International travel is definitely complicated right now, but India is doing its best to help straighten things out for people coming into the country…

India publishes new guidelines for travellers, including a wild flow chart

Rules surrounding international travel to India have been changed a bit over the last few months, usually with extra requirements imposed for those coming in, like on-off institutional quarantine and the need to get a negative covid test before you travel.

Today, India published its latest guidelines - and there’s a mind-boggling flow chart, or “algorithm” as India calls it, to help clear things up. While it reminds me a bit of Air India’s crazy redemption chart, it’s actually pretty logical to follow.

Best I can tell, the new rules, which take effect from 11.59pm India time on February 22, mean:

  • All international arrivals (including returning Indians) will need to fill in a self declaration form about their travel and health status before they travel, plus upload a negative RT-PCR Covid-19 test result taken within 72 hours of departure. Airlines must ensure they only carry passengers with a negative result to India
  • There’s no blanket institutional quarantine for international arrivals
  • There are different procedures in place depending on whether you’ll be transiting (taking a connecting/ onward flight), or exiting at the port of entry
  • As you might expect, there are a few extra hoops to jump through if you’re coming in from the UK and some other corona hotspots, including having to pay for molecular (RT-PCR) testing on arrival.

Here's a look at the flow chart in full:

Procedures for international arrivals coming from UK, Brazil and South Africa

Many of the new procedures apply to passengers coming from, or having transited, places where new variants of Covid-19 are prevalent, namely the UK, Brazil and South Africa:

  • Those passengers will need to pay for a molecular (RT-PCR) test on arrival in India and submit your telephone number and address
  • Passengers intending to take an onward flight will only be released on confirmation of a negative test result, which could take 6-8 hours. On release, passengers will be advised to home quarantine for seven days
  • Those not taking connecting flights and entering India at their first port of arrival will be free to exit the airport after giving samples - test results will be notified later. They will also be advised to home quarantine for seven days

In both cases (transit and direct exit), travellers are being asked to get a second test done - after seven days’ home quarantine. There's no further detail about the re-test - whether the result needs to be uploaded anywhere, how this will be enforced etc.

Obviously there are different procedures in place for those unlucky enough to get a negative test result when they land in India…

The Indian government has tweeted out the guidance in full:

Summing up

India has published new guidelines around international arrivals, and has even released a snazzy flow chart to help!

International travellers now need to present a negative Covid-19 test before they fly, plus follow new procedures on the ground.

Note that there’s no specific guidance on Mumbai arrivals at this time (up to now, Maharashtra has been imposing stricter measures for incoming travellers), and that Indian states have powers to add their own procedures - meaning there could yet be more surprises.

What do you make of India’s new procedures - and it’s “algorithm”?