In view of the increasing number of infections worldwide due to the omicron COVID variant, India has made changes to its corona regulations. Travellers to India must now meet some additional conditions to enter the country.
New travel regulations in India
The new travel regulations are effective since December 1. Travellers must upload a negative PCR test result in the digital Air Suvidha portal before departure. This test must not be older than 72 hours. In addition, travellers must now indicate which countries they have visited in the past 14 days. This must also be uploaded in the Air Suvidha portal.
India has also made changes to its quarantine regulations and mandatory COVID-19 tests. Previously, fully vaccinated travellers from so-called ‘Category Aʼ countries (such as the United Kingdom and the EU countries) could travel to India without having to undergo a quarantine. Nor did they have to undergo a second coronavirus test on arrival. This is no longer the case for a large part of the ‘Category Aʼ countries.
For each international flight, five per cent of all travellers will be selected for a random COVID-19, regardless of their country of origin. These tests will be paid for by the Indian government. Travellers from countries that are considered ‘at risk‘ by the Indian government must have a PCR test done on arrival in India. The cost of this test must be paid for by the traveller. If the test result is positive, they must undergo a mandatory quarantine in a government-designated facility. If the test is negative, the patient has to spend seven days in home quarantine. On the eighth day, a third test must be taken. If the test is negative, then the quarantine period can end.
Currently, all countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom are considered ‘at riskʼ. Travellers from these countries are therefore subject to the new travel regulations if they want to travel to India. Children under the age of five are not required to undergo PCR testing.
E-visa India is still not available for some countries
Although India has made many changes to its visa regulations since it opened its borders to international travellers, it remains impossible for travellers from a number of countries to apply for an online visa to India. This includes nationals of the United Kingdom, Canada and China. These countries had introduced strict rules for travellers from India due to the coronavirus. In response, India excluded them from its e-visa portal. Although several countries, such as the UK, have, in the meantime, relaxed the rules for Indian travellers, India refuses to make the e-visa portal available again. It is still unclear when travellers from these countries will be able to apply for an e-visa to India again.
The date of 15 December for commercial flights has been postponed
The government of India had earlier announced that all international commercial flights would be allowed again from 15 December 2021. Currently, only travellers from a few countries can travel to India. These countries, including the United Kingdom, have a so-called ‘travel bubbleʼ agreement with India. As of December 15, all countries would thus have been able to operate commercial flights to India again. This plan would have been implemented in several phases.
However, because of the omicron coronavirus strain, this has been postponed. Before making a decision, the Indian government wants to wait and see what are the effects of the new variant of the virus. The ‘travel bubbleʼ agreements remain in force. Travellers from these countries can still travel to India. However, they must take into account the new corona regulations.