Indians will have to wait a little longer to travel to the UK and the US without quarantining first. Even as the second wave is ebbing, India continues to be on both the countries' 'Red Lists' – or a country designated with higher COVID-19 transmission.
Meanwhile, Canada has suspended all flights coming from India until 21 August. However, it is allowed with a third-party (read a different country) COVID-19 negative report.
In the wake of this rule, Serbia had become a popular halt for Indians travelling to Canada. But hundreds of Indians were recently left stranded at the Belgrade airport after the Serbian government introduced a new rule for Indians to complete a mandatory seven-day quarantine.
So, what should you know if you're planning to travel? Who is allowed to enter these countries? What are the quarantine guidelines to travel directly to different countries? Do you need an RT-PCR? What if you are fully vaccinated?
The United States
The US has prohibited travel from India for people who have lived in the country for last 14 days. The only exceptions to this restriction are American citizens, students, and those who can prove their travel to the US is in national interest.
Once the visa is stamped on the passport mail needs to be sent to NewDelhiNIE@state.gov or ChennaiNIE@state.gov – seeking approval to enter the US directly from India.
Students with F-1 or M-1 visa, including those with Optical Practical Training approval, resuming their courses on or after 1 August 2021, will not need National Interest Exception (NIE) before travelling to the US from India within 30 days of their programme resumption date.
On arrival, Indians have to complete mandatory quarantine duration for Indians: 7 days (with on-arrival test) and 10 days (without on-arrival test).
The United Kingdom
In the UK, too, India comes under the 'Red List' countries.
According to the guidelines given by the UK government, you will not be allowed to enter the UK if you have been in a country or territory on the Red List in the last 10 days.
Exceptions can be made only for British or Irish nationals, or if you have residence rights in the UK.
If you do have residing rights in the UK, you will be required to take a COVID-19 test on arrival, book a quarantine hotel package for 10 days, including two tests and complete a passenger locator form. This applies even if you have received two complete doses of vaccine, and if you are a student who is enrolled to study in the country.
Australia has currently closed its borders with the rest of the world and is remaining strictly controlled to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can only travel to Australia if you are exempt or have been granted an individual exemption.
Individuals seeking an exemption to travel from India to Australia will only be approved for the following limited circumstances:
Critical workers providing assistance to Australia’s COVID-19 response.
People travelling in Australia’s national interest.
People travelling due to the death or funeral of a close family member in Australia.
People visiting a close family member who is critically ill.
People escorting an Australian citizen or permanent resident minor back to Australia, where the parents of the child are currently in Australia.
Canada has suspended direct flights from India until 21 July but you can travel via an indirect route – either via Serbia (seven-day quarantine included) or Moscow.
You need to provide a negative PCR or RT-PCR taken before the departure from the country you are transiting. It is to be noted that you will be sent back to your point of departure or asked to quarantine if you test positive during the travel.
Passengers entering Russia must have a printed negative COVID-19 PCR test result issued at most 72 hours before arrival. This is one of the few countries that is allowing Indian tourists to visit.
Students who wish to travel to the US or Canada have the option of halting at a Russia. However, you will need a negative RT-PCR, before transit, from the country of transit.
Other European Countries
Switzerland: Switzerland is allowing travellers who are fully vaccinated from India and do not have any quarantine or testing requirements. As proof, you need to present your COVID-19 vaccine certificate. Travellers who are below 18 do not need to be vaccinated if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult.
Germany: India has been classified as a high-incidence area by Germany. However, you can travel to Germany only if you have an urgent need, serve an important role or are fully vaccinated. As proof, you need your COVID-19 vaccine certificate with the last dose taken at least 14 days prior to travel. Germany is one of the European countries that are accepting the Covishield vaccine for travellers.
Turkey: Turkey has made a 14-day institutional quarantine mandatory for those arriving into the country. After that the travellers will need to get tested on the 14th day of their arrival. Passengers above the age of six are also required to submit an RT-PCR test carried out within 72 hours prior to departure.