Good news for those travelling to two of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries, with Switzerland and Sweden dropping their pre-departure test requirements this week, provided travellers are fully vaccinated or have recently recovered from COVID-19.
The developments are hopefully the start of a wider relaxation shift, with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 causing less severe illness and hospitalisation in Europe compared to previous virus waves.
As we recently reported, the United Kingdom is reportedly also scrapping its ‘Day 2 Test’ from next week, another welcome step towards some travel normality in the months ahead.
Currently those travelling to Switzerland need to have a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours prior to departure in the case of a PCR test, or 24 hours in the case of a rapid (ART) test.
From this weekend, the requirement will be abolished.
“From Saturday, 22 January, persons who have been vaccinated or who have recovered from COVID-19 will no longer be required to present a negative PCR or rapid antigen test before entering Switzerland.”The Federal Council, Switzerland
Additional testing between the fourth and seventh day after arrival for unvaccinated arrivals will also be scrapped, due to limited testing capacity.
All those heading to the country by air will still be obliged to complete an entry form prior to arrival, while those aged 16 or over who are not fully vaccinated must continue to show a negative pre-departure PCR or ART test.
Despite it being a VTL country, there are no direct flights between Singapore and Sweden.
Nonetheless, travellers can reach the country via a transit point, and since 28th December 2021 it has been a requirement for those arriving in Sweden aged 12 or over to have a negative PCR or ART test within 48 hours of arrival.
From 21st January 2021 those fully vaccinated arriving in Sweden will no longer be subject to pre-departure testing.
“Travellers are no longer considered to represent a particular risk that would affect the spread of the Omicron variant in Sweden. For this reason, the specific requirement for a negative COVID-19 result from a test conducted within 48 hours of arrival to Sweden is no longer considered to be a proportional measure.”Government of Sweden
Those aged under 18 years will be able to travel to Sweden with their fully vaccinated parents or guardians and continue to enjoy quarantine-free arrival privileges.
VTL countries still requiring pre-departure testing
Once Switzerland and Sweden drop off the list, a total of 18 VTL countries will require a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated Singapore residents in the outbound direction from the Lion City.
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 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
Other VTL countries not requiring pre-departure testing include:
VTL flights Zurich – Singapore
While there are no direct designated VTL flights from Sweden to Singapore, those visiting Switzerland can return on services operated by Singapore Airlines or Swiss Air Lines, as shown in the following tables (click to expand):
Process to Singapore
Obviously no testing will apply for fully vaccinated Singapore residents heading to Switzerland or Sweden from this weekend onwards, but on the way back to Singapore the standard process will apply, as shown below.
VTL Process Singapore
- Must be fully vaccinated in Singapore or any VTL country
- Must have stayed in Singapore or any VTL country for 14 days
- Apply for a VTP in advance*
- Purchase COVID-19 travel insurance (min. coverage of S$30,000)**
- Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or ART test (up to 2 days before departure)
- Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
- Take an on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test
- Self-isolate until the result is available (typically 4-6 hours)
- Take Day 2, 4, 5 & 6 self-swab post-arrival ART tests
- Take Day 3 and Day 7 supervised ART tests at QTCs/CTCs
* Not applicable for Singapore Citizens or permanent residents
** Not applicable for Singapore Citizens, permanent residents or pass holders
It’s great to be reporting on positive changes to the testing regime when travelling to and from certain VTL countries, with many nations now accepting the Omicron variant of COVID-19 as a milder form of the virus and even a potentially quicker route to long-term ‘endemic COVID’.
From this weekend those heading to Switzerland or Sweden will no longer be subject to pre-departure testing, and we expect more to follow including the scrapping of post-arrival testing in the UK from as early as next week.
Let’s hope this is the start of additional easing for fully vaccinated travellers in the weeks and months ahead, including here in Singapore itself.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)