Update 14th March 2022
Maldives no longer requires PCR testing or quarantine for any travellers, vaccinated or unvaccinated.
More good news for less testing and lower costs when travelling on Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) network, with the Maldives no longer imposing a pre-departure PCR test, removing the requirement altogether for fully vaccinated travellers, and giving Singapore residents a S$100 saving per person on quarantine-free trips.
That’s welcome news, especially since the Maldives hiked taxes on Business Class tickets from Male by around S$100 from 1st January this year, directly adding to KrisFlyer redemption costs.
PDT no longer required
Effective from 5th March 2022, the Maldives has removed its pre-departure PCR test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers.
This had been a longstanding arrangement since the onset of COVID-19, and was required of all travellers aged one or above, within 96 hours of their departure.
According to an update from the Maldives Immigration authorities, the following changes are now in effect regarding the PCR requirement:
- Vaccinated travelers are no longer required to present a PCR test result upon arrival to the Maldives.
- Vaccinated tourists who stay on the inhabited islands are no longer required to present the PCR test result during departure.
Passengers will still have to complete a health declaration within 48 hours prior to travelling to the Maldives and prior to returning from the Maldives.
Unvaccinated children aged one and above will still require a pre-departure PCR test within 96 hours of departure.
Unfortunately these new rules have not yet been promulgated into the IATA Timatic system, used by many airlines, nor are they reflected by Singapore Airlines at the time of writing, so you’ll probably come up against the former PCR requirement at the check-in desk, even though it has been officially dropped.
If you’re making a trip in the coming days, it may be safer to comply with the test requirement until these sources have been updated, since it will be impossible to then get a PCR test and still make it on board your flight if the airline digs its heels in.
In order to travel to the Maldives quarantine-free as a non-resident, you must present a COVID-19 vaccination certificate showing that you were fully vaccinated at least 14 days before departure with one of the following:
- AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria or SK Bioscience)
- Sputnik V
If you are recently recovered from COVID-19, you can alternatively provide a a positive COVID-19 PCR test taken at most 60 days before arrival, and a recovery certificate.
Unvaccinated children aged 17 or below can travel to the Maldives with their fully vaccinated parents, but remember they will still be subject to the pre-departure PCR test unless they are aged below one.
VTL countries still requiring pre-departure testing
With the Maldives now off the list, a total of 16 VTL countries will require a pre-departure test for fully vaccinated Singapore residents in the outbound direction from Changi.
You’ll be subject to testing requirements when travelling to the following countries, in addition to VTL testing 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
If you are heading to a country requiring pre-departure testing, be sure to check our comprehensive updated guide to the cheapest PCR and ART options available in Singapore.
VTL countries not requiring any pre-departure testing are now:
- Saudi Arabia
- Sri Lanka
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
That’s a total of 16 two-way quarantine-free options with no outbound PDT requirement, for cheaper trips with much less hassle involved.
VTL flights Male – Singapore
The Maldives joined Singapore’s VTL on 16th December 2021, with no designated quarantine-free flights in the outbound direction (take any flight to the Maldives).
Those visiting the Maldives can return to Singapore on designated quarantine-free services operated by Singapore Airlines, as shown below (click to expand):
The 737 MAX joins the Maldives route
Good news for SIA’s Maldives travellers from 22nd March 2022 is that the airline is swapping out the older ex-SilkAir Boeing 737-800s on the route with new Boeing 737-8 MAX aircraft.
These feature a new flat-bed Business Class seat, while those in Economy can enjoy seat-back in-flight entertainment and everyone on board can stay connected through the Wi-Fi system, all big positives on the relatively long red-eye VTL flight back to Singapore.
Check out our article from last month for full details of the changes on this route.
Process to Singapore
Obviously no testing now applies for fully vaccinated Singapore residents heading to the Maldives, but on the way back to Singapore the latest process will apply, as shown below.
VTL Process Singapore
- Must be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine in Singapore, or any VTL country (e.g. Maldives), or any EU member state, or any non-EU countries that have joined the EU DCC system
- Must have an accepted digital proof of vaccination
- Must have stayed in a VTL country/region and/or an approved travel history country (EEA + 3) and/or Singapore for the last 7 consecutive days
- Apply for a VTP in advance*
- Purchase COVID-19 travel insurance (min. coverage of S$30,000)*
- Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or ART test (up to 2 days before departure)
- Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’ (see above)
- Take an on-arrival supervised COVID-19 ART test within 24 hours
- Self-isolate until the result is available
* Not applicable for Singapore Citizens, permanent residents or long-term pass holders
Maldives VTL testing costs
Here are the approximate testing costs for a Singapore – Maldives – Singapore trip, using the VTL on your return, now that no pre-departure test is required on the outbound journey.
|Maldives pre-departure (ART)*||~S$50|
|SG on-arrival (supervised ART)||S$15|
* Prices vary based on provider
With no more expensive PCR pre-departure testing when travelling to the Maldives, a VTL trip to and from the islands should now pick up only around S$65 per person in testing costs, one of the less expensive and more straightforward on Singapore’s quarantine-free list.
Some resorts in the Maldives only offer PCR tests, though it’s possible to arrange an ART test at many properties, and in Male itself. Check with your hotel, in case you need to budget for a pre-departure PCR on the way back to Singapore, typically costing around S$200.
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, which would make your Maldives trip completely free as far as testing is concerned.
Pre-departure PCR testing in Singapore isn’t short of options, but it is expensive and potentially inconvenient, so this removal of the requirement when travelling to the Maldives is a welcome improvement for this VTL.
Families in particular will enjoy big savings, for example at least S$400 for four travellers, money that can be better spent on flights, hotels and other travel expenses (like the new Maldives departure tax!). You’ll now need to budget around S$65 per person for testing costs on most Maldives trips.
Overall there are now 16 out of 32 countries on Singapore’s VTL list not requiring any outbound testing for fully vaccinated travellers or younger children, including the UK, France, Italy, India and Spain.
Let’s hope for even more additions to this list in the coming weeks, as the milder Omicron variant subsides globally and border restrictions are progressively relaxed.
Hat-tip to OMAAT
(Cover Photo: Anantara)