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Updated on 5 July, 2021

The advent of a brand new year has certainly brought hope in form of the vaccine, but returning back to normal life still feels a little far off. With the world’s second-largest population, India has grievously faced the wrath of the situation, but the country has been fighting back.

In March 2020, India closed all its international borders to control the contamination. India has now extended the suspension of scheduled international flights till July 31, 2021. The country came up with its Vande Bharat Mission to bring back its citizens stranded in different countries. However, by now, India has set up travel bubbles with many countries, and passengers from most countries can travel to India subject to quarantine requirements.


The current update of Vande Bharat Mission

The Vande Bharat Mission started on 6 May 2020 to help foreigners in India return home and help Indian nationals head back. As of 5 July 2021, over 9 million stranded people have been brought in or flown back to their country through international Vande Bharat flights. 

The national carrier Air India and Air India Express have been among the largest carriers during this period in terms of the number of flights they’ve operated and total repatriated passengers. They provide scheduled flights operating from Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Pune, Amritsar, and various other cities with international airports. Services have also been extended to the better part of Europe from selected cities in India.

Currently, Phase 10 of the mission is underway and is expected to extend till 30 October 2021.


Operative international flights between India and UAE

Air India has been providing services since the fourth phase of the Vande Bharat Mission to UAE, and SpiceJet too had come forward in this mission. India has created an air bubble arrangement with the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Etihad Airways and Emirates have stepped up to conduct flights from India to Abu Dhabi.

However, due to the surge in the COVID cases in India, the UAE has suspended the air bubble till July 15. Only the following categories of passengers will be allowed entry to Dubai:

  • members of diplomatic missions
  • holders of UAE golden visa, UAE nationals
  • passengers exempted and/or granted permission to enter the UAE by the appropriate authorities
  • passengers travelling on a business flight who have a valid COVID 19 PCR test certificate.

Travellers from India, who have valid residence visas and have received two doses of a UAE-approved vaccine, will be allowed in the Emirates.


Countries open for Indian travellers

As India continues to be in the thick of the coronavirus pandemic, travellers in the country have been forced to scrap their plans. Nearly 40 countries, including the US, the UAE and the UK, have put a travel ban on India.

Though several countries have yet to open their doors for Indian travellers, you can still visit the following countries:

  • Russia
  • Serbia
  • Iceland
  • Rwanda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Afghanistan
  • Mauritius
  • South Korea
  • Turkey
  • South Africa
  • Switzerland

Note: Do check the Covid requirements before booking a flight.

A travel corridor also exists with 28 countries, including Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Canada, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Iraq, Japan, Kenya, Kuwait, Maldives, Nepal, Netherlands, Nigeria, Oman, Qatar, Russia, Rwanda, Seychelles, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Ukraine, the UAE, the UK, the US, and Uzbekistan with more expected to be consolidated in the near future. Scheduled commercial flights, except specially allowed by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation are canceled till the end of May

The guidelines issued by the Government mandates 14 day of quarantine/self-monitoring for everyone traveling to India. A PCR test, stating COVID-19 negative within 72 hrs of travel is also required. This, however, may vary across states since they have the freedom to exercise their own guidelines.

As per the latest travel advisory from the Government of India, all foreign nationals can now visit India except on a tourist visa.

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