Mandatory RT-PCR test on arrival in India for travellers from UK, Europe, Middle East

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The Union government on Wednesday issued revised standard operating procedures for international travel in a bid to minimize the risk of importation of mutant strains of SARS-CoV-2 found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil. These new guidelines will be valid from February 23. Based on the risk assessment, this document shall be reviewed from time to time, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said. 

As part of this, travellers coming to India from and through the United Kingdom, Europe and Middle East will be required to undergo self-paid confirmatory RT-PCR tests on arrival at airports or sea ports. 

In case any of the travellers from Brazil, South Africa and UK test positive either at the airport or subsequently during home quarantine period or their contacts are found to be coronavirus positive, they will have to undergo institutional quarantine as asked by the state health authorities. Further their samples will be sent for genome sequencing, and if they are found to be infected with these new variants, they have to continue institutionalized isolation.

Apart from all other information, these travellers will need to specify in the self-declaration form if they “plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India.”

Those taking connecting domestic flights on arrival in India will get a self-declaration receipt marked T (transit) and will need to show this at the port of arrival airport for segregation.

Further airlines will have to identify international travellers arriving from/transiting through UK, Brazil and South Africa (during 14 days prior to their arrival in India) and segregate them in-flight, or while disembarking, to facilitate authorities to follow the due protocol in respect of these travellers, the SOP states.

Travel to India without an RT-PCR negative report will be allowed only for those travelling in exigency of death in the family. And one should apply for the same 72 hours prior to boarding on These passengers have to show their clearance at their respective state counters so that they can be subjected to testing on priority before exiting the airport. 

Further only asymptomatic passengers will be allowed to board the aircraft and all measures of physical distancing should be adhered to.  Other than the usual protocol of wearing masks by airline staff, crew and all passengers, passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility as per health protocol.

This is in addition to all incoming international passengers needing to have a negative RT-PCR test report with the test conducted within 72 hours prior to departure and a self-declaration stating the authenticity of the report. In addition, they also need to give an undertaking to undergo home quarantine/self-monitoring of their health for the next 14 days.