Travel VTL

VTL travel with unvaccinated children – beware of extra tests and quarantine

Singapore says you can travel on the VTL with unvaccinated children aged 12 or under.

Here's what the VTL countries say!

In mid-October the Singapore Government announced welcome news for parents, confirming that unvaccinated children aged 12 or under would be eligible to take flight on the newly expanded Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) to a range of countries, for a much needed overseas family holiday.

The new policy means that any child aged 12 or below in the current calendar year, which is those born on or after 1st January 2009 for 2021 arrivals in Singapore and those born on or after 1st January 2010 for 2022 arrivals in Singapore, are exempt from the requirement to be fully vaccinated, provided they are travelling with fully vaccinated adults.

Vaccination in Singapore

In Singapore, your child must have crossed their 12th birthday to book their first vaccination dose appointment.

That means there will be a minimum five-week period between their 12th birthday and achieving fully vaccinated status in the eyes of Singapore and most countries.

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The Singapore Government therefore decided to be quite helpful when opening the VTL scheme to unvaccinated children, by allowing unvaccinated 12 year olds (who can actually be vaccinated) as well as unvaccinated 11 year olds and younger (who can’t) to travel quarantine-free with their parents.

Effectively, the government is giving parents a year to get their 12 year olds jabbed before saying – ok now they are 13 they will have to be fully vaccinated to travel quarantine-free.

Singapore residents can be vaccinated for COVID-19 from their 12th birthday. (Photo: Raffles Medical)

If you child was born on 2nd January 2010, for example, and will therefore hit their 12th birthday on 1st January 2022, but you have a VTL trip planned for 5th-15th January 2022, it would simply be impossible for you to travel with them, without this dispensation.

While that’s very kind of Singapore, many VTL countries don’t see it that way, and have additional requirements for unvaccinated 12 year olds, including pre-departure testing for four countries that don’t require it for fully vaccinated travellers or for under-12s.

In three countries, some form of quarantine or self-isolation is required on arrival.

Fully vaccinated definition

Here’s how the VTL countries consider arriving passengers to be “fully vaccinated”, based on the two-dose Pfizer and Moderna vaccines being administered in Singapore:

  • Australia and France: 7 days after the second dose
  • Switzerland: Immediately after the second dose
  • Singapore and all other VTL countries: 14 days after the second dose

For example, if you just got your second dose 8 days ago in Singapore, you can travel to France today under the fully vaccinated rules (no PDT), spend a week there, then fly back to Singapore on the VTL. France deems you fully vaccinated, and by the time you fly home (+15 days from second dose), so does Singapore.

What’s the impact?

If you’re travelling on the VTL with unvaccinated children aged 12 or below, there are some testing requirements and other restrictions, sometimes including a quarantine period, you should know about for trips to:

  • Australia
  • Canada
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • USA

Here’s our summary of what you need to be aware of.



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Countries with no PDT for most VTL travellers

Here’s a breakdown of the additional pre-departure tests (PDT) some unvaccinated children will require before travelling to a VTL country that currently requires no PDT for fully vaccinated travellers.

Age ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ
Netherlands

๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ
Spain
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท
France
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
Germany
0 – 11 No PDT No PDT

5 days quarantine

12
Unvaxxed
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR or ART)

5 days quarantine

12+
Vaxxed
No PDT

Be careful with these ones – just because you don’t need a PDT doesn’t mean your unvaccinated child won’t!

Don’t get caught out at the check-in desk. Unvaccinated 12 year olds need a PDT when travelling to France, Spain, Germany and the Netherlands – even though you don’t!

Germany

Germany recently added Singapore to its list of “high-risk” countries, which means those with a 10-day travel history including Singapore now need to complete a digital registration prior to travelling there, and must be fully vaccinated to avoid arrival quarantine.

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Unvaccinated children will have to undergo a 5 day self-isolation on arrival. This includes unvaccinated 12 year olds, who will also require a pre-departure PCR or ART test in the form of:

  • A PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to arrival; or
  • An ART test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to arrival.

Note that it is your arrival time in Germany that is counted for the test validity, not your flight’s departure time.

For example if you’re planning to get a PCR test for your unvaccinated 12 year old and you’re flying to Frankfurt on SQ26, which lands at 6.45am on Thursday, the test must be conduced no earlier than 6.45am Germany time on Monday, which is 1.45pm on Monday in Singapore.

See here for details.

France, Spain and the Netherlands

Unvaccinated 12 year olds travelling to France, Spain or the Netherlands will require a pre-departure PCR or ART test. This needs to be in the form of:

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท  France A PCR  test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to departure.
An ART test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to departure.[1]
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ  Spain A PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to arrival; or
An ART test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to arrival.[2]
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ  Netherlands A PCR test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to departure; or
An ART test conducted no more than 24 hours prior to departure.[3]

Again, do note that it’s your arrival time in Spain that is counted for the test validity, not your flight’s departure time like in France and the Netherlands.

If you’re taking a 12 year old who isn’t fully vaccinated to the Netherlands and you want to get them a pre-departure ART test, you’ll have to do it within 24 hours of your flight. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Countries already requiring PDT for VTL travellers

Four VTL countries already require a pre-departure test even for fully vaccinated adults. Here’s how their rules then apply when you’re also travelling with unvaccinated children.

Age ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น
Italy
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ
Canada
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ
USA
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ
Australia
0 – 1 No PDT No PDT No PDT No PDT
2 – 4 PDT
(PCR or ART)
5 PDT
(PCR)
+
Post-arrival testing
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)
6 – 11 PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)
+
Post-arrival testing
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)

12
Unvaxxed
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)

14 days quarantine
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)

7 days quarantine

12+
Vaxxed
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)
PDT
(PCR or ART)
PDT
(PCR)

Italy

Unvaccinated people aged under 18 entering Italy with ‘List D’ travel history (Singapore) accompanied by a fully vaccinated adult are exempt from the country’s five-day quarantine, but they must still do a PDT if they are aged 6 or older. This needs to be in the form of:

  • A PCR or ART test conducted no more than 72 hours prior to arrival.

Note that it is your arrival time in Italy that is counted for the test validity, not your flight’s departure time.

For example if you’re planning to get a PCR test and you’re flying to Milan on SQ378, which lands at 6.10am on Thursday, the test must be conduced no earlier than 6.10am Italy time on Monday, which is 1.10pm on Monday in Singapore.

See here for details.

Canada

The big stumbling block is that unvaccinated 12 year olds are subject to 14 days quarantine when they enter Canada, even with a negative pre-departure PCR test and even when travelling with fully vaccinated adults. See here for details.

Don’t go getting your unvaccinated 12 year old excited about a trip to Canada. It’s not realistic. (Photo: Shutterstock)

That makes a leisure trip with an unvaccinated 12 year old wholly unrealistic for most families.

Those aged 5 or over travelling to Canada (unvaccinated aged 5-11 or fully vaccinated aged 12+) must have a pre-departure PCR test conducted within 72 hours before the departure time of their last direct flight to Canada.

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Unvaccinated children aged 5-11 will also have to conduct an arrival test and a Day 8 test. They are also restricted from crowded settings (e.g. amusement parks, sporting events) and cannot travel on public transport for the first 14 days.

As an adult, you may also be selected for mandatory randomised arrival testing in Canada, even though you are fully vaccinated and took a pre-departure PCR test. You do not need to isolate while awaiting the result, and the test is free.

USA

All travellers flying to the USA from Singapore must complete a pre-departure PCR or ART test, regardless of their vaccination status.

If you’re travelling with children, do note that those aged 2 or older will still require a PDT. This needs to be in the form of:

  • A PCR or ART test conducted within a 3-day window of your flight’s departure date.

For example, if you’re flying from Singapore to Los Angeles on a Thursday at 7.55pm on SQ38, your test can be taken anytime from Monday at 00:00 onwards.

See here for details.

Australia

Australia is joining the VTL on 8th November 2021, however only fully vaccinated Australian citizens and residents can enter the country in the initial stage, with international visitors including Singapore residents expected to be eligible in late November or early December, to the initial three states participating.

If you’re an Australian returning to the ACT, New South Wales or Victoria with a child aged 12 to 17 years old who isnโ€™t fully vaccinated, they must:

  • undertake a PCR test within 24 hours of arriving; and
  • quarantine at home for 7 days.

They must take a second PCR test on day 5 of their isolation period.

Unvaccinated 12 year olds are again the stumbling block here. With the rules unlikely to change by the time Australia opens up to international tourists, you may need to wait until your 12 year old is fully vaccinated to travel there as a family quarantine-free.

Australia’s pre-departure PCR test requirement applies to all passengers aged 5 and above. It must be taken within 72 hours of your first international flight. See here for details.

What about the other VTL countries?

For the most part, there’s not much to worry about when travelling to the other VTL countries with unvaccinated children

Denmark

There are no additional testing requirements for unvaccinated children aged 12 or below when travelling on the VTL to and from Denmark.

Unvaccinated people entering Denmark must complete an on-arrival test, but children under 16 are exempt from this requirement, so there should be no impact for Singapore families on a VTL trip.

Switzerland

Switzerland joins the VTL on 8th November 2021.

Unvaccinated children and adolescents under the age of 18 arriving from Singapore are allowed to enter Switzerland, provided they are accompanied by fully vaccinated adults.

Pre-departure testing is required for unvaccinated children aged 16 or over, but this would not affect Singapore families using the VTL since they need to be fully vaccinated to get home quarantine-free anyway.

What Switzerland says

Switzerland does make a slightly strange statement here (our emphasis):

“Children under 18 years who cannot be vaccinated because of their age may enter with their vaccinated companions (parents, siblings, grandparents or other caretakers).”

While we think it’s unlikely – in theory Switzerland could say that a 12 year old can be vaccinated in Singapore, and so is not exempt from the requirement to be fully vaccinated.

The semantics are probably unintentional, but to be on the safe side we’d recommend only travelling to Switzerland with your 12 year old once they are fully vaccinated (immediately on receipt of the second dose, in this case).

United Kingdom

If you’re travelling to the UK with unvaccinated children, entry is not affected since those under 18 years of age are not required to be fully vaccinated when resident in “a country with an approved proof of vaccination” (