News Travel VTL

Singapore relaxes VTL post-arrival testing and rules for recently recovered travellers

Singapore will allow VTL travellers to take daily self-swab ART tests after arrival only if they need to leave their accommodation that day, while recently infected travellers will be able to return to Singapore after only 3 days in some cases.

Singapore has announced a significantly more relaxed post-arrival testing schedule for those entering the country via the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme, with daily testing set to be replaced by ART self-swab tests only on days travellers need to leave their accommodation.

While this doesn’t quite bring the scheme back to its most relaxed testing regime to date, it is a solid improvement and comes at minimum cost and inconvenience to travellers, removing the need to visit an approved centre for supervised testing entirely.

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Initially, the daily testing regime, including QTC/CTC visits on Day 3 and Day 7, was due to last until 30th January 2022. However the Ministry of Health (MOH) has now announced that the requirements will be relaxed around a week earlier than planned.

Eased testing arrangment

VTL passengers arriving in Singapore from 24th January 2022 onwards will only be required to complete an on-arrival PCR test at Changi Airport, as usual, followed by self-administered antigen rapid (ART) tests on the subsequent six days (Day 2 to Day 7) only if they need to head out from their home or other accommodation that day.

“All travellers will only be required to undergo daily unsupervised self-administered ARTs from Day 2 to Day 7 of their arrival, in addition to fulfilling pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements.

“VTL travellers… will only be required to do unsupervised self-administered ARTs from Day 2 to Day 7 of their arrivals if they need to leave their place of residence or accommodation.”

Singapore Ministry of Health

Assuming you’ll be heading out every day after returning from a VTL trip, here’s how the testing regime will now look.

Singapore VTL arrival testing regime
(from 24th January 2022)

Day Test Type Test Location Cost
1 PCR
(administered)

Changi Airport
S$125
2 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
3 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
4 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
5 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
6 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
7 ART
(self-swab)

Home / Hotel
~S$7
Total Up to 7 tests Up to S$167

With an approximate testing cost in Singapore of up to around S$170, there is a saving of around S$16 compared to the current daily testing system. This is based on S$30 for two QTC/CTC supervised tests, which are no longer required and will instead cost only around S$14 or so for two self-test kits.

Obviously for those who don’t need to leave their home on certain days there will be a bigger saving, but primarily the big advantage here is avoiding the inconvenience of visiting a Quick Test Centre on Days 3 and 7, which can be a hassle depending on your other commitments.

Unlike the current system, results from any self-swab tests will no longer need to be reported to ICA or MOH via any web links; it’s an ‘honour system’.

VTL travellers who enter Singapore before 23rd January 2022 at 11.59pm Singapore Time are required to continue with the existing testing regime (i.e. unsupervised self-administered ART on Days 2, 4, 5 and 6 of their arrival, and supervised ART on Days 3 and 7 of their arrival).



 


 

Self-tests

You must complete the Day 2 to Day 7 self-tests only if you need to head out that day, using approved kits authorised for use in Singapore, as outlined here by the Health Sciences Authority, or using a rapid test kit approved in your origin country, if you are bringing your own kits from overseas.

These kits are not provided to travellers on arrival, they must instead be self procured.

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Outlets like Watsons, Guardian and Unity pharmacies stock these kits for around S$6-7 per test, but remember you must not go out to purchase them during the self-isolation period between your on-arrival PCR test and the negative result notification (typically 4-6 hours).

ART test kits cost around S$7 in Singapore

These ART kits are designed for use by consumers and do not require a doctor’s prescription or authority letter to purchase them. Instructions are relatively simple to follow and results take 15 minutes.

You can also stock up on approved kits via home delivery services like Grab or PandaMart, if you don’t have a sufficient supply at home or have not brought kits approved for use in your home country with you.

Approved home test ART kits are available for doorstep delivery via some apps in Singapore

What if it’s positive?

If you test positive from a self-swab Day 3 or Day 7 test, the good news is a confirmatory PCR test is no longer required for arrivals from 24th January.

Instead, the following procedure applies:

  • Follow MOH’s Protocol 2 and self-isolate immediately.
  • Immediately stop going to work and cancel your social activities to protect others from possibly being infected with COVID-19.
  • Self-isolate for 72 hours at home or in your accommodation. This will allow you to safely recover, monitor your health and avoid spreading the virus further.
  • At the end of 72 hours, you should perform a self-administered ART.
  • You can stop self-isolation and resume normal activities when you get a negative result.
  • If you continue to test positive, continue to self-isolate and self-test daily until you obtain a negative result, or until 12pm on Day 10 for vaccinated individuals, whichever comes earlier.
Play by the rules There is obviously an element of trust when asking people to perform their own self-swab ART tests, but we strongly encourage all our readers to conduct the tests accurately and follow the required protocols if testing positive.

However you feel personally about the necessity of these additional tests, they are part of the process all VTL travellers agreed to follow, and they are designed to protect public health.

Leaving Singapore within 7 days?

If you are leaving Singapore within a week of arriving on the VTL, you will be exempt from taking a self-swab ART on the day of your departure (and, obviously, on all subsequent days).

If the traveller’s day of departure from Singapore is on the day of the test, they are exempted from taking their scheduled ART on that day.

ICA

Your day of departure from Singapore is defined as the scheduled day of departure of your flight or ferry, or the day you clear departure immigration, if leaving via the land border.

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For example, if you arrive via the VTL on Monday (Day 1) at 6am and you leave on Thursday (Day 4) at 10pm, and you go out of your home or hotel on all four days, you will have to complete the Day 1 (on-arrival) test, Day 2 and Day 3 self-swab ART test, but no further tests thereafter.

VTL testing requirements from Singapore

In addition to these tests when returning to Singapore, you’ll also need a pre-departure test when travelling to selected VTL countries, as you can see from the following updated list (click to expand):

Testing before travelling to selected countries
based on fully vaccinated travellers departing from Singapore by air

Country Test type Test timing Exemptions
Brunei PCR 48h before departure
or
72h before departure (Singapore RGL)
Fiji PCR
or
ART
PCR 2 days before departure
or
ART 24h before departure
Age 11 or below
Hong Kong PCR
48h before departure
Israel PCR 72h before departure Isreali citizens and residents
Myanmar PCR 72h before arrival Age 5 or below
New Zealand PCR
or
ART
PCR 48h before departure
or
ART 24h before departure
Age 1 or below
Philippines PCR
or
ART
PCR 48h before departure
or
ART 24h before departure
Age 3 or below
Qatar PCR 48h before departure
Age 3 or below
&
Vaccinated Qataris and residents
South Korea PCR 2 days before departure Age 5 or below
ART 1 day before departure also accepted from 23 May 2022
USA PCR
or
ART
1 day before departure Age 1 or below

Some countries also apply on-arrival and post-arrival testing for those coming from Singapore.

VTL capacity cut remains in place

Unfortunately Singapore will continue to impose its 50% capacity cut for daily arriving VTL travellers for the time being.

“We will continue to maintain a 50% limit on VTL flight and bus tickets for entry into Singapore for now. We will continue to review the local and global COVID-19 situation and adjust our measures accordingly.”

Singapore Ministry of Health

Recently recovered travellers

VTL travellers who have recently recovered from COVID-19 also get a reprieve in this latest announcement.

Provided they have recovered from the virus within 90 days of their last infection, with appropriate documentary evidence, they will be exempted from all testing and stay-home notice requirements.

Evidence includes:

  • A positive COVID-19 PCR test or professionally-administered ART result 7-90 days before the date of departure for Singapore.
  • A discharge memo that states the traveller’s name, and at least one other personal identifier such as the date of birth or passport number corresponding exactly with the information in the passport used for entry into Singapore. It should also state the date of infection or the discharge date, which must be within 7-90 days before the date of departure for Singapore. The memo must also be issued by a relevant state authority or licensed medical professional.

This is great news because it will allow those who have recently recovered from COVID-19 to travel or return to Singapore after only 7 days, instead of the current 14 days.

Recently infected VTL travellers will also be exempt from all testing and SHN. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

“This will facilitate the safe return of recently-recovered residents who travel overseas”, said MOH in a statement.

Furthermore, fully vaccinated travellers who are diagnosed or suspected to be infected with COVID-19 within 7 days of their departure for Singapore, or non-fully vaccinated travellers who are diagnosed or suspected to be infected with COVID-19 within 14 days of their departure for Singapore, may be permitted to depart for Singapore if they test negative for COVID-19 via a PCR test or professionally administered ART at least 72 hours after their initial diagnosis.

That potentially brings their travel or return to Singapore down to just 3 days following a positive test, which is a reassuring change for those concerned about this thorny issue.

Of course it’s also possible just to wait until the 7-day point and travel to Singapore without further testing, if that fits with your plans.



 


 

Summary

A much simpler and slightly cheaper testing regime is coming in for VTL travellers arriving in Singapore from Monday 24th January 2022, which most importantly removes the inconvenience of scheduling two supervised ART swabs at testing centres, and any requirement to declare your test results each day.

Travellers instead will simply have to take a self-swab ART test on Day 2 to Day 7 only if they need to head out from their home or hotel room that day.

For many who are working from home, that means daily testing may not even be necessary.

For recently recovered travellers, there will be the opportunity to return to Singapore after as little as 3 days, down from the current 14 days, with a relaxation of all testing and and SHN requirements, which is great news for those recently infected or worried about becoming infected while overseas.

(Cover Photo: Sorbis / Shutterstock)

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2 comments

  1. Hi I miss my family in SG for so long 3 YEAR not going back this coming season hariraya I’m going back VISITING FOR COUPLE DAYS.but I dono the proceedings in SG LAWS TODAY. could you explain what should i bring any documents from malaysia to arriving CUSTOM lands such e bus from KL TO SG I done my third dose booster from KKM malaysia NEXT WEEK FEBRUARY FOR MY 4 DOSE.

    WHAT SHOULD I PREPARE BEFORE ARRIVE TO SG.

    THANK YOU
    MISS MY FAMILY SO MUCH

  2. Question. If I was tested positive for coivd and received the recovery memo from MOH which only state the name, last 4 digit of nric and infected date will that suffice as a recovery memo to be exempted from the necessary procedure? Also will we face any issue with the memo when boarding our flight abroad?

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