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Netherlands reinstates pre-departure testing rule for Singapore travellers

The Netherlands requires pre-departure testing again for Singapore travellers arriving from 22 December, less than a week after relaxing the requirement.

It seems like hardly a few days go by lately without one of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries tweaking its testing policies for travellers, as the Omicron variant of COVID-19 has governments on edge over the busy holiday season.

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Just last week the Netherlands scrapped its pre-departure testing requirement for those starting their journey in Singapore, a policy first brought in around a month earlier, but now it’s back again!

Netherlands U-Turn?

It may seem like flip-flopping from the Netherlands Government, but actually we should be thankful!

Singapore’s recent upgrade from the country’s “very high risk” to “high risk” category on 16th December, which gave those arriving from Singapore a (temporary) reprieve from pre-departure testing requirements, has actually spared us from a quarantine requirement now in force for all those travelling from “very high risk” countries.

Starting on 22 December 2021 0:01 AM new rules will go into effect: travellers from outside the EU/Schengen area must always provide a negative test result to enter the Netherlands. Travellers from very high-risk areas must always self-quarantine. These rules also apply to travellers with proof of vaccination or proof of recovery, who were previously exempt from the mandatory quarantine.

Government of the Netherlands

While it’s therefore annoying to have the pre-departure test requirement back, it could have been worse with quarantine on the cards had Singapore remained in the “very high risk” category.

The reinstated requirement

Just six days after being awarded test-free access to the Netherlands, all travellers arriving from Singapore on or after 22nd December 2021 will once again require:

  • A PCR test conducted no more than 48 hours prior to departure; or
  • An ART test conducted no more than 24 hours prior to departure.

This requirement will apply to all travellers arriving from outside the EU/Schengen area, including those with proof of vaccination or proof of recovery. Travellers aged 12 or above must also complete the public health declaration.

Fully vaccinated travellers travelling to the Netherlands from within the EU/Schengen area (e.g. from France) will remain exempt from pre-departure testing.

For those taking non-stop services to Amsterdam from Changi, the first flights to be affected depart tonight:

  • SQ324 departing at 23:55 on Tuesday 21st December
  • KL840 departing at 23:55 on Tuesday 21st December

For both of these flights, you’ll therefore need a negative PCR test result from a swab taken on or after 23:55 on Sunday 19th December, or if you opt for a cheaper ART test, from a swab taken on or after 23:55 on Monday 20th December.

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The requirements will also apply to those taking a transit routing to the Netherlands (e.g. SIN-FRA-AMS).

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 (S$27 using promo code SIARMGART when booking).

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, however be warned – some readers have been reporting long wait times (2+ hours) just for an ART test at this clinic during the busy evening rush.

Children remain exempt

The pre-departure test requirement will still not apply to children aged 11 or younger, by date of birth on arrival in the Netherlands.

Other VTL countries requiring pre-departure testing

Including the Netherlands, a total of 18 VTL countries now require a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated Singapore residents.

You’ll 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
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.

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 Netherlands.

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Based on our recent analysis, pre-departure test costs in Singapore are around:

  • PCR: S$107 (cheapest) – S$141 (average)
  • ART: S$27 (cheapest) – S$40 (average)

Overall testing regime

For VTL trips, you will still be subject to Singapore’s latest test requirements on your way home from the Netherlands, currently comprising a pre-departure test, an on-arrival test, and six daily ART tests.

Here are the estimated minimum testing costs for a round-trip from Singapore to the Netherlands and back.

🇳🇱 VTL
Singapore Netherlands
COVID-19 Testing 

Test Cost
SG pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
NL pre-departure (ART)* ~S$30
SG arrival (PCR) S$125
SG Day 2 (self ART) ~S$7
SG Day 3 (supervised ART) S$15
SG Day 4 (self ART) ~S$7
SG Day 5 (self ART) ~S$7
SG Day 6 (self ART) ~S$7
SG Day 7 (supervised ART) S$15
Total ~S$243

* Prices vary between providers and locations.

At around S$250 per traveller, the Netherlands actually still works out as one of the cheaper VTL options.

VTL flights AMS-SIN

Here’s a list of the VTL flights from Amsterdam to Singapore, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore.

1st November 2021 – 16th January 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ329
A350-900
AMS
10:25
SIN

05:55*
KL833
777-300ER
         
AMS
21:05
SIN

15:30*

* Next day

KLM will also operate the following additional VTL flight from Amsterdam to Singapore (KL813):

  • Friday 7th January 2022 (one-time VTL service)

17th January 2022 – 26th March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ323
A350-900
       
AMS
10:25
SIN

05:55*
 bgcolor= SQ329
A350-900
     
AMS
10:25
SIN

05:55*
KL833
777-300ER
         
AMS
21:05
SIN

15:30*

* Next day

27th March 2022 – 29th October 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= SQ323
A350-900
AMS
11:15
SIN

05:55*

* Next day

Amsterdam Singapore
Non-VTL

  • SQ323 services (Mon, Wed, Sun) prior to 17th January 2022 are not designated VTL flights.
  • KL835/837/839 services (Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri, Sun) are not designated VTL flights.

  Full list of all VTL Flights



 


 

Summary

Spread of the Omicron variant is causing governments to reassess their travel and entry requirements almost continuously at the moment, leaving Singapore travellers affected by two changes in the space of a week when travelling to the Netherlands.

For those arriving from Wednesday 22nd December 2021, a pre-departure PCR or ART test will once again need to be presented for each passenger at the check-in desk in Singapore.

Luckily quarantine is still not required when entering the Netherlands, thanks to Singapore’s recent move to the “high risk” category, and the cheaper ART test option is relatively easy to come by, with options across the city.

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