Updated December 2021
India is currently not on the United States travel ban list, and those who wish to travel from India to the US are generally allowed to do so. However, in the wake of the Omicron variant’s emergence, the US has recently announced that all inbound travellers are now required to be fully vaccinated prior to travel.
So how does the omicron variant affect the PCR test entry requirements for Indian residents to the US? Here are the latest PCR test entry requirements for residents of India looking to travel to the US.
PCR testing requirements in the US
Do note that Indian travellers who have transited or have been in the specified countries in the past 14 days will not be able to enter the USA. These countries are Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.
Indian travellers above two years of age who are eligible for entry must present a negative result of a COVID‑19 viral test or documentation of recovery from COVID‑19 before they board a flight to the United States. Additional requirements are as follows:
- the negative PCR test must not be taken more than one day before the flight’s departure from India
- get tested with COVID-19 PCR test 3-5 days after arriving in the US (If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected)
- self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; if you develop symptoms, you will need to self-isolate and take another PCR test.
In light of the emergence of the omicron variant, travel to the US for non-vaccinated foreign travellers is not possible with very limited exceptions.
Recent recoveries from COVID-19
If you have recovered from a COVID-19 infection within the last 3 months, then regardless of vaccination status, you do NOT need to get a test 3-5 days after travel.
People can continue to test positive for up to 90 days after diagnosis and not be infectious to others. You also do not need to self-quarantine after travel. If you develop COVID-19 symptoms after travel, isolate and consult with a healthcare provider for testing recommendations.
Some states either require all out-of-state visitors to self-isolate for 14 days, present a negative test result or do not have a strict quarantine mandate. For more information, please consult each state’s health department website.
Rapid test specifications
Rapid tests are accepted in the US as long as they are viral tests which include:
- Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)
- Reverse Transcription-Loop Mediated Isothermal Amplification (RT-LAMP)
- Transcription-Mediated Amplification (TMA)
- Nicking Enzyme Amplification Reaction (NEAR)
- Helicase-Dependent Amplification (HDA)
The test should be authorized for use by the Indian officials to detect SARS-CoV-2, and the test result should be in the form of printed paper or as an electronic copy.
What about testing at the airport?
COVID-19 screening is not required at USA airports; hence travellers from India will need to undergo a pre-departure PCR test before travelling and present the negative result to the airline before boarding their flight.
Testing in quarantine
If you are fully vaccinated, you will not be subject to quarantine, but you should:
- Get tested with a viral test 3-5 days after travel. If your test is positive, isolate yourself to protect others from getting infected.
- Self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms; isolate and get tested if you develop symptoms.
Following are the categories exempt from PCR testing:
- Children under the age of 2 are exempted from submitting a negative PCR test result.
- If you recovered from a documented COVID-19 infection within the past 90 days (regardless of vaccination status), you would not need to conduct a post-arrival PCR test. You must show proof of a positive viral test from the preceding 90 days and a letter from your healthcare provider or public health official stating you are cleared to end isolation.