Since pre-departure PCR testing became a requirement for overseas travel to a wide range of countries last year, one happy piece of news is that costs have dropped significantly. While it was common a year ago to be looking at S$200 for a test, a wide range of clinics now offers the service for less than S$140.
On top of that, many countries like Italy and the USA now accept a cheaper pre-departure (clinic) ART test, available in Singapore for around S$30, plus there’s no testing required when travelling to some countries if you’re fully vaccinated, like Germany and France.
There are still a number of countries not accepting Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) for those entering from overseas, including nine out of Singapore’s 21 Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries due to be part of the scheme by early December.
For these, you’ll need a PCR test instead, as shown in the following table.
VTL countries requiring pre-departure PCR test
|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|
|🇫🇯 Fiji||PCR||3 days before departure||Age 12 or below|
|🇮🇳 India||PCR||72h before departure||Age 4 or below|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||PCR||72h before departure||—|
|🇲🇾 Malaysia||PCR||2 days before departure||—|
|🇲🇻 Maldives||PCR||96h before departure||Age below 1|
|🇶🇦 Qatar||PCR||72h before arrival||—|
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||PCR||72h before departure||Age 7 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||—|
|🇦🇪 UAE||PCR||72h before departure||Age 11 or below|
As you can see there are countries many of us are planning to travel to and from quarantine-free under the VTL programme, which still require a pre-departure PCR test before leaving Singapore, including Australia, Malaysia and India.
Home PCR testing
A new industry of sorts has now cropped up within in the PCR testing sphere – home testing – where instead of you trekking to the clinic… the clinic comes to you!
This isn’t like the self-test ART kits you can use at home, which obviously can’t be used for travel purposes, but rather the qualified nurse will come to your place of residence or hotel to conduct a PCR swab, which is then sent to the lab for analysis as normal.
There was previously only a single provider (Homage) charging a steep rate for this option, but now at least seven providers across the city will travel 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.
Home PCR options
All the providers we checked below 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|
The cheapest option we found was with pdtswab.sg, providing a PCR test at your home for S$138 per person.Pro Tip: Book your home swab by Sunday 28th November 2021 via pdtswab.sg/blackfriday and enter promo code “blackfriday10” for a home-based PCR swab at S$128.
However, once you have three or four people in your household needing a test at the same time it becomes cheaper to use Jaga-Me, whose initial high cost for a home visit soon starts to fall due to their excellent S$95+GST rate (S$101.65) for each additional test.
That means if four of you require a pre-departure PCR test, the total cost of S$513.60 means you’re getting each test for S$128.40. That’s comparable to some of the cheaper in-clinic costs, and you haven’t even had to leave home!
If you can secure a home appointment with some of these providers, you’re actually no longer spending significantly more than you would heading out to a clinic for a pre-departure PCR test, with all the inconvenience that entails.
Here’s our latest analysis of the cheapest ‘top picks’ across the city, at sub-S$130 rates.
Cost of COVID-19 pre-departure PCR tests
|Clinic||Locations||Price (inc. GST)|
|PCR Only||PCR + Serology
|Swab Station SG||3||S$128.00||S$158.00|
You can find further details and a full up-to-date analysis at our dedicated article on clinic pre-departure PCR and ART tests for travellers.
Getting a pre-departure PCR test in the comfort of your own home in Singapore was a luxury few could afford when the option was first offered by a single provider at an eye-watering S$250, but thankfully costs have reduced substantially since then.
At least seven providers across the city now offer this service, from as little as S$128-S$138 per person, depending on your group size.
While some S$107 clinic-based PCR tests exist, once you start to look at more readily available options close to your home or place of work it’s soon apparent you’ll pay about the S$128-S$138 range anyway – so why not go for the convenience of a home visit next time?
This is certainly what we’ll be doing prior to our next trip to a country requiring a pre-departure PCR test!
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)