Hello from Delhi! There’s not a huge amount of information online about what to expect when you land in India from overseas, so I wanted to share my experience of travelling from London to Delhi with Virgin Atlantic earlier this week.
For background, I’m a UK national travelling on a British passport with an Indian business visa…
The arrivals process for UK passengers landing in Delhi
The first thing to say is that the whole arrivals process was very smooth – and I was impressed with the way Delhi airport is handling flights from the UK (which are subject to some additional processes, as per India’s latest guidelines for international passengers).
As soon as you get off the plane, you’re handed a simple one page form which you need to fill in with basic details like your flight number. About 100 people check this, and you’ll be asked about 100 times whether you’re taking a connecting flight, or leaving the airport at Delhi.
Next up, you’ll head to a mandatory covid testing area, where two samples are taken – one from the nose, and another from the throat. The whole thing takes just a couple of minutes and those exiting in Delhi are no longer required to wait for the results (if you’re planning on taking a connecting flight, you will have to wait for the results before you get released, and you’re advised to leave a gap of 6-8 hours between flights).
I had pre-booked the PCR test at a cost of INR 800/ USD 11 (much cheaper than any Covid test you’ll get in the UK!) on the Delhi airport website, and the lady doing my tests had no problem locating my booking.
Next up was immigration, and I was pleased to see there was no queue. As a foreigner, I had to fill in another short form, which was an arrivals card (like the one pictured below) asking for basic details like my name, date of birth, passport number, flight number, countries visited in the last seven days, address in India and my phone number.
Besides mentioning my address on the arrivals card, the immigration officer didn’t ask to see any proof of where I would be staying for my compulsory home quarantine. He did, however, ask to see a soft copy of the Air Survidha health declaration that you have to make online before setting out on your journey.
After checking my business visa, the officer stamped my passport and I was on my way to baggage reclaim. He also seemed to approve of my address in Delhi, which made me feel good about my Airbnb booking.
The whole arrivals process took less than 45 minutes, and Delhi airport made it look easy. I was expecting to be handed a leaflet or given some instructions about what I have to do on arrival, but there was nothing (other than out of date information read out by Virgin Atlantic when we arrived – more on that next).
Before I knew it, I was out of the airport and making my way to the city, along with the Virgin crew from my flight…
Don’t rely on your airline to know what’s going on!
Things are changing fast, but I was surprised that Virgin Atlantic didn’t have up-to-date information about India’s requirements for international arrivals.
When we landed, Virgin told passengers that they would have to home quarantine for 14 days, plus wait in the airport for up to 10 hours to collect their results – neither of which is true anymore. They also said the airport Covid test would cost around INR 30,000 – again inaccurate.
According to the latest rules, passengers coming from the UK, like me, can be released from home quarantine after one week, as long as they continue to test negative for coronavirus.
Expect a phone call checking up on you
Just over 24 hours after arriving in Delhi and settling in to my Airbnb home quarantine for the week, I received a call from an unknown Indian number. The caller said he was from the Delhi health department and wanted to verify my address.
He told me that somebody would be coming out to check, presumably to make sure I am staying where I claim to be. I asked how many visits would be made and was told it would just be one.
In the end, nobody came to the house and I didn’t receive another call!
Have you travelled to India from overseas recently? How did you find the arrivals experience?