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Singapore adds post-arrival Day 3 and Day 7 COVID tests for VTL travellers

Travellers arriving in Singapore on the VTL from 3 December will have to undergo a Day 3 and Day 7 post-arrival test, due to continued Omicron variant concerns.

In continued response to the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the Singapore Government is tightening safeguards for those arriving on the quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, by beefing up the testing regime, which will unfortunately mean some added cost and inconvenience for travellers.

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The updated protocols come after Singapore indefinitely suspended the upcoming addition of three Middle East countries to the VTL programme, originally planned for 6th December.

Upcoming VTLs with Thailand, Cambodia, Maldives, Fiji, Sri Lanka and Turkey from mid-December will go ahead as planned for now, despite some initial reports to the contrary.

Once these VTLs are up and running, there will be no additional ones announced for the time being.

Day 3 and Day 7 tests

When the pilot VTL schemes with Brunei and Germany were operating there were two rather annoying post-arrival PCR tests in Singapore on Day 3 and Day 7 (the day you land in Singapore is Day 1).

With no positive results detected in these tests, the government removed them from the requirements in mid-October, when the VTL was expanded to several countries including the USA and the UK.

For arrivals in Singapore from Friday 3rd December 2021, you must attend a supervised self-administered ART test at a Quick Test Centre (QTC) or Combined Testing Centre (CTC) on Day 3 and Day 7.

Children aged 2 and below in the current calendar year are not required to undergo Day 3 and Day 7 ART tests.

“To better detect and contain the Omicron variant as scientists around the world study its characteristics, we are enhancing our testing protocols and procedures for travellers arriving in Singapore after 2 December 2021, 2359 hours (Singapore time).”

“These measures will enable us to minimise importation and allow prompt detection and isolation of Omicron cases.”

Ministry of Health

Here’s a summary of the days on which you’ll need to book and attend your post arrival tests, based on your VTL arrival flight.

VTL post-arrival test schedule

Arrival Day
(Day 1)
Day 3
Test
Day 7
Test
Monday
Wednesday Sunday
Tuesday
Thursday Following
Monday
Wednesday
Friday Following
Tuesday
Thursday
Saturday Following
Wednesday
Friday
Sunday Following
Thursday
Saturday
Following
Monday
Following
Friday
Sunday
Following
Tuesday
Following
Saturday

The test schedule is based on the actual immigration clearance day, so if your flight is delayed and you pass through immigration in Singapore after midnight (i.e. on the next day, compared to your original plan), or has to be rescheduled to operate the following day instead, the Day 3 and Day 7 test schedule also slips by one day.

You must bring your photo ID with you, and take your test by 9.30pm Singapore Time on each nominated day.

Be careful! 9.30pm is the latest closing time for a sole QTC (in Bishan). In reality, depending on the QTC/CTC most convenient for you, you’ll need to be tested before the more typical 5pm closing time.

You do not need to self-isolate after the Day 3 or Day 7 tests. Results are provided by SMS within 1 hour, but you can leave the QTC/CTC immediately after the test itself.

If you are leaving Singapore within a week of arriving on the VTL, you won’t have to undergo both of the post-arrival ART tests.

If your time of departure (scheduled flight, bus or ferry timing) from Singapore is:

  • before 9.30pm on the day of test, you will be exempted from taking your scheduled ART test.
  • on or after 9.30pm on the day of test, you are still required to take their scheduled ART test on that day.
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The good news here is that these supervised ART tests at S$15 each including GST are significantly cheaper than the former Day 3 and Day 7 PCR tests on the original VTL, which cost S$94 each.

You must make payment through cashless modes such as Mastercard, NETS, PayNow and Visa. Cash will not be accepted at the QTCs or CTCs.

FAQs for the new Day 3 and Day 7 tests are available here.

QTC / CTC locations

There are 41 QTC locations and 9 CTC locations available across the city, for a total of 50 options, with various operating hours.

  QTC and CTC locations

The earliest centre opens at 8am and the latest closing time is 9.30pm, but do bear in mind most centres are operating only during a 10am-5pm window, with some weekend closures too.

You must book an appointment before your visit. If you do not have a local mobile phone number, you won’t be able to make an appointment and will instead have to register in-person at the QTC/CTC.

Testing costs

Unfortunately there will now be four separate COVID-19 tests to complete when travelling to Singapore on the VTL, for those touching down from 3rd December 2021, which slightly increases the associated costs.

VTL
Estimated Testing Costs 

Test Cost
Till
2 Dec
From
3 Dec
VTL country pre-departure* ~S$30 ~S$30
Singapore arrival S$125 S$125
Day 3 S$15
Day 7 S$15
Total S$155 S$185

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

These costs are in addition to those that may apply when travelling to selected VTL countries, with the latest testing requirements for outbound travel from Singapore shown below.

Testing before travelling to selected VTL countries

VTL country Test type Test timing Exemptions
Australia PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
Brunei PCR 48h before departure
or
72h before departure (Singapore RGL)
Cambodia PCR 72h before arrival
Canada PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
Denmark PCR
or
ART
PCR 72h before arrival
or
ART 48h before arrival
Age 14 or below
or
Danish Residents
Fiji PCR 3 days* before departure Age 11 or below
Finland PCR
or
ART
48h before arrival Age 15 or below
or
Finnish Citizens / PRs
France PCR
or
ART
48h before departure Age 11 or below
India PCR 72h before departure Age 4 or below
Indonesia PCR 72h before departure
Italy PCR
or
ART
PCR 72h before arrival
or
ART 24h 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
or
ART 24h before departure
Age 11 or below
South Korea PCR 48h before departure Age 5 or below
Sri Lanka PCR 72h before departure Age 1 or below
Sweden PCR
or
ART
48h before arrival Age 11 or below
Switzerland PCR
or
ART
PCR 72h before departure
or
ART 24h before departure
Age 15 or below
Thailand PCR 72h before departure Age 5 or below
USA PCR
or
ART
1 day before departure Age 1 or below

* Passengers arriving in Fiji from the UK or USA must have a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 1 day of departure of the first flight or series of flights booked on the same itinerary.

Currently pre-departure ART tests in Singapore are available for around S$30 and PCR tests from S$107, based on our most recent analysis, with good value home testing options also in the mix.

This cost increase isn’t too significant of course, it’s the inconvenience of attending the Day 3 and Day 7 tests that’s likely to be the more off-putting factor, especially for travellers who have returned to work after their trip and will potentially need to have their test on a working day.

Pre-departure test

There are no changes to the pre-departure ART or PCR test requirement for those travelling to Singapore on the VTL. The test must be professionally administered, even if it is an ART test.

Those arriving from Category 1 countries like Hong Kong and Taiwan, however, will be required to take a PDT (ART or PCR) within two days of departure, if arriving on or after 3rd December 2021.

Currently these Category 1 travellers are exempt from pre-departure testing, so from 3rd December 2021 it means all air travellers to Singapore will require pre-departure testing.

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Only PCR test results will be accepted for arrivals from Category 4 countries, which is the same policy currently in force.

On-arrival test

Currently those arriving in Singapore from Category 2, 3 and 4 countries do not need to have an on-arrival PCR test in Singapore.

These travellers instead have an SHN exit test (PCR) on Day 7 or Day 10 respectively.

For arrivals from 3rd December 2021, on-arrival PCR testing at S$125 will apply to all passengers, regardless of travel history.

Is this permanent?

It’s too early to tell, however MOH has stated that “these enhanced measures will apply for four weeks in the first instance, and will be reviewed and extended if necessary”.

Summary

Singapore remains wedded to its list of operating VTL countries for now, with six new ones coming on board in mid-December, but it was somewhat inevitable that the testing regime would be beefed up to try and catch cases both before and after arrival.

Unfortunately this means slightly more cost but most of all more inconvenience when travelling on the quarantine-free scheme.

If you are currently in a VTL country and travelling to Singapore in the next few days, do note that the new requirements come into effect for those arriving on Friday 3rd December 2021 onwards.

(Cover Photo: Raffles Medical)

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6 comments

  1. Do you have a write up on where we can find the clinics for the day 7 PCR tests for non-VTL trips? I presume this test ($94) is different from the pre-departure PCR test from SG which is $107 or more

    1. Sorry I may have caused some confusion – in this article I am referring to the S$94 Day 3 and Day 7 test costs that applied to the original VTL (i.e. with Germany).

      For an end of SHN test (e.g. on Day 7 following arrival from a Category 2 country), the test will be scheduled for you and you will be informed about the arrangements. The test costs S$125 (including GST), which you pay at the point of entry application.

      Further details here for SG citizen Category 2 arrivals (see Stage 4B).

  2. Thanks for the quick article and for clearing up the Thailand confusion!

    Also good spot on the opening hours for the test centres. At my location it’s easier for me to get an ART after work from clinic than go to one of these QTCs – can I do that instead? Tks

  3. Note: VTL travelers should not use this link to book their ART at the CTCs or QTCs. They will be notified via a separate SMS and/or email to book their test appointments. The above “Note” can be found at this link https://www.moh.gov.sg/covid-19/quick-test-centres-(qtcs). Please do not use any links to book the new Day 3 and Day 7 tests for travelers arriving in Singapore after 2 December 2021, 2359 hours (Singapore time) and wait till you are notified via a separate SMS and/or email to book your test appointments. As the requirements can change anytime, I am providing the above for information purposes only.

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