India Travel Restrictions – Can I travel to India (Covid-19)?

Wondering what the latest India travel restrictions are and can you travel from overseas to India during Covid-19? The answer is probably yes but…. For a breakdown of the current rules and travel ban India has, read this guide for international travellers to India.

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Travel Restrictions to India – What you Need to Know

As the Covid-19 outbreak was declared a global pandemic in March 2020, India shut its borders to international arrivals and put in place an India travel ban and suspended all international flights to India. International flights out of India were also stopped and remain suspended until (at least) January 2022, as earlier plans to reinstate them in December 2021 were put on hold due to the emergence of the Omicron variant.

This autumn, for the first time since March 2020, India has begun issuing tourist visas again (see more below).

At the time of writing (January 2022), Omicron cases in India are steadily rising and international flights to India have still not resumed, with the exception of those operating under air-bubble agreements with around 40 countries. However, these air-bubble arrangements include international flights to a large number of countries, and many people are still entering India, so, the question is – can you travel to India now?

Remember: As well as the advice below, you’ll also need to check if you’re allowed to leave your own country and if you’ll be able to return from India, and what the requirements are for both.

Want to stay up to date on travelling internationally to India? Join our Facebook Community for travellers to India here.

Important Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is designed to help inform you and is taken from official sources, however since information can change at short notice please always first consult with official sources – such as your government travel advice bureau or Indian embassy before making your travel plans. Soul Travel India is not a visa agency and is not permitted to provide advice as pertains visas.

Travel to India Restrictions – What Are They?

As of October 2021, India has started reissuing tourism visas, however on a different basis than before.

Arrivals for individual tourism to India are allowed from 15th November 2021. Be aware of the following situation for tourism to India visas:

  • All tourism visas issued prior to October 2021 are cancelled, if you had a multi-year one that would have still been valid, you’ll need to apply for a new one.
  • Tourism E-visas are only available for 30 days, there are currently no longer options
  • Please note that E-visas are currently suspended for UK & Canadian nationals. UK & Canadian nationals need to apply for a paper/sticker tourist visa instead.

For my step-by-step guide to getting a tourist e-visa to India, click here.

One of the main things to be aware of travelling to India now is the quarantine and testing requirements, especially if you are travelling to India from an “at risk” country (currently most of Africa and Europe). See more under the Arrival in India requirements below.

The international flight ban imposed by India in 2020 is still in force and has been extended until (at least) 31st January 2022. However, additional flights to various countries are being run on a case-by-case basis under Air Bubble agreements (also known as vande Bharat flights). For example, there are currently several flights per day operating from the UK to major Indian cities.

You can find a list of countries operating air bubble flights to and from India here, with information about who is allowed to travel on them. This information is frequently changing.

Generally speaking, Indian nationals and nationals of the country of flight origin are able to travel on Air Bubble flights, as long as they hold a valid visa. Those travelling on tourist visas are allowed to use these flights from 15th November 2021.

If you want to apply for a visa for India, due to the changing nature of the current situation, I recommend using a trusted agency such as I Visa. Use this link to get a 5% discount.

Grounded planes at Mumbai Airport

Arriving in India

As of 9th January 2021, all international arrivals in India (regardless of where you are flying from) are expected to “home quarantine” for (at least) 7 days. Home quarantine means quarantine at a private address of your choosing – it can be a hotel but I suggest checking ahead of time that they are OK with this arrangement. On the 8th day, travellers are required to do a PCR test, and on receipt of a negative result, will be able to end their quarantine.

All travellers to India have to upload a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, to be submitted 72 hours before your flight to India to both your airline and also to the Air Suvidha portal (for Delhi flights). A further test is required at your arrival airport (pre-booking advised via your airline or Air Suvidha portal) and you’ll normally need to wait for the results before you leave the airport or can proceed to a domestic connecting flight.

You can find the latest guidelines for travel to India for popular countries such as the US and UK here.

Please check with the Indian Bureau of Immigration website and with your airline for up to date rules for quarantining, testing and exemptions for fully vaccinated travellers close to the time of your departure. Another helpful source is the MOHFW website (Indian ministry of health) which includes requirements for travel to India.

Please note that different states have different requirements – so check carefully according to which city your international flight arrives into in India.

When Will I be Able to Travel to India?

Tourism to India is currently open, however – like most places – travelling here is a lot more complicated than it was before. Currently tourism visas are only being issued for 30 days, with a mandatory 7 day home quarantine at the beginning.

There is currently no news on when India will begin offering longer-validity tourist visas again.

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