COVID-19 has left many travel plans in tatters, with people getting stranded worldwide, mainly because the pandemic has forced many air travel facilities globally to shut down. India—the world’s second most populated country—faced this problem at large.

In addition to the Vande Bharat Mission flights for repatriates, flights are slowly being restored between Dubai (UAE) and India. The following are the latest travel guidelines, quarantine updates, and related SOP’s required while traveling from Dubai to India. 

Who can travel to India from the UAE now?

Flights to India will be restricted only to the following passengers:

  • Indian Nationals or nationals of Nepal or Bhutan stranded in UAE or any country in South America or Africa;
  • All overseas Citizen of India (OCI) cardholders and person of Indian origin (PIO) cardholders holding passports of any country
  • Passengers with an Overseas Citizen of India (OCI) card must present both the old and the current passport when the passport number in the OCI card does not match the current passport. This does not apply to passengers older than 50 years who have renewed their OCI card at least once after turning 50. For passengers below 20 years old, the number on the OCI must match that of their valid passport.
  • UAE nationals and foreign nationals (from any country in South America or Africa only) intending to visit India for any purpose (including their dependents on the appropriate category of dependent visa) except those on a Tourist visa.

 

The current update of Vande Bharat Mission

The Vande Bharat Mission started on May 6th to help foreigners in India return home and help Indian nationals head back. Over 68 lakhs of stranded people have been brought in or flown back to their country through international Vande Bharat flights. Currently, the eighth phase of the mission is underway and is going to extend till March 2021. Phase 9 of VBM will kick off on 28 March and go on till October 2021.

 

Requirements and documents to carry

The Union health ministry had issued a set of revised guidelines for international arrivals amid the spread of mutant variants of coronavirus in many countries.

  • All passengers, including children and infants, must submit a self‑declaration form (SDF) under the Air Suvidha section on the online portal before the scheduled departure with complete contact details and address. Passengers will receive an approval code that must be presented at the time of departure.
  • All passengers must mention clearly in the SDF whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take transit flights. Transit passengers must present the “T” (Transit) receipt on their SDF to the state authority/ government of India.
  • All passengers must declare if they have a travel history to the United Kingdom, Brazil, or South Africa in the past 14 days. This will be indicated with an “H” on their SDF.
  • All passengers must carry four copies of the self‑declaration form (SDF) at the time of departure.
  • All passengers must submit an undertaking form on the online portal agreeing to follow advice by the appropriate government authority to undergo home quarantine or self‑monitoring of their health for 14 days or as mandated.
  • All passengers must download the Aarogya setu app on their mobile devices.

 

COVID‑19 testing requirements

A negative COVID-19 PCR test is required to enter India. The following are the revised guidelines:

  • All passengers, including children and infants, must upload their COVID‑19 RT‑PCR results on the Air Suvidha online portal for a test taken within 72 hours before starting their journey.
  • All passengers must carry a hard copy of a negative COVID 19 RT‑PCR certificate test at the departure time. Digital copies will not be allowed.
  • Arrival in India without a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test report will only be permitted in the exigency of death in the family. Passengers can apply for such an exemption on the online portal at least 72 hours before boarding. The decision taken by the government as communicated on the online portal will be final. (https://www.newdelhiairport.in/airsuvidha/covid-19-exemption-international-passenger) 
  • All passengers, including infants and children, without any exception, are to undergo self‑paid molecular tests upon arrival at the Indian airports (port of entry). Passengers must carry adequate funds for the same.
  • All passengers can leave their entry point in India after taking the on‑arrival molecular tests except for the following:
    • Passengers traveling from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa and arriving at Bangalore airport must wait for their results before leaving the airport or connecting to another flight.
    • Connecting passengers traveling from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa and transiting at Indian airports must wait 8‑10 hours at the entry airport in India before taking their connecting flights.
  • All passengers who test positive for COVID‑19 during the on‑arrival molecular tests will undergo treatment per standard health protocol. If they’re traveling from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa, they will be isolated in an institutional isolation facility coordinated by the respective state health authorities.

 

State-wise testing requirements

Ahmedabad (AMD)

All passengers except children below 10 years old must carry a printed copy of a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR certificate for a test conducted within 96 hours of departure.

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 800 per person. To facilitate the sampling process upon arrival at Ahmedabad, all passengers must fill in the required information on the Supratech website. 

Bangalore (BLR)

All passengers traveling to Bengaluru (BLR) must download the Aarogya setu app, Quarantine Watch app, and Apthamitra app on their mobile devices. Click here to download the apps.

On‑arrival molecular test per person will cost approximately as below:

  • RT‑PCR Express INR 3,000, 30 minutes processing time
  • RT‑PCR (regular) INR 500, 4 hours processing time

Passengers arriving from Brazil and South Africa and who test positive for COVID‑19 will have to undergo institutional quarantine for 14 days at government-provided facilities at government cost. Passengers may also choose to stay at self‑paid facilities.

Passengers arriving from Brazil and South Africa and who test negative for COVID‑19 will undergo home quarantine for 14 days, with a follow‑up PCR test to be conducted on the 7th day.

Chennai (MAA)

All passengers except children below 6 months old must carry a printed copy of a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR certificate for a test conducted within 96 hours of arrival.

All passengers must ensure TN e‑pass is applied and details are ready to be shown to state health authorities.

Transfer passengers on arrival who are traveling to other states have to apply for a fresh e‑pass upon arrival and follow the other state process when connecting to a domestic flight. Transfer facility of passengers and baggage currently not available.

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 1,200 to 2,500 per person.

Delhi (DEL)

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 800 per person. 

Passengers who have to wait for their results before their connecting flights must pay for the lounge cost at approximately INR 2,600 per person.

Hyderabad (HYD)

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 1,000 per person.

Passengers who have to wait for their results before their connecting flights must pay for the lounge cost at approximately INR 4,200 per person.

Kerala (COK/TRV)

All passengers traveling to Kerala must update their details on the COVID‑19 Jagratha portal at least two days before departure.

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 1,500 to 2,000 per person.

Kolkata (CCU)

 All passengers except children below 3 years old must carry a printed hard copy of a negative COVID‑19 RT‑PCR certificate for a test conducted within 72 hours of departure.

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 950 per person.

Mumbai (BOM)

Medical visas issued before October 2020, even if still valid, will not be accepted for entry into Maharashtra. 

The on-arrival molecular test will cost approximately INR 850 per person.

 

Quarantine and self-isolation requirements

  • All passengers traveling from the United Kingdom, Brazil, and South Africa are advised to quarantine at home for 7 days. Passengers must take a COVID‑19 RT‑PCR test on the 7th day of arrival. If they test negative, they can be released from quarantine and continue to monitor their health for 7 days.
  • All passengers traveling to Mumbai must submit an undertaking form on the online portal agreeing to undergo a mandatory 7‑day paid institutional quarantine at their own cost, followed by 7 days isolation at home with self‑monitoring of health.
  • All other passengers will be allowed to leave the airport/to take transit flights and be required to undertake self‑monitoring of their health for 14 days.

The following categories of travellers from the UAE are now exempted from the institutional quarantine rule in Mumbai if they are able to present relevant evidence:

  1. Those who have completed their COVID vaccination
  2. Elderly passengers above 65 years of age
  3. Pregnant women in advanced stage of pregnancy
  4. Both parents accompanying children below 5 years of age
  5. Passengers having a serious illness and require immediate medical attention such as cancer, severe physical disability, mental illness, and cerebral palsy
  6. In case of extreme family distress condition (for example: father, mother, son, daughter in critical condition)
  7. Severe accident or death of an immediate family member
  8. Medical professionals, who intend to travel for life-saving surgery or attending critical patients

 

Short stay International travelers

International travelers on a short stay (less than 14 days) and who have tested negative and remain symptom-free will undergo all the procedures mentioned above and be permitted to leave India subject to fulfilling the requirements of their destination country.