Current COVID protocol to follow if you are travelling to Chennai


The state government has revised the COVID protocols for travellers. Pic: Chennai Airport/Twitter

For over a month now, there has been a steady uptick in the number of COVID cases in Chennai. On April 9th, the city recorded 1752 new cases and 10 deaths. 12,861 people were under treatment while 514 were discharged. It has been more than a year now since the pandemic struck and Maharashtra and Punjab are contributing almost 70% of the new cases, indicating a strong, fresh wave. In light of the alarming scenario across the country, as well as the rising numbers within the state, the Tamil Nadu Health and Family Welfare Department has stepped up its protocol for travellers entering the state.

Here are some of the details that anyone thinking of travel to Chennai must know:

Who needs an e-pass?

An auto e-pass is mandatory for all international and domestic passengers from other states and union territories. However, those from Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry are exempted.

Inter-district travellers need not apply for an e-pass. However, people who are travelling within Tamil Nadu to hill stations and tourist spots like Nilgiris, Kodaikanal and Yercaud should register on this portal.

An e-pass can be applied for here.

A screenshot of the website that grants auto e-pass.

Should inter-district travellers in Tamil Nadu get tested or quarantined?

No, the state government has not devised any protocols for inter-district travellers in Tamil Nadu.

According to the latest restrictions announced by Tamil Nadu on April 8th, only seated passengers are allowed to travel in buses within Tamil Nadu and to Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry. Standing passengers are not permitted to travel. This will be implemented from April 10th.

What are the revised testing guidelines for travellers coming from other states/union territories via airways, railways and roadways?

  • Thermal screening is mandatory at entry points to state
  • All passengers (other than Maharashtra and Kerala) have to undergo self-monitoring of their health for 14 days. (During the period, if the individual develops fever, cough, breathlessness they must visit the nearest health facility). 
  • All passengers who travelled from Maharashtra and Kerala have to be in home quarantine for seven days and self-monitor their health over this period. (During the period, if the individual develops fever, cough, breathlessness they must visit the nearest health facility.) 
  • Testing to be done on symptomatic persons coming from other States/Union Territory 
  • If they test positive and symptomatic, they will be taken to the hospital for isolation. If they are positive and asymptomatic, they will be taken to a COVID Care Centre for management. 
  • If they test negative and are also asymptomatic, they will be advised to self-monitor themselves for 14 days. 
  • If they test negative but are symptomatic, they will be taken to hospital isolation and the next course of action will be decided based on medical opinion. 

What are the norms for international travellers?

For all international travellers, except travellers coming on flights originating from UK, Brazil, South Africa, Europe and the Middle East, the following are the guidelines:

  • All travellers should submit a self-declaration form on the online Air Suvidha portal ( 
  • All passengers should upload a negative COVID-19 RT-PCR report. This test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey. Uploaded false information will be liable for criminal prosecution. 
  • Thermal screening on arrival is mandatory. 
  • The passengers found to be symptomatic during screening shall be immediately isolated and taken to a medical facility and treated as per standard treatment protocol. 
  • Others must self-monitor their health for 14 days 
  • All such passengers shall inform the State/National call centres in case they develop symptoms at any time during the quarantine or self-monitoring of their health.

What are the rules for travellers on flights originating from UK, Brazil, South Africa, Europe and the Middle East?

  • They should submit a Self-Declaration Form (SDF) for COVID on the online Air Suvidha portal ( before the scheduled travel and to declare their travel history (of past 14 days). 
  • They should carry a negative RT-PCR Test report for which the test should have been conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey and uploaded on the online portal 
  • The passengers should also take a test upon arrival by giving a sample in the designated area of the airport; they may exit the airport only after confirmation of a negative test report. Transit travellers/those coming on flights from the United Kingdom, Brazil, South Africa, who test negative at the airport, shall be allowed to take their connecting flights/advised quarantine at home for seven days. 
  • All these travellers shall be tested again after seven days and if negative, released from quarantine, but they should continue to monitor their health for a further seven days. 
  • For travellers from Europe and the Middle East, they will be advised to self-monitor their health for 14 days, if the airport test report is negative.
  • All those tested positive shall undergo treatment as per the Standard Health Protocol.

What is the norm for travellers from UK, Brazil and South Africa who test positive and their contacts?

They shall be isolated in a dedicated COVID hospital in a separate isolation ward and treatment will be given as per Standard Treatment Protocol.

  • Positive samples of travellers will be sent for Whole Genomic sequencing to Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genomics Consortium (INSACOG) Labs by the state government.
  • Patients shall be tested on day 14 again, from the date that they tested positive initially; they will be kept in an isolation facility till their sample tests negative.

All contacts of travellers arriving from the United Kingdom, South Africa and Brazil, who test positive at the airport or subsequently during the home quarantine period, shall be subjected to institutional quarantine in separate quarantine centres. They will be tested on the 7th day (or earlier, if they develop symptoms). Contacts of the suspected patients include co-passengers seated in the same row, three rows in front and behind, and the cabin crew.

What is the protocol for international travellers arriving at seaports/land ports?

  • International travellers arriving through seaports/land ports will have to undergo the same protocol as mentioned above, except that facility for online registration is not available for such passengers currently. 
  • They shall submit the self-declaration form to the concerned authorities of the Government of India at seaports/land ports on arrival. 

What are the guidelines for home isolation of symptomatic COVID cases among travellers from other countries?

  • The person should be clinically assigned as a very mild/mild/pre-symptomatic case by the treating medical officer.
  • Such people should have the requisite facility at their residence for self-isolation and also for quarantining the family contacts. Availability of a well-ventilated single room, preferably with an attached/separate toilet is needed.
  • A caregiver should be available to provide care on a 24*7 basis. Only the assigned caregiver alone should access the patient by taking utmost precaution, such as wearing a triple layer mask, following hand hygiene, social distancing, etc. A communication link between the caregiver and hospital is a prerequisite for the entire duration of home isolation.
  • The patient shall agree to monitor his health and regularly inform his health status to the District Surveillance Officer for further follow up by the surveillance teams.
  • The patient will provide an undertaking on self-isolation and shall follow home quarantine guidelines. Such individuals shall be eligible for home isolation.
  • All such patients should download the Aarogya Setu mobile app

It is to be noted that the Greater Chennai Corporation had set up a quarantine centre at the Trade Centre last year. Following the drop in the number of cases, the facility was discontinued. Some hotels in the city offer quarantine facilities and the travellers will have to bear the charges, if they opt for it.

Can I seek exemption from home quarantine?

Yes. Business travellers and others visiting Tamil Nadu for a period of 72 hours have been exempted from the mandatory home quarantine norm.

About Bhavani Prabhakar 146 Articles
Bhavani Prabhakar is Staff Reporter at Citizen Matters Chennai. She tweets at @_bhavaniprabha


  1. Hi I would like to know of any passenger travelling from Bangalore by train or bus needs to be tested i.e. RT PCR ?
    Would appreciate if I can get some clarity on it. Thanks

    • It is safer to do the test before u leave to avoid unwanted harassment on arrival. Bangalore is exempted as of now. I just came back to Chennai yesterday.

    • Hi nimmi please contact the health and family welfare Department… Feel free to contact me for any clarifications

  2. Travellers from Karnataka, AP & UT of Pondicherry, are exempted from carrying RT-PCR test report. This has been clearly mentioned in the article.

  3. Hello Sir
    25th april is my daughters wedding at chennai
    We will be travelling from hyderabad.
    Will we need to take a epass or test done compulsary.

    • Hello Naveen,

      We are in the same situation as you. Would you be willing to let me know if you needed to take one e-pass for your whole family or one for each individual member?

      Thanks and Regards,

  4. Hi there, I’m travelling from Mumbai for a short 12 hour return trip. Do I need an RT PCR test?

  5. What if the passenger is vaccinated? Do we still need self isolation ? And an extra PCR test in airport ?

  6. There is an engagement function planned in my family and guests are travelling from Bihar, Delhi, Bhopal and Kolkatta. Is RT PCR test required?

    • Hi iam travelling to Chennai on 3rd of May morning and coming back to Bhubaneswar Odisha on the same day .what I have to do before leave .Is there any test or anything I have to do .

  7. Travelling from Ghaziabad, U.P to Chennai. I will take flight from New Delhi which is the nearest airport. I will take return flight from Chennai within 3 days. I have taken Vaccination both the dose also. Should Home quarantine will be applicable for me or not?

  8. Sir, madam Iand’+3 person are traveling by car from Bangalore to chennai , just for a day is it necessary to take a e-pass

  9. I am traveling to Chennai from Bangalore for an conference of one day.

    What is the procedure

  10. TRAVELING FROM AHMEDABAD, GUJRAT TO CHENNAI. Is RT PCR test required? Will there be RT-PCR testing at the airport ?

  11. Myself my daughter and my son are travelling by AI on 17th April from Mumbai international airport to Chennai international airport. Is it mandatory to do a PC RcT test ? Or just a epass registration is enough. Neither the airline or any forum is giving us the right answers.

  12. Hi
    My in-laws would be coming to Chennai on 30th April from Kerala and would be leaving on the 1st May. Do they need to be be in under quarantine for 7 days? Or they can be exempted.

  13. I had both 2 covidshield. Is there any recast ruction to travel by car from Chennai to B’lore?

  14. Hey, I’m going back to my home from Chennai by train.So do I need to have RT-PCR test done before travelling by train?

  15. I have an exam on April 24th at Coimbatore. What all things I need to be followed before arriving from Kerala to Coimbatore via train. Is it mandatory for RT PCR result?


  17. Hi.., I’m Gujarat to chennai coming on 26th April 2021. Request you to pls confirm covid test certificate require.

  18. Hi,
    We are planning to drive from Mumbai to Chennai this weekend in our own car. Do we need to take a covid test?

  19. Am planning to come to india last week of April-2021 from UAE via chennai airport my current address is kallakurichi, tamilnadu. Whereas my passport containing previous permanet address of the the same district such as ulundurper- kallakurichi i have to take e-pass from the portal

  20. Hi, I’m travelling from Kerala to Chennai on 03-May-2021. Is RT-PCR test needed?

  21. hi my brother and his worker has to come to Chennai from Hyderabad on 10th of may what is the procedure

  22. I’m also going Ranchi from Chennai on 18th May…so they require any covid test report or not..?

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