR test report and take a COVID test upon arrival at the first port of entry in India, with effect on 23:59 hrs on February 22, according to India’s new guidelines for international arrivals. They will also be needed to declare their travel history of the past 14 days prior to leaving for India, in a self-declaration form (SDF).
In the self-declaration form, they must select whether they will exit the airport at the first port of entry or take a domestic flight to the final destination in India. Based on the selection, a receipt of SDF with a bold ‘T’ (transit) on it will be sent to those who will catch a connecting domestic flight at the arrival airport in India. They must display this receipt upon arrival at the entry airport in India.
If you transit via any of the above-mentioned countries, you must give samples of your oral and/or nasal swab at a designated area of the arrival airport in India and proceed to exit the airport or catch a connecting domestic flight to the final destination. You will receive the test result in digital format within the first 14 days of self-monitoring your health. If the post-arrival test result is positive, you will be isolated and treated as per Indian government’s health protocol.
The revised rules for international arrivals in India mandate a post-arrival COVID test for those originating/traveling from Europe, Brazil, South Africa and the Middle East, despite their pre-approved negative RT-PCR test reports.
India’s new guidelines for the arriving international passengers has scrapped most of the previously available exemptions and relaxations, including exemption from taking an RT-PCR test for traveling on direct flights to Bangalore, to say Air India’s SFO to BLR nonstop flights. The revised guidelines make a pre-arrival RT-PCR test mandatory even for infants on lap. Please check the FAQs with regards to travel to India in view of the new rules.
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