News report | | 21/01/2022 | ±3 minutes reading time

Due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19, the government of India has tightened the travel rules for foreign travellers. The ban on commercial flights has also been extended.

Mandatory quarantine

All travellers must take a coronavirus test before departure, which must not be older than 72 hours. The Indian government has also designated several countries as ‘risk countries‘. These include all countries in the European Union and the United Kingdom. Only travellers from these countries have to do a second COVID-19 test after arrival. The costs are paid by the traveller. They may not leave the airport until the test result has been received. The government advises to book the test before arrival via the Air Suvidha app. A PCR test usually costs about 500 rupee (about £5). Travellers from countries that are not on the list and travellers below five years of age do not need to take a PCR test upon arrival in India. Travellers under five years of age are also not required to take a PCR test before departure.

All travellers are required to spend one week in quarantine at homeafter arrival. Even if they are fully vaccinated and test negative for COVID-19. Travellers who test negative for COVID-19 after arrival have to be retested on the 8th day after arrival. Just like the vaccination certificate and the COVID-19 test before departure, this test result must also be uploaded in the digital Air Suvidha portal of the Indian government. If the test result is negative, one is allowed to quit quarantine. Travellers still need to monitor their own health for seven days.

Travellers from high-risk countries who test positive for the coronavirus must spend seven days in quarantine at a government-designated quarantine facility. Travellers from all other countries who test positive do not have to go into government quarantine.

Visa rules unchanged since November 15

The new travel rules do not affect the India visa. In preparation for last year‘s border opening, the government of India had made extensive changes regarding the India visa. All visas issued before 6 October 2020 were declared invalid. This applied to both online and paper visas. The validity period of all visas was also significantly shortened. Previously, the India visa was valid for 365 days. The maximum length of stay with a visa was 90 or 180 days. The visa could be used for an unlimited number of trips to India.

The visa is now valid for only 120 days, with a maximum stay of 30 days. The tourist visa has also been changed to a so-called Single-entry visa. This means that it can be used for one trip to India. If you leave the country and want to return at a later date, you have to for a new visa. Even if the validity period of 120 days has not expired yet.

Ban on international flights extended

India has also decided to extend the ban on international commercial flights until at least 28 February 2022. This ban has been in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. The government had hoped to lift the ban by the beginning of 2022, but due to the outbreak of the Omicron variant, this has not been possible. A number of countries fall outside the ban. They have a ‘travel bubble‘ agreement with India, which allows travellers from these countries to travel to India. The United Kingdom, among others, has a travel bubble agreement with India. British travellers still need a visa and they have to take into account the other COVID-19 rules in India.