India’s civil aviation ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has rolled out new Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for international arrivals. These guidelines will supersede all guidelines issued on the subject since August 2, 2020; and will come into effect from February 22, 2021 (2359 Hours IST).
The updated SOP consists of parts A and B — part A is for all international travellers except those coming through flights originating from United Kingdom, Europe and middle east and part B is for all international travellers coming/transiting through flights originating from UK, Europe and middle east.
Part A – For all international travellers except those coming through flights originating from UK, Europe and the middle east:
- Travellers should submit self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal (www.newdelhiairport.in) before the scheduled travel and upload a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report for the test conducted within 72 hrs prior to undertaking the journey. Each passenger also needs to submit a declaration with respect to authenticity of the report and “will be liable for a criminal prosecution, if found otherwise”.
- They should also submit an undertaking on the portal or otherwise to Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), through concerned airlines before they are allowed to take the journey that they would abide by the decision of the appropriate government authority to undergo home quarantine/ self-monitoring of their health for 14 days, or as warranted.
- Arrival in India without negative Covid-19 report shall be allowed only for those travelling to the country in the exigency of death in the family.
- Those who wish to seek exemption under the above-mentioned condition need to apply on newdelhiairport.in at least 72 hours before boarding.
- Airlines will allow only those passengers to board who have filled in the self-declaration form on the Air Suvidha portal and uploaded the negative RT-PCR test report. At the time of boarding, only asymptomatic travellers will be allowed to enter after the thermal screening. Aarogya Setu app on the mobile device; environmental sanitation and disinfection at the airports and social distancing are other measures that need to be followed.
- Suitable Covid-19 related announcements including precautionary measures shall be made at airports, in flights and during transit. While onboard, wearing masks, environmental hygiene, respiratory hygiene and hand hygiene are to be observed by airline staff, crew and passengers.
- On arrival, those found to be symptomatic during thermal screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a dedicated medical facility. Passengers who have been exempted for pre-arrival RT-PCR testing, need to show the proof (as approved and indicated on the online portal in advance) to the respective state counters. They will be prioritised for sample collection in the designated area, samples collected and permitted to exit the airport. They shall monitor their health for 14 days (subject to a negative test report that would be conveyed to such travellers by the concerned state authorities/airport operators).
- All other passengers who have uploaded negative certificates on Air Suvidha portal shall be allowed to leave the airport/ take transit flights; and will be required to self-monitor their health for 14 days.
International travellers arriving through seaports/land ports will also have to undergo the same protocol as mentioned above. However, the facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently. Instead, they shall submit the self-declaration form to the concerned government authorities at seaports/land ports on arrival.
Part B – For all international travellers coming/transiting through flights originating from UK, Europe and the middle east:
The MoCA said, “All the clauses as above (part A) shall be applicable to such travellers coming/transiting from flights originating in UK, Europe and middle east except for clauses on testing, quarantine and isolation specified below”:
All international travellers coming/transiting from flights originating from these three regions should submit self-declaration form (SDF) for Covid on the online Air Suvidha portal before the scheduled travel and will be required to declare their travel history of past 14 days.
- Apart from providing all other information required in the SDF, passengers need to select A) Whether they plan to disembark at the arrival airport or take further flights to reach their final destination in India B) Based on this selection, the receipt of SDF (dispatched online to the transiting travellers) will display “T” (Transit) in easily readable and bigger font than other text C) The passengers will need to display this receipt to State authority / Government officials at the airport for segregation.
- Taking into account the testing requirements, airlines should keep the passengers informed about the need for the transit time of a minimum 6-8 hours at the entry airport (in India) while booking the tickets for connecting flights.
- Passengers need to carry a negative report for a test conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey, and the same also shall be uploaded on the online portal newdelhiairport.in.
- Prior to check-in, the concerned airlines need to explain travellers about the SOP, besides displaying the same prominently in the waiting areas of the airports.
- Airlines should identify the international travellers arriving from/transiting through UK, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days) and segregate them inflight or while disembarking to facilitate the authorities to follow the due protocols.
- Immigration officers of the identified airports shall ensure identification of travellers (from their passports) who originated or transited from UK, Brazil and South Africa (during past 14 days).
- All travellers arriving from/transiting through flights originating in UK, Europe or middle east shall be mandatorily subjected to self-paid confirmatory molecular tests on arrival at the Indian airports concerned (port of entry). Appropriate arrangements for these passengers will be made at the airports. Airports can offer the option to the passengers to do online booking of the confirmatory molecular test through the respective website (Air Suvidha portal) or other appropriate platforms as well as to do an offline booking. Digital payment facilities need to be ensured.
- Travellers from UK, Brazil and South Africa taking connecting flights from the arrival international airport (‘T” in their SDF) will give a sample at the designated area and exit airport only after confirmation of negative test report which may take 6-8 hours. Transit travellers from the UK, Brazil and South Africa who are found negative on testing at the airport shall be allowed to take their connecting flights and would be advised quarantine at home for seven days. They will be tested after seven days and if negative will be released from quarantine.
- All travellers from the UK, Brazil and South Africa existing at the arrival airport will give their sample in the designated area and exit the airport. They will be followed up by the State Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP).
If tested negative, they will remain in home quarantine for seven days and regularly followed up by the concerned State/District IDSP. These travellers shall again be tested after seven days and if negative, released from quarantine.
- All other travellers from Europe and the middle east (other than those in flights originating from Brazil, South Africa and the United Kingdom) who have to exit the destination airport or take connecting flights to their final domestic destination shall give samples at the designated area and exit the airport. If the test report is negative, they will be advised to self-monitor their health for 14 days. If the test report is positive, they will undergo treatment as per standard health protocol.
MoCA said, “Travellers from Brazil, South Africa and the UK, testing positive (either at the airport or subsequently during home quarantine period or their contacts who turn positive) shall be isolated in an institutional isolation facility in a separate (isolation) unit coordinated by the respective State Health Authorities. They would earmark specific facilities for such isolation and treatment and take necessary action to send the positive samples to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs.”
If the genomic sequencing indicates the presence of the new variant of SARS-CoV-2 then the patient will continue to remain in a separate isolation unit. Along with the necessary treatment as per the existing protocol, the patient shall be tested on 14th day, after having tested positive in the initial test. The patient will be kept in the isolation facility until they test negative.
International travellers (covered under Part A or Part B) on short stay less than 14 days and who have tested negative and remain symptom-free, shall undergo all the required procedures stated above and shall be permitted to leave India under proper intimation to their District/State health authorities, subject to them fulfilling the requirement of the airlines and destination country.
The updated guidelines are available on the Ministry of Civil Aviation and Ministry of Health and Family Welfare websites: