Just a month after reimposing a seven-day quarantine period for arriving overseas travellers due to concerns over the Omicron variant, India is dropping all restrictions for fully vaccinated travellers from next week, including a surprise ditching of the pre-departure PCR test requirement.
Effective for arrivals from 14th February 2022 at 0.01am Indian Standard Time, travellers fully vaccinated in Singapore or 81 other countries will no longer require any pre-departure test, nor will they need to serve a quarantine or isolation period.
This will be welcome news for families travelling between the two countries, and opens up a true two-way quarantine-free Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) for Singapore residents once again, this time with minimal overall testing requirements.
Latest India entry process
From now until 13th February 2022, those arriving in India from Singapore will continue to follow the current process, including a PCR test within 72 hours of departure (for those aged 5 or over) and self-isolation for seven days at home or in a hotel room.
A PCR test also applies on Day 8, prior to release from isolation.
From 14th February 2022, the process is significantly simplified for those fully vaccinated, as follows:
- Complete Self-Declaration Form (SDF)
- Random 2% of travellers (aged 5+) will undergo a PCR test on arrival
- Monitor health for 14 days
Random on-arrival testing, if administered, is free of charge.
A vaccine booster dose is not currently required for those travelling to India.
Unvaccinated travellers, or those not vaccinated in one of the 82 specified countries, will still be subject to a pre-departure PCR test taken at most 72 hours before leaving their origin point.
Full details of the new arrival process are available here.
Omicron in India
In common with most countries, India’s Omicron wave, which started in the new year, is now in rapid decline, having caused far fewer deaths than the more severe Delta variant.
This is clearly giving India, like so many other countries in the region lately, the confidence to relax border measures.
Testing when travelling to other VTL countries
While there will soon be no testing for those who are fully vaccinated when travelling to India, either before departure or after arrival, several of Singapore’s VTL countries still impose pre-departure tests.
Here’s the latest updated list of requirements (click to expand):
VTL flights India – Singapore
Designated VTL flights from India to Singapore are being operated by Air India, IndiGo, Singapore Airlines and Vistara.
Here’s a list of the VTL flights from India, which you’ll need to use on your return journey to benefit from quarantine-free arrival in Singapore, assuming you are also returning from India (click to expand):
Singapore Airlines is upgauging selected VTL flights from Delhi and Mumbai to the Airbus A380, featuring the latest Suites cabin, from mid-March 2022.
What about VTL flights to India?
As with most VTLs (Malaysia is the exception), there are no VTL flights from Singapore to India. If you are fully vaccinated, you can already travel to India as a tourist since 15th November 2021.
You can take any available non-stop flight, or transit in another country when flying to India, and still take a VTL flight back to Singapore at the end of your trip, though do note that if you transit in a non-VTL country on Singapore’s Category 2-4 list, your stay in India would have to be 14+ days to use the VTL on your return.
Singapore only considers your travel history in the last 14 consecutive days when you check in for your VTL flight. This travel history must be solely within VTL countries and/or Category 1 countries, including transits.
A variety of non-stop passenger flights from Singapore to India are being operated by Singapore Airlines and Scoot, including to cities not included on the VTL list, like Hyderabad and Kolkata.
These are the one-way KrisFlyer miles redemption rates for flights between Singapore and India on SIA.
|KrisFlyer Redemption Rates
India to/from Singapore
|First / Suites||53,000
Total testing costs
With no more pre-departure or on-arrival testing on the way to India, here’s how the total testing costs look for this VTL – now one of the cheapest options given the low cost of a pre-departure test there en-route back to Singapore.
|India on-arrival (random 2%)||Free|
|India pre-departure (ART)*||~S$5|
|Singapore arrival (PCR)||S$125|
|Day 2 (self ART)^||~S$7|
|Day 3 (self ART)^||~S$7|
|Day 4 (self ART)^||~S$7|
|Day 5 (self ART)^||~S$7|
|Day 6 (self ART)^||~S$7|
|Day 7 (self ART)^||~S$7|
* Prices vary between providers and locations.
^ Only required if leaving your place of accommodation that day. Not required if leaving Singapore that day.
Approximate testing costs of S$170 per traveller come in around S$130 less than they currently do for travellers to India, thanks to the removal of the pre-departure and Day 8 test requirement.
The saving for families in particular is significant.
India goes from imposing an expensive pre-departure PCR test and requiring seven days of quarantine (self-isolation) on arrival to a completely relaxed entry arrangement for those vaccinated in Singapore, from 14th February 2022.
This gives us another two-way quarantine-free VTL option, and it turns out to be one of the cheapest with no testing required at all until your return journey to Singapore.
Singapore Airlines is introducing its Airbus A380s daily to and from Mumbai from 14th March, followed by Delhi from 1st May 2022, both of which offer quarantine-free VTL arrival in the India > Singapore direction.
With multiple testing and border relaxations reported around the region in recent days, let’s hope we’re not too far away from some positive changes to Singapore’s unnecessarily complex VTL programme soon.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)