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.
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
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.
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.
Arrival testing changes
Till 21 Feb
From 22 Feb
|Test Type||Cost||Test Type||Cost|
* 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.
There may also be a pre-departure test necessary before travelling from Singapore to your VTL country, as shown below (click to expand).
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.
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.
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
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.
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)