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.

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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:

๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain

๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง United Kingdom
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States

These will be in addition to existing VTL arrangements with ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei and ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany, and the upcoming bilateral scheme with ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea starting in mid-November.

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

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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…

โ€œWe 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 Singaporeโ€™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.

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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.

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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:

  • Holding an EU Digital COVID certificate (EUDCC) issued by any VTL country ๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡บ
  • With a SMART Health Card – CommonTrust Network for the ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ US and ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada
  • With a COVID Pass in the National Health Service (NHS) mobile app in the ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK

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.

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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