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 October 1.
(CNN) — 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 is finally emerging after a devastating few months as the global center of a new wave of the pandemic, which brought the country's health system close to collapse. The Delta variant, which is now sweeping the world, started here. The country swiftly closed its borders at the start of the pandemic, banning all scheduled international flights in March 2020.
Many countries advise their citizens against all but essential travel there, and most airlines are massively reducing or suspending flights to India. In any case, tourists are still banned, though those traveling on other visas from Europe, Africa and South America are allowed, along with travelers from other destinations who meet strict criteria.
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
Tourists are not yet permitted. Only Indian nationals, those moving to the country as residents, and those from certain countries who qualify for visas other than tourist visas may go. From the United States, United Kingdom and Canada, things are more restricted -- only diplomats and those listed in a government memorandum may travel. However other visa holders from the European Union, Africa and South America may travel -- as long as it is not on a tourist visa.
All arrivals are screened. Anyone showing symptoms will be taken to a medical facility. Land borders are closed, other than for returning India nationals.
As of February 22, all travelers must upload a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha Portal, as well as a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours of the journey. They must also declare via the portal that they will quarantine at home for 14 days on arrival.
Travelers arriving from the UK or Middle East must fill in the same form, declaring their travel history of the past 14 days, and any connecting flights on arrival in India, as well as provide a negative PCR test. They will be segregated in-flight or while disembarking and must undergo a further PCR test on arrival at their own expense. They must stay at the airport until they get their results.
Transit passengers coming from these countries who test negative can catch their connecting flights, but must quarantine at home for seven days, and take a test at the end of the quarantine period.
US CDC travel advisory:
Level 2: Moderate (downgraded from level 3 on August 16). Make sure you are fully vaccinated before traveling to India. There have been nearly 34 million infections and 448,339 deaths as of October 1.
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