The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has revealed good news for families with young children, with confirmation that from 19th October 2021 kids aged 12 and under will be eligible to use the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) programme, when travelling with fully vaccinated adults.
That’s a welcome change for the thousands of families eager to travel on the new quarantine-free arrangements, but relegated to spending at least seven days of home SHN on their return to Singapore when arriving back on non-VTL flights.
Currently only children aged 12 or above are eligible for vaccination in Singapore, which is also the case in many other countries.
Transport Minister S. Iswaran said the change “helps to open up a few more possibilities for [families]”.
Who does it apply to?
Children aged 12 and below in the current calendar year (i.e. for arrivals in 2021, those born after 1st January 2009) will not be required to provide proof of vaccination to board designated VTL flights.
If you’re planning a trip arriving back in Singapore via the VTL next year (2022), children born after 1st January 2010 will be exempt.
This applies to children who are short-term visitors, long-term pass holders, Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents, and will therefore also represent the first opportunity since March 2020 for eligible tourists based overseas with young children to visit Singapore as a family.
The new policy is in force for arrivals in Singapore on or after 19th October 2021.
These children must comply with all other VTL conditions, including the 14-day travel history requirement and pre-departure testing.
Children under 12 must be accompanied by at least one fully vaccinated adult traveller also using the VTL. They cannot travel as unaccompanied minors on VTL flights.
“We have received positive public feedback on the VTL and its extension. Some parents have suggested also allowing their children to travel under the VTL. We have considered this suggestion in consultation with the Ministry of Health and decided to allow it to facilitate family travel.”Han Kok Juan, Director-General, CAAS
Children aged 2 and below in the calendar year (i.e. for arrivals in 2021, those born on 1st January 2019 or afterwards) are exempt from the pre-departure COVID-19 PCR testing requirement overseas, and the on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test at Changi Airport.
Obviously there is also no requirement to undertake Day 3 and Day 7 post-arrival tests, since these no longer apply for any VTL travellers arriving in Singapore on or after 19th October 2021, in accordance with the latest announced VTL countries and process.
Young children can also transit on VTL flights
With VTL flights also open to those transiting through Changi from 19th October 2021, this new allowance for unvaccinated children under 12 also applies, allowing families to book on these services even when taking longer routings (e.g. Frankfurt – Singapore – Phuket).
That’s more good news for Singapore Airlines, since many destinations do not require children to be fully vaccinated. Families with younger children wishing to fly on SIA will now have more flights to choose from.
VTP not required
Note that children eligible to travel unvaccinated on the VTL who are short-term visitors or long-term pass holders are not required to complete a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP).
South Korea is an exception
Unfortunately South Korea does not allow unvaccinated children to enter the country, so this relaxation won’t apply to many of those hoping to travel as a family on the upcoming VTL there from 15th November 2021.
That’s a shame, but is largely out of Singapore’s control.
Latest VTL requirements
Here’s a revised summary of the latest requirements for travelling via the VTL, once this latest change is in force from 19th October.
Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lanes
- Must be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine in Singapore or any VTL country
- Must have an accepted digital proof of vaccination
- Must have remained in a VTL country and/or Singapore for the last 14 days
- Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
Unvaccinated children are not eligible
- Unvaccinated children aged 12 or below are eligible when travelling with fully vaccinated adults
- Visitors and Singapore pass holders must apply for a VTP in advance
- Pre-departure and on-arrival COVID-19 PCR tests replace quarantine / Stay-Home Notice in Singapore
- Unvaccinated children aged 2 or below are exempt from testing
“I hope this gives Singaporean families on one hand, the option, but I hope it’s an option they will exercise with due care”, Minister Iswaran told The Straits Times.
Many families in Singapore were quite vocally annoyed about there being no concessions made regarding vaccination status for ineligible children when the new expanded VTL list was released over the weekend.
Therefore there’s no doubt some politics involved in this latest decision, which does increase the risk of the scheme slightly, but will placate thousands of travel-starved families who can now take their first quarantine-free overseas trip together in at least 18 months.
This latest change means such families will no longer be resigned to at least 7 days of home SHN on return from a VTL country, provided they comply with the rest of the VTL’s rules.
Will you be taking your unvaccinated children on a VTL trip? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Singapore Airlines)