As many countries continue to make strides in the battle against COVID-19, others have struggled to contain the spread of the virus. Despite initially being perceived as having successfully controlled the outbreak, India is now overwhelmed by the disease, which continues to hospitalize and kill thousands of people daily. In addition to dealing with the general pandemic, India is classified as a virus-variant area, meaning that it hosts its own unique strain of COVID-19. The extent of the outbreak and the unique danger the India COVID-19 variant presents have caused global alarm. As much of the world tightens COVID-19 entry restrictions for travelers from India, the Schengen zone has also taken preventative measures. Some individual countries have tightened COVID-19 entry policies for arriving passengers, while others are strongly considering suspending or limiting travel from India. Today’s blog will therefore address the current India travel restrictions for the Schengen zone. Which countries will tighten travel restrictions for arrivals from India in the Schengen area? What are the current India travel restrictions for France, Germany, and Italy? Find out the answers to these questions, and more, below:
COVID-19 and the Schengen area
- The Schengen area has tightened COVID-19 entry policies for foreigners and non-residents since the beginning of the pandemic.
- In general, the Schengen area as a whole makes recommendations as to which non-Member States will be subject to restrictions.
- At the moment, the Schengen area has a general ban in place on the entry of non-citizen/residents from outside states who are travelling for non-essential reasons. In effect, this means that most Schengen countries will not allow the entry of foreigners/non-residents who are travelling for non-essential reasons from countries outside the Schengen area (please note that what is defined as essential travel varies can vary from state to state).
- Those who are allowed entry, for whatever reason, are usually subject to both pre-and post-entry requirements related to stopping the spread of the virus. These generally include (but are not limited to) mandatory pre-flight COVID-19 screenings, post-arrival testing, and quarantines. In addition, most countries require that arriving travelers fill out a passenger locater form.
- While the above general requirements apply generally to most countries, different countries have different rules in terms of how they are applied. For example, while most countries require arriving passengers to supply evidence of a negative COVID-19 test as a condition for entry, some countries require that test to be taken 72 hours before arrival, while other require it 48 hours before (or even 24). Similarly, while most countries require that arriving passengers undergo mandatory quarantine periods post-arrival, the length of that quarantine period can vary from 5 days to 10. Additionally, some countries require passengers to quarantine at government managed quarantine locations, while others simply ask that travelers self-isolate at a private place of their choosing.
- Generally speaking, the following states are exempt from the ban on non-essential travel: Australia, China, Israel, New Zealand, Rwanda, Singapore, South Korea, and Thailand.
- As a general policy, residents of the above states do not face entry restrictions, and can travel to the Schengen area without having an essential reason (such as for tourism). However, while residents of the following countries are generally allowed less-restricted access to the Schengen area, it is up to individual Schengen countries on whether or not they choose to apply it. Therefore, if you are a resident of one of the above states who is planning a trip to the Schengen area, you should check the specific entry requirements for the specific Schengen state you are attempting to enter in order to make sure that you can do so.
Which countries will tighten travel restrictions for arrivals from India?
- As the United States tightens COVID-19 entry restrictions for travelers from India, much of the Schengen area is also actively suspending or limiting travel from India.
- India is currently classified as a virus-variant area (meanings its particular variant, the B.1.617, has been described as a “variant of concern”). This designation was applied by the World Health Organization, and it means that the country hosts a unique, identifiable strain of the virus, which has managed to make its way to other countries, including the United Kingdom. For example, Germany recently placed the UK back on its unique list of at risk countries, due to the presence of the India variant there. In the case of Germany, therefore, the presence of the Indian variant in the UK has resulted in UK-arriving passengers being subject to more restrictions.
- Because current requirements targeting passengers from India are already so strict, it is unlikely that countries would further tighten travel restrictions for arrivals from India. However, if the pandemic within India gets worse, or the Indian variant is found to be particularly resistant to the various COVID-19 vaccines on the market, the Schengen area might move to intensify current restrictions, or even levy new ones.
- The following is a country-specific summary of COVID-19 restrictions for the Schengen area as they apply to arrivals from India. This list consists of travel restrictions for major Schengen countries, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
- India is currently not on the list of countries allowed unrestricted entry into France.
- Travelers from India are currently subject to increased restrictions (in comparison to arrivals from most other countries). At the moment, travelers who seek entry to France from India can only do so if they are found to be travelling for essential reasons.
- Travelers who are exempt from the general ban on arrivals from India are required to do the following in order to enter France:
- Submit a sworn declaration.
- Submit a negative COVD-19 test prior to entry. You may present one of the following negative tests:
- PCR taken 36 hours before departing for France.
- Antigen test taken one full day before departing for France, as well as a PCR test taken 72 hours before departure.
- Undertake a mandatory quarantine for a minimum of 10 days.
- India is currently not on the list of countries allowed unrestricted entry into Germany.
- Previously on the “high incidence list” India was placed on the “areas of variant concern list” on April 26th, 2021; the designation currently stands.
- An area of variant concern is defined as a place where a particular variant of the virus is dominant (and therefore at risk of being spread to Germany, where it is not currently dominant). Travelers from areas of variant concern are subject to stricter pre and post entry obligations than those arriving from lower risk areas, given the unique risk posed by country-specific variants.
- Anyone arriving from India or another area of variant concern is subject to all of the general COVID-19 entry conditions, and in addition must fulfill the below specific restrictions and requirements:
- Proof of negative COVID-19 test immediately after entering.
- Please note that anyone arriving from India cannot present a vaccine certificate (i.e. proof of vaccination) in lieu of a negative COVID-19 test. What this means is that, while travelers arriving from less risky areas can show evidence of either having been vaccinated or previously infected with COVID-19 as a way to avoid being subject to quarantine post-entry, if you are arriving from India, you are required to go into quarantine, even if you are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus.
- Please note that the above requirements apply equally to those who, while not entering Germany directly from India, spent time in India prior to their arrival in Germany. This means that if you spent even a day in India before travelling to Germany, you will still be subject to the above requirements—even if you flew into Germany from another country.
- India is currently not on the list of countries allowed unrestricted entry into Italy.
- Travelers are banned from entering Italy directly from India.
- In addition, travelers who try to come to Italy within 14 days of spending time in India (even if they do not try to enter directly) are banned from entering Italy. Essentially, if you are trying to enter Italy after spending time in India, you will only be granted access to Italy after two weeks have elapsed since you previously spent time in India.
- If you are granted an exception to the general travel ban on India (such as for humanitarian reasons or because you are a symptom-free Italian citizen), you must do the following:
- Fill out Passenger Locater Form pre-departure.
- Provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test result taken 72 hours before arriving in Italy.
- Take a mandatory COVID-19 test at the Italian airport-post arrival (acceptable test forms include antigen and/or molecular).
- Undergo mandatory quarantine for a minimum period of 10 days (usually to be undertaken at a government designated facility).
- Take mandatory COVID-19 test post quarantine.
- Please note that the above rules affecting travelers from India will be in place until May 30th, at which point they will be reassessed.
- On May 4th, Spain imposed the following restrictions on travelers arriving from India:
- Completion of the Health Control Form (FCS).
- Mandatory quarantine for a minimum period of 10 days post-entry (please note that travelers can exit quarantine on their 7th day, provided they obtain a negative COVID-19 test).
- In addition to the above country-specific requirements, travelers from India must also observe the general requirements affecting the entry of travelers from “risk countries” including:
- Negative COVID-19 test result (via a PCR or RT test) obtained with 72 hours of entering Spain.
- In addition to testing negative for COVID pre-departure, you will also likely be subject to a coronavirus testing post-arrival.
Note, if you are traveling to a Schengen country not on the above list, check what their specific entry requirements are regarding travelers from India (and travelers who have spent time in India prior to entering the Schengen area). As outlined above, travelers arriving from India (or who have spent time in India prior to pursing entry to the Schengen area) can expect to face additional requirements, no matter what Schengen country they seek to enter.