Is It Important To Take COVID-19 RT-PCR Test Before India Travel?

cover-rt pcr test

Last Updated on Dec 18th, 2023 by Heena Ganotra, 522 comments

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 7 January 2022 (effective from 11 January 2022), a new set of guidelines were released on 10 February 2022 (effective from 14 February 2022). The revised guidelines state that the mandatory 72-hour report of RT-PCR is no longer required if the travelers can show their full Vaccination Certificate.

The Union Health Minister tweeted,”Besides uploading negative RT-PCR report (taken 72 hrs prior to journey), option to upload a certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination provided from countries on a reciprocal basis. 14 days Self-Monitoring post-arrival as against 7 days Home Quarantine as was mandated earlier. Need for undertaking RT-PCR test on 8th day and uploading the same on Air Suvidha portal is dispensed with.”

In simpler terms, for people from specific countries with which India has vaccination agreements (list given below), vaccinate certificates would suffice. RT-PCR would no longer be needed in such cases. Further, the concept of “At-Risk countries” has been done away with. 7-day home quarantine and RT-PCR on the 8th day after arrival is no longer needed too.

While this was in a nutshell, let’s discuss in detail what these new guidelines for India travel are –

Wear Mask

Latest Guidelines On India Travel – Issued On 10 February 2022

For India International travel, you can take air bubble flights which is an extension of Vande Bharat Mission. If you’re confused regarding what routes you can take, the eligibility criteria that varies with each airline, and the transit points you can make use of, here’s everything about Air Bubble India-USA flights for your reference. For now, let’s understand the guidelines for India travel.

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.

Suggested Read: Self Declaration Form On Air Suvidha Mandatory For India Travel

  • 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.
  • You won’t need the RT-PCR test if you’ve the certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-1 vaccination.
  • However, if you’re not fully vaccinated, you will have to upload the COVID-19 RT-PCR (negative) test report conducted within 72 hours prior to the scheduled travel.
**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.

Because we have been receiving a lot of queries on this, nasal swab tests are part of RT-PCR tests and are valid for India International travel. Apart from the RT-PCR Test (Report comes in 6 to 8 hours), Rapid PCR Test (Report comes within 60 to 90 minutes) can also be taken. These are RT-PCR tests with a difference in the price and report turn-around time. However, please note that Antigen Tests, saliva swab tests, and throat swab tests aren’t valid and the same would restrict your boarding.

  • 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.
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Before Boarding

  • Airlines to allow boarding by only those passengers who have filled in all the information in the Self Declaration Form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report or Covid -19 vaccination certificate of having completed the primary vaccination schedule.
  • While boarding, your body temperature should be normal in the airport’s thermal screening or your boarding shall be restricted.

During Your Travel To India

  • 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.

On Your India Arrival

  • 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.

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.
  • They can leave the airport after submitting their samples.
  • IF POSITIVE: The travelers’ samples will be sent for genomic testing.
  • All passengers need to, however, monitor their health for 14 days.

The earlier protocols no longer stand valid i.e. no home quarantine for 7 days and no undertaking/ uploading of RT-PCR test on the 8th day of arrival in India.

List of Countries for which Primary Vaccination Schedule Completion Certificate is Allowed

AlbaniaCommonwealth of Dominica IranMozambiqueSt. Kitts and Nevis
AndorraCosta RicaIrelandMyanmarSan Marino
AngolaCroatiaIsraelNamibiaSaudi Arabia
Antigua & BarbudaCubaKazakhstanNepalSerbia
AustraliaCyprusKingdom of Morocco New ZealandSeychelles
AustriaDenmarkKyrgyzstanNetherlandsSierra Leone
BangladeshFinlandLebanonNorth MacedoniaSlovak Republic
Brunei DarussalamGuatemalaMaldivesPanamaSri Lanka
BotswanaGuyanaMaliPortugalState of Palestine
BulgariaHong KongMauritiusPhilippinesSweden
ColumbiaThe United KingdomUkraineVietnam
Trinidad & TobagoTurkeyUnited States of America Zimbabwe

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.

Is The Testing Facility Offered By The Airports Free? 

No. The starting amount for getting tested at the Delhi Airport is INR 5,000 ($71) 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 ($7.97).

Can The RT-PCR Test Be Pre-Booked?

Yes. For Delhi arrivals, a slot can be booked on official website. 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?

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 –

While the RT-PCR Test costs INR 500 and takes 6 to 8 hours in delivering the report, the Rapid PCR Test costs INR 3500 and takes 60 to 90 minutes of time. Rapid Antigen Test, however, takes 10-15 minutes and takes place at T-3 Departure forecourt area.

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 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 ($64). 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 ($7.97). 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 ($51.77) per person and delivers the result in 1-2 hours. The earlier price was 4,500 ($59.74) 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$11) for a regular RT-PCR test and Rs 4,500 ($64) 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. 

About Heena Ganotra | View Posts

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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  1. Poonam Negi says:

    My name is Poonam.
    My father was going to Japan from Mumbai international airport he didn’t have rtpcr test report handy so he was told to do rtpcr test first so my question is if the flight get reschedule or our tickets gets cancelled or they tel us to rebook the flight.we didn’t got our money back of cancelled flight. Or do we have option to free date change.

  2. Pardeep says:

    Hii i just want to know id someone was covid positive and do not have vaccine certificate but covid still showing in results can he fly with doctor certificate?

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Pradeep ji,

      Unfortunately, the government guidelines only accept the RT-PCR test. The doctor’s certificate won’t do. We recommend you wait till the test shows negative to fly seamlessly. Hope this helps.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  3. Ramya says:

    Hi we are going to travel from Canada to India on Nov 11th we having covid 19 vaccine certificates but my elder daughter is 7years old she didn’t get covid 19 vaccine so shall we take RT PCR test for her pls reply

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Ramya ji,

      Only children below the age of 5 are exempted from undergoing the RT-PCR tests. Because your daughter is 7 and is not fully vaccinated, she will have to go through the RT-PCR test indeed. Hope this helps.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  4. Ramya says:

    Hi we are going to travel from Canada to India on Nov 11th we having covid 19 vaccine certificates but my elder daughter is 7years old she didn’t get covid 19 vaccine so shall we take RT PCR test for her

  5. Salim says:

    Is a PCR Test acceptable for travel to India, in place of a RT-PCR test. Most labs are offering the PCR test but there is only one offering RT-PCR test and its expensive ( $279 )

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Salim ji,

      Only an RT-PCR test is valid for India travel. We understand it’s expensive but that’s the only way out. Hope it helps.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  6. Reshmu George says:

    Is an Antigen test result acceptable or does it have to be a pcr test?

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Reshmu ji,

      It has to be an RT-PCR test. Should you have any other concerns, please feel free to let us know. Thank you!

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  7. Saranya says:

    Im travelling from Belgium to India, Im vaccinated first 2 doses of pfizer but didnt have booster yet. Do i need to take RT Pcr test ? what primary vaccination means

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Saranya ji,

      There are Countries which have agreement with India on mutual recognition of vaccination certificates of Nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. Similarly, there are Countries which presently do not have such an agreement with India, but they exempt Indian citizens fully vaccinated
      with Nationally recognised or WHO recognised vaccines. On the basis of reciprocity, the travellers from only such Countries which provide quarantine-free entry to Indians will be allowed for relaxation under Certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of COVID-19 vaccination.

      Long story short, you will not have to undergo the RT-PCR test. 2 doses of pfizer will suffice as they come as a part of the primary vaccination. Hope this helps!

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  8. Irina says:

    Dear Madam, Dear Sir,

    I am planning to go to India for tourism.
    Does the Bangalore Airport offer the possibility to make a Test with a saliva sample ?
    Simply by spitting into a tube and without swabs in the nose or rubbing the cheek ?

    Thank you very much in advance for your answer,

    Kind regards

  9. Ami says:

    Hi, my 6 year old daughter is fully vaccinated. However, her final dose is within 14 days of date of travel to India. I am told to get RTPCR done since final dose is within 14 days. Is there such a requirement or as long as she is fully vaccinated it should be okay? Please let me know. Thanks.

    1. Jas says:

      How did it go ? I am in the same situation

  10. Jaydeep says:

    I have a flight from Toronto to ahemadabad via Dubai in emirates. We have a short layover of 5 hours at Dubai airport. They don’t the Covid test but do we need to take a Covid test for boarding flight at Toronto airport? Please help. Thank you

  11. Aruna says:

    I have a flight from Toronto to ahemadabad via Dubai in emirates. We have a short layover of 5 hours at Dubai airport. They don’t the Covid test but do we need to take a Covid test for boarding flight at Toronto airport? Please help. Thank you

  12. Manali says:

    I am travelling from UK to Ahmadabad. When it says no PCR test required if fully vaccinated does it mean the 2 Jabs and not including the Booster jab .

  13. TS says:

    Travelling to India from Australia. My 5+ year old had singl e dose of Vaccine. Is he considered fully vaccinated for travel to India or does he need PCR test?

    1. Reshmu George says:

      Do you have an answer to this? As I am in same situation. My 5 year old only have one vaccine shot. Does he require pcr test

  14. kalyan says:

    Travelling from US to Chennai, i have digital vaccination record with QR code, can i upload that in air suvidha as a vaccination certificate ? is that acceptable document. Digital vaccination record does not have signature, but has the details about the vaccine and dates administer from the pharmacy.

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Kalyan ji,

      That indeed is an acceptable document. You can upload that. Won’t be an issue.

      Warm regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  15. Kinjal says:

    I am travelling from Canada to india through Abu Dhabi . Travel Date 7 March 2022. We are fully Vaccinated. Do we need RT pcr test? Also when you say short layover, can you elaborate more. We have 6 hrs layover in Abu Dhabi. Thank you in advance

  16. Shrusti says:

    Hi Heena,

    I am travelling from Toronto to Ahmedabad via Dubai. Do I still need RT PCT test or Vaccination certificate will work ? I am wondering because the country list available on Air Suvidha Portal does not include United Arab Emirates or Dubai.
    Please help.

  17. Devi says:


    I am fully vaccinated and traveling from US to India via France. Do I still need to take the RTPCR test as I have to transit in France?

    1. Heena Ganotra says:


      The official document states – For passengers in transit via France and with a final destination outside of France: the rules of the country of final destination apply. Hence, if the transit is for a short duration, you won’t need to carry the test. If there are still any queries, we’d recommend having a word with our travel executives @ 1-585-948-0222. Thank you so much!

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  18. Nishu says:

    We are travelling to India from Vancouver, does 5 year old need rt-pcr?all adults are fully vaccinated

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Nishu ji,

      Only children under 5 years of age are exempted from RT-PCR testing. Others will either have to undergo the testing or be fully vaccinated.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  19. pank says:

    we are travelling to India from uk , does 5 and half year old need RTPCR done. all other adults are fully vaccinated.

    1. Heena Ganotra says:


      Yes, a 5-year-old would need an RT-PCR test done if not fully vaccinated. Hope this helps. Thank you!

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  20. Jeet kaur says:

    Hi I am traveling from Canada to India (new dehli) on 26 feb.I am fully vaccinated and I was wondering If I need to get done the RT PCR test from Canada 72 hours before the departure.please advise.
    Thanks Kaur

    1. Heena Ganotra says:


      If you’re fully vaccinated, you won’t need to get the RT-PCR test done. Hope this helps. Happy journey!

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  21. Dupinderjeet says:

    I was tested positive 2 weeks back but my flight is in next 3 weeks. So most probably my pre departure rt-pcr test will be positive. So it is essential to have a negative result or can we show previous rt-pcr result of positive for reference?

  22. Param says:

    HI ,


  23. Rmukh says:

    Hi, I am traveling from Washington DC to Delhi and then to Bangalore by Air India. I am fully vaccinated and had my booster taken. Can I travel with negative Rapid Antigen test? Thanks.

  24. Syed says:

    Hi, thank you for the detailed information.

    I read in your post that Saliva Swab Test is not accepted to enter India: does this mean that RT-PCR tests using Saliva Samples are valid or not?
    I cannot find this information on any official Indian Government website or document. Can you please confirm this and guide me to the source of this information – note that my test is saliva testing by using the RT-PCR (and thus I would receive a Fit-to-Fly certificate).

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Syed ji,

      Our pleasure! 🙂 Well, if the test report comes with a valid stamp and signature ascertaining the authenticity of the test result, it will most likely be acceptable. However, please note that official websites say that they want a negative RT PCR test and there is no mention of a specific type (saliva or nasal swab). But we have had experiences where a specific airline insisted on going ahead with a nasal swab test.

      Since there is no mention of any specific RT-PCR category, it would not be wrong to assume that if your negative report contains your name, DOB, and (most importantly) RT PCR mentioned on it, you shouldn’t face any issue. That disclaimer we added in the blog was to eradicate any loophole.

      Hope this proves to be of some help.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

  25. Santhosh says:

    Hi, Thanks for the detailed post. I am travelling to India from USA, reaching India on 6th feb and need to leave again from India on 13th feb. That is the 7th day after entering. Is there a problem to plan a such short travel? Any help on this is appreciated

    1. Heena Ganotra says:

      Hello Santhosh ji,

      This is the first time we have come across such a unique query/issue. As of now, it is not within our knowledge. Please be advised to call our travel agents @ 1-585-948-0222. They’ll be able to help you better we feel.

      Warm Regards,
      Team MyTicketsToIndia

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