India to Fully Reopen for Tourism and Restore Electronic Visa Issuance
India has joined the other countries that have already started the process of welcoming international tourists back on a full scale.
After two years, this South Asian country has now reopened its borders to international commercial flights allowing tourists to apply for a regular visa or an electronic visa for non-essential travel.
The Indian authorities have also announced plans to lift travel restrictions remaining in place since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Restoring commercial flights
Starting on March 27, 2022, India removed the ban on international flights and now the country allows passengers to travel for non-essential and tourism-related purposes. This was the last step for India to fully reopen for international tourism and boost the tourism industry that has been so hardly stricken by the prolonging lockdown.
Over the past two years of the coronavirus pandemic, flights in India were operating under a few travel bubbles. This system allowed flights from only certain destinations to enter India.
Due to the removal of the flight ban announced last week, major flight routes between Dubai and Indian destinations, including Mumbai, Bengaluru, and New Delhi have been given the green light to operate again.
More than 60 international airlines transporting passengers from 41 countries around the world will resume their flight services weekly to major Indian destinations.
Updated Entry Protocol for Arrivals to India
The Indian Government has already stated relaxing travel entry rules in early 2022. In February 2022, the mandatory quarantine and on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated visitors were removed.
Under the new Indian guidance, both vaccinated and unvaccinated travelers can travel to India without needing to have an essential travel reason.
The recent coronavirus-related requirements to enter India include:
- All travelers (aged 5 and older) must complete the official Air Suvidha Self Declaration Form at least 72 hours prior to departure time.
- Unvaccinated arrivals do not need to undergo quarantine as long as they provide a negative COVID-19 PCR test report performed no later than 72 hours prior to the planned travel.
- Fully vaccinated travelers do not need to take pre-departure coronavirus testing.
- Children younger than 5 are exempt from testing requirements
- All international arrivals to India are subject to random testing upon arrival in the country.
Restoring Electronic Visa Scheme
Along with the removal of the flight ban, the Indian authorities decided to restore its 5-year tourist electronic visa program that was suspended at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Nationals of 156 eligible countries can now apply for e-Visa to India again. Valid visas that were suspended in 2020 will be restored immediately.
The tourist visa facility was partially restored in October 2021 for passengers traveling to India on chartered flights or via air bubbles.
Holders of e-tourist visas will be allowed to enter India only through certain Sea Immigration Check Posts or Airport ICPs. Entry to India via a land border or riverine route on a tourist visa or e-visa will be impossible.