If you’re considering a trip to India this summer, here’s what you need to know about current and upcoming entry requirements, rules while you’re there, and travel insurance.
Entry requirements for India
The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) began granting tourist visas again on 15 October 2021 to foreign tourists arriving on chartered flights only. Chartered flights are those organised by tour operators.
From 15 November, tourists entering by flights other than chartered flights (independent travellers on commercial airlines) have been allowed to enter with new tourist visas. Visas issued before 6 October 2021, will no longer be valid.
You can apply for a visa here.
As of 14 February 2022, all travellers are not required to take a Covid test or required to quarantine for seven days on arriving in India.
There is also no need to take a Covid-19 RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival anymore.
Currently, travellers only need self-monitor for 14 days on arrival, but do bear in mind that other requirements can be introduced at short notice. In-depth guidance can be found on the website of the Ministry of Civil Aviation.
Unvaccinated travellers should upload a report from a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR test, taken within 72 hours before departure. This should be a private test, not one via the NHS.
They should also submit a declaration as proof of the authenticity of the report or could be liable for criminal prosecution if it’s found to be false.
Random testing of arrivals may be carried out in airports, with travellers testing positive needing to quarantine.
The FCDO advises that thermal screening will be carried out by health officialsand that you may need to provide contact details and be asked to download the Arogya Setu app.
Airport staff may also ask that travellers present a self-declaration form, vaccination certificate or negative RT-PCR test report.
Children under five years of age are exempt from all Covid-19 testing. If found symptomatic, the children and their families should follow the instructions of the health authorities, which may include testing or mandatory quarantine. Accompanying adults may not always be granted access to the children during their period of isolation.
Other entry rules
As explained earlier, you’ll need to apply for the correct visa before travelling to India. The FCDO advises: “If you enter India on the wrong visa, you could be detained on arrival and you may be deported and blacklisted, meaning that you cannot enter India again.”
You can apply and find out more information about e-visas here. But note that, at the present time, UK nationals can’t currently apply for an e-visa.
All applicants of Pakistani origin who hold dual British-Pakistan nationality must apply for an Indian visa on their Pakistan passport. If you have renounced your Pakistani nationality or cancelled your Pakistani passport, you will need to submit documentary proof of this.
The FCDO says: “Processing time for applications from those holding dual British-Pakistan nationality will be substantially longer. For further details see the Indian High Commission website.” Processing is seven to eight weeks or more.
Your passport should also be valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of entry to India to prevent problems at immigration. Your passport also needs to be machine readable, with two blank pages for your visa and valid for a minimum of 180 days at the time of your visa application.
At the moment, the same rules for quarantine and testing apply both to fully vaccinated and non-vaccinated travellers.
When in India
Covid-19 restrictions can be implemented at any time and may vary between states. However, rules such as night curfews, weekend curfews and/or restricting the assembly of groups and people in public spaces are being relaxed.
Behaviour such as maintaining social distance, wearing face masks, hand washing, and avoiding crowds is still encouraged. And, while official rules for masking vary from state-to-state, it is still recommended.
Other measures may include the requirement to present negative Covid-19 tests to enter some states and there may be random testing in public areas including airports, stations, malls and restaurants. The FCDO recommends monitoring local media and following procedures in place by local authorities.
If you have symptoms of Covid-19 while in India, you can contact a registered medical practitioner to get tested or for further information.
A government supported central help line number +91-11-23978046 can be used to re-direct you to a medical practitioner.
The FCDO says: “You may be liable for prosecution if you’re symptomatic or a confirmed case and deliberately attempt to hide symptoms and/or travel history.”
Returning to the UK
As of 18 March 2022, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers arriving in or returning to the UK do not need to take any form of Covid test, complete a passenger locator form or quarantine.
ââYou can find more information and guidance on travel rules for returning to the UK
Travel insurance for India
While the FCDO does not warn against travel to India as a whole, it advises against all travel to:
the immediate vicinity of the border with Pakistan, other than at Wagah (currently closed due to coronavirus)
Jammu and Kashmir, except for (i) travel within the city of Jammu, (ii) travel by air to the city of Jammu, and (iii) travel within the Union Territory of Ladakh.
It adds: “The tourist destinations of Pahalgam, Gulmarg and Sonamarg, the city of Srinagar and the Jammu-Srinagar national highway are within the areas where the FCDO advises against all travel.”
This means that if you travel to these places, your travel insurance is likely to be invalid unless you have taken out a specialist policy.
Get covered asap
If you are travelling to India, you should take travel insurance out as soon as you book your trip as it can protect you financially against a number of possible issues, such as unexpected cancellation, lost or damaged possessions and medical expenses.
At the moment, it can also provide valuable protection against disruption caused by coronavirus, so make sure you pay attention to the levels of Covid-19 cover that policies offer, as well as any exclusions.
To find the best travel insurance for you, always compare a number of policies before committing so you’re comfortable with the price you are paying and the level of financial protection that you’ll have.