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MHA issues SOP for global travel, no need to register with Indian missions abroad

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New Delhi, Aug 22: The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday issued Standard Operating Protocol (SOP) for international travel on non-scheduled commercial flights under Vande Bharat scheme and air transport bubble arrangement.

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Accordingly, persons desirous to travel to India on Vande Bharat flights, will register themselves with the Indian missions in the country where they are stranded or residing, along with necessary details as prescribed by Ministry of External Affairs.

However, such a registration may not be required on flights operating under air transport bubbles arrangements, the SOP said.

People who will travel to India by non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by Ministry of Civil Aviation (MOCA) and ships as allowed by Department of Military Affairs (DMA) and Ministry of Shipping (MOS).

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The SOP for the operations of these flights or ships will be as issued by MOCA or DMA or MOS from time to time.

India so far has bilateral air travel arrangements or air bubbles with the US, the UK, Germany, France, Qatar, Maldives and the UAE while negotiations are going on with 13 more countries.

The Vande Bharat flights have been operating since May 6 and currently the Scheme is in Phase-5.

Only those crew and staff, who are tested COVID-19 negative, will be allowed to operate these flights and ships.

The SOP said priority will be given to compelling cases of in distress, including migrant workers and labourers who have been laid off, short term visa holders faced with expiry of visas, persons with medical emergency/ pregnant women and elderly persons or those required to return to India due to death of family member, and students.

The cost of travel, as specified by the carrier, will be borne by such travellers.

Based on the registrations received for Vande Bharat flights, MEA will prepare flight or ship wise database of all such travellers, including details such as name, age, gender, mobile phone number, place of residence, place of final destination; and information on RT-PCR test taken and its result.

This data base will be shared by MEA with the respective State and UT in advance.

In case of flights operating under air transport bubbles, passenger manifest containing the same details as given above for Vande Bharat flights or in a revised format as may be finalised by MEA with the country concerned, will be submitted by the airlines to the Indian mission in the country concerned.

For out-bound flights, the category of persons, who will be eligible to travel on these flights, will be as permitted by MHA from time to time.

The MOCA will display on its website the category of persons eligible to travel out of India.

Such persons will apply to MoCA or to an agency or agencies designated by MoCA for this purpose, along with necessary details, including the places of departure and arrival.

The travel from India shall be on the non-scheduled commercial flights, as are allowed by MoCA.

Indian seafarers and crew seeking to accept contracts to serve on vessels abroad, can travel on the non-scheduled commercial flights as allowed by MOCA or the flights arranged by their employers subject to clearance given by the Ministry of Shipping.

Before the tickets of such persons are confirmed, the airline concerned will ensure that the destination country allows entry of such persons with valid visa in that country.

The conditions, if any, imposed by the destination country, will have to be fulfilled by the person intending to travel.

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