Travel Freedom: Indians Abroad

can indians travel abroad

As of June 2024, Indians are banned from travelling to most parts of the world, including the US, Canada, Europe, and most of Asia. These travel directives were issued in April 2021 due to the deadly second wave of COVID-19 in India and the spread of the Delta variant. However, there are some countries that Indian citizens can visit without a visa, including the British Virgin Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bhutan, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong, the Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Niue, Samoa, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, and Montserrat.

Characteristics Values
Travel restrictions Multiple countries stopped travel from India or imposed quarantines during the second Covid wave in April 2021
Current travel possibilities Domestic travel has opened up, and international travel is possible but with restrictions
Visa-free countries British Virgin Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Bhutan, Dominica, Grenada, Haiti, Hong Kong, Maldives, Mauritius, Nepal, Niue, Samoa, Senegal, Trinidad and Tobago, Montserrat
Countries with visa on arrival Barbados
Countries with no quarantine A handful of nations, including Mauritius
Countries with quarantine EU countries, the UK, Dubai, Thailand
Vaccine requirements Some countries require travellers to be fully vaccinated with approved vaccines, e.g., the UK, Dubai


Visa-free countries for Indian citizens

Indian citizens can travel to a number of countries without a visa, although the exact number varies depending on the source. According to the Henley Passport Index, as of 2024, Indian citizens can enter 62 countries and territories visa-free or with a visa on arrival, ranking the Indian passport 81st in the world. However, another source states that as of June 2024, Indian passport holders can travel visa-free to 37 countries.

  • Nepal
  • Bhutan
  • Thailand
  • Malaysia
  • Sri Lanka
  • Hong Kong
  • Oman
  • Mauritius
  • Angola
  • Rwanda
  • Jamaica
  • Barbados
  • Fiji
  • British Virgin Islands
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Trinidad and Tobago


Countries with easy entry requirements

For Indian citizens, obtaining a visa can be a tedious and time-consuming process. However, there are several countries that offer easy entry requirements, making it more convenient for Indians to travel abroad. Here are some countries with relatively simple entry requirements:

  • Nepal and Bhutan: These neighbouring countries do not require a passport for entry, making them easily accessible destinations for Indian citizens. Nepal, with its mountain climbing spots and bustling cities, and Bhutan, with its vibrant festivals and iconic monasteries, offer unique cultural experiences.
  • Sri Lanka: Known as the "Pearl of the Indian Ocean," Sri Lanka offers diverse landscapes, from sun-kissed beaches to lush green highlands. Indian passport holders can now avail of a free visa on arrival in Sri Lanka, making it an attractive option for Indian travellers.
  • Brazil: Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has announced that Indian tourists and business people will no longer need a visa to visit the country. This move opens up exciting opportunities for Indians to explore South America.
  • United Arab Emirates (UAE): The UAE has introduced visa-free travel for accompanied dependents below 18 years between July 15 and September 15 each year. This initiative promotes family travel and makes the Emirates more accessible to Indian families.
  • Zimbabwe: Indian passport holders can now obtain a visa on arrival in Zimbabwe, which is known for its dramatic landscapes, ancient ruins, and diverse wildlife. This southern African country offers a unique blend of natural and cultural attractions.
  • United Kingdom (UK): The UK offers various visa pathways, such as the Global Talent Visa and Skilled Worker Visa, making it easier for skilled Indian professionals to enter the country. The UK's robust economy and infrastructure provide ample opportunities for career advancement.
  • New Zealand: With streamlined visa processes and minimal prerequisites, New Zealand is a desirable choice for Indian professionals seeking career growth and a high quality of life. Its stunning natural landscapes and modern amenities create an inviting atmosphere.
  • Singapore: Known for its easy work visa process, Singapore welcomes Indian professionals in various industries. As a global financial hub, it offers abundant job opportunities and a dynamic environment for career growth.
  • Australia: Australia offers favourable work visa options and citizenship rights, making it appealing to Indian professionals seeking international career growth. The country's robust economy and diverse job market provide ample opportunities for skilled workers.
  • E-Visa Countries: Several countries offer e-visa facilities for Indian citizens, including Singapore, Vietnam, Turkey, Cambodia, Dubai, Oman, Malaysia, Laos, Georgia, Armenia, and Thailand. E-visas streamline the application process, reduce paperwork, and offer faster processing times, making international travel more accessible for Indians.


Travel restrictions due to COVID-19

The US, Canada, the UK, Europe, and most countries in Asia have shut their doors to travellers from India. The UK has moved India from the "red list" to the "amber list", meaning that even fully vaccinated travellers will need to quarantine at the place of their stay for 10 days. This is because, while the UK recognises the AstraZeneca vaccine, it has not approved Covishield, the Indian version of the vaccine. Dubai has also eased travel restrictions for Indians, with Emirates Airlines resuming flights from June 23, but only for Indian travellers with residency visas who are fully vaccinated with one of the approved vaccines, which includes Covishield.

Some countries have made exceptions for travellers vaccinated with Covishield, with 16 EU countries, including Germany and France, allowing Indian travellers entry if they are fully vaccinated with Covishield. However, this clearance does not extend to all EU countries, and each country has its own set of rules and restrictions.

A handful of nations are allowing Indian travellers with a negative RT-PCR test and the completion of the requisite quarantine period. Mauritius is one such example, with the country announcing that starting July 15, travellers can fly in and roam freely if they test negative after 14 days.

While COVID-19 cases in India have declined, and vaccination rates have increased, the impact of the second wave has led to ongoing travel restrictions and complications for Indians wishing to travel abroad.


Countries that require visas for Indian citizens

As of 2024, Indian citizens can travel to 62 countries and territories without a visa, or with a visa on arrival. This includes countries such as Kenya, Iran, Thailand, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka. However, there are still many countries that require Indian citizens to obtain a visa before travelling. Here is a list of some of the countries that require visas for Indian citizens:

  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • Canada
  • China
  • Japan
  • Brazil
  • South Africa
  • Singapore
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Most countries in Europe, including France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the Schengen Area countries
  • Caribbean Netherlands
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Central African Republic
  • Republic of the Congo
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Turks and Caicos Islands

It is important to note that visa requirements can change frequently, so it is always a good idea to check the latest information on government websites before planning international travel. Additionally, even for countries that offer visa-free entry or visa on arrival, there may be specific requirements that need to be met, such as having a valid passport, proof of sufficient funds, and travel health insurance.


The impact of travel bans on India's economy

Travel bans have had a significant impact on India's economy, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, during India's harsh second wave of the virus, many countries imposed travel restrictions on Indians, including the US, Canada, Europe, and most countries in Asia. These bans were put in place despite a downward trend in COVID-19 cases in India and had negative consequences for the country's economy.

The author Chetan Bhagat argues that these bans were "draconian, unfair, and potentially racist" and caused "hardship" for Indians, damaging India's "global image" and "FDI situation". Indeed, the restrictions not only hindered Indians' ability to travel abroad but also impacted the country's tourism industry, as foreign travellers were deterred from visiting India due to the travel bans. This likely resulted in significant losses for the Indian tourism sector, which relies heavily on international visitors.

Moreover, the travel bans disrupted business and investment activities, hindering India's ability to attract foreign direct investment (FDI). FDI plays a crucial role in India's economy, contributing to economic growth, employment generation, and technological advancement. The restrictions also affected Indians working or studying abroad, as well as those with family or business commitments overseas.

The impact of the travel bans on India's economy extended beyond the immediate effects on tourism and investment. India's aviation industry, for instance, suffered significant losses due to reduced passenger traffic. Indian airlines faced financial challenges as they were unable to operate at full capacity, and the lack of international travel options also impacted the country's business and hospitality sectors.

In conclusion, the travel bans had far-reaching consequences for India's economy, affecting various sectors and disrupting the country's global connections. While the primary goal of the restrictions was to curb the spread of COVID-19, their impact on India's economy underscores the intricate link between public health, social dynamics, and economic stability. As the world continues to navigate the complexities of the pandemic, finding a balance between effective health measures and economic sustainability remains a critical challenge.

Frequently asked questions

Yes, Indians can travel abroad to some countries. However, many countries imposed travel bans and restrictions on Indian travellers during the second wave of COVID-19 in April 2021.

There are several countries that Indian citizens can enter without a visa, including:

- Barbados

- Bhutan

- Dominica

- Grenada

- Haiti

- Hong Kong

- Maldives

- Mauritius

- Nepal

- Niue

- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines

- Samoa

- Senegal

- Trinidad and Tobago

- Montserrat

Indians can apply for a visa to travel to countries in the Middle East, South America, Africa, Oceania, and the Caribbean.

The requirements for international travel from India vary depending on the destination country. However, common requirements include a valid passport, passport-size photographs, a return flight ticket, confirmed accommodation, a bank statement, and a negative COVID-19 test. Some countries may also require proof of vaccination.

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