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UK adds pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for Singapore travellers

The UK will require a pre-departure test for international arrivals from 7th December, including for fully vaccinated travellers from Singapore, and in addition to a Day 2 arrival test.

The UK has become the latest country on Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) list to tighten its testing requirements for inbound travellers from overseas in the wake of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, with the reintroduction of pre-departure testing for all international travellers, regardless of vaccination status.

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Unfortunately the test will be in addition to the UK’s post arrival ‘Day 2 test’, rather than replacing it, which means there will now be two COVID-19 tests involved when travelling quarantine-free from Singapore to the likes of London and Manchester, and an on-arrival self-isolation period continues to apply.

New UK pre-departure test

If you are arriving in the UK on or after 4am on Tuesday 7th December 2021, you will now require a pre-departure test in order to be able to check in for your flight.

From 4am, Tuesday 7 December all people aged 12 years and over must take a  PCR  or LFD COVID-19 test before they travel to England from abroad.

You must take the test within the 2 days before you travel to England.

This will apply whether you qualify as fully vaccinated or not.

UK Government

The test can be a PCR or LFD (Lateral Flow Device = ART), and must be taken anytime during the two days before departure, by all travellers aged 12 and above.

For example, if you are flying on SQ322 to London at 23:45 on a Wednesday, the test must be taken on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, which is quite flexible given the ready supply and short turnaround time for ART tests in Singapore.

If you are taking a multi-leg journey, for example Singapore – Dubai – London, the test timing applies as the two days before departure of the first leg.

If you’re taking a non-stop flight from Singapore to the UK, the first services to the affected by the new requirements are:

  • BA12 SIN-LHR at 23:15 on 6th December
  • SQ322 SIN-LHR at 23:45 on 6th December

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.

Raffles Medical at Changi T3 provides ART testing. (Photo: Changi Airport)

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.



 


 

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 UK.

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)
  • ART: S$27 (cheapest) – S$37 (average)

Day 2 tests are still in force

Unfortunately this newly reinstated pre-departure test for those arriving in the UK is in addition to the existing (and slightly complicated) “Day 2 test”, a post-arrival PCR test you must pre-book and take any time from arrival (Day 0) to Day 2.

Typically, a Day 2 PCR test costs around £69 (~S$125).

This also requires a self-isolation period, potentially of up to 24 hours even if you take a test at the airport as soon as you land in the UK, while you await the test results.

Here’s the Day 2 test process:

  • Pre-book a Day 2 arrival PCR test
  • Complete the Passenger Locator Form (including your Day 2 test booking reference)
  • Complete Day 2 PCR test on or before Day 2 after arrival (arrival day is Day 0)
  • Self-isolation until negative test result received (home / hotel room)

Children aged 4 and under are exempt from the Day 2 test. Note that this is stricter than the new pre-departure test, which doesn’t need to be taken by children aged 11 and under.

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You can take the Day 2 test any time between arriving in the UK and Day 2, so for many of our readers visiting for a holiday it will be easier to book the test at Heathrow T2 Arrivals / T5 arrivals, or at Manchester T2 Arrivals.

You can find a full list of Day 2 PCR test providers in England via this government portal.

Other VTL countries requiring pre-departure testing

The UK 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
Hong Kong PCR
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
South Korea PCR
or
ART
PCR 2 days before departure
or
ART 1 day before departure
Age 5 or below
Taiwan PCR 2 days before departure
Taiwan citizens
&
residents

VTL flights UK – Singapore

Here’s a list of the VTL (and non-VTL) flights from the UK 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 non-stop from the UK (click to expand):

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ317
A380
LHR
11:25
SIN

07:30*
 bgcolor= SQ319
777-300ER
LHR
20:50
SIN

16:55*
BA15
787-9
LHR
21:25
SIN

17:45*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ51
A350 Long Haul
MAN
11:40
SIN

07:40*

* Next day

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

  Full list of all VTL Flights

VTL testing to Singapore has also been beefed up

On your return from the UK (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 the UK.

Here’s how the approximate total testing costs for the journey now look.

🇬🇧 VTL
Singapore UK
Estimated Testing Costs 

Test Cost
Singapore pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
UK Day 2 (PCR) ~S$125
UK pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
Singapore arrival (PCR) S$125
Day 2 S$7
Day 3 S$15
Day 4 S$7
Day 5 S$7
Day 6 S$7
Day 7 S$15
Total S$368

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

You’re now looking at around S$370 per traveller in addition to flight and hotel expenses for a trip like this, for a whopping 10 COVID-19 tests!



 


 

Summary

You’ll now need to take two COVID-19 tests when travelling from Singapore to the UK, regardless of your vaccination status, if arriving on or after 4am on 7th December 2021.

Luckily the new pre-departure test can be an ART, costing around S$30 in Singapore, and children under 12 are exempt.

(Photo: Heathrow Airport Limited)

Unfortunately, the “Day 2 test” lives on, meaning a post-arrival self-isolation period still applies in the UK, while awaiting the results of a PCR test you can take anytime from just after landing until two days later.

VTL test requirements seem to be growing by the day, both overseas and back in Singapore on your return, with a UK trip now coming in at S$370 in testing costs alone per traveller.

There’s likely to be more similar requirements to come due to the Omicron variant, so stay tuned for the latest updates, including via our Telegram Channel and Instagram page, where the details often break first.

(Cover Photo: Heathrow Airport Limited)

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6 comments

  1. Andrew, Just want to say a huge well done and thanks for your constant updating and being so on top of things! An essential visit for key information laid out so clearly. Very helpful. I have a F saver redemption (yes they exist – very lucky) to Europe this week and then one night before flying on to UK. This announcement has caused a bit of a hassle getting the test in the 2 day window as I’d like to sort before flying not at airport. Can the airport Raffles Medical just be walk-in or needs apt if I get stuck with other options? It’s also a bit unclear which ART test providers are valid pre-departure as it appears not all official (some available for PET but state not pre-departure) ones are. Once again, great work!