International travel from India: In a recent notification, the Ministry of Home Affairs has issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) followed for international travel on non-scheduled commercial flights. These flights will operate under the Vande Bharat scheme and air transport bubble arrangement that the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MCA) has entered in. The SOP is a part of guidelines laid down by the home ministry in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 infection. This will also help the ministry keep a check on the movement of international passengers in a calibrated manner, read the statement released by MHA.
SOP for international non-scheduled commercial flights/ships (inbound)
- One of the first steps for those who have to come to India from abroad under the Vande Bharat scheme will be to register themselves with the Indian missions in the country. They will have to provide all the necessary information as directed by the government. It is to note that this registration is not required for those coming under air transport bubble arrangement.
- Those coming from abroad can travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights that the MCA has allowed or ships that are approved by the Ministry of Shipping.
- The flights and ships will be operated by staff who have tested negative for COVID-19 infection.
- Travellers will have to bear the cost of travel as specified by the carrier.
- All the flights and ships will operate according to the number of registrations that have been received.
- All travelers will have to provide an undertaking that they are travelling at their own risk along with a COVID-19 negative certificate.
- All precautionary measures and protocols will be followed as directed by the health ministry- during the journey and after arrival in India.
SOP for international non-scheduled commercial flights/ships (outbound)
- Categories for travel eligibility will be posted by the MCA on a time-time basis and the list of those eligible to travel will be posted on the ministry website.
- Those seeking to travel will have to register themselves with the ministry along with all the necessary documents and a valid reason for travelling.
- The government said that the Indian seafarers and crew who are looking to accept contracts in order to serve on vessels abroad, are allowed to travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights after a clearance is given by the Ministry of Shipping.
- The airlines will only confirm tickets after ensuring that the destination country is allowing entry of people with a valid visa.
It is to note that for both inbound and outbound international travel, priority will be given to those having compelling cases including short term visa holders having a near expiry date, laid off workers, people with medical emergencies, pregnant women and elderly, students and those who have to travel because of a death in family. Meanwhile, India has signed bilateral air bubble arrangement with countries including the US, the UK, Germany, Maldives, Qatar, France and the UAE. The country is negotiating the same with 13 more countries.