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A new variant of Covid-19, known as Omicron, has sent countries scurrying to try and prevent the spread. Many countries have completely shut down their borders while others are sticking with tighter restrictions on travel for the time being. As the situation continues to evolve, the rules are short to change, possibly on short notice. Here’s what we know now about travel to India.
Can You Travel to India?
The answer: it’s complicated.
India recently reopened its borders to vaccinated international travelers, but because of the Omicron strain, they are implementing new restrictions in hopes to slow the spread.
India categorizes countries into high risk and low risk. Additionally, India has a vaccination agreement with several countries. This agreement is a compilation of nations which administer vaccines approved by the WHO. Requirements will vary depending on which category a country falls under.
As of December 9, 2021, India has designated the following countries as high risk. These countries include: Countries in Europe including the United Kingdom, South Africa, Brazil, Botswana, China, Ghana, Mauritius, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Hong Kong and Israel.
US citizens and citizens from other countries not considered high risk may enter India but will need to make sure to adhere to various criteria, which we will cover later on. What’s more, India is only classified as a Level 1—or low—travel risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This determination means passengers should be fully vaccinated before traveling to India based on a number of factors, including cumulative new cases, testing rates and test-to-case ratios.
Related: Best home Covid tests
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Testing and Vaccination Requirements to Enter India
All travelers flying into India must be vaccinated, regardless of risk designation.
Low Risk Countries
If you are entering from countries not considered high risk or that have a vaccination agreement with India, you must complete a Self Declaration Form at least 72 hours prior to departure. The declaration will need to include a log from the last 14 days of travel. You will also need to upload your proof of vaccination and negative Covid-19 test results.
After disembarking from the airplane, 2% of passengers will be randomly selected to undergo a Covid-19 test. Those passengers will also be responsible to cover the cost of this test. The rest of the passengers will be allowed to leave the airport without further testing required. Note that on a 300 person flight, this means that six people will be required to test at their own expense.
High Risk Countries
According to information from a Government of India circular dated Dec. 14, 2021, any international passengers arriving in India from or transiting from “at-risk countries” must pre-book their RT-PCR test effective December 20, 2021.
Fully vaccinated travelers arriving from countries considered “high risk” and that do not have a vaccination agreement with India will have to either self-monitor for 14 days post arrival. If unvaccinated, partially vaccinated or unable to verify your vaccination status, you must agree to a post-arrival Covid-19 test followed by a home quarantine for seven days.
Related: When should I use a home Covid test?
Testing and Vaccination Requirements to Enter the United States From India
To enter into the United States from India by air, you must meet the following criteria, which differ based on if you are a US citizen or Non-US citizen.
On Dec. 6, new travel limitations went into effect that required all travelers aged 2 and over flying to the US to show proof of a negative Covid-19 test taken within a day before their flight. Unlike the previous restrictions, updated requirements treat all passengers the same, regardless of vaccination status or nationality. As with previous restrictions, either a PCR or antigen test will be accepted as proof of being negative for Covid-19.
Tests must be taken within one calendar day of the passenger’s flight, and is not limited to within 24 hours of departure. So, passengers can take their test at any time during the day before their flight, no matter what time their flight departs.
Passengers who recently recovered from Covid-19 can travel with documentation of recovery from the virus, such as a letter from a licensed healthcare provider indicating the passenger is cleared to travel paired with a positive Covid-19 viral test result from within 90 days of departure .
There are no new quarantine restrictions at this time.
It’s important to keep in mind that the current situation is developing, and new restrictions could be put in place by the American government at any time. Refer to the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
Non-US citizens are required to be fully vaccinated and must provide proof of vaccination. A negative Covid-19 test result prior to boarding must also be presented.
Requirements When Transiting India
For the most part, you can transit through India but there could still be hoops to jump through. If you have transited through a “high risk” country, you will be required to undergo the same protocol as all other passengers.
Passengers who have entered from a non-high risk country will not be subject to further testing or requirements.
Other Important Things to Know
The US Embassy in India notes a face mask requirement in public, but news reports show compliance varying widely across the country. Some states are imposing a curfew or other restrictions on public gatherings. Travel from one state to the next may also require you to provide proof of vaccination and negative test results. Here are the recommendations from the Indian government to help keep you and others safe from Covid-19.
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