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.
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.
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.
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 VTL countries
|VTL country||Test type||Test timing||Exemptions|
|Australia||PCR||72h before departure||Age 4 or below|
|Brunei||PCR||48h before departure
72h before departure (Singapore RGL)
|Cambodia||PCR||72h before arrival||—|
|Canada||PCR||72h before departure||Age 4 or below|
|PCR 72h before arrival
ART 48h before arrival
|Age 14 or below
|Fiji||PCR||3 days* before departure||Age 11 or below|
|48h before arrival||Age 15 or below
Finnish Citizens / PRs
|48h before departure||Age 11 or below|
|India||PCR||72h before departure||Age 4 or below|
|Indonesia||PCR||72h before departure||—|
|PCR 72h before arrival
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|
|PCR 48h before departure
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|
|48h before arrival||Age 11 or below|
|PCR 72h before departure
ART 24h before departure
|Age 15 or below|
|Thailand||PCR||72h before departure||Age 5 or below|
|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.
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):
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.
|Singapore pre-departure (ART)*||~S$30|
|UK Day 2 (PCR)||~S$125|
|UK pre-departure (ART)*||~S$30|
|Singapore arrival (PCR)||S$125|
* 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!
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.
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)