December 31, 2020
The U.S. Embassy and Consulates continue to monitor COVID-19 conditions in India. Case numbers continue to decrease throughout the country, and media reports indicate that healthcare capacity is currently sufficient both in terms of available critical care bed space and sufficient numbers of trained medical personnel.
As we move into the colder months, U.S. citizens are strongly urged to continue to take personal health measures to protect themselves, including practicing social or physical distancing, cleaning hands with soap/hand sanitizer, wearing masks, and avoiding crowded areas with poor ventilation. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) strongly recommend that U.S. citizens get flu shots to prevent a major flu outbreak and reduce the need to access the health system at this time. Finally, U.S. citizens should continue to obey measures introduced by Indian officials designed to mitigate COVID-19 outbreaks in their areas.
Normal services are available throughout the country, including grocery stores, schools/universities, and religious services. Most schools have moved to an online or hybrid system. For specific information, please check with your educational institution. Most retail shops and restaurants are open though they may have reduced hours and limits on the number of patrons allowed inside. Public gatherings are restricted in size. Contact tracing is widely practiced and most restaurants will require patrons to provide their name and a mobile number in order to enter the establishment.
Face masks are almost universally worn in public, especially in urban areas, indoors, and on public transportation. U.S. citizens should be aware that failure to adhere to mask-wearing norms reflects poorly on foreign residents and may result in a fine.
Entry and Exit Requirements:
Are U.S. citizens permitted to enter? Yes, some
- Travel to India for tourism and most other short-term purposes is still not permitted, and there is no indication that this will change in the short term.
- Indian government travel restrictions remain in place that prevent most U.S. citizens from entering the country. India has recently modified its policies, however, to permit some additional categories of travelers. This includes certain business travelers, as well as individuals moving to India as residents.
- India has suspended flights to and from the United Kingdom until January 7. Individuals whose travel originates in the UK are barred from entering India, even if transiting through other countries, at this time.
- For complete information on travel restrictions and any possible exceptions, please consult the Indian Ministry of Home Affairs or the Ministry of Civil Aviation. The U.S. Embassy strongly urges any U.S. citizens considering travel to India to carefully review the information available from the Government of India. Please note these regulations are subject to change with little notice. The U.S. Embassy’s ability to intervene on behalf of travelers denied entry into India is extremely limited and travelers denied entry at Indian ports of entry will likely be immediately reboarded on flights back to the United States.
- All international passengers must visit newdelhiairport.in/covid19 and submit a self-declaration form at least 72 hours prior to departure for India.
- A 14-day quarantine is required for all arriving passengers – 7 days in institutional quarantine and 7 days of home quarantine. Passengers may request an exemption from quarantine 72 hours before traveling to India if they can provide a recent RT-PCR negative test result or if they meet certain criteria. Exemption requests should be submitted at newdelhiairport.in/covid19. More information is available from the Ministry of Home Affairs.
- As of December 22, travelers from European points of origin are ineligible for quarantine exemptions in the State of Maharashtra, which includes the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai.
- Thermal (fever) screening will be conducted upon arrival in India for all international passengers at airports and seaports. Passengers who are symptomatic or screened positive for fever by automated fever scanners will be taken to designated isolation facilities for further evaluation and testing.
- If the laboratory test is confirmed positive for COVID-19, they will be held at the isolation facility for further management.
- If two consecutive laboratory tests of samples collected 24-48 hours apart are negative, they will be discharged after the symptoms resolve.
- The information on these passengers will be shared with Ministry of Health and Family Welfare staff for further follow-up of these passengers.
Visa extensions: The Indian Ministry of Home Affairs has stated that foreign nationals stranded in India because of COVID-19 restrictions may extend their regular visas and e-visas after completing an online application. Travelers with approved extensions should not be fined an overstay penalty upon departure. Contact the FRRO well before any planned departure to obtain appropriate exit permission (https://indianfrro.gov.in/eservices/home.jsp).
Is a curfew in place? Yes, in some states
Are there restrictions on intercity or interstate travel? Some states require a current negative test result if entering from other Indian states or for travelers to quarantine for 14 days.
Are U.S. citizens required to quarantine? Yes, in some states.
All travelers entering India, including residents and OCI card holders, are required to quarantine for 14 days unless they receive an exemption. In some cases, travelers may be asked to quarantine based on thermal and other testing done on symptomatic passengers. Some states require quarantine for all individuals arriving from outside their borders with no exemptions. During the 14-day quarantine period, travelers are not permitted to use any form of public transportation or appear in any public location.
COVID-19 testing is conducted by private medical providers and hospitals as well was government medical facilities. The cost of testing varies by state but is free in all Indian government hospitals. U.S. citizens are responsible for payment directly to the clinic or private medical providers.
Are commercial flights operating? Yes, within India. International flights are still operating as repatriation flights. Airlines may have strict policies regarding who can book these flights based on Indian government restrictions.
Is public transportation operating? Yes
The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi and the U.S. Consulates in Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata, and Mumbai have resumed some routine services. For information on visas, click here, and for U.S. citizens click here.
U.S. citizens and visa applicants who are granted appointments at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or any U.S. Consulate in India must wear masks upon entering the premises and are prohibited from entering these facilities if they have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to anyone known to have tested positive for COVID-19 in the previous 14 days.
Below are sources of local COVID-19 information in English. U.S. citizens should closely monitor trusted local news sources and local authorities’ communications for updates and information. This list is not exhaustive:
- Indian Ministry of Home Affairs
- Indian Bureau of Immigration
- Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare
The Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has a 24/7 hotline at +91-11-2397-8046 with English-speaking operators or can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Indian Medical Association also has a 24/7 hotline for individuals to speak with a doctor at +91 99996-72238 or +91 99996-72239.