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Singapore SHN update: Where can we travel without hotel quarantine?

Travel to Category 2 and 3 countries is looking like a more and more enticing VTL alternative - with additional choices, less testing, more flexible home SHN and extra transit flight options announced.

In early October the Singapore Government announced a large expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, allowing two-way quarantine-free travel between a host of countries and Singapore for those fully vaccinated and who test negative for COVID-19, including the UK and the USA.

Travel continues to be restricted to designated VTL flights for the journey to Singapore itself, though unvaccinated children are now eligible and two of the post-arrival PCR tests have been dropped from the original requirements compared to the Germany pilot scheme.

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The VTL isn’t the whole story though, with even more COVID-safe non-VTL countries upgraded to the Category 2 group recently, including Greece and Austria, plus some medium-risk regions joining the Category 3 group next week, including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and the UAE.

Even more improvements

Yesterday the Singapore Government announced a new series of improvements to its border measures effective from 27th October 2021, which make a non-VTL trip to a Category 2 or Category 3 country even more enticing than before.

  • Category 3 arrivals now serve SHN at home by default. Only Category 4 arrivals will complete hotel SHN.
  • Home SHN for Category 2 and Category 3 arrivals now has a harmonised and more relaxed set of restrictions, meaning voluntary hotel SHN should almost never be needed.
  • 14 new countries have been added to the Category 3 list.
  • Testing has been reduced for Category 2, 3 and 4 arrivals, with no more expensive on-arrival test at Changi Airport.
  • Transit flights no longer count towards your travel history, allowing a wider range of potentially cheaper options in both directions.
Changi Airport T3 immigration. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

While the VTL is obviously the best deal going for most travellers, both the Category 2 (non-VTL) and Category 3 options now allow returning residents to avoid hotel SHN in Singapore, meaning those who are able to work from home can consider an much wider range of overseas trips, in addition to the latest quarantine-free options.

Here’s our latest rundown of the changes, plus a list of the new countries and details of the updated process.

Hotel SHN now only applies to Category 4 countries

Good news for those with 14-day travel history to the 63 countries now in Categories 1 to 3 – hotel SHN is a thing of the past from 27th October 2021!

Only those with 14-day travel history including one or more Category 4 countries will now face 10 days of hotel SHN on arrival in Singapore.

Hotel room ‘imprisonment’ for high-risk arrivals was recently reduced from 14 days to 10 days. (Photo: Accor)

The cost for hotel SHN is now S$1,450 for 10 days, plus testing costs of S$125.

This will hopefully continue to reduce pressure on SHN hotel capacity in Singapore, since many residents returning will simply opt to spend 14 days in the freedom of a VTL country or a Category 2/3 country, to avoid hotel quarantine on arrival.

If you are set to be confined to a hotel room for 10 days due to your Category 4 travel history before arriving in Singapore, check out our guide to upgrading to a specific suite in a hotel of your choice for a little more luxury and a lot more certainty, now starting at S$3,600.

Home SHN for most

Category 1 countries will retain their zero SHN status, while the default for Category 2 and Category 3 arrivals is now home SHN for 7 or 10 days respectively.

Home SHN is now the default for those arriving from Category 2 and 3 countries

Those returning from Category 3 countries will therefore no longer need to apply to serve their SHN at home, and will not need to be fully vaccinated to do so.

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

The requirements for serving your SHN at home have also been relaxed, and are now common for Category 2 and Category 3 travellers.

Travellers may serve SHN at their residence, with household members not sharing the same travel history, regardless of vaccination status. However, if travellers are residing with unvaccinated vulnerable household members, they are strongly encouraged to serve their SHN in isolation in a room and minimise contact with their vulnerable household members.

If sharing a place of residence with others, travellers should designate a specific bathroom to be used by themselves, and other household members to use another bathroom. If a single bathroom has to be shared, ensure that everyone practises good hygiene habits and disinfects the bathroom after each use.

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That means you can share your home with other family members and domestic helpers, who are free to go out and continue their daily lives as normal, while you remain in the property.

A separate bathroom for travellers undergoing SHN is preferable, but not mandatory.

This makes arrival from Category 2 or 3 countries a far less arduous prospect for those who can work from home.

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With 59 countries now falling into these two categories, there should also now be plenty of options for those in Category 4 countries to temporarily relocate to a Category 2/3 country for 14 days, then return without the expense of hotel SHN.

Testing has been reduced

Another positive step for those returning from countries via the Category 2 to 4 requirements is that the S$160 on-arrival test at Changi Airport has been removed.

Only a pre-departure PCR test (within 48 hours) and an SHN exit PCR test on Day 7 (Category 2) or Day 10 (Category 3/4) is now required. The SHN exist PCR test costs S$125.

No more on-arrival swab testing for those returning from Category 2, 3 and 4 countries. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

That also sees an end to the two self-administered ART tests for Category 3 and 4 arrivals who were serving SHN in a hotel, on Day 3 and Day 7.

There are no changes to the testing regime for travellers arriving on the VTL or via the Category 1 lane, who will continue to undergo an on-arrival test.

Transits no longer count towards your travel history

For arrivals in Singapore from 27th October 2021, you’ll no longer need to declare any transit points as countries visited in your 14-day travel history.

This will allow a lot more flexibility for those who are returning to Singapore under the Category 2 or Category 3 lanes.

Transiting in Doha with Qatar Airways will no longer leave a mark on your travel history when returning to Singapore via the Category 2 or Category 3 lanes. (Photo: Hamad International Airport)

For example, if you travel on an indirect flight from a Category 2 country (e.g. France) via a Category 3 country (e.g. Qatar) to Singapore, you will only be obliged follow the Category 2 requirements, assuming you remained within Category 1/2 countries and/or Singapore in the 14 days prior to departure.

For arrivals before 27th October, you would have to follow the Category 3 requirements in this example, because the transit in Qatar still needs to be declared on your travel history.

Travellers will be able to take flights like Paris – Doha – Singapore and retain 7 day SHN at home privileges with this latest change. (Photo: Qatar Airways)

Note that this unfortunately will not help VTL passengers, who must still have spent the last 14 days in Singapore and/or a VTL country, including any transits, to be eligible to take a VTL designated flight to Singapore.

These travellers are able to take indirect flights to the ‘VTL Zone’ via non-VTL countries, but will still have to spend 14 clear days in VTL countries if they do so, before returning on a VTL flight.

How it works, category by category

Your travel history in the last consecutive 14 days determines your arrival category.

The travel history period can also include Singapore itself.

For example, if you travel from Singapore non-stop to a Category 2 country, spend 10 days there, then return non-stop to Singapore, you can follow the Category 2 arrival requirements (i.e. you don’t need to spend 14+ days overseas).

The highest category in your 14-day travel history determines the arrival requirements.

For example, if you spent 10 days in a Category 3 country followed by 10 days in a Category 2 country, then fly non-stop to Singapore, you will have to follow the Category 3 requirements. As mentioned above, transits are not counted as part of your travel history from 27th October.

Vaccinated Travel Lane

Applicable Countries

🇧🇳 Brunei
🇩🇪 Germany
🇨🇦 Canada
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇫🇷 France
🇮🇹 Italy

🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇰🇷 South Korea
(from 15 Nov)
🇪🇸 Spain
🇬🇧 UK
🇺🇸 USA

Only applicable when your travel history is wholly within only Singapore and/or VTL countries in the last 14 days, and you travel to Singapore on a designated VTL flight.

SHN Requirement

Fully vaccinated


No SHN

You must remain in self-isolation until your negative COVID-19 PCR on-arrival test result is released (typically within 24 hours).

Partially vaccinated or unvaccinated


Not allowed

The VTL can only be used by fully vaccinated travellers, with the exception of children aged 12 or under when travelling with fully vaccinated adults.

Testing Requirements
(travellers aged 3 or above)

  • Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure (PCR)
  • On-arrival test at Changi Airport (PCR, S$160)

Full details of the Vaccinated Travel Lane are available in our guide here.

Category 1

Applicable Countries

🇭🇰 Hong Kong
🇲🇴 Macau

🇨🇳 Mainland China
🇹🇼 Taiwan

SHN Requirement

Regardless of vaccination status


No SHN

You must remain in self-isolation until your negative COVID-19 PCR on-arrival test result is released (typically within 24 hours).

Testing Requirements
(travellers aged 3 or above)

  • On-arrival test at Changi Airport (PCR, S$160)

Category 2

Applicable Countries

🇦🇺 Australia
🇦🇹 Austria
🇧🇭 Bahrain
🇧🇪 Belgium
🇧🇹 Bhutan
🇧🇳 Brunei
🇧🇬 Bulgaria
🇨🇦 Canada
🇭🇷 Croatia
🇨🇾 Cyprus
🇨🇿 Czech Republic
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇫🇯 Fiji
🇫🇮 Finland
🇫🇷 France
🇩🇪 Germany
🇬🇷 Greece
🇮🇸 Iceland
🇮🇪 Ireland

🇮🇹 Italy

🇯🇵 Japan
🇱🇮 Liechtenstein
🇱🇺 Luxembourg
🇲🇹 Malta

🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇳🇿 New Zealand
🇳🇴 Norway
🇵🇱 Poland
🇵🇹 Portugal
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
🇸🇰 Slovakia
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇪🇸 Spain
🇸🇪 Sweden
🇨🇭 Switzerland
🇹🇷 Turkey
🇬🇧 UK
🇺🇸 USA
🇻🇦 Vatican City

SHN Requirement
(unless arriving on the VTL from selected countries)

Regardless of vaccination status


7-days SHN at home or self-sourced hotel / serviced apartment (from this list).

You can occupy your place of residence with other household members who do not share the same travel history as you and/or are not serving SHN with you, regardless of their vaccination status. Ideally, a separate bathroom should be used, but this is not mandatory.

Most Category 2 arrivals therefore won’t need to consider a hotel stay.

Testing Requirements
(travellers aged 3 or above)

  • Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure (PCR)
  • Day 7 test (PCR, S$125)

Category 3

Applicable Countries

Newly upgraded (from Category 4) on 27th October.
Newly downgraded (from Category 2) on 27th October.

🇰🇭 Cambodia
🇪🇬 Egypt
🇪🇪 Estonia
🇭🇺 Hungary
🇮🇩 Indonesia
🇮🇱 Israel

🇱🇻 Latvia
🇱🇹 Lithuania
🇲🇾 Malaysia
🇲🇻 Maldives

🇲🇳 Mongolia
🇶🇦 Qatar
🇷🇼 Rwanda
🇼🇸 Samoa
🇸🇨 Seychelles

🇸🇮 Slovenia
🇿🇦 South Africa
🇹🇴 Tonga
🇦🇪 UAE
🇻🇳 Vietnam

SHN Requirement

Regardless of vaccination status


10-days SHN at home or self-sourced hotel / serviced apartment (from this list).

You can occupy your place of residence with other household members who do not share the same travel history as you and/or are not serving SHN with you, regardless of their vaccination status. Ideally, a separate bathroom should be used, but this is not mandatory.

Most Category 3 arrivals therefore won’t need to consider a hotel stay.

Testing Requirements
(travellers aged 3 or above)

  • Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure (PCR)
  • Day 10 test (PCR, S$125)

Category 4

Applicable Countries

All countries not in Categories 1-3 above are considered to be Category 4.

SHN Requirement

Regardless of vaccination status


10-days SHN in an SDF hotel (allocated on arrival)

Cost:

  • S$1,450 (one adult); or
  • S$1,900 (two adults)

Testing Requirements
(travellers aged 3 or above)

  • Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure (PCR)
  • Day 10 test (PCR, S$125)


 


 

Two-way travel options (quarantine-free)

There are now nine fully quarantine-free two-way travel options for Singapore residents heading overseas, under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme (Brunei still requires arrival quarantine).

From mid-November it will also be possible to travel to and from South Korea via a quarantine-free VTL arrangement, though the rules are set to be a little more onerous for that one.

Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lanes

Already Running 🇧🇳 Brunei
🇩🇪 Germany
🇨🇦 Canada
🇩🇰 Denmark
🇫🇷 France
🇮🇹 Italy
🇳🇱 Netherlands
🇪🇸 Spain
🇬🇧 UK*
🇺🇸 USA
From 15 Nov 🇰🇷 South Korea

* The UK includes England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but not the Republic of Ireland

Full details for the Vaccinated Travel Lanes are available in our guide here.

Two-way travel options (home SHN on return)

For those able to SHN at home for 7 days or 10 days after an overseas trip, for example those who can work remotely, there’s now a bigger list than ever of two-way options with no hotel quarantine at either end of the journey.

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