India, a country of over a billion people, has reconnected to the international travel network. After a soft reopening to charter tourism last October, individual tourists have been allowed entry since November 15. The beaches of Goa, the palaces of Rajasthan and the slopes of the Himalayas had been closed to foreign visitors since March 2020. Despite the spread of the Omicron variant, borders are expected to remain open for the remainder of India‘s peak tourist season , before most of the country experiences very hot days in April and May, followed by monsoon rains until around October.
Main photo: Taj Lake Palace in Udaipur, Rajasthan (Getty Images)
Can I travel to India?
Yes – but there are caveats. India’s reopening to individual tourists applies to UK passport holders, although disagreements between the UK and Indian governments over reciprocal traveler rights mean Britons cannot currently use the more streamlined e-visa system of India, valid for the vast majority of countries, and must apply for a traditional paper visa instead. Unless a new variant of Covid emerges, India does not consider the imminent risk of reverting to a revived UK red list. Travel procedures are somewhat complex, however: read the latest information below and keep in mind that things may change at short notice. There are also fewer direct flights from the UK to India these days compared to pre-pandemic times, so your choice of travel dates may be more restricted.
What are the travel restrictions?
Indian visa applications were already taking a long time before the pandemic, but additional Covid-related checks are quite common for international travel these days. Visitors to India no longer need to self-quarantine upon arrival, whether vaccinated or not, provided they have the correct documents. All travelers aged five or over must have completed an Air Suvidha online declaration form, along with a PDF of their passport and either a certificate of full primary vaccination against Covid-19 or a negative RT-PCR test result dating 72 hours before departure. . India accepts proof of vaccination from the NHS. The declaration form is hosted on the Delhi International Airport website, but is also applicable to travelers arriving at other Indian airports. Around 2% of arriving passengers will also be randomly tested at the airport.
All existing visas from before October 2021 are no longer valid. UK citizens must apply for a regular/paper Indian visa (as opposed to an e-visa) through the official portal, before submitting your passport and all required documents. Processing will take at least three business days. Note that British citizens of Pakistani origin must apply for an Indian visa on a Pakistani passport, or show proof that it has been waived or cancelled.
Most Indian states are easing Covid-related restrictions as case numbers drop from Omicron wave highs, though you should still expect to wear face masks in public places, and some states may request one negative Covid test as a condition of entry.
Is it safe to travel to India?
For most parts of India, there is no advice from the UK Foreign Office to avoid travel – the only areas to which all travel is advised against are the majority of disputed Jammu and Kashmir, and right next to the border with Pakistan, except for the crossing at Wagah with its popular daily closing ceremony. Parts of Manipur also carry a warning against all but essential travel. The FCDO issued nationwide warnings about the risk of terrorism; for context, the threat level described for India is the same as that for France. India is a large and complex country, so the list of security councils is long. It is worth researching the specific regions you plan to travel to and being aware of any political disturbances.
What are the rules for returning to the UK?
The rules for returning to the UK are currently the same for visits to India as for anywhere else outside the British Isles. Fully vaccinated adults no longer have to take Covid-19 tests before returning to the UK or after arriving, although both are still required if you are over 17 and not fully vaccinated . All travelers must also complete a Passenger Locator Form.
Where should I go when I’m there?
Trying to embrace a cross-section of India in a single trip is a real challenge: the country is nearly 2,000 miles north to its southern tip, from high-altitude glaciers to rolling coconut palms. Most visitors prefer to focus on one of the many traditional tours or combine two on a longer two or three week itinerary. The most popular route is a loop of Delhi, Agra (home to the Taj Mahal) and Rajasthani cities such as Jaipur and Udaipur on a more cultural tour. While beaches and lush landscapes are vacation staples, Kerala is the star of South India.
Other popular areas and themes to focus on include watching tigers and other wildlife in central Madhya Pradesh, or riding mountain railways and sipping tea in the foothills. of the Himalayas. You don’t have to go to remote areas to get off the beaten path: although cinematic Mumbai and spiritual Varanasi are mainstays of tourism, even a city with the heritage of Kolkata is somewhat overlooked by non-Indians , as well as important states such as Gujarat and Tamil Nadu. If you are ready to move away from the big centers, you will go to places that are reminiscent of what “India” is: Nagaland with its tribal cultures, Sikkim on the borders of Tibet and the remote Andaman covered in jungle. He is.
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Inspired to visit India but not yet booked your trip? Here are the best You vacation and British Airways breaks in the country, as well as the best tours in India from our trusted tour operators. And if you’re still unsure where you want to go or what type of vacation to book, contact the experts at Designer Travel here and a member of the team will be in touch with you to help organize your perfect bespoke break