So first to the practicalities of getting to India in a post-Covid world. While these rules can change at any time, and therefore should be checked with both our office and the FCDO/State Department websites, here is a simple guide to entry requirements for fully vaccinated travellers from the UK and US.
Get your trip planned
Although it may seem obvious unless you are heading to India for a prolonged period and are happy to DIY, it’s best to have your trip planned in advance and for this, we (obviously) either recommend joining one of our many wonderful small group tours or talking to one of our travel experts about creating your own tailor-made Indian adventure. Once that is done, and you have your itinerary, flights and travel dates, you’ll need a visa.
Getting a visa
E-visas became available a few years back for most nationalities, are easy to apply for and take only 48-hours to be granted. No problem if you are American, but if you are British or Canadian, post-covid, these are not available! There are rumours this could change any day so keep an eye out for news. For us Brits, at present, we have to apply for a proper old-school visa through the Indian visa service which takes about a month. That said you only need to be without your passport for 5 days while the paper visa is stuck into your passport. You can apply for a visa yourself, but I recommend asking an agency to do it for you – we use Travcour.
Pre-trip Covid Forms
So you now have your itinerary, your flight tickets and your visa, and a week before you travel, you need to do the following:
Air Suvidh Form - this form is similar, but a lot simpler, to our old passenger locator form. You need to fill in a few details online – name, date of birth, flight details, first night address in India etc – and then upload your vaccine status and a copy of the photo page of your passport. It's all pretty straightforward and takes less than 10mins.
Health Declaration Form - this is even easier, simply print it off and fill it in with a pen. You know the kind of questions: do you have a cough, a fever, have you been in close contact with someone covid-positive recently? This you keep to hand over to immigration in India if they ask for it… in my case, they did not!
Remember there is no need to take a PCR or Lateral Flow test before travelling and quarantine requirements have been dropped.
If flying with BA, as I was, you will need to upload your vaccine status and the Health Declaration forms prior to travel. For the latter, I just photographed it with my phone and uploaded that jpeg. Do this 48-hours before departure, so BA has time to verify the documents prior to check-in which opens 24-hours before departure. I suspect other airlines are similar. NB – as of today, Verifly does not cover the UK to India.
And that’s it, you’re good to go!
Arriving in Delhi was as simple as it has ever been. No one took the forms I had printed off, there was virtually no queue at immigration, the officer stamped me in without asking any questions, and bags were delivered promptly. From the plane touching down at 02:05 (we were delayed at LHR for an hour) I was in bed in my central Delhi hotel by 03:30… which would be pretty amazing arriving anywhere.
And now India awaits!