Posted on Oct 9th, 2020 by Heena Ganotra, Last updated Aug 22nd, 2022, 15 comments
Crazy long queues at the check-in counter. Ho-hum affairs at the baggage claim. Careless swishing and swooshing when the flight lands. Hubbub of people deboarding India flights for a grand homecoming! Nostalgia hits hard when airport memories grab us by the arm and seek attention. But memories of India travel and booking cheap tickets to India are all we have!
Even though the year 2020 (and whatever part of 2021 we have seen) is all wasted because of everything that has been falling apart one after the other, the chief threat has been COVID-19. It has quite literally ruined the year in its entirety, making it the biggest nightmare of the century. While leisure trips are the last thing on anyone’s list, emergency travel falls first because of its unavoidability.
If you have an emergency flight to board, the following are a few things (under the International travel India checklist) that you must consider during COVID-19-
As per the International Travel Guidelines given by the government on 21 September 2020, all Visas and e-visas issued before 30 June 2020 are invalidated. This, however, does not apply to-
– Diplomatic, official, UN/International Organizations or project visas/all categories of Employment visas
– Business visa (excluding B-3 visa for sports)
– Airline crew
Further, the Centre had also eased Visa Restrictions on 7 August 2020, allowing Overseas Citizens of India (OCI) and certain categories of foreigners from countries with which India has “air bubble agreements” with – like the USA, the UK, France, Germany, etc. Referring to this air-bubble agreement, The Ministry of Home Affairs said, “…all OCI card holders holding passports of such countries are permitted to enter India.”
The order that was released also mentioned that Indian nationals, who hold any type of valid visa of countries with which India has air-bubble agreements, can travel to that country, provided that particular country doesn’t have any travel restrictions on the entry of Indian nationals.
Sidenote (For India to USA travelers) – Since the US holds no such restrictions, Indian Nationals with valid visas can easily travel to the USA without any hassles.
Not only this; foreigners from countries with which India has entered into air bubble agreements can travel to India for business or medical reasons and also those who have some Indian connection (as given in the June 22 order). This allows –
Apart from this, the government had also allowed entry to dependent family members of foreign diplomats and service staff who are accredited to foreign diplomatic missions, consular offices, or accredited International Organizations in India. However, they are required to hold official service passports.
Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the date of the visa application to obtain a visa and must have two blank pages.
A Negative RT-PCR Test
A negative RT-PCR test is required for India travel if you wish to seek exemption from the compulsory institutional quarantine at the transit city. However, to know the nitty-gritty of the same, you can read the why, how, where, and when of the negative RT-PCR test requirements here.
It’s absolutely important that you get travel insurance before your India trip. Also, make sure it covers emergency medical expenses across countries so you aren’t rendered bankrupt if you happen to fall sick during or after any of your trips. While most countries have made it mandatory, India hasn’t; but we’ll still recommend you have one.
It is a declaration by an individual that s/he doesn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms to the best of his knowledge. For India travel, this form is available here by the name of ‘Air Suvidha Self-Reporting Form’. This form is to be filled mandatorily by all international travelers before the departure of their flight according to the guidelines for India travel, and even though the form is available from the New Delhi Airport website, it is applicable all over the country.
Carrying the printout of the same is absolutely necessary as the digital copy alone wouldn’t suffice. For those who fill the online form but end up not carrying the printout would have to fill two self-declaration forms on arrival before clearing the immigration, leading to delays at the health screening areas at the airport. On submission, the form is forwarded to the Airport Health Organisation (APHO) under the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare (GOI). Travelers can then refer to their mail for the updated form. This completed form is what is to be shown at the APHO counter before proceeding for immigration.
Arogya Setu App
Many countries have come up with COVID-tracing apps to track the movements of immigrants. While the Arogya Setu app is compulsory in India, different apps are compulsory in other countries. For example – Australia has COVID Safe app, Dubai has the COVID-19 DXB Smart app, and Singapore has Trace Together.
Note: You only have to download the app. Many people have reported issues of not getting their OTPs in time. In that case, just install the app and leave. The checkings aren’t too strict and the officials only check if the app is there on the mobile device or not.
Safe Seniors App
Because aged people are at a higher risk of catching the virus, this app must be considered as part of senior citizens’ international travel guidelines checklist when they travel to India. The app analyzes the pre-conditions, exposure history, daily symptoms, and its evolution, thereby keeping a track of an individual’s daily health. Having been designed by the RPG Life Sciences and Seniority, this app can fully be trusted as it has been validated by the top-most doctors with specialization in the field of infections.
This app gives precise information on bar and restaurant closures. Therefore, downloading the same can help you with easy and convenient journeys.
Masks, Gloves, & Face Shields
While masks are mandatory to wear and are the best gears working against coronavirus, gloves can be worn for extra protection. Make sure you pack extra masks and gloves in case you lose one. Face shields act as an additional security measure. Since COVID spreads easily through touch and breaths, one must take all the necessary precautions to prevent it.
Whether you are a kid, senior citizen, or a young professional, do not touch anything before wiping it with a disinfectant wipe. The armrests, the aircraft meal trays, the windows, etc must not casually be touched while boarding/deboarding an India flight even otherwise. If finding these wipes is a hard nut to crack, you can take along any alcoholic spray.
Sanitizer (>100 ml)/Soap
Another item you must have in your travel checklist is the travel-sized hand sanitizer. This is an absolute requirement to keep yourself safe from catching the virus. However, keep this for the flight journey only. Once you land and wherever you have access, prefer washing hands with soap.
Carrying the prescribed medication is of the utmost importance as the salts available in a particular medicine aren’t available in another. Chances are that you might not get the same ones in India so it’s better to be on the safer side by carrying a pack or two extra.
Even though the airlines that bring travelers to India offer food, it is very limited and light. Chances are that you’ll have further cravings. The same can be satiated if you carry home food along because it is absolutely allowed and definitely a safer option to rely on.
Don’t forget to carry a water bottle with you. It becomes all the more important if you are traveling with kids because they will keep asking for water. Seeking help from the air hostess every time they are thirty won’t be a great option, considering the risk factor.
You can use these bags to carry food or segregate the used and the unused masks to check upon the cross-contamination among them. These bags are super effective and can be helpful for quite a lot of things.
You might end up with a chuckle here, but more often than not, you will forget to carry this tiny but essential item. The consequence of this will be you asking for a pen from strangers at the airport but to no avail. It’s better you keep a few pens with you in the carry-on baggage because pens have the tendency of disappearing when they are needed the most. So even if you lose 2-3, you’ll still have one to use. In case you happen to be a careful person, you can lend it to someone in need and seek their blessings. Because in the end, when everything fails, blessings alone help, and this might be your chance to escape COVID-19.
If you take these international travel guidelines seriously, we are sure of the fact that, if not more, you will be five steps away from catching the virus. Precaution is indeed better than cure and this checklist is the sure-shot way of preventing the deadly virus.
MyTicketsToIndia wishes you all good health.
And if you have any queries regarding VISA, RT-PCR test, state-wise quarantine guidelines in India, or booking flights to India, we are here to help you out. Just give us a call or join the live chat and we’ll love to offer our assistance.
Until then, stay safe!
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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! :)