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Explained: What are the new rules for flying into the US? 

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has said all passengers flying in to the country must produce negative Covid-19 tests. Why? Are there exemptions? What are the norms post arrival into the US?

Currently, flights between India and the UK are operating on a curtailed schedule. (AP Photo: Matthias Schrader, File)

The US Centre for Disease Control (CDC) has expanded the requirement for a negative Covid-19 test to all passengers flying into the country. This follows a similar move by the UK government, requiring all international arrivals to England, including UK nationals, to present a negative Covid-19 test taken up to 72 hours prior to departure.

What are the new US norms?

Effective January 26, air passengers are required to get a test done within the three days before their flight to the US departs, and provide written documentation of their laboratory test result (paper or electronic copy) to the airline. Airlines have been asked to confirm the negative test result for all passengers.

If a passenger does not provide the necessary documentation, or chooses not to take a test, the airline must deny boarding to the passenger, according to the new rules.

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What are the exemptions for providing a negative Covid-19 test certificate when traveling to the US?

If a passenger had tested positive for coronavirus in the past three months and can produce a letter from a doctor clearing them for travel, it can serve as a “documentation of recovery”. In case someone can produce a documentation of recovery, they do not need to produce a negative test certificate. However, in case neither of the documents are produced, the airline can deny boarding to the passenger.

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What are the norms post arrival into the US?

The CDC recommends those arriving from outside the US to get tested again 3-5 days after arrival and stay home for seven days post-travel — something it says will help slow the spread of Covid-19 within US communities from travel-related infections.


Are the rules announced by the UK similar?

The UK government has also mandated a negative certificate from a Covid-19 test, done 72 hours prior to departure. In addition, it has also mandated that passengers, arriving from countries not on the government’s travel corridor list, must self-isolate for 10 days regardless of their pre-departure test result. India is not on the UK government’s travel corridor list.

What flights are operating from India to the UK and the US?

Currently, flights between India and the UK are operating on a curtailed schedule even from what was in the air-bubble arrangement specifically done for Covid-19. In addition to Indian carriers Air India and Vistara, British Airways is also flying between the two countries.

This reduced number of flights was on account of India restricting flights to prevent spread of the mutated strain of coronavirus that originated in the UK.


Between India and the US, Air India and United Airlines operate flights, on routes including Delhi-Newark, Delhi-Chicago, Delhi-New York, Bengaluru-San Francisco and Mumbai-New York.

First published on: 13-01-2021 at 11:22:32 am
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