Traveling to the U.S. can either be exciting or exhausting, based on how well-prepared you are. Traveling was easy. Traveling was simple before the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that the spread of the virus is minimized, new rules and regulations were introduced for air travel, but these keep changing. In this blog, we will put together all the latest travel guidelines related to India-U.S. travel so that you stay better informed and better prepared during your journey to the U.S.
Change in test guidelines
In early November 2021, the U.S. lifted its imposed travel ban after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic during early 2020. Keeping in mind the spread of the Omicron variant, there have been a few changes in the travel guidelines issued by both the U.S and the Indian embassy.
Some of the rules that you need to follow to gain entry into the U.S. are:
- You have to be fully vaccinated
- You have to show your vaccination certificate
- Everyone above two years of age has to show a negative COVID-19 report one calendar day before their flight
- To know about exceptions to the above-mentioned rules, please visit the CDC webpages for more information about exemptions and the requirement for proof of negative COVID-19 test or recovery from COVID-19 for all air passengers arriving in the U.S.
Which vaccines are accepted in the U.S.?
The U.S. allows fully vaccinated people who have received vaccines from:
What type of COVID-19 tests are accepted in the U.S.?
Here's an insight into the types of COVID-19 tests that are being accepted:
- Antigen (lateral flow) test or nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT)
- RT-PCR test (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction)
- RT-Lamp (Reverse Transcription loop-mediated amplification)
- Transcription Mediated Amplification (TMA)
- Nicking enzyme amplification reaction (NEAR)
- Helicase-dependent amplification (HDA)
What are some points you have to keep in mind while traveling to the U.S.?
During travel to the U.S., here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Wear a mask at all times
- Stay six feet apart from anyone who did not travel with you
- Wash your hands with soap and water, or use a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol
Things to keep in mind before reaching the airport
Some of the essential pointers to keep in mind before reaching the airport are:
- Before reaching the airport, thoroughly read the baggage guidelines of your airline
- Be aware of things that you are not allowed to carry with you and in the check-in luggage
- If you are carrying electronics, ghee, pickles, oils, liquids, power banks, the airport security might ask you to take them out and either throw them or keep electronic items in carry-on baggage
- For any further detailed information, visit the U.S. Customs website for a complete list of prohibited and restricted items and ensure you are not carrying on the plane any of these with you
Pro-tip: You must go through the entire list of prohibited and restricted items for entering the U.S. Otherwise, you might have to pay hefty fines.
What are the luggage restrictions on international flights?
All major airlines' generic rule for baggage size must not exceed 62 inches or 158 centimeters. Depending on airlines, the sizes may vary slightly, but make sure that you read the regulations thoroughly before traveling.
Reach the airport on time
Yes, we felt a tad bit annoyed when our parents pushed us to leave three hours before our scheduled flight. But that’s not a bad idea. While traveling internationally, there could be many things that might delay you. Things like extra luggage, immigration queues, multiple security checks, and restricted item checks usually take a while to complete. If you are traveling with your family and carrying a lot of luggage, reach at least 3.5-4 hours before your flight. If you are a seasoned traveler carrying minimal luggage, reach 2.5-3 hours before.
Detailed process of traveling from India airport
Given all the changes that keep happening, it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. We explain every step you need to take to ensure a smooth and hassle-free travel experience.
- Before entering the airport gates, use the luggage trolleys and then walk inside. The guard at the airport entrance will check your ID proof and ticket. Once verified, you will be able to enter the airport
- Use the free weighing machines available at the airport to measure your belongings
- Once you have weighed and confirmed your luggage, move to your airline’s ticket counter to collect your boarding pass by displaying the copy of your ticket and your valid ID proof
Pro-tip: Keep your boarding pass with you at all times and your passport.
Things to keep in mind during your immigration process
Once you have received your boarding pass, get in the queue of Indian citizens departing India. The immigration officer will verify your passport and visa of the country you are traveling to. The officer might also ask you to look into the camera and ask a couple of questions about the purpose of your visit. Once everything checks out, the immigration officer will put the Indian country stamp on your passport stating that you are departing India on this date before giving the passport back to you.
Once you are done with the immigration process, move to the security section, where you will be thoroughly checked along with your carry-on baggage. Before going through security, make sure there are no restricted items on you or your carry-on luggage. Your bags will be put through the x-ray scanners, and the security personnel will frisk you. In a tray box and the scanner, you will need to take out all electronic items, including laptops, MacBooks, external hard drives, power banks, mobiles, etc. Even your jackets and coats need to be separately put in the scanner. Remember to collect your clothes before you go towards the boarding gate.
Boarding the flight
Once you hear the flight departure announcement, reach the boarding gate. Flights going from New Delhi to the U.S. will have an additional checkpoint. The security personnel will re-verify your documents, frisk you and recheck bags. While entering the boarding gate, the airline staff will check your security stamp, tick off your boarding pass, and tear off the required area of your boarding pass.
Once you reach your destination airport in the U.S. :
- If you are visiting the U.S. on a temporary visa, stand in the non-U.S. citizen line. Keep your passport, and your U.S. Customs form ready for inspection
- The immigration officer will check all the necessary documents. You might also be asked a few questions about your visit to the U.S.
- Your fingerprints and a digital picture will be taken in the next step. The immigration officer will stamp your passport with the date of arrival, the last date of stay, the visa class, and return your passport
- Find the baggage claim and collect your luggage
- Go through the U.S. Customs with your luggage. Remember that you are not allowed to carry items like fruits, vegetables, plants, and dangerous items
After reaching the U.S., you may want to learn more about the American way of living, culture, and lifestyle habits. This will help you better understand how the system works in the U.S. You will enjoy your stay more when you are better informed. Follow our blogs for more information if you want to get a better insight into life in the U.S., regarding driving, shopping, credit score, lifestyle, and more, follow our blogs to get more information.