If you’re planning a quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) trip to the Netherlands in the coming weeks there’s a new hoop to jump through before you set off from Singapore, with a negative pre-departure COVID-19 test result now required for fully vaccinated travellers to make it past the check-in desk.
This follows a reclassification of Singapore from the country’s “low risk” to “very high risk” category, effective from 11th November 2021 at 0.01am, following new guidance from the European Union (EU).
The new rule for a mandatory negative test result comes into effect for those arriving in the Netherlands on or after 9.00am on 13th November 2021.
Before you get too worried about the “mandatory quarantine” requirement, this does not apply to fully vaccinated travellers arriving from “very high risk” countries, nor to unvaccinated children aged 11 or below.
The new requirement
All travellers from Singapore to the Netherlands will require:
- 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.
For those taking non-stop services to Amsterdam from Changi, the first flights to be affected are:
- SQ324 departing at 23:55 on Saturday 13th November
- KL840 departing at 23:55 on Saturday 13th November
For both of these flights, you’ll therefore need a negative PCR test result from a swab taken on or after 23:55 on Thursday 11th November, or if you opt for a cheaper ART test, from a swab taken on or after 23:55 on Friday 12th November.
The requirements will also apply to those taking a transit routing to the Netherlands (e.g. SIN-FRA-AMS).
If you have a busy schedule, Raffles Medical at Changi Airport Terminal 3 (Basement 2) is open 24 hours a day and provides 30-minute turnaround ART testing at S$30.
It may therefore be easier to arrive at the airport earlier than planned and have the test done there before proceeding to check-in for your flight.
What about children?
The pre-departure test requirement will not apply to children aged 11 or younger, by date of birth on arrival in the Netherlands.
Other VTL countries requiring pre-departure testing
The Netherlands isn’t the only VTL country requiring a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated Singapore residents.
You’ll also be subject to testing requirements when travelling to the following countries, in addition to VTL testing on your return:
Testing when travelling to selected VTL countries
|🇦🇺 Australia||A pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure time of your first flight to Australia.[a]|
|🇨🇦 Canada||A pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure time of your last direct flight to Canada.[b] Free mandatory arrival testing may also be imposed.[c]|
|🇮🇹 Italy||A pre-departure PCR or ART test taken within 72 hours of arrival in Italy.[d]
Note: Passengers in transit on Singapore – Milan – Barcelona flights are exempt.
|🇮🇳 India||A pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of your flight departure time to India.[e]|
|🇳🇱 Netherlands||A pre-departure PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure; or
A pre-departure ART test taken within 24 hours of departure.[f]
|🇰🇷 S. Korea||A pre-departure PCR test taken within 72 hours of the departure of your non-stop flight from Singapore to Seoul.[e]|
|🇬🇧 UK||A post-arrival PCR or ART test on or before Day 2 (the day you arrive in the UK is Day 0).[g] You must book this test before you travel.
Note: You only need to take the test if you are still in the UK on Day 2.
|🇺🇸 USA||A pre-departure PCR or ART test taken within a 3-day window of your flight’s departure (e.g. for Thursday 20:45 SIN-LAX, test must be taken on Monday 00:00 onwards).[h]|
There are also some additional pre-departure testing requirements to consider if you’re taking unvaccinated children on a VTL trip with you.
Testing costs in Singapore
If you require a pre-departure test in Singapore before embarking on a VTL trip, here’s our latest rundown of the cheapest locations to get a test suitable for travel.
Note in particular that self-administered ART tests are not accepted for travel purposes, so you’ll still need to visit a clinic and obtain a certificate from the health provider when travelling to countries that accept an ART swab, like the Netherlands.
Based on our recent analysis, pre-departure test costs in Singapore are around:
- PCR: S$107 (cheapest) – S$154 (average)
- ART: S$27 (cheapest) – S$37 (average)
VTL flights AMS-SIN
Here’s a list of the VTL (and non-VTL) flights from Amsterdam to Singapore, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore.
1st November 2021 – 26th March 2022
* Next day
- SQ323 services (Mon, Wed, Sun) are not designated VTL flights.
- KL835/837/839 services (Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun) are not designated VTL flights.
More to come?
Yesterday the European Union removed Singapore from its list of countries for which COVID-19 travel restrictions should be lifted by its member states.
That doesn’t necessarily have any immediate impact, because each country’s border restrictions remain a sovereign right of individual nation states.
“The Council recommendation is not a legally binding instrument. The authorities of the member states remain responsible for implementing the content of the recommendation.”European Council
As we’ve already seen, different EU countries have already imposed different requirements on those arriving from Singapore. Italy, for example, maintained its mandatory pre-departure test even while Singapore was on the EU’s ‘green list’.
The Netherlands has obviously responded to the latest update already with this new requirement, but at the time of writing no other EU countries have announced any changes.
There are likely to be some changes to come in the next few days though, so stay tuned if you’re planning VTL travel elsewhere in Europe.
Note that Switzerland and the United Kingdom are VTL countries but are not EU member states. They are unlikely to change their arrival requirements for travellers from Singapore as a result of this EU decision.
VTL testing pre-departure for Singapore is cheaper
Even though VTL travellers heading to the Netherlands will now have the additional expense and hassle of a pre-departure test to contend with, we received good news this week with testing relaxations for your return to Singapore at the end of your trip.
For arrivals from 12th November 2021, your pre-departure test from any VTL country can be an ART test (also called an ‘Antigen’ or ‘Lateral Flow’ test in come countries), or a PCR test.
The test must still be taken within 2 days of the date of your flight departure to Singapore, at an internationally accredited or recognised laboratory, clinic, or medical facility, with a result certificate in English stating all of the following:
- Traveller’s name, and at least one other personal identifier such as the date of birth or passport number corresponding exactly with the information in the traveller’s passport used for entry into Singapore
- A negative COVID-19 test result
- The date and time when the COVID-19 test was taken
- The name of the testing institution conducting the COVID-19 test
For obvious reasons, self-administered ART tests are not acceptable.
ART tests are not only significantly cheaper, the results typically land in your inbox within 30 minutes, not the 24 hours it sometimes takes for a PCR result.
Do note that your on-arrival test at Changi Airport will still be a PCR, whether you are a Singapore resident or a visitor.
The cost for that one is S$160 until 17th November 2021, reducing to S$125 from 18th November 2021.
The EU’s recent decision to remove Singapore from its list of countries from which non-essential travel should be permitted has already caused the Netherlands to reassess its requirements.
For those arriving from 9am on Saturday 13th November 2021, a pre-departure PCR or ART test will need to be presented for each passenger at the check-in desk in Singapore.
This is therefore the second EU country requiring pre-departure resting for travellers from Singapore, with Italy already imposing a similar requirement, but we think this is unlikely to be the last such announcement we hear from EU countries in the coming days.
Luckily quarantine is still not required for fully vaccinated adults and children aged 11 or younger entering the Netherlands, and a cheaper ART test is relatively easy to come by, even at the airport itself on your departure day.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)