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2021-12-10

Traveling to India but confused about the COVD-19 RT-PCR test? We bet this blog will clear all your doubts. Give it a read & make your travel easy.

Posted on Friday, December 10th, 2021 by Heena Ganotra

The entry of international passengers depends a great deal on the strict policies laid out by the Government of India (GOI). However, the government has shared an official statement announcing, “In view of increasing vaccination coverage across the globe and the changing nature of the pandemic, the existing guidelines for international arrivals in India have been reviewed”.

Post the guidelines issued on 11th November 2021 (effective from 12th November 2021), a new set of guidelines were released on 29 Nov 2021 (effective from 1 Dec 2021). The reason behind the revision of the existing guidelines is the reporting of a new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) which has been classified as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization.

Let’s discuss what these new guidelines for India travel are –

Latest Guidelines On India Travel – Issued On 29 November 2021

Before India Travel

  • Before the scheduled travel to India, one must submit and upload a self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha online portal. The boarding shall be restricted if the form is not uploaded on the portal.
  • Effective from December 1, amid the emergence of a new Covid-19 variant termed Omicron, the revised guidelines mandate submitting 14 days’ travel details along with the self-declaration form.
  • Upload the COVID-19 RT-PCR (negative) test report conducted within 72 hours prior to the scheduled travel. The boarding shall be restricted if the report is not uploaded.

Please note that children under 5 years of age are exempted from both pre and post-arrival testing. However, if found symptomatic for COVID-19 on arrival or during the home quarantine period, they shall undergo testing and be treated as per the protocol.

  • A passenger declaration form for the authenticity of the report has to be attached with the test report. Any kind of forgery at passenger’s end shall be liable for criminal prosecution.
  • The traveler must also share an undertaking either on the portal or to Ministry of Civil Aviation through concerned airlines, stating that they shall follow the decision taken for them by the government regarding home quarantine, institutional quarantine, self-health monitoring, and likewise.
  • Keep your registration in the Aarogya Setu app handy in you mobile phone is mandatory.

Before Boarding

  • Passengers originating from at-risk countries shall be informed by the airlines that they will undergo post-arrival testing, quarantine if tested negative, stringent isolation protocols if tested positive, and more. (List of AT-RISK countries given below.)
  • Please note that post-arrival testing can be exempted if a person is traveling from a NOT AT RISK country (List given below) and has only a transit (without leaving immigration) in AT RISK COUNTRY before taking the destination flight. However, if the person has traveled to any AT RISK country in the last 14 days, he/she will be asked for post-arrival testing and other additional restrictions, etc.
  • While boarding, your body temperature should be normal in the airport’s thermal screening or your boarding shall be restricted.
  • Follow the precautionary measures. Announcements regarding the same shall be made at airports, in flights, and during transit.
  • Follow COVID-appropriate behavior.
  • If symptoms of COVID-19 during the flight are found in a passenger, he/she shall be isolated as per the protocol.
  • Deboarding is to be done keeping physical distancing in mind.
  • Thermal screening will be carried out and it is here that you’ll have to show the self-declaration form filled online shall to the airport health staff.
  • Symptomatic passengers (found during screening) shall be immediately isolated and taken to the testing medical facility. If tested positive, the co-passengers seated in the same row, 3 rows in front, and 3 rows behind along with identified Cabin Crew of the identified candidate will be subjected to quarantine for 14 days and tested as per ICMR protocol.
  • Sample submission for post-arrival COVID-19 test (children below 5 years of age are exempted) at the point of arrival (self-paid). Passengers will be required to wait for their test results at the arrival airport before leaving or taking a connecting flight.
  • If tested negative: Passengers will follow home quarantine for 7 days, re-test on the 8th day of arrival in India, and if negative, further self-monitor of their health for the next 7 days.
  • If tested positive: Passengers’ samples will be sent for genomic testing at the INSACOG laboratory network. They shall be managed at a separate isolation facility and treated as per laid down standard protocol including contact tracing (co-passengers and cabin crew) as mentioned above.

The contacts of the passengers who test positive should be kept under institutional quarantine or at-home quarantine monitored strictly by the concerned State Government as per laid down protocol.

Countries At Risk

Countries in Europe including The United KingdomSouth Africa
BrazilBotswana
ChinaGhana
MauritiusNew Zealand
ZimbabweIsrael
TanzaniaHong Kong

Guidelines: Passengers Traveling To India From Countries Not At-Risk

  • Passengers arriving in India from countries not at-risk will be allowed to leave the airport.
  • However, they will need to self-monitor their health for 14 days post-arrival.

A sub-section (2% of the total flight passengers) shall undergo post-arrival testing at random at the airport on arrival. The 2% of these travelers in each flight shall be identified by the concerned airlines (preferably from different countries).

  • This 2% of travelers shall be escorted by the concerned airlines/MoCA to the testing area on arrival. The cost of testing shall be borne by the travelers identified for random testing themselves.
  • Laboratories shall prioritize testing of samples from such travelers.
  • If tested positive, the passengers shall be managed as per laid down standard protocol and samples would further be sent for genomic testing.
  • If travelers under home quarantine or self-health monitoring, develop signs and symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 or test positive for COVID-19 on re-testing, they will immediately self-isolate and report to their nearest health facility or call the National helpline number (1075)/ State Helpline Number.

Countries Not At Risk

S. No.Country
1Albania
2Andorra
3Angola
4Antigua & Barbuda
5Argentina
6Armenia
7Australia
8Austria
9Azerbaijan
10Bahrain
11Bangladesh
12Belarus
13Belgium
14Benin
15Botswana
16Brazil
17Bulgaria
18Canada
19Chad
20Columbia
21Commonwealth of Dominica
22Comoros
23Costa Rica
24Croatia
25Czech Republic
26Dominican Republic
27Egypt
28El Salvador
29Estonia
30Eswatini
31Finland
32France
33Georgia
34Germany
35Ghana
36Greece
37Guatemala
38Guyana
39Haiti
40Honduras
41Hungary
42Iceland
43Iran
44Ireland
45Israel
46Jamaica
47Kazakhstan
48Kuwait
49Kyrgyz Republic
50Lebanon
51Liechtenstein
52Malawi
53Maldives
54Mali
55Mauritius
56Mexico
57Moldova
58Mongolia
59Montenegro
60Namibia
61Nepal
62Netherlands
63Nicaragua
64Nigeria
65Oman
66Panama
67Paraguay
68Peru
69Philippines
70Poland
71Qatar
72Romania
73Russia
74Rwanda
75San Marino
76Serbia
77Sierra Leone
78Singapore
79Slovak Republic
80Slovenia
81South Sudan
82Spain
83Sri Lanka
84State of Palestine
85Sudan
86Sweden
87Switzerland
88Syria
89The Bahamas
90The United Kingdom
91Trinidad & Tobago
92Tunisia
93Turkey
94UAE
95Uganda
96Ukraine
97United States of America
98Uruguay
99Zimbabwe

Guidelines: International Travelers Arriving Through Sea/Land Ports

International passengers entering India through sea/land ports have to undergo the same protocol as above, except “online registration” isn’t available for these passengers. These travelers will have to submit the self-declaration form on arrival to the concerned authorities (Government of India officials) at the sea/land port.

Algorithm: Guidelines For International Arrivals In India

Is The Testing Facility Offered By The Airports Free? 

No. The starting amount for getting tested at the Delhi Airport is INR 5,000 () which includes both the RT-PCR test and the facility of spending time at the international lounge till the reports arrive. While the facility is offered in collaboration with Premium Plaza, the testing service is done with Genestrings Diagnostic Centre (a Delhi-based laboratory). The amount charged at the Mumbai Airport starts from INR 600 (.97). 


Can The RT-PCR Test Be Pre-Booked?

Yes. For Delhi arrivals, a slot can be booked here. In fact, passengers must book a slot an hour before the time of arrival and approximately 4-6 hours before the departure time of the connecting domestic flight. For Mumbai arrivals, passengers can make an online booking on the IMCR-approved Suburban Diagnostics laboratory website.


What Is The Process Of Getting Tested At The Delhi Airport?

delhi-airport

Amid the news of the new COVID variant Omicron, on-arrival testing is mandatory for passengers arriving from At-Risk countries. Along with this, 2% of random passengers will also be tested.

Thus, the facility of getting tested for RT-PCR is available at Terminal-3 of the Delhi airport that offers a walk-in option. 

As stated in a tweet shared on 5 Dec 2021 –

Reviewed RT-PCR testing facilities for passengers coming from at-risk countries at the IGI airport, New Delhi.35 rapid RT-PCR testing machines are functional within the Terminal -3.

With this, passengers screening & testing time can be reduced to even 30 minutes. pic.twitter.com/1yd5CkI6gL

— Dr Mansukh Mandaviya (@mansukhmandviya) December 5, 2021

Passengers need to book their slots an hour before their arrival at the helpdesk by paying INR 2,400 for the test and INR 2,600 for the lounge access.

State representatives will keep the passports of the passengers at the Sample Collection Counter until the test results are out. 

After being tested at the allocated time, passengers need to wait at the lounge. 

The test report is mailed and physically given within as little as 1-2 hours of taking the test. 

(It is, therefore, advised that all international passengers must book their connecting flights with a gap of 1 to 2 hours.)

Those who come out negative will be stamped ‘RT-PCR negative’ and ‘home Quarantined till [specified date]’ on the hand by the State Representative. Passports shall also be returned so passengers can take their ongoing domestic flights.

Those who come out positive will be taken to an institution by the authorities. 


What Is The Process Of Getting Tested At The Mumbai Airport?

Mumbai Airport

 Mumbai International Airport has a dedicated COVID-19 testing facility at Terminal 2 Level 4, Ground Transportation Lobby, next to Niranta Lounge.

Passengers can either book a slot online on the website of Suburban Diagnostics Laboratory or register at the helpdesk at the arrival terminal. Express Test is also available at Mumbai Airport which gives results in 13 minutes and costs around INR 4500 (). Besides the express COVID-19 test, flyers also have the option to opt for the regular RT-PCR test. The regular test result takes around 8 hours for arriving passengers, which are then sent via email. For this test, flyers are required to show valid ID proof, and this test costs INR 600 (.97). If you are traveling with family or in a group, you can book a single slot for the testing of all.  A rapid RT-PCR test, on the other hand, costs Rs 3,900 (.77) per person and delivers the result in 1-2 hours. The earlier price was 4,500 (.74) per person and has recently been changed.

State representatives will keep the passports of the passengers at the Sample Collection Counter until the test results are out. After being tested at the allocated time, passengers need to wait at the lounge. Hotels can be booked too, but for that, approval from the state authorities is required.

The test report is mailed and physically given within 13 minutes/1-2 hours/8 hours of taking the test. 

(It is, therefore, advised that all international passengers must book their connecting flights with a gap of 1-2 hours since 2% of travelers, on a random basis, will have to undergo the COVID test on arrival, as stated above.)

Those who come out negative will be stamped ‘RT-PCR negative’. Passports shall also be returned so passengers can take their ongoing domestic flights.

Those who come out positive will be taken to an institution by the authorities. 


What Is The Process Of Getting Tested At The Bangalore Airport?

In December 2020, Bangalore International Airport and Auriga Research Pvt Ltd opened a round-the-clock COVID-19 testing facility. Located near the Arrivals Area, the center features a sample collection kiosk, a waiting lounge, and a dedicated laboratory outside the terminal. The center offers tests for arriving international passengers unable to get a test prior to boarding their flight. The service is also available to departing passengers needing a negative RT-PCR result at their destination.

Costs range between Rs 800 (US) for a regular RT-PCR test and Rs 4,500 () for the Abbott ID NOW™ rapid PCR test. A Rs 400 collection charge may also apply. While the results for the standard PerkinElmer High Throughput test are available in 6-24 hours, the Abbott test delivers a result within 30 minutes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I fill the exemption form, do I still need to fill the Self-Declaration form?

Ans: Self Declaration form is mandatory to be filled with details of Passport and Covid 19 Negative RT-PCR Test report. “International Arriving Passengers can only apply for exemption, in case of ‘Death in a Family for Immediate Family member as defined by GoI (Child, Parents, Spouse, Grandparents, Siblings).” That will give them exemption from RTPCR Test.  


Q: What if I present a fake COVID-19 RT-PCR negative test?

Ans: If the report isn’t proved to be authentic, the Indian government can prosecute you.


Q: What details are required to fill the Self Declaration and Exemption forms?

Ans: Personal details, scanned copy of the passport with photo and details (first page), email address, and Covid 19 RT-PCR test report are required to fill the self-declaration form. However, to fill the exemption form, a Death Certificate/Doctor’s Note is mandatory.  


Q: What is the reporting time at the airport?

Ans: Report at least 4 hours before the flight’s scheduled departure. Also, please note that check-in closes 60 minutes before the departure time. 


Q: Is web check-in mandatory?

Ans: Web check-in is not mandatory for USA to India flights but recommended. Even though check-in starts 24-48 hours before the departure, kindly go ahead with web check-in only after receiving the negative test report.


Q: Is there anything else I should keep in mind apart from the above-mentioned details?

Ans: Yes, downloading of the Arogya Setu App on mobile devices is compulsory. This must be kept in mind. 


Q: What if I have any more doubts?

Ans: Connect with MyTicketsToIndia by giving us a call at 1-585-948-0222 and we’ll love to solve any queries that you might have regarding the COVID-19 RT-PCR test for traveling to India or otherwise.


In case you want to book flights to India from the USA, we are a leading air-ticketing portal that specializes in booking USA-IND flights. We’ll offer you fair airfares so your journey is made easier and more convenient. 

If you found this blog helpful, do like and share it with your peers. Sharing is caring! 

Take care. 

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A writer by both passion and profession, Heena Ganotra is "half agony, half hope" but all heart. And oh, she has been a book lover from the start! Her love for books is what convinced her to make a career in the wonderful world of words. She loves what she does and is out-and-out a satisfied soul with a wish to spread happiness like herpes. Insight- Some say she is living the best life anyone could because she reads, writes, travels, and makes merry. They’re right because what else does one really need! :)

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