The government of India has made it mandatory for all international passengers arriving in the country to fill in the Air Suvidha Self Declaration Form to notify of their current health status in the backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the process was created to ease the process for flyers, the Air Suvidha registration process has caused much inconvenience to multitudes of inconspicuous flyers who are caught terribly unaware once they land up at the airport. Many airlines also do not actively inform the passengers about the need to fill the same, and most flyers are informed of this requirement by airlines staff at/before the check-in counters.
It is to be noted that if you do not produce the registration number at the check-in counters, the airlines will not issue the boarding passes.
Mind you, the form itself is quite lengthy to fill and the exercise quite cumbersome. Many flyers have been left scampering to get the necessary documents in place to upload. It is a common sight to see distraught faces, either glued in rapt attention to their mobile devices or frantically calling relatives to upload the forms on their behalf.
It is here that you thank God/airport authorities for the free Wi-Fi at airports, and pat yourself on your back for carrying that laptop (which was being so frowned upon by wifey) as completing the process on the mobile needs the concentration of Arjuna and the computer literacy of Bill Gates.
And God help you if you are traveling with a bunch of not-so computer literate people — it will only strengthen your resolve to make such members undergo that computer literacy course back in India whose pamphlets you had been joyfully chucking into dustbins all along.
Reports mention that some passengers have even missed their flights due to not being able to complete the formalities in time.
While the intention is noble, trust our bureaucracy to execute the job in a manner which leaves people frustrated and scratching their heads. Kudos to the designers of the form; they have managed to create a web form which entails almost all conceivable barriers to prevent successful completion.
And the beauty of it is that there is barely anyone checking for it once you land in India. Please do make a mental note to spare yourself the frustration, for once in life, at NOT BEING CHECKED.
So, while we discuss and debate the utility of this and fervently hope someone will bring some sensibility into the process, here’s a list of must-dos for anyone taking an international flight into India:
1. Check requirement of negative RT-PCR certificate –
a. Passengers that are fully vaccinated in the list of countries mentioned by MoHFW ( have to mandatorily upload either a negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report (test conducted within 72 hours prior to undertaking the journey) or the Certificate of completing full primary vaccination schedule of Covid-19 vaccination with the date.
b. If flying from a country not covered in the list, the negative Covid-19 RT-PCR report is mandatory.
c. Hence, plan for the test in the country of flight origin at a suitable time. If you have a dependable travel agent, well and good, else local hotel staff should be able to help.
2. Make sure that you fill in the form before you leave for the airport, if not earlier. There is no cut-off time for filling and it can be filled any time before boarding. DO NOT leave it to be done at the airport — unless you are craving for that rush of blood — or are really looking forward to just an airport visit and not keen at all on taking the flight back home.
3. Budget time: Keep half an hour to get your documents ready as per requirements and the filling of the process.
4. For each passenger, keep the below documents/details ready:
a. Basic passport details
b. Flight details and seat number. Those not checked-in, please add ‘00’ against seat number. Mind you, the website says – “Passenger shall be responsible to self edit the SDF and provide the correct seat number, before boarding the aircraft. This is a mandatory requirement and essential for contact tracing purpose.”
5. For uploading, below are the documents required with specifications:
b. Vaccination Certificate
c. RT-PCR Negative Certificate (if applicable).
6. File specifications: Now here comes the masterclass.
a. All the above documents for upload have to be a PDF (word doc, jpeg, png etc. not allowed). So if you have a scan image or word doc with pic, please convert it to pdf using one of the online pdf converters. Google baba will come to your rescue.
b. File name – no special characters are permitted in file name, only hyphen and underscore permitted. So if your file name has a space (“Passport self”), please put your file name editing skills to use and delete or replace that space with either a hyphen or underscore. This is where laptop comes handy.
c. File Size – Each document has to be less than 1 MB in size. The website is helpful and mentions “Passengers can download any of the free apps available on both iOS or Android to reduce file size. For iOS, one can use PDF compressor or Android users can download Compress PDF app to reduce the file size.” Here goes your crash course in compressing pdfs.
7. Log on to and fill in the details of the primary traveller first. If there are people accompanying you, you are required to add the count of passengers at the end of the form – and then fill in all the details all over again for each one of them. It would have helped if there was an option to replicate basic flight details, destination address details, contact numbers etc. But then God also needs ways to teach us patience.
8. For kids who are yet to be brought under the purview of vaccination, you might be scratching your head as to what to enter/upload. You can try leaving the details blank, and in case the form still insists, a way out might be to upload the parents details.
9. Remember to pray before you click the Submit button. On submitting, the form then proceeds to issue a Registration number / application reference number – which is emailed to the email id of the primary applicant.
10. Flyers must carry application printout or soft copy to present at the airport, which will be duly scrutinized and then boarding passes issued.
11. Once you have your boarding passes, remember to do a fist pump and have a customary sweet to celebrate.
It might not be entirely far-fetched to visualise some ingenious desis setting up shops at international airports in near future for facilitating this – alike the numerous ticketing agents that dot the vicinity of our railway stations. Until then, make sure that you follow the guidelines above if flying into India, spread the word and earn countless blessings!
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