Editor’s Note: Coronavirus cases are in flux across the globe. Health officials caution that staying home is the best way to stem transmission until you’re fully vaccinated. Below is information on what to know if you still plan to travel, last updated on May 11.
If you’re planning to travel to India, here’s what you’ll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the coronavirus pandemic.
India suffered a devastating 2021, in which it was the global center of the Delta variant, which brought the country’s health system close to collapse. The country swiftly closed its borders at the start of the pandemic, banning all scheduled international flights in March 2020. However, restrictions have now eased – the borders opened for tourism in November 2021, and on February 14, the “at risk” list was abolished, with its quarantine requirement dropped.
Scheduled commercial international flights resumed on March 27.
What’s on offer
The question is: What isn’t on offer in India? This vast country has an astonishing range of landscapes, architecture, cultures and religions. Most first-timers stick to the “golden triangle” of Delhi, Agra and Jaipur, but other big hitters for newbies include the Kerala waterways, beaches of Goa and Mumbai, one of the world’s most thrilling cities.
Who can go
On November 15, India reopened for tourism for the first time since the pandemic. Arrivals from all countries are allowed, although restrictions depend on vaccination status. See below.
Entry for group tourism using charter flights commenced October 15, with individual visits allowed from November 15. Scheduled commercial flights recommenced March 27.
Arrivals must possess a tourism visa or e-visa granted after October 6, 2021. Those granted previously but not used are not currently eligible for entry.
Note that you cannot use a land border to enter on a tourist visa.
Arriving at an airport, all arrivals are screened. Anyone showing symptoms will be taken to a medical facility. There is also random testing on passengers – at a rate of 2% of arrivals – which is done at travelers’ expense.
Anyone who tests positive on arrival will be taken to government isolation facilities, along with anyone seated within three rows of them on the airplane, and relevant cabin crew, whether or not they have tested negative. For more information see here.
Anyone showing symptoms will not be allowed to board their flight. Expect thermal screening before boarding.
Before departure, all travelers aged five years and older must upload a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha Portal. They must also confirm that they will abide by any Covid-19 decisions taken around potential quarantine or testing, and that their declarations are correct.
Since February 14, those vaccinated with WHO-recognized vaccines, or in countries which have agreements of mutual recognition of vaccine certificates with India, have not needed to present a test on arrival. This covers 89 countries, including the US and the UK. You must upload your documentation alongside your self-declaration form.
Those who do not qualify, or who do not have the right documentation, must upload a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of departure.
You will not be allowed to board your flight if you have not uploaded your documents.
On arrival, quarantine is no longer required. Instead, international passengers are requested to “self-monitor their health” for 14 days following their arrival.
US CDC travel advisory:
Level 1: Low. Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to India. There have been over 43.1 million infections and 524,157 deaths as of May 11.
Our recent coverage
CNN’s Vedika Sud has written about the toll reporting on the situation has taken on her.
We’ve compiled lists of what we think are the best places to visit, the most beautiful temples, and India’s best things to eat, by region. If you’re looking for post-pandemic island life, here are some suggestions. Or read about the incredible history of Indian stepwells. And finally, read a round-up of India’s most famous buildings.
CNN’s Julia Buckley, Swati Gupta, Aditi Sangal, Esha Mitra, Sophia Saifi, Rishabh M Pratap, Jessie Yeung, Vedika Sud and Eoin McSweeney contributed to this report