Omicron Impacts India Travel, New Travel Rules Announced Starting Dec 1, 2021

With the emergence of the Omicron virus, a variant of the Covid-19 virus, many countries including India and the United States are implementing travel restrictions across all international borders. After the World Health Organization declared Omicron a Variant of Concern (VoC), the US restricted travel from South Africa and seven other countries. Similarly, India has announced changes to international travel.

Below we analyze the new rules impacting international visitors entering India, flights to India, and protocols to be maintained for international travel starting today December 1, 2021. These new guidelines issued by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India will supersede previous travel rules instituted by the Indian Civil Aviation Ministry and the Director General of Civil Aviation, India after November 11, 2021

International Flights To India – No Regular Flights

Regular international flights that were supposed to resume from December 15, 2021 are now unlikely. Before the Omicron variant of the Coivd-19 was detected in South Africa, India had announced that all international flights will be permitted to enter the country. On December 1, 2021, Indian Aviation Ministry has withdrawn that and said that only approved flights partaking in the bubble agreement with certain countries will be allowed to fly until further notice.

Special international passenger flights under air bubble arrangements formed with approximately 28 countries will continue operating. According to the Health Ministry, countries that are not “at-risk” of Covid-19 will get “full capacity entitlements according to the bilateral air service agreements.” 

Flying from India to the USA? New Travel Guidelines, Effective Dec 06, 2021

Air Bubble: Under an air bubble agreement between any two nations, airlines of both countries can operate special but limited flights between their territories with certain restrictions.

New Rules Before Boarding A Flight To India

According to the new guidelines set forth by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, travelers will have to do the following before boarding a flight to India –  

Omicron Impacts India Travel, New Travel Rules Announced Starting Dec 1, 2021

Source: New Delhi Airport Authority

  • Submit self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal. Only travelers who have filled in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report will be allowed to board the flight.
  • Upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report that should have been taken within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey
  • Children under 5 years of age are exempted from testing.
  • Submit all details of travel undertaken 14 days boarding the flight to India
  • Certain international flights may conduct thermal testing before boarding the India-bound flight. Only asymptomatic travelers will be allowed to board after thermal screening.
  • Each traveler will submit a self-declaration form testifying to the authenticity of the COVID-19 RT-PCR report. If found fraudulent, they will be liable for criminal prosecution. 

New Rules After Landing In India

Omicron Impacts India Travel, New Travel Rules Announced Starting Dec 1, 2021

Source: New Delhi Airport Authority

  • Passengers originating or transiting from at-risk countries will undergo post-arrival testing
  • Children under 5 years of age are exempted testing.  
  • Depending upon the results of the test, they will undergo home/institutional quarantine/ self-health monitoring, as warranted
  • If tested negative, home quarantine for 14 days will be enforced
  • Stringent isolation protocols, if tested positive

Based on epidemiological situation of COVID-19 in certain specified countries, travelers arriving in India will undergo additional follow up. The list of these specific countries is available on the websites of Ministry of Health & Family Welfare

New Rules On Arrival At Indian Airports

Social distancing should be maintained at all ports of entry once in India.

Thermal screening would be carried out for all the passengers by the Indian health officials present at the airport. If found to be symptomatic during screening, they shall be immediately isolated and taken to medical facility as designated by health authorities. 

A physical copy of the self-declaration form filled online should be shown to the airport health staff

Additionally, an online version of the details uploaded to the Air Suvidha portal will also be verified at the airport. Travelers are advised to download and/or screenshot the respective page on their mobile devices.

Are you traveling to India for your H1-B visa stamping? Calculate your visa appointment wait times HERE.

Omicron Impacts India Travel, New Travel Rules Announced Starting Dec 1, 2021

Source: Ministry Of Civil Aviation, India

New Quarantine Rules After Arriving In India

After showing a negative RT-PCR test result and thermal testing at the airport, travelers will be allowed to go to their destination or board connecting flights. However, they have to self-monitor their health for 14-days post arrival. If they develop Coronavirus symptoms, or test positive for COVID-19 on re-testing, they should self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call National helpline number – 1075 or the local State Helpline Number. 

Important To Note: A small sub-section, 5% of the travelers on the India-bound flight will be randomly selected to undergo post-arrival testing on arrival. This will be chosen by the airline staff and if selected, travelers must comply. The cost of testing of these travelers shall be borne by MoCA. Further steps would depend upon the results of the testing.

Children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre-and post-arrival testing.

List of At-risk Countries

Travelers originating from the following countries would need to follow additional measures on arrival in India, including post-arrival testing – 

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

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As we continue to monitor changes to international travel, Path2USA will keep updating this page for the latest on travel to India.