Hardly days (or a few hours) seem to go by lately without another of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries imposing additional entry restrictions due to the Omicron variant. This time its Switzerland, becoming the 17th VTL country to impose a pre-departure requirement for travellers.
In this case it’s one of the more significant conditions – a PCR test within 72 hours of departure in order to enter the country (Antigen / ART not accepted).
Additionally, travellers must be fully vaccinated and will also be obliged to undergo a post-arrival test on Day 4 to Day 7.
In order to continue to prevent the new Omicron variant from entering the country as far as possible, a stricter testing regime will now apply for all arrivals into Switzerland. This testing requirement also applies to those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from the disease. In addition to taking a PCR test before travelling, a second test (PCR test or rapid antigen test) must be carried out between the fourth and seventh day after arrival. This test ensures that infected persons who have contracted the virus shortly before or during travel are detected.
Test costs must be borne by the traveller.Federal Office of Public Health
The announcement was part of a wider tightening of restrictions in Switzerland by its Federal Council in an effort to ease pressure on the country’s hospitals, due to the spread of the Delta variant, but also in light of Omicron concerns.
Switzerland new entry requirements
With effect from 4th December 2021, all travellers:
- Must be fully vaccinated with one of these vaccines.
- Must present a completed entry form.
- Must be able to show the negative result of a PCR test performed no more than 72 hours prior to departure (see the cheapest options in Singapore here). If you cannot show such a test, you will not be allowed to board the aircraft.
- Rapid Anitgen tests are not accepted.
- Children aged 15 or younger are exempt from the pre-departure test requirement.
- Transit passengers who are flying to Switzerland then on to a third country (international onward flight) on the same day without leaving the airport are exempt from the pre-departure test, but must still complete the entry form.
Additionally, if your stay in Switzerland is more than four days:
- You must take another PCR test or rapid antigen test (ART) between the 4th and 7th day after entry.
- The test result and the number of the entry form or a copy of the contact card must be notified to the cantonal authority (list available here).
- Children aged 15 or younger are exempt from the post-arrival test requirement.
Since 4th December 2021, there are currently no quarantine requirements for those entering Switzerland.
Testing costs in Singapore
If you require a pre-departure PCR test in Singapore before embarking on a trip with Switzerland, here’s our latest rundown of the cheapest locations to get a test suitable for travel.
Remember, ART tests are not valid for travel to Switzerland at the time of writing – it must be a PCR test.
Based on our recent analysis, pre-departure test costs in Singapore are around:
- PCR: S$107 (cheapest) – S$149 (average)
- Home PCR: S$138 (cheapest) – S$193 (average)
Rapid turnaround tests (6-8 hours) cost from S$280 – S$300 each, which may be required by some travellers due to the short-term nature of this change (new requirements have already taken effect).
Other VTL countries requiring pre-departure testing
Switzerland 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 before travelling to selected countries
based on fully vaccinated travellers departing from Singapore by air
|Country||Test type||Test timing||Exemptions|
||48h before departure||—|
|Japan||PCR||72h before departure
||Age 5 or below|
|Myanmar||PCR||72h before arrival||Age 5 or below|
|Qatar||PCR||48h before departure
||Age 3 or below
Vaccinated Qataris and residents
|PCR 2 days before departure
ART 1 day before departure
|Age 5 or below|
|Taiwan||PCR||2 days before departure
VTL flights Zurich – Singapore
Here’s a list of the VTL (and non-VTL) flights from Zurich to Singapore, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore, assuming you are also returning from Switzerland (click to expand):
VTL testing to Singapore has also been beefed up
On your return from Switzerland (or any VTL country), you’ll now face the usual on-arrival PCR test at Changi Airport plus six additional COVID-19 ART tests on Days 2 to 7 after your arrival day (Day 1).
These take the form of either self-declared home ART swabs (Days 2, 4, 5 & 6) or a supervised self-administered ART test at one of over 40 Quick Test Centres (QTCs) / Combined Test Centres (CTCs) on Day 3 and Day 7.
We recently outlined full details for these tests, with the latest regime effective for arrivals from 7th December 2021.
Total testing costs
In addition to the new pre-departure test requirement, there are now ten COVID-19 tests on a roundtrip from Singapore to Switzerland.
Here’s how the approximate total testing costs for the journey now look.
|Singapore pre-departure (PCR)*||S$107 – S$200|
|Switzerland Day 4-7 (ART)||~S$70|
|Switzerland pre-departure (ART)*||~S$70|
|Singapore arrival (PCR)||S$125|
|Total||S$430 – S$523|
* Prices vary between providers and locations.
With relatively high testing costs in Switzerland, even for ART tests, you’re now looking at around S$430 to S$520 per traveller in addition to flight and hotel expenses, for a trip like this.
Switzerland becomes the 17th country on Singapore’s VTL list requiring pre-departure testing for those travelling from Singapore, even if you’re fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
There’s also an additional ART or PCR test between the 4th and 7th day after arrival, for those staying more than four days in the country, which doesn’t come cheap in Switzerland at around S$70 (ART) per person.
VTL test requirements seem to be growing by the day, both overseas and back in Singapore on your return, with a Switzerland trip now coming in at S$430+ in testing costs alone per traveller.
(Cover Photo: Alin Andersen)