Changi Airport News Travel VTL

Singapore VTL on-arrival PCR test changing to post-arrival ART method, Day 2-7 tests axed

A welcome change from on-arrival PCR to post-arrival ART testing for VTL travellers landing in Singapore will mean savings of over S$100 per person and a more frictionless experience for quarantine-free travel, from 22nd February.

The requirement to self-swab on Days 2 to 7 after arrival is also being removed.

Singapore has announced a welcome change to its Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) process, with confirmation that from Tuesday 22nd February 2022 passengers arriving in the country via the scheme on designated VTL flights, and from Category 1 countries, will no longer have to take a PCR on-arrival test at Changi Airport.

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Instead travellers will take a supervised ART test at a testing centre within 24 hours of arrival, which will cost just S$15, saving each traveller S$110 compared to the current S$125 rate for the mandatory PCR swab.

“VTL and Category I travellers will no longer need to perform an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Instead, they will have up to 24 hours from their entry into Singapore to take a supervised self-swab antigen rapid test (ART) at a testing centre.”

Channel News Asia
No more on-arrival PCR swab at Changi Airport for VTL and Category 1 travellers from 22nd February 2022. (Photo: Raffles Medical)

Travellers will have to take these tests at Combined Test Centres (CTCs) or Quick Test Centres (QTCs), located across Singapore.

The weblink to book tests at CTCs or QTCs will be provided in the “Testing Notice” issued to you upon arrival in Singapore.

Day 2 to Day 7 post-arrival self testing via ART kits is also happily being axed.



 


 

Cost saving

One of the key benefits of Singapore shifting from PCR on-arrival to ART post-arrival testing for VTL travellers is of course the cost.

Here’s how things will improve once the new testing regime kicks in from 22nd February.

Singapore VTL
Arrival testing changes

Day Current
Till 21 Feb
Future
From 22 Feb
Test Type Cost Test Type Cost
1 PCR
S$125 ART
S$15*
2 ART
~S$7
3 ART
~S$7 Nil
4 ART
~S$7 Nil
5 ART
~S$7 Nil
6 ART
~S$7 Nil
7 ART
~S$7 Nil
Total 1 PCR
6 ART
~S$167 1 ART S$15*

* Estimated, to be confirmed

As you can see you’ll be able to return from a VTL country with a total testing cost of around S$15 (estimated) from 22nd February, rather than closer to S$170 currently, in addition to the pre-departure ART or PCR COVID-19 test you’ll still need, which varies in cost depending on the country, provider and test type chosen.

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There may also be a pre-departure test necessary before travelling from Singapore to your VTL country, as shown below (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

The removal of Day 2 to Day 7 self-swab post-arrival testing will also save travellers from purchasing or bringing ART kits with them, a decent saving in itself considering up to sic such tests were involved, if you were leaving your accommodation each day after arrival.

Time saving

Cost is one thing, but the next benefit of this new supervised ART testing method compared to the PCR swab at the airport is the improved flexibility involved.

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Though you will have to attend a test centre to have your supervised ART swab within 24 hours of arrival, you won’t have to isolate in the meantime and can therefore get on with your day or your trip without waiting for a test result to come through.

Correction: Unfortunately MOH has clarified that isolation will be required for VTL and Category 1 travellers until the post-arrival supervised ART is taken and a negative result is received, which makes it less ideal than we first thought (apart from the welcome cost saving). Apologies for any confusion!

“Travellers should self-isolate prior to receiving the OAT test result and use private transport when going to the testing site. If you feel unwell, please visit a clinic for medical advice via private transport.”

MOH
No more queueing for an on-arrival test at Changi Airport from 22nd February. (Photo: MainlyMiles)

Already paid?

If you already paid for your on-arrival PCR test and you’re a VTL passenger landing on or after 22nd February, you can expect a refund through the Changi Airport Safe Travel Concierge.

Unfortunately this will be processed excluding a S$3 administrative fee.

You can also process the refund manually if you wish, by logging on to your account or booking through the Safe Travel Concierge site.



 


 

Summary

This much-anticipated change will certainly make the VTL arrival process in Singapore a much simpler and smoother affair, primarily with a cost saving for those touching down at Changi under the quarantine-free VTL lane from 22nd February.

One downside is the requirement to visit a test centre after arrival – and to isolate until you have received your negative result. It’s a shame they won’t instead do the test at the airport like they do now – but Changi probably needs its arrival floorspace back as the country moves towards a post-COVID normal.

The news comes as Singapore makes other changes to its VTL process and country categorisation, including the end of the Vaccinated Travel Pass for long-term pass holders, plus no more re-entry approval for them to return to the country.

Travel history will also only be considered for the last seven days, down from 14 currently.

Stay Home Notice at your own accommodation will also be harmonised to seven days for travellers from all countries and regions, while new countries and cities are being added to the VTL scheme.

We’ll bring you more details with our analysis on all these changes in the coming days.

(Cover Photo: Changi Airport)

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15 comments

  1. I also read in another article that pre-departure tests are no longer needed for transit passengers through Singapore, which means passengers flying from Australia to the UK via Singapore for instance will no longer need to get a pre-departure test.

  2. Just checked. There’s a raffles medical group clinic at the airport, and nearby Changi city point also have quick test centres to do ART. But knowing CAG, they’ll probably set up a quick test sector in the airport by the time the new procedures start.

    1. That would be ideal. Raffles I hear is quite swamped with all the tests that there is a long waiting time. Alternatively, if you take the MRT 1 stop away at Expo, just outside Changi City Point, there is a quick test booth.

  3. Are you sure USA is 1 and below? If you are 2 years or older, you must get tested no more than 1 day before your flight to the US departs.

    1. @Alan Leads the way? In what regard? Numerous European countries require no on-arrival or pre-departure testing. Singapore is miles behind and probably always will be.

  4. My wift and I are currently scheduled to land at Changi from Australia on a VTL flight at 23:20 on a Saturday night. When I look to book a supervised ART test in advance, using the https://go.gov.sg/traveller-art-test link, the options seem limited to 5 slots per testing centre and the only one that seems to be available around arrival time on Saturday/Sunday is Farrer Park Hospital, but even that only seems to have 5 slots between 12am and 1am on the Sunday. How difficult is it to find a booking at that arrival time? Also, if I make a booking in advance and my flight is delayed can I cancel my booking?

    Thanks

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