More good news for relaxation of pre-departure testing requirements, with Canada announcing that it will allow travellers to take a quicker and less expensive rapid antigen test (ART) to verify their COVID-free status prior to travelling, cutting costs and increasing flexibility, including for Singapore VTL travellers.
On-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers will continue to be randomised, but the requirement to self-isolate until the result is available is set to be axed.
“Recent data indicates that the latest wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant has passed its peak in Canada. As provinces and territories adjust their public health measures, and as we transition away from the crisis phase, it is now time to move towards a more sustainable approach to long-term management of COVID-19.”Public Heath Agency of Canada
New PDT options
For those arriving in Canada from overseas on or after 28th February 2022, the new pre-departure COVID-19 testing options will be either:
- a PCR test within 72 hours of departure of your final flight to Canada; or
- an ART test within one day prior to departure.
“Taking a rapid antigen test at home is not sufficient to meet the pre-entry requirement – it must be authorized by the country in which it was purchased and must be administered by a laboratory, healthcare entity or telehealth service.”Public Heath Agency of Canada
For example, if you are flying to Canada non-stop from Singapore on SQ28 departing at 9am on a Tuesday, your pre-departure test would have to be taken:
- PCR: At or after 9am on Saturday
- ART: Anytime on Monday or Tuesday
Those aged 4 or below based on date of birth are exempt from the pre-departure test (PDT) when travelling to Canada.
This will bring Canada’s testing requirements for international travellers largely in line with those currently in force for travel to the USA.
Remember if you’re arriving in Canada on or before 27th February 2022 you will still be subject to the current testing requirements (PCR within 72 hours of your last non-stop flight to Canada).
Allowing travellers the option to take an ART test will significantly reduce costs, with PCR tests in Singapore on average costing around S$120, though there are a good number of options in the S$96 – S$115 range based on our latest analysis.
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$80 a head for ART vs. PCR.
This is in addition to the cost of the test kit itself, which is typically around S$7. Your test kit must be approved for use in Singapore.
A certificate suitable for travel is provided, and this method is also accepted by Canada. This is therefore an ideal way to do your pre-departure test before a VTL trip without having to leave home.
Random on-arrival testing
Canada operates a system of randomised on-arrival testing for fully vaccinated travellers, and currently if you are selected you must then isolate at home or in your hotel room until receiving a negative result.
That makes planning the start of your trip to Canada potentially complex and uncertain, since you don’t know whether you’ll need to comply with this requirement.
While the random on-arrival testing will remain, thankfully for travellers arriving from 28th February 2022 the requirement to isolate until a result is received will be scrapped.
“Travellers selected will no longer be required to quarantine while awaiting their test result.”Public Heath Agency of Canada
That means you’ll be able to get on with your trip straight away, even if you are selected for a random test after landing.
Vaccines accepted by the Government of Canada for the purpose of travel to and within Canada are:
- AstraZeneca/COVISHIELD (ChAdOx1-S, Vaxzevria, AZD1222)
- Bharat Biotech (Covaxin, BBV152 A, B, C)
- Janssen/Johnson & Johnson
- Moderna (mRNA-1273)
- Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty, tozinameran, BNT162b2)
- Sinopharm BIBP (BBIBP-CorV)
- Sinovac (CoronaVac, PiCoVacc)
To qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller, you must have received, at least 14 calendar days by the day you travel:
- at least 2 doses of a vaccine listed above; or
- a mix of 2 accepted vaccines; or
- at least 1 dose of the Janssen/Johnson & Johnson vaccine
There is currently no requirement for travellers to have received a booster vaccine dose in order to travel to Canada.
Full requirements for travel to Canada
To travel to Canada without quarantine, fully vaccinated visitors must adhere to the following requirements:
- Be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in accordance with the definition above
- Have no signs or symptoms of COVID-19
- Upload proof of vaccination in ArriveCAN
- Complete your ArriveCAN submission and and have ArriveCAN receipt with letter I, V, or A beside your name
- Complete arrival test and quarantine if selected until a negative result (no quarantine from 28th February 2022)
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of COVID-19 for the 14 days after entry into Canada
VTL flights Vancouver – Singapore
Singapore Airlines restarted seasonal non-stop flights to and from Vancouver in December 2021, and has since increased to year-round operation on the route.
Those visiting Canada can return to Singapore on VTL services operated by Singapore Airlines from Vancouver four times per week, as shown in the following schedule (click to expand):
Canada VTL testing costs
ART testing in Canada, with a certificate suitable for travel back to Singapore on the VTL, isn’t cheap costing around S$80.
Here are the estimated testing costs per fully vaccinated traveller for a Singapore – Canada – Singapore trip example, based on the new testing requirements from 28th February 2022.
|SG pre-departure (ART)||From S$21|
|Canada pre-departure (ART)||~S$80|
|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|
* A more expensive S$204 rapid 1-hour on-arrival LAMP test is also available
This is a decent 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 biggest sticking point cost-wise. This will hopefully be replaced with a cheaper ART test in future.
Remember if you have recently recovered from COVID-19 in the last 90 days with documentary proof, you are now exempt from all pre-departure testing, on-arrival testing and isolation requirements when travelling to Singapore.
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, Fiji and Sri Lanka, with Canada now joining the list, meaning that over half of Singapore’s VTL countries requiring a PDT are now accepting this cheaper, quicker and more convenient option.
Some countries have even removed their pre-departure test requirements altogether for fully vaccinated visitors, including France and the UK.
Do note that the relaxation for Canada only comes into effect for those arriving from 28th February 2022, so if you’re taking a trip there before that the prevailing restrictions (pre-departure PCR) remain in force.
Hopefully more countries will make the move towards quicker antigen pre-departure tests, and of course we’re eagerly awaiting such a relaxation for the on-arrival test in Singapore, which would reduce costs for travellers on all VTLs.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)