A very welcome trend for travel testing requirements we’ve seen starting to become increasingly common in the last few weeks is the acceptance of Antigen Rapid Tests (ART) by both Singapore and other countries to determine a passenger’s COVID-19 status, either before or after travel.
Only two weeks ago travellers heading to Sri Lanka, one of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries, were afforded a relaxation from pre-departure PCR testing to the cheaper ART method, and this week it’s Fiji updating its requirements in a similar fashion.
Fiji joined Singapore’s VTL network on 16th December 2021, and is one of the few countries on the list without any Singapore Airlines service.
Instead Singapore travellers can travel to and from the island archipelago via other VTL countries, or on non-stop flights operated by Fiji Airways, all of which offer quarantine-free arrival in both directions.
New PDT options
For those arriving in Fiji from overseas on or after 9th February 2022, the new pre-departure COVID-19 testing options will be either:
- a PCR test within 2 calendar days of departure; or
- a RAT (ART) test within 24 hours of departure.
The timing applies prior to your flight’s scheduled departure time, or before the departure time of the first flight in a series of connections booked on the same itinerary to Fiji (e.g. for London – Singapore – Nadi, it applies prior to the London departure).
For example, if you are flying to Fiji non-stop from Singapore departing at 4pm on a Tuesday, your pre-departure test would have to be taken:
- PCR: At or after 0.01am on Sunday
- ART: At or after 4.00pm on Monday
Those aged 12 or above based on date of birth must have a pre-departure test (PDT) when travelling to Fiji, while children aged 11 or below are exempt.
PDT certificate requirements
The PDT certificate can be electronic or printed and must show:
- Your name and date of birth
- The test result (such as ‘negative’ or ‘not detected’)
- The method of test conducted e.g., PCR / RAT / ART
- The type of specimen collected
- The brand and manufacturer of the test (for RAT / ART tests)
- The date of specimen collection for the accepted COVID-19 test
- The date of test that the specimen for the test was collected, and that the test was carried out by or under the supervision of and, signed by, an authorised person*
* Authorised persons:
For a PCR test, the laboratory will provide you with your result.
For a RAT / ART, the test must be undertaken by or under the direct supervision of a medical practitioner (e.g., pharmacist general practitioner, nurse, pathologist, pathology collector or trained personnel at airport-based testing stations).
If this information is not provided, you will not be able to check in and board the aircraft.
This change does not yet reflect in the IATA Timatic database, since it has not come into effect at the time of writing, but it has been updated on Fiji’s official entry requirements page and on the more traveller-oriented Fiji Tourism site.
Fiji Airways is also on top of the change.
Allowing travellers the option to take an ART test will significantly reduce costs, with PCR tests in Singapore on average costing around S$127, though there are a good number of options in the S$98 – S$115 range.
Pre-departure ART tests including a certificate for travel, meanwhile, cost around S$38 on average in Singapore, with multiple options in the S$21 – S$30 range.
For families in particular the savings do start to add up, on average at S$90 a head.
Convenience is another factor, with most providers in Singapore sending through your ART test results within just one hour of being swabbed, meaning Fiji’s 24-hour pre-departure window for those taking an antigen rapid test should be adequate.
Singapore now allows travellers to perform a supervised self-swab by video call with at least two providers.
Minmed also offers the option, at S$25 plus the self-procured test kit.
A certificate suitable for travel is provided in both cases, and this method is also accepted by Fiji. It’s therefore an ideal way to do your pre-departure test before a VTL trip without having to leave home.
If you are heading to Fiji within 30 days of a positive COVID-19 test, you are exempt from their PDT requirement.
Instead you must provide proof of the isolation period served, from a credible institution, or produce a fit to fly certificate from a medical practitioner.
The fit to fly certificate or letter from your medical practitioner must include all of the following:
- Date of onset symptoms
- Date tested positive
- Date of cessation of symptoms
- Release date from isolation
If you recovered from COVID-19 more than 30 days before travelling to Fiji, a negative PDT result must be produced (PCR or ART), as outlined above.
Fiji currently recognises the following COVID-19 vaccines for travellers:
- Johnson and Johnson
- Nuvaxovid (Novavax)
- Coronavac (Sinovac)
- BBIBP-CorV (Sinopharm)
- Sputnik V
A 14-day waiting period prior to travel following full vaccination applies in each case (i.e. following your second dose, or single dose of Johnson & Johnson). No booster requirement is currently enforced.
Travellers aged 17 or below are exempt from the vaccination requirement when travelling to Fiji.
Full requirements for Fiji
To travel to Fiji without quarantine, tourists must adhere to the following requirements:
- Must have remained within one or more of Fiji’s travel partner countries for a minimum of 14 days
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, as outlined above.
- Accompanying minors aged 0 – 17 do not need to be vaccinated.
- Have a negative COVID-19 PCR or ART test, as outlined above, or a recovery certificate within 30 days.
- Have travel insurance including COVID-19 coverage (no amount specified).
- Have a confirmed booking for a minimum of three nights at a CFC certified accommodation.
- Have a confirmed CFC transfer booking from the airport to your hotel.
- Download the careFIJI app.
- Spend at least the first three days in a CFC resort (you can use resort facilities, and swap CFC resorts during the three days if you wish).
- Take a mandatory ART test at your CFC-certified resort on Day 2 (arrival day is Day 0). Your hotel will arrange this, but it is at your own expense, or it may be included in the package cost.
- With a negative Day 2 test result, you are free to explore Fiji, stay with friends or family, or move to a non-CFC hotel, if you wish.
Designated VTL flights
Travellers can take any flight to Fiji, since there are no designated VTL services in this direction. Fiji Airways currently operates non-stop from Singapore on alternate Tuesdays, increasing to twice weekly from May to October 2022.
Here are the designated VTL flights from Nadi to Singapore, also operated by Fiji Airways:
20th December 2021 - 31st March 2022
Note: This service operates on alternate Mondays between February and March 2022, with operation on the following dates:
- 7 Feb
- 21 Feb
- 7 Mar
- 21 Mar
ImportantFrom 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.
Fiji VTL testing costs
ART testing in Fiji, suitable for travel back to Singapore on the VTL, costs around FJD$30 (~S$19).
This competitive rate makes Fiji one of the cheaper quarantine-free trip options, in testing terms at least, now that ART tests are also accepted when flying outbound.
Here are the estimated testing costs per fully vaccinated traveller for a Singapore – Fiji – Singapore trip example, based on the new testing requirements.
|SG pre-departure (ART)||From S$21|
|Fiji pre-departure (ART)||S$19|
|SG on-arrival (PCR)||S$125|
|SG Day 2 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 3 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 4 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 5 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 6 (self ART)||~S$7|
|SG Day 7 (self ART)||~S$7|
This is a significant saving compared to the previous regime, when a pre-departure PCR test was required.
Note that the self-swab ART tests on Day 2 to Day 7 back in Singapore are only required if you are leaving your place of accommodation that day, so you can potentially omit some of these tests and their associated costs if you have no need to head out every day.
As you can see with VTLs like this one it’s the on-arrival PCR test at Changi Airport which is the sticking point cost-wise. This will hopefully be replaced with a cheaper ART test in future.
Combine Fiji with an Australia trip
Yesterday we reported how Australia is reopening to international tourists from around the world on 21st February 2021, and one important advantage this will bring for Singapore citizens is that they will be able to enter the country from anywhere in the world (currently, they must fly directly from Singapore).
With non-stop flights between Singapore and Fiji rather limited, it’s therefore still possible to have a shorter trip on the islands by first flying from Singapore then taking one of the more frequent flights to Australia and transiting back to Singapore, or doing a two-centre trip (e.g. five nights in Fiji, then five nights in Sydney).
Flights from Nadi to Australia (the bit that’s open anyway) are frequent and take 4-6 hours, with Fiji Airways and Virgin Australia already offering options.
Otherwise you’re currently stuck with a long two-week trip to Fiji, until the Fiji Airways non-stop flights to and from Changi become more frequent in May 2022.
Another option is to combine Fiji with the US West Coast, then head back to Singapore on the VTL from there, or do that trip in reverse.
Other VTL countries requiring pre-departure testing
Here’s a full list of the pre-departure testing requirements when travelling from Singapore to the following VTL countries, in addition to the usual testing regime 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
Already this year we’ve had pre-departure test relaxations from PCR to ART from Australia and Sri Lanka, with Fiji now joining the list, meaning that half of Singapore’s VTL countries requiring a PDT (nine out of 18) are now accepting this cheaper, quicker and more convenient option.
A family of four could be looking at a saving of around S$360 as a result of this welcome change, money that can be better spent on flights and hotels.
There’s even a video pre-departure ART option you can do in Singapore, with a certificate acceptable for travel to Fiji, so you don’t even have to leave home when taking a PDT.
Let’s hope for more relaxations like this coming through, though perhaps the one we’re all hoping for the most is a shift to ART testing for the on-arrival test at Changi Airport, which would cut traveller expenses on all VTL trips.
(Cover Photo: Fiji Airways)