Travel VTL

Germany – Singapore VTL Report: Part 1 – Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test

Our experience of getting a pre-departure PCR test before embarking on the inaugural Germany - Singapore VTL flight.

For Singapore residents, probably the biggest concern about using the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) to visit Germany is the pre-departure PCR test on the way home, to be taken within 48 hours of your designated VTL flight departure from Frankfurt or Munich back to Singapore.


Previously it was one of the major disadvantages of using the VTL compared to the Category 2 lane when returning to Singapore (with 7-days self isolation at home), since the latter did not require a pre-departure test, however this is changing from 9th September and both methods will soon require a pre-departure PCR.

Test positive and you’ll be stuck in Germany for some time, with significant added expense, until you’re able to recover from the virus and finally return home.

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Choosing your test timing

If like most of our readers you’re living in Singapore and making a trip to Germany for a holiday, then you’ll want to take your pre-departure PCR test as early as possible during the 48-hour window before returning home.

Why? Well research shows that the average time from exposure (to a level of COVID-19 that will cause infection) through to you producing a positive PCR test is 5 to 8 days (peak 5.61 days), or three to five days for the Delta variant (peak 3.71 days).

While it’s obviously possible for the interval to be as short as one day (and as long as 14 days), generally speaking if you caught COVID in the last couple of days you probably won’t return a positive PCR test.

You can probably see where we’re going with this.

The inconvenience of being stuck in Germany potentially for up to three weeks, if you test positive for COVID-19, is something you’ll want to avoid as a Singapore resident returning home. You can minimise this risk by testing right at the start of the validity window.


Let’s say you are returning on a Wednesday VTL flight from Munich to Singapore (SQ331) at 1.15pm.

You can take your pre-departure PCR test from Monday at 1.15pm (48 hours before).