The global spread of the Omicron COVID-19 variant is certainly having an impact on the risk appetite of various governments when it comes to welcoming travellers from overseas, with 21 of Singapore’s 24-strong list of Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries now imposing pre-departure testing.
This week it’s Denmark and Finland announcing the new safeguard, in both cases adding a PCR or ART test requirement which you’ll need to complete ahead of your flight.
For arrivals in Denmark from 27th December 2021, all passengers must have:
- A PCR test conducted no more than 72 hours before arrival; or
- An ART test conducted no more than 48 hours before arrival.
Note that Denmark is using your flight arrival time, not the departure time, to determine the validity of your pre-departure test. Denmark Time is currently 7 hours behind Singapore Time.
For example, those travelling from Singapore on SQ352, which arrives in Copenhagen at 6.30am, must take their test no earlier than:
- PCR: 6.30am Denmark Time (1.30pm Singapore Time) three days before the arrival day (e.g. test 1.30pm on Tuesday or later for a Friday morning arrival in Copenhagen).
- ART: 6.30am Denmark Time (1.30pm Singapore Time) two days before the arrival day (e.g. test 1.30pm on Wednesday or later for a Friday morning arrival in Copenhagen).
Not everyone is required to show a pre-departure test (PDT) in order to fly from Singapore to Denmark. The following exemptions apply:
- Children aged 14 or younger (by date of birth) do not require a PDT.
- Residents of Denmark do not require a PDT, however if they choose not to have a test they must take one within 24 hours after entering the country. Testing is free in Denmark and so we would recommend this option for Danish residents.
- Those who have previously been infected with COVID-19 and who can present evidence of a positive PCR test, which has been performed at least 14 days and at most 180 days before arrival do not require a PDT.
- Those leaving Denmark to a third country within 24 hours of entry do not require a PDT.
The full rules for pre-departure testing prior to travel to Denmark are available here.
Finland began requiring pre-departure testing for those arriving from overseas on 21st December 2021.
Passengers must now have:
- A PCR test or ART test conducted no more than 48 hours before arrival.
Like Denmark, Finland is using your flight arrival time, not the departure time, to determine the validity of your pre-departure test. Finland Time is currently 6 hours behind Singapore Time.
For example, those travelling from Singapore non-stop on Finnair flight AY132, which arrives in Helsinki at 6.00am, must take their test no earlier than:
- PCR or ART: 6.00am Finland Time (12.00pm Singapore Time) two days before the arrival day (e.g. test 1.30pm on Thursday or later for a Saturday morning arrival in Helsinki).
The following groups are exempt from showing a pre-departure test (PDT) in order to fly from Singapore to Finland:
- Passengers aged 15 or below (by date of birth).
- Nationals and residents of Finland.
- Passengers arriving from Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
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 Denmark and Finland.
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)
Changi Airport testing
At Changi Airport, Raffles Medical 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).
You could therefore plan to arrive at the airport early 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, even with an appointment!
It may be a safer bet to have your ART PDT conducted elsewhere in the days leading up to departure, given how busy this particular clinic is becoming.
Unlike many other airports around the world, there is unfortunately no rapid turnaround PCR testing option at Changi Airport, though that’s no big deal for travellers heading to these two countries since a quicker and cheaper ART is currently accepted.
Overall testing regime
For VTL trips, you will still be subject to Singapore’s latest test requirements on your way home from these countries, 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 Denmark or Finland and back.
|SG pre-departure (ART)||~S$30|
|Overseas pre-departure (ART)*||Free – S$155|
|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$213 – S$368|
At around S$210 per traveller, Denmark still works out as one of the cheapest VTL options, however high testing costs in Finland (even for ART) make that a steeper option at closer to S$370 per head.
Designated VTL flights
If you are also returning to Singapore from Denmark or Finland, here’s the latest updated list of VTL flights from Copenhagen and Helsinki to Singapore, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore (click to expand).
Note that new bookings on VTL flights arriving in Singapore between now and 20th January 2022 are not permitted (existing bookings will be retained).
Full list of VTL pre-departure test requirements
Pre-departure testing when travelling from Singapore is now required by 21 of Singapore’s 24 VTL countries, for fully vaccinated Singapore residents.
You’d expect at least EU countries to harmonise their requirements – but no – the test types, timings and exemptions are frankly all over the place! Here’s the latest breakdown of the tests needed in addition to VTL testing on your return to Singapore:
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
Only Germany, Spain and Turkey do not require a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated travellers.
Almost all of Singapore’s VTL countries now require travellers to take a pre-departure test prior to your flight from Changi, with Denmark and Finland becoming the 20th and 21st on the list to introduce this requirement.
Luckily, as with most European destinations, a cheaper ART test will suffice. That should only add around S$30 to the trip cost for each passenger, with younger kids and nationals of these two countries exempt.
Do be careful to note that for travel to both these countries, the maximum test interval relates to your arrival time, not the departure time, so you’ll have to calculate appropriately to ensure you don’t take the test too early.
(Cover Photo: Simeon Baker)