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: 07-01-2021.
What is the current situation in India regarding the coronavirus?
The Indian government acted very quickly after the outbreak of coronavirus outside of China and implemented a general travel ban, including for travellers with a visa. This policy led to the number of infections and casualties of coronavirus in India being relatively low at the start. But despite an initially slow outbreak, the number of infected people and casualties has quickly increased in the past few weeks. On 6 January 2021, there were 10,395,278 infections and 150,336 registered casualties.
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 the immigration service of India. Due to the large uncertainties, they are put on hold and automatically processed once the immigration service of India starts issuing e-visas again. No date is currently known on which the visa applications will be processed again. Currently, there is a general ban on commercial flights entering India until at least 31 January 2021, although some passenger flights do take place on a very limited scale (for business travellers, diplomats, Indian citizens, etc.). Because 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.
All physical visas, with the exception of the tourist visa, can be applied for at the Visa Application Centre of VFS Global. For the physical business visa, an invitation from an Indian business partner is required. Previously issued physical visas of which the validity period has not expired yet can be used to travel to India, with the exception of the tourist visa and the medical visa. To do this, the visa first has to be re-confirmed by the High Commission. A physical visa (with the exception of the tourist and sports visa) thus theoretically allows you to travel to India by airplane or ship. Land borders remain closed (except for Indian citizens).
When entering on a physical visa, all travellers must be able to provide a negative PCR test at check in which cannot be older than 72 hours. They must also quarantine for 14 days. The cost of this mandatory quarantine has to be paid for by the traveller. Starting 5 November, travellers can be exempt from the mandatory quarantine. To qualify for this, a negative coronavirus test result has to be uploaded on the website of New Delhi airport. In light of the outbreak of a new highly contagious strain of the virus, certain Indian states have additional quarantine measures in place for travellers from the United Kingdom and the EU. The special travel ban against British travellers that was implemented late December has now been lifted. However, this does not guarantee that travelling to India will be possible for all British travellers.
Will my Indian visa remain valid after the coronavirus?
Many travellers already possess a visa for India with a validity term of one year. It is currently unclear if visas that were issued before 1-6-2020 will remain valid and 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 might 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 or medical purposes will not be possible until at least 31 January. 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?
Outside of the so-called "containment areas", restrictions are being eased and domestic railway and air traffic is picking up again. Wearing a mask is mandatory in all public spaces throughout the country, and there is a ban on large-scale gatherings. In areas outside the Containment Areas, the curfew has been lifted, or reduced in scope. The measures in place differ greatly per region. It is advised to look up the information of the specific area you are in, or wish to travel to. In some states in India, usage of the coronavirus tracking app "Aarogya Setu" is mandatory. Aside from the rules of the Indian government, also observe the guidelines of the British government. This includes maintaining distance from other persons, avoiding social contacts and regularly washing your hands (at least 20 seconds per wash). If your visa is about to expire, you can apply for an extension online, through the website of an FRRO bureau.
The usage of the tracking app, "Aarogya Setu" is mandatory when travelling with domestic public transportation or domestic flights, or on arrival from abroad (although there are alternatives for people that cannot install the app on their phone). In various Indian states, there is a mandatory quarantine for incoming travellers from other states.
European governments are organising flights in collaboration with the Indian government, mainly through the airlines Air India, Air France, KLM and Lufthansa. These flights often only appear in the systems of these airlines a week before the date of departure. When booking these flights, search for "one way" flights specifically. If you have to travel through multiple states to get to the departure airport, you are advised to use a domestic flight for this. When you return from India, you are required to self-quarantine for 10 days. Additionally, all travellers returning from overseas must be able to present a negative PCR test which was taken a maximum of 3 days before departure.
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.