Changi Airport News Singapore Airlines Travel VTL

Huge: Singapore adds USA, UK, France and 5 more countries to the VTL in October

Eight countries are joining Singapore's Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme this month, including the USA, the UK, Italy, Spain and France, with a relaxed testing regime to boot.

Yesterday we got news of the first among a new batch of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries approved by Singapore, with a bilateral agreement reached with South Korea for two-way quarantine-free travel from 15th November 2021.

It was a little unexpected, since we had recently flagged several European countries as top potential candidates for an expansion of the scheme, but had written off most of Asia-Pacific until 2022.

Today though there’s much more exciting news to report, with a fresh range of countries joining the VTL later this month!

New VTL countries

From 19th October 2021, the following countries will be added to the VTL list:

🇨🇦 Canada
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇫🇷 France
🇮🇹 Italy
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇪🇸 Spain

🇬🇧 United Kingdom
🇺🇸 United States

These will be in addition to existing VTL arrangements with 🇧🇳 Brunei and 🇩🇪 Germany, and the upcoming bilateral scheme with 🇰🇷 South Korea starting in mid-November.

There are therefore now 11 countries under the Vaccinated Travel Lane arrangement.

This significant expansion, including six more countries in Europe plus Canada and the USA in North America, provides a wide range options for leisure travellers and reuniting families.

A trip to France will be high on the list for many travel-starved Singapore residents. (Photo: Shutterstock)

It represents the first major boost to the VTL scheme since the successful pilots with Brunei and Germany convinced the Singapore Government that the programme is safe, and follows a speech by Singapore’s Prime Minister earlier today.l

“These pilot projects have shown it is possible for vaccinated persons to travel safely, while letting in very few Covid-19 positive cases…

“We are implementing more such arrangements, especially with countries whose COVID-19 situations are stable. This will keep us connected to global supply chains and help to preserve Singapore’s hub status.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong

It will also be a big sigh of relief for thousands of expats in Singapore, who now have a quarantine-free route home in time for celebrations like Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

More relaxed testing regime

Effective for those arriving in Singapore from 19th October 2021, only two COVID-19 PCR tests will be required when taking a designated VTL flight; a pre-departure (within 48 hours) and on-arrival test.

If you have pre-paid for your Day 3 and Day 7 tests, which will no longer be required, you will receive a refund (less the administrative fee) to the payment card used when you booked.

If you submit a VTP application on or before 12th October, you will have to pay for the Day 3 and Day 7 tests, which will then be refunded later if your arrival date is 19th October onwards.

This is great news and simplifies the VTL on-arrival process significantly. The removal of the Day 3 and Day 7 post-arrival tests will reduce travellers’s costs by around S$188 per person, from around S$460 per person before to around S$270 per person, depending on exact pre-departure testing costs overseas.

Singapore VTL
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
Overseas pre-departure* S$110 – S$200
Singapore arrival S$160
Total S$270 – S$360

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

This is great news, removing the inconvenience of having to arrange two further tests after arrival and simple being free once your on-arrival test has come through, with no further requirements.

Officials said that out of more than 3,000 VTL users in the first month of the programme, only two tested positive for COVID-19, both at the on-arrival test stage.

Important: If you arrived in Singapore on or before 18th October 2021, don’t get too excited. You will still need to attend and pay for both Day 3 and Day 7 tests.

Overseas PCR costs

Obviously with eight additional countries on the list, the pre-departure test costs now vary significantly.

We’ll have a closer look at this later, but some quick searches reveal the following approximate SGD rates:

  • Canada: S$170 (based on Switch Health, Toronto Airport)
  • Denmark: S$220 (based on Falck, Copenhagen Airport)
  • France: S$77 (fixed cost mandated by the government)
  • Italy: S$110 (based on a clinic at Rome Airport)
  • Netherlands: S$108 (based on Coronalab, several locations)
  • Spain: S$118 (based on a clinic in Barcelona)
  • UK: S$109 (based on ExpressTest, Heathrow Airport)
  • USA: S$169 (based on a clinic at LAX Airport)

Hopefully there is a cheaper option downtown in Copenhagen, though if my memory of prices in general there from my last visit over 10 years ago is anything to go by – I wouldn’t be surprised if there isn’t!

Update: Thanks to John in the comments section for pointing out that in Denmark PCR tests are free for Danish residents in any public test centre and are recognised for travel. For foreign travellers, however, it seems like the cost remains payable.

How the VTL works

The VTL allows you to travel to Singapore from a country from which an SHN period is usually required on arrival here (typically Category 2), and instead travel quarantine-free if you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with additional PCR testing.

Singapore SHN requirements
(from 27th October)

14-day travel history
(can include Singapore)

Fully vaccinated

Partially vaccinated /
Unvaccinated
VTL
No SHN N/A
Category 1
No SHN
Category 2
7 days SHN at home
Category 3
10 days SHN at home
Category 4 10 days SHN in hotel

Here’s the latest VTL process summary, with the latest changes highlighted.

Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lanes

Key Features

  • Must have stayed in a VTL country/region and/or Singapore for 14 days
  • Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
  • 3,000 traveller cap per day
  • No restrictions on travel purpose or itineraries
  • Must be fully vaccinated in Singapore or your VTL country of origin any VTL country, with an accepted digital proof of vaccination
  • Unvaccinated children are not eligible
  • Visitors and Singapore pass holders must apply for a VTP in advance
  • COVID-19 PCR testing replaces quarantine / Stay-Home Notice in Singapore
  • Only two PCR tests are now required

As you can see the VTL programme has been modified slightly, with the expansion also coming along with a new daily arrival cap of 3,000 travellers while the government continually monitors the scheme’s outcomes.

For those who need to apply for a VTP from these countries, applications will open on 12th October 2021 at 10am Singapore time, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore.

Welcome to the ‘VTL Zone’

As expected, it’s now possible to retain your quarantine-free arrival privileges in Singapore using the VTL on your return provided you have remained only within VTL countries (or Singapore itself) over the last 14 consecutive days before your flight back to Singapore.

With this expanded list, that now includes trips that can incorporate several European countries (e.g. both France and Italy) and even more adventurous journeys like Singapore – Germany – Canada – Netherlands – Singapore.

It’s also possible to transit in the USA and reach Canada, which may be quicker for a west coast (e.g. Vancouver) trip.

There are some nuances that haven’t been made totally clear at this stage – like whether you can take the Eurostar from Paris to Amsterdam, which goes through Belgium (a non-VTL country) and makes a stop in Brussels along the way!

Also you could fly to Belfast in Northern Ireland and drive into the Republic of Ireland, which has a common travel area with the UK and does not require a passport when crossing the border, but presumably this too is not allowed. It’s odd not to include Ireland, which has a case rate much lower than the UK’s!

If you are going to ‘stray’ to (or through) a non-VTL country on a longer trip, do so at or near the beginning of your journey, so that the relevant ‘naughty’ travel history will fall outside the 14-day window when it comes time to return home.

Vaccination certificate requirements

When the VTL with Germany was first introduced, travellers had to be fully vaccinated in either Singapore or Germany, which was (perhaps deliberately) quite restrictive in the early days as the scheme was being used as a pilot.

Good news with this latest expansion is that passengers travelling on a VTL flight can now show their digitally-verifiable vaccination records from additional sources, provided they have been fully vaccinated in any VTL country, or in Singapore.

For those vaccinated in Singapore:

  • A vaccination status on the TraceTogether app or HealthHub app
  • A vaccination certificate issued by the Singapore Ministry of Health in English

For those not vaccinated in Singapore:

Singapore says “we are currently working on accepting digitally verifiable vaccination certificates by other issuers. Further details will be shared at a later date”.

When can you travel?

Right now if you like!

These new countries announced today are already accepting fully vaccinated Singapore residents for leisure travel, so you can actually set off from Singapore whenever you wish.

If your stay is less than 14 days, be sure to take a non-stop flight to keep your travel history ‘clean’.

The commencement date (19th October) relates to the earliest arrival back in Singapore to benefit from quarantine-free status under the VTL programme.

Designated flights: Singapore Airlines

Note that not all cities SIA is serving in these countries will have a designated VTL flight, for example Manchester in the UK and San Francisco in the USA, though SIA has said that additional points will be added “in the coming weeks”.

Update: See our analysis of all known VTL designated flight options (continually updated).

Copenhagen and Rome

Frankfurt and Munich

Barcelona and Milan

Paris

Note that a change to the Boeing 777-300ER means First Class is once again available on the Paris route.

See below for details of twice weekly Paris – Singapore designated VTL flights operated by Air France.

Amsterdam

See below for details of twice weekly Amsterdam – Singapore designated VTL flights operated by KLM.

London

Note that Singapore Airlines is not including its non-stop flights from Manchester to Singapore in the VTL scheme at this stage.

New York

Los Angeles

Designated flights: Scoot

For the budget-savvy, Scoot is restoring non-stop Singapore – Berlin flights from 19th October 2021.

Scoot is restarting non-stop Singapore – Berlin flights. (Photo: Scoot)

TR735 will be the airline’s first designated VTL flight on 20th October 2021, and promotional fares start at S$200 including taxes, according to a press release from the airline.

Designated Flights: Air France / KLM

Air France and KLM will each operate two weekly designated VTL flights from Paris and Amsterdam respectively to Singapore.

Note that only the flights highlighted in red are designated VTL services.

Designated Flights: Lufthansa

Lufthansa is operating twice-weekly VTL flights from Frankfurt to Singapore.

Designated Flights: British Airways

British Airways will operate designated VTL flights from London Heathrow to Singapore, however the schedule for these services has not yet been announced.

We will update this section once details are provided.

Transit passengers can travel on VTL flights

If you’re booked on a designated VTL flight but are transiting in Changi onto another destination, you can still retain your booking and travel on the flight on or after 19th October, provided you are fully vaccinated and comply with the pre-departure testing requirements (which are necessary anyway for transiting in Singapore).

This is a slight change from the previous version of the VTL, where only point-to-point passengers could board designated VTL services.

Our VTL experience

We travelled over to Frankfurt in early September and flew back via the inaugural Germany – Singapore VTL flight on 7th September 2021. Here’s a step-by-step summary of our experience, which may help you decide whether to give it a try yourself.

Of course you can now thankfully disregard the Day 3 and Day 4 test article, though you may want to read it to see how you’ll benefit from not having to go through that part of the process going forward!

1: Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 test

READ THE ARTICLE

2: The departure airport process

READ THE ARTICLE

3: The Changi Airport arrival process

READ THE ARTICLE

4: Day 3 and Day 7 swab tests

READ THE ARTICLE

1: Getting a pre-departure COVID-19 test

READ THE ARTICLE

2: The departure airport process

READ THE ARTICLE

3: The Changi Airport arrival process

READ THE ARTICLE

4: Day 3 and Day 7 swab tests

READ THE ARTICLE

Summary

This is the biggest news we’ve had so far about travel reopening since Singapore tightened its border measures in March 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.

A wide range of countries in this expanded list should mean something for everyone, especially now there’s also a more local option closer to home with South Korea also joining the mix next month.

Singapore Airlines in particular will be rejoicing the news – finally able to tap a large volume of pent-up travel demand to and from some of its key global markets.

Singapore Airlines will be happy with these latest VTL additions. (Photo: Plane’s Portrait Aviation Media / Malcolm Lu)

An upcoming removal of the Day 3 and Day 7 post-arrival swab tests in Singapore is also welcome news, reducing cost but also inconvenience, especially for travellers who have returned back to work after their trip and find it inconvenient to take time out of their day to complete this process.

Where will you be heading on the expanded VTL list? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

51 comments

    1. Regarding the Copenhagen test fee: PCR tests are free for Danish residents in any public test centre and are recognised for travel. Paid option likely needed for foreigners.

    1. Yeah I was wondering about this. If one is vaccinated in Ireland, Austria or Russia with a WHO accepted vaccine they can’t apply for a VTL from a VTL country?

    2. VTL travellers entering Singapore on or after 19 October 2021 can present vaccination certificates issued in any VTL country or Singapore, regardless of which VTL country the traveller departs from.

      1. Correct for the way back to Singapore. On the way to your destination it’s ok – provided you’re going for 14+ days to a VTL country.

  1. It seems like SQ has not updated their booking pages with the new VTL flights yet. E.g. the CDG-SIN flight is still marketed as SQ335 with no VTL indications

    1. I booked a VTL flight from AMS – not indicated as such on the website but I received an email after booking to inform me of flight’s VTL status with all the restrictions tied to it.

  2. HI Andrew,

    If we have 2 kids one is Vaccinated and another is not as he is 5 years old. Can Husband and older kid with Vaccination use VTL but wife and Younger unvaccinated kid use SHN at home. All will be staying at same home just 2 will be serving SHN and other 2 member using VTL.

    Thank You

    1. Hi Nik,

      In theory yes, if your wife and younger child can isolate and use their own bathroom for a week.

      In practice I doubt they will allow it (kids will be kids…). I could be wrong but I suspect your wife and younger child will have to get a hotel.

  3. Andrew, well done on such a great analysis so quickly. if I have waitlists booked can i cancel an advantage *or a partner reward* for free if one clears so long as start and end point are the same. ie if sin-lhr clewrs can i cancel sin-muc-lhr no charge?

  4. I had a same thought too on traveling between Paris to Amsterdam with Thalys. The train for sure will have a stopover in Brussels to pick up/alight more passengers. Will it be ok If I don’t alight in Brussels and continue my journey to Amsterdam and take VTL flight home from Amsterdam? It’s not considered I enter the category 3 country?

    1. Technically you’ve been in Belgium, even on a moving (and sometimes stationary) train.

      If that’s within 14 days of your return to Singapore via VTL, you would need to declare that.

      Safer option – fly from Paris to Amsterdam!!

  5. Thats a great article. Any changes to the rule on work pass holders needing to secure reentry approval before returning to Singapore on VTL?

  6. Really excited as we have flights to Singapore and we can now stay over one night and ho on to Krabi BUT correct me if I am wrong, can’t transit back through Singapore to get back to UK?

    1. Yes you can still transit but only in the transit holding area of the airport, based on current arrangements. You won’t be eligible to re-enter Singapore on your way back as things stand.

  7. Thanks for this super detailed post! I have two questions. First, if someone was vaccinated in the USA, completed the serology test upon return to SG, and can generate the vaccination certification via SingPass HealthHub (plus vaccinated status in Trace Together) would this qualify as proof of vaccination for VTL flights? My digital vaccination card from CVS does not have the SMART Health Card logo on it.

    Second, would you happen to know if it is possible to use miles for VTL flights? SQ? BA? LF?

    Thanks!!

  8. Does the pre departure PCR test clinic or venue operates 24hours?
    Example, my flight is at 11pm on Sun, means PCR can only be done after 11pm on Friday.
    So the earliest possible time I can go do PCR is on Sat morning as soon as the clinic or test venue opens.

    1. This varies by country and city. We did ours in Germany on the Sat morning (in your example).

      Some places may have 24h clinics but in Europe the turnaround times are usually quite quick, so it’s not a big deal.

  9. Hi everyone, Italy allows for Antigen rapid test so I assume our ART test kit is acceptable but there is no certificate to show our negative result legitimately when we arrive into Italy. Any idea?

    1. if it is a direct flight on Singapore Airlines I believe we just need an ART test, it seems like there are clinics offering this service at a much cheaper price than PCR test.

  10. Hi Andrew any idea when British Airways will announce their designated VTL flights? I booked to go Singapore on 10th November pre-announcement and hoping that BA11 that I’m on will be a VTL flight. I have been granted approval to enter via familial ties so will I need to apply again for VTP? Thank you

    1. Still awaiting confirmation from BA unfortunately. If your flight becomes VTL or you switch to a VTL flight you will have to apply for a VTP. This is easy and grants instant approval 👍🏼

      1. Hi Andrew any updates which flights on British Airways will be VTL? I’ve been searching online but not getting much luck and BA Customerservice is impossible to get through. Many thanks!

  11. Hi, can I please ask if it’s necessary to take PCR tests when travelling between European countries. For example, if I fly to Germany from Singapore, I don’t need to take a pre-departure or arrival test. But if I were to take a train from Germany to France, then from France to the UK, do the countries require a negative PCR test? Thank you so much for a really informative article.

    1. Hi Briankong 78
      For France if you are vacinnated fully you do not need PCR test to enter France from Germany or from Singapore;

  12. Thanks for the detailed info. One correction though, it’s not that children under 12 are ineligible – unvaccinated kids/adults are ineligible. In US and maybe in other countries also, kids under 12 are also getting vaccinated. so they can travel through VTL.

  13. Hi Andrew, I am a EP holder going to London Nov back to Sin early Jan on VTL. Do I need entry approval and how do I apply for VTP? Are they one and the same? Great article, thanks.

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