Travel VTL

Cheapest pre-departure COVID-19 PCR and ART tests in Singapore

You can now get a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test in Singapore for as little as S$107, or an ART test valid for travel to some countries from S$26.50.

With Singapore’s borders starting to reopen, including fully quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lanes and a wider list of countries requiring only a seven-day home isolation on return, many of the city’s travel-starved residents are planning overseas trips in the coming months.

In many cases, fully vaccinated travellers can thankfully enter several countries without the need to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test, though some places (and even some airlines) still require it.

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With cheaper pre-departure ART tests now accepted for certain routings, it’s a good time to update our ongoing analysis on where you can get a pre-departure test in Singapore, including a list of the cheapest providers across the city.

Rates for PCR tests now start at S$107, while you can pick up an approved ART test from S$26.50.

The test must typically have been conducted within 72 hours of your scheduled flight departure time, though do check the exact rules for your destination, since it does vary.

  Check country requirements at the IATA Timatic database

If you’re based in Singapore and travelling on one of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes, you’ll also be subject to the following pre-departure testing requirements when travelling to some of these countries, in addition to VTL testing on your homebound journey:

You’ll also be subject to testing requirements when travelling to the following countries, in addition to VTL testing on your return:

Testing before travelling to selected VTL countries

VTL country Test type Test timing Exemption
Australia PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
Cambodia PCR 72h before arrival
Canada PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
France PCR
or
ART
48h before departure Age 11 or below
Fiji PCR 3 days before departure Age 12 or below
India PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
Indonesia PCR 72h before departure
Italy PCR
or
ART
72h before arrival Age 5 or below
Malaysia PCR 2 days before departure Age 2 or below
Maldives PCR 96h before departure Age below 1
Netherlands PCR
or
ART
PCR: 48h before departure
ART: 24h before departure
Age 11 or below
South Korea PCR 72h before departure Age 5 or below
Sri Lanka PCR 72h before departure Age 1 or below
Thailand PCR 72h before departure
UK PCR On or before Day 2 after arrival
(book before departure)
Age 4 or below
USA PCR
or
ART
3 days before departure
From 6 Dec: 1 day before departure
Age 1 or below

Many other countries including Hong Kong also require pre-departure testing (PCR).

Where can you be tested in Singapore?

At the time of writing, there are over 650 approved clinics and hospitals across Singapore where you can get a COVID-19 pre-departure PCR test and over 700 that should provide an acceptable pre-departure ART test certificate.

  List of approved COVID-19 test providers in Singapore

This continually updated list will not only tell you which clinics are approved, but also their contact number, address and opening hours.

It also summarises the applicable age range for testing, important for those travelling with children as not all clinics are able to provide tests for those in younger age groups.

Example clinic information

Within a 10-minute walk of our own place in East Coast, for example, there are seven approved testing facilities, so you shouldn’t have to go far from your home or office to take the test.



 


 

24-hour testing

For the best flexibility, several clinics offer 24-hour testing, including:

  • Farrer Park Hospital
  • Gleneagles Hospital
  • Mount Elizabeth Hospital
  • Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital
  • Parkway East Hospital
  • Raffles Hospital (North Bridge Road)
  • Raffles Medical at Changi Airport T3
  • Thomson Medical Centre (Thomson Road)
  • UNIHEALTH at Jurong East
  • UNIHEALTH at Toa Payoh

Cheapest pre-departure PCR tests

We contacted 20 major providers, covering around 210 of the 600+ clinics in Singapore offering pre-departure COVID-19 PCR tests, to check their effective rates as of 18th October 2021.

Note: Government-paid swabs are not allowed to be used for the issuance of pre-departure COVID-19 certificates.

The cheapest pre-departure PCR test we found was at one of six SATA CommHealth clinics, costing S$107.00 including GST, with pdtswab.sg coming in at the same cost.

Intemedical at Kovan and Potong Pasir was the next best option at S$125.00, followed by Swab Station SG at S$135.00, with 3 locations.

Cost of COVID-19 pre-departure PCR tests

Clinic Locations Price (inc. GST)
PCR Only PCR + Serology
(for China)
SATA CommHealth 6 S$107.00 S$157.00
pdtswab.sg 5 S$107.00 n/a
Intemedical 2 S$125.00 S$180.00
Minmed Clinic 9 S$128.00 S$178.00
Swab Station SG 3 S$128.00 S$158.00
AcuMed Medical 12 S$135.89 S$184.04
DA Clinic 6 S$136.00 S$180.00
Kingsway Medical 1 S$138.00 S$178.00
Raffles Medical
Raffles Hospital
37 S$138.00 S$177.99
Parkway Shenton
Shenton Medical
Shenton Wellness
26 S$138.00 S$166.00
OneCare Clinic 15 S$149.80 S$197.95
Healthway Medical 34 S$150.00
S$190.00
Osler Health International 2 S$150.00 S$255.00
True Medical 2 S$150.00 S$195.00
HeartlandHealth 11 S$154.00 S$189.00
My Family Clinic 16 S$158.00 S$198.00
International Medical Clinic 3 S$165.00 n/a
Prohealth Medical 9 S$179.00 S$200.00
Fullerton Health 8 S$180.00 S$233.50
Pinnacle Family Clinic 6 S$185.00 S$270.60
Faith Medical Group 8 S$185.00
n/a
Central 24-HR Clinic 9 S$200.00 S$258.85

If you’re taking a PCR test for travel to mainland China you will also require a serology test, as priced in the right hand column in the table above (inclusive of the PCR test, since that’s still required too).

This can add over S$85 to the cost at some clinics. Luckily there are a good number of sub-S$180 options for you in this case.

Note that flights to mainland China require negative results for tests conducted within 48 hours of scheduled flight departure time, not 72 hours.

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Some credit card providers and membership schemes in Singapore have negotiated discounted pre-departure PCR test prices at specific clinics for their cardholders and members, as shown in the following table.

Discounted pre-departure tests

Company Clinic
(link to discount details)
Price (inc. GST)
PCR Only PCR + Serology
(for China)
Healthway Medical S$150.00
S$128.00
S$190.00
S$170.00
Healthway Medical S$150.00
S$128.00
S$190.00
S$170.00
DA Clinic S$136.00
S$132.00
S$180.00
S$170.00
Raffles Medical S$138.00
S$131.10
n/a
Fullerton Health S$180.00
S$180.00
S$233.50
S$229.00
Raffles Medical S$138.00
S$138.00
S$177.99
S$178.00

For OCBC and DBS customers, the S$128 rate at all 34 of Healthway Medical’s clinics is a great deal, only S$3 more than the cheapest option we found across the city (at a single location).

Faster results turnaround

If you are travelling at very short notice (e.g. the same day) to a country requiring a pre-departure PCR test, some providers are able to offer quick turnarounds with results available in as little as 6 hours.

Be warned – it’s not cheap – but if you’re in this situation you are probably flying out for urgent reasons and won’t have a lot of choice in the matter.

Cost of COVID-19 pre-departure PCR tests
Rapid turnaround

Clinic Locations Price (inc. GST)
PCR Only
MyDoctor@Canberra 1 S$280.00
(6-8 hours)
Swab Station SG 3 S$300.00
(6-8 hours)
Kingsway Medical 1 S$300.00
(6-8 hours)
Fullerton Health 8 S$321.00
(9-10 hours*)
Intemedical 1 S$321.00
(6 hours)
Minmed Clinic 9 S$328.00
(6 hours)
International Medical Clinic 3 S$333.00
(4-6 hours)
Osler Health International 2 S$350.00
(8 hours)

* Must take test at either 9.30am or 10.30am. Results by 7pm.

Cheapest pre-departure ART tests

If you’re travelling to a country that requires you to complete a pre-departure ART test, like the USA, the good news is this is a lot cheaper than the PCR version.

Results are available within 30 minutes, so there are also no concerns when making short-term travel plans.

Note that self-administered ART tests are not valid for travel purposes. You must do these at an accredited clinic and obtain a certificate to use them as evidence of your COVID-19 status for entering a country.

Cost of COVID-19 pre-departure ART tests

Clinic Locations Price (inc. GST)
Intemedical 1 S$26.50
Parkway Shenton
Shenton Medical
Shenton Wellness
26 S$28.00
SATA CommHealth 6 S$28.00
Swab Station SG 3 S$28.00
AcuMed Medical 12 S$29.96
DA Clinic 16 S$30.00
Minmed Clinic 9 S$30.00
Raffles Medical 36 S$30.00
Faith Medical Group 8 S$35.00
My Family Clinic 16 S$35.00
OneCare Clinic 15 S$37.45
Healthway Medical 34 S$40.00
Kingsway Medical 1 S$42.00
HeartlandHealth 11 S$42.80
True Medical 2 S$45.00
Pinnacle Family Clinic 6 S$48.15
Prohealth Medical 9 S$53.50
Fullerton Health 8 S$53.50
Central 24-HR Clinic 9 S$60.00
Osler Health International 2 S$60.00
International Medical Clinic 3 S$75.00

You certainly shouldn’t be spending more than S$40 for an ART test in Singapore, and there are many clinics offering the service at S$30 or less, including all Raffles Medical and Parkway Shenton locations.

Do note that many clinics in Singapore offering ART tests are more geared up for producing certificated for pre-event testing, rather than for international travel, but provided they can produce a results certificate you won’t have any issues.

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Many clinics will also tell you that an ART is not sufficient for pre-departure testing, and that you must have a PCR test, but as we know that’s not the case for many countries, like the USA and Italy. Don’t be talked into paying for an expensive test that you don’t need.

Home testing

If you’re pressed for time, you can enjoy the ultimate convenience with a home PCR test.

There was previously only a single option (Homage), charging a steep rate for home testing, but now at least seven providers across the city will come to you and collect the swab sample for analysis, allowing you to get on with your day almost interruption-free, especially useful if you’re working from home.

All the providers we checked will swab up to four people at the same address if required, and the per-person cost usually starts to drop the more tests you require, for example if you’re travelling as a couple or a family.

Home PCR testing costs

Provider: Cost (per pax) for:
1 pax 2 pax 3 pax 4 pax
pdtswab.sg S$138 S$138 S$138 S$138
Minmed S$178 S$153 S$145 S$141
DA Clinic S$190 S$190 S$190 S$190
BCH-ART S$188 S$158 S$148 S$143
Speedoc S$198 S$163 S$151 S$146
Jaga-Me S$209 S$155 S$137 S$128
Homage S$250 S$198 S$180 S$171

Testing window (PCR)

For travel to most countries requiring a negative pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test to be presented at check-in, the testing sample must be taken within 72 hours of your scheduled flight departure time.

Pro Tip: With rules regularly changing, be sure to check with your airline or consult government-published requirements to determine whether you’ll need a pre-departure COVID-19 test, and what the time limits are.

Some countries impose a shorter 48-hour window for pre-departure testing, while others require the 72-hour window to apply prior to the departure of the final flight on your itinerary (e.g. from the transit point), rather than 72 hours before the first flight.

The Safe Travel website recommends scheduling your appointment no later than 38 hours before flight departure time.

Travellers who present at the clinic less than 38 hours to the flight may not be able receive the result in time for the flight.

Singapore ICA

For example, if you’re taking the Singapore Airlines flight to Hong Kong at 8.40am (SQ882) on Wednesday 8th September, you should take your pre-departure COVID-19 test:

  • Earliest: 8.40am on Sunday 5th September
  • Latest: 6.40pm on Monday 6th September

This will ensure your results are available by 5.40am on Wednesday 8th September (3 hours before flight departure), though generally you should receive them by the evening of Tuesday 7th September in most cases.

Travellers have around a 34-hour window to take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test for travel to most destinations. (Photo: Shutterstock)

If you’re the kind of person who worries about not having everything in place for your trip and you hate leaving things to the last minute, we’d recommend booking your pre-departure test no later than around 48 hours before your flight departure time.

Ideally that would be on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning in the above example (i.e. don’t leave it till Monday afternoon if you can avoid it).

You must have your test result notarised

Since 10th March 2021, all clinics offering pre-departure PCR tests must now offer digital results certificates, to reduce fraud and speed up the departure process.

ART test results can also be notarised.

You are then required to digitally authenticate and endorse the digital test certificate via the government’s Notarise website before travel.

You’ll then receive a QR code by email within 15 minutes of uploading your certificate. The QR code will then be used by the authorities to verify the authenticity of your pre-departure test when you travel.

The easiest way to present the QR code will be via your mobile device, though you can also print and carry a hardcopy version if you prefer.

A notarised pre-departure test certificate

If you have presented your NRIC at the clinic when having your pre-departure test, the Notarise QR code will be automatically uploaded onto your SingPass app.

Pro Tip: We’d still recommend having a printed copy of your pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test results with you on your journey, since acceptable formats will differ in some countries.

The Notarise system will also be used to provide certified vaccination certificates for travel in future.

What you’ll need to bring

You’ll need your identity card or passport when attending your COVID-19 test appointment, plus a valid payment method (remember some clinics accept cash / NETS only).

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Some clinics also require your flight details if you are having a pre-departure test, even to make an appointment, as they want to ensure the test timing will fall within the applicable pre-departure validity window for your destination country.

They may also ask you to bring your flight details along to the appointment itself.

Some airlines require a test

Even if your destination country doesn’t require a pre-departure COVID-19 test, some airlines require it.

Etihad is one carrier imposing a blanket “no test, no travel” policy, requiring all its passengers to provide a negative pre-departure PCR test conducted within 72 hours of their departure flight, regardless of destination or vaccination status.

If your final destination is Abu Dhabi, you’ll need to take the test within 48 hours of departure.

All Etihad passengers must produce a negative COVID-19 test result in order to travel, regardless of their routing. (Photo: Etihad Airways)

Emirates, on the other hand, does not currently require a pre-departure PCR test if you are originating in Singapore and merely transiting through Dubai, assuming your final destination country does not require a pre-departure test either.

What about overseas tests?

If you’re looking at where to obtain a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test prior to travel from overseas to Singapore or another country, Singapore Airlines is maintaining a helpful list of available pre-departure test facilities in its primary overseas markets.

(Image: Singapore Airlines)

If you can’t find details you need for your departure country, other airlines are maintaining similar lists on their respective websites. For example, Emirates has this extensive list of recommended pre-departure test locations for those wishing to enter Dubai.



 


 

Summary

With overseas travel opening up, there is still a requirement for pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or ART tests before we depart Singapore when heading to some countries. Generally, when it’s needed, you’ll need to lock in a test in 2-3 days before departure.

It’s definitely worth shopping around, since we found that the most expensive PCR tests (S$200) now come in 60% more costly than the cheapest (S$125).

For ART tests, there’s a good range of options at the S$30 mark.

Where PCR testing is required (e.g. Canada), a family of four is looking at up to S$300 in savings by locking in one of the better-value clinics prior to their trip compared to the more expensive ones, making even an couple of Grab rides across town to a more distant testing location almost certainly worthwhile!

Even some airlines are requiring a negative pre-departure test, regardless of your origin / destination requirements, so be careful not to unduly add this cost to your trip if it’s not necessary.

One thing we can’t complain about in Singapore is the number of options, with over 600 facilities island-wide now offering these services, many supporting walk-in, 24-hour testing and even urgent 6-hour results turnaround.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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22 comments

  1. For entry to Canada, travellers must complete the ArriveCan procedure either on the web or using the app. Part of it is that travellers must comply with a quarantine plan in case of catching covid in Canada. An arrival code will be generated by the app or website for checking by arrival immigration. There will be frequent reminder while in Canada that travellers are still subject to random check while in Canada

  2. If you have travel insurance specifically for USA provided by American insurer, you may be able to use it for departure pcr test before flying out of USA. Free of charge.

  3. Excellent post! I’m travelling to Iceland next week and they need a negative ART test for entry and in your post you mentioned about “Do note that many clinics in Singapore offering ART tests are more geared up for producing certificated for pre-event testing, rather than for international travel, but provided they can produce a results certificate you won’t have any issues.”

    My question is what constitutes as a proper certificate? I’m asking because I walk-in/call few places today like Q&M Medical (Serangoon), Parkway Shenton(Buangkok) regarding the ART tests, but it seems to me they are unfamiliar with ART tests being used for travel, they keep tell me “Our test is only valid for 24 hours and is for pre-event purposes, we can’t notarise the result and can’t issue a fit for travel certificate unless its PCR test, but we can give you a printed slip of the test results.” So now I’m not sure what kind of results should I be getting upon entry at Iceland, does it have to be notarised? (I also google about notarising ART, I can’t seem to find any. All the notarisation results seem to point to PCR tests only, are there no such thing as notarised ART results?). It would be great if you have some input on this matter.

    Thanks!!

    1. Yes, I called up SATA clinic to book an appointment for pre-departure ART. The lady replied me (in a super rude way!) that ART is only for pre-event. Insisted that I need to do a PCR test even after I explained to her that the country I’m travelling to accepts ART.

      1. Ya, I suggest you go to Raffles Medical Centre. They really know what they’re doing. They will request for passport and flight itinerary as well so it can be input into the ART certificate as well.

  4. Thanks Andrew! Couldn’t find the information about the exemption for the SQ flight to Barcelona via Milano anywhere else. Very informative, great job!

  5. Will travel from USA to Singapore next year and figuring out the test costs/locations. USA accepts ART tests but but all the SG labs linked in the post say that the results are valid for 24 hours and for pre-event testing. Not sure if this is just a lag in updating their respective websites or an intentional ploy to push travelers to go for the more expensive PCR test.

    If anyone knows of a travel-ready ART location, please post here. Thanks!

    1. Raffles Medical is clued up about providing pre-departure ART with the appropriate travel certificate, based on reader reports. Cost is S$30.

      1. Thanks for the quick reply . I checked raffles website and it says “pre event testing” under ART. Probably most websites haven’t updated yet because of such a fluid situation when it comes to rules and restrictions around international travel right now.

      2. I know someone who got a PDT ART with certificate to travel to Italy from Raffles Medical at Changi T3 before heading upstairs to check in.

        If it’s possible there, it should be possible at all their clinics.

      3. What is this “certificate to travel” – something specific to Italy only? USA only requires neg ART test (since Nov 8) but I am hopeful there will be more information and awareness in the next few weeks because Singapore is also now accepting ART (as PDT) for entry into the country. The “results valid for 24 hours” thing is the weird bit – if it’s the same ART process for PET and PDT then why restrict the validity to 24 hours only.

      4. I can confirm that you can just use the PDT ART from Raffles Medical Centre. They even request you to bring your passport and flight itinerary for verification. The ART is like for PET but they will issue you a piece of paper that states your passport number, name, date of birth, result, when sample is taken and etc. I used it to present to the officer in Iceland. At the same time, you will get a 24 hours PET QR link as well (but you can just ignore this). Also, this certificate doesn’t need/can be notarised but it works! On the certificate it will have one line stating the expiry date, which is 24 hours validity. However, you can ignore that as foreign immigration officers don’t really care as in the certificate they also have the date time when sample is taken. As long as you fall within the 48/72 hours rules requested by the country you are fine.

  6. OK that’s great confirmation, Andrew. I am headed Italy too on Sunday but via Zurich instead of CPH. Booked the ART test at Zurich airport which is cheaper than the PCR test in SG, ready in 20 minutes at Zurich airport in case can’t get cheaper ART here. (Flight to Zurich requires Vacc cert only, no PDT needed). for everyone info, the ART test at Rome airport cost only Eur 20, for those flying back on the VTL – just be at the airport earlier, and pre book the ART

  7. certificate to travel is just the same as the notarised pcr test result, called a “certificate”…the 24 hours is just local Singapore usage for PET…if international travels can accept it for a longer period of time – within EU valid for 48 hours …..don’t see why SG should limit it to 24 hours only…illogical…just to generate revenue may be…

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