The government of India was one of the first to implement a travel ban due to the coronavirus (COVID-19). This travel ban still applies and affects travel plans and visas already granted for India. On this page you can stay up to date on the current coronavirus situation in India, and the expectations for the coming months. Most recent update: 08-07-2021.
What is the current situation in India regarding the coronavirus?
The Indian authorities acted very quickly and imposed a blanket ban on entry, including visa holders, soon after the corona virus outbreak outside China. This policy ensured that the number of infected and dead corona patients in India rose slowly at first. The third wave seems to be behind us in India, even though infection rates are still not low. As of 7 July 2021, 30,709,557 infections and 405,028 deaths had been recorded. The Indian health system is overburdened and it is feared that the number of deaths will continue to rise for that reason alone.
India has taken very far-reaching measures against coronavirus, including for people who already hold a visa
Can I currently apply for an Indian visa?
Currently, the application form for the Indian visa on this website can be used as normal. However, submitted applications will not be processed right away by Indiaʼs immigration service. Due to the large uncertainties, they are put on hold and automatically processed once the immigration service starts issuing e-visas again. While the immigration service is issuing e-visas for business and medical trips since early April 2021, these visas cannot yet be applied for on this website. Currently, there is a general ban on commercial flights entering India until at least 30 June 2021 (likely longer due to the more contagious ‘delta’ variant), although some passenger flights do take place on a very limited scale (for business travellers, diplomats, Indian citizens, etc.). As the Indian e-visa has a validity term of one year, a visa can already be applied for for a trip later this year, even if the exact travel dates have not been confirmed yet.
Previously issued physical visas which were issued before the border closure and of which the validity period has not expired (with the exception of the tourist visa) must first be re-confirmed by the embassy before they can be used to travel to India. Land borders remain closed (except for Indian citizens).
When entering on a recently issued (e)Business or (e)Medical visa, all travellers must upload a negative PCR test before departure, which cannot be older than 72 hours, along with a Self Declaration Form in the Air Suvidha Portal (the website of New Delhi airport). On arrival in India, another coronavirus test is taken, which the traveller has to pay for themselves. Each Indian state has slightly different quarantine rules for travellers from the United Kingdom and the EU. For example, in the state of Maharashtra, travellers from the UK and the EU are subject to a mandatory 14 day quarantine, which must be spent in a government-run quarantine facility. (E-)Medical visas which were issued before 22 October 2020 are no longer valid and can therefore no longer be used for a trip to India.
Will my Indian visa remain valid after the coronavirus pandemic?
Many travellers were issued a visa for India with a validity term of one year which they could not use. It is currently unclear if the government will extend the validity of these visas so that they can still be used after the coronavirus measures are lifted. At the moment, particularly due to the rising number of coronavirus infections in both India and Europe, it cannot be said for certain when the travel limitations will be lifted.
When can I safely travel to India again?
The government of India may have been early with implementing a travel ban, but not with providing information about the measures to be taken in the near future. It is not yet known when visas for India will be usable again to travel to the country. Travelling to India for tourist will not be possible until at least 31 July. It is also not possible to travel to India by land. Holders of an OCI card (Overseas Citizen of India) or a PIO card (Person of Indian Origin) can generally travel to India (without a visa).
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I was unable to leave India, what now?
Now that the third wave is receding in India, the strict measures in many places are being relaxed further, even though infection rates are still high in some areas, especially in southern India. In many places, restaurants are reopening and monuments, such as the Taj Mahal, are reopening (for a limited number of visitors per day). However, compulsory health tests (corona rapid tests) are still carried out in many places visited in the country.
Refusal of the test and non-compliance with other coronavirus measures is a crime and punishable by monetary penalties or even arrest. Wearing a mask is mandatory in public places and in cars throughout the country and meetings of large groups are prohibited. In addition to the rules of the Indian government, observe the guidelines of the British government. These include keeping your distance from other people, avoiding social contact and continuing to wash your hands (for at least 20 seconds). If your visa is about to expire and you are unable to leave India because of the travel limitations, you can apply for an extension online, via the website of a FRRO agency. The FRRO bureau will then issue an Exit Permit. You are required to leave India before the date listed on this permit.
The usage of the tracking app, "Aarogya Setu" is mandatory when travelling with domestic public transportation or domestic flights, or when arriving from abroad (although there are alternatives for people that cannot install the app on their phone). Travelling between some Indian states is only possible with a negative PCR test, and in some states there is even a mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers from other states.
How can I return to the UK?
As a result of the entry ban most European countries have on all passenger flights from India, it is difficult to book a flight from India to the United Kingdom (even if the airline offers this on their website). If you want to leave India, check the websites of the various European embassies in India for up to date information about outgoing flights. If you have to travel through multiple states to make it to the departure airport, you are advised to use a domestic flight.
Before travelling to the United Kingdom, you must provide all of your travel details by filling in a passenger locator form on the governmentʼs website. You must also be able to present a recent negative COVID-19 test taken at maximum 3 days before departure, and book a quarantine hotel package which includes 2 COVID-19 tests. On arrival, you will then spend 10 days in quarantine in a managed hotel. The COVID-19 tests will take place during this quarantine.
Who will pay for all the financial damages of coronavirus?
This is still very unclear, both with regards to the costs of the visa as well as other costs, such as the flights and any bookings. If you booked a package trip, you can contact your tour operator or travel agency. If you booked individual flights and hotels, you can contact the parties with which you booked them. However, keep in mind that they might not be able to reimburse all customers and might direct you to your own travel insurance. But even travel insurance companies might end up in trouble if they have to reimburse all trips, and will likely point at a clause that declares that in case of force majeure they won’t need to reimburse any damages. You also cannot contact the Indian government with your claim; the immigration service will not refund any costs for approved visas for India which may have lost their value due to coronavirus.
Disclaimer: The coronavirus situation in India changes quickly, and the immigration service as well as government agencies have not been forthcoming with information about the measures and consequences of using visas in the near future. Therefore, no rights can be obtained from the information on this page, which while having been put together with great care, is not guaranteed to be up to date or complete.