Travel VTL

VTL travellers: Round-the-clock arrival video ART testing now available in Singapore

At least four providers in Singapore are now approved to offer Tele-ART swabs for arriving VTL travellers, with one now offering overnight appointment slots at S$22, avoiding the need to isolate for any longer than necessary

Since mid-January, Singapore’s Ministry of Health has been approving rapid antigen (ART) COVID-19 tests via video link with specific private healthcare providers for those travelling overseas to countries that require a pre-departure test (PDT), but also accept ART test results as well as the more expensive PCR tests.

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Helpfully some of the approved clinics are now also approved to conduct these Tele-ART swabs for arriving VTL travellers, allowing you to skip the trip to a QTC/CTC and instead have your test conducted from home or your hotel room.

Better still, one provider is now allowing you to do so at less sociable times of the day for a S$10 premium, allowing you to cease isolation even in ‘the wee small hours’.

VTL on-arrival ART test

Singapore simplified its on-arrival testing for VTL travellers from 22nd February 2022, moving the process away from the airport arrivals area at T1 and T3 while also switching from a S$125 PCR test to a S$15 ART swab.

Travellers must complete this test at one of around 200 QTCs or CTCs across the island, within 24 hours of clearing arrival immigration, but are required to self-isolate at home or their suitable accommodation (e.g. hotel room), except to travel to the test centre, until a negative result is received.

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That can be inconvenient and the option to take a Tele-ART is therefore a popular one, and indeed exactly what we have booked to do on return from our current VTL trip to Thailand.

Tele-ART via supervised video call is a more convenient way for VTL travellers to complete the on-arrival ART test. (Photo: Shutterstock)

The following providers allow you to take a Tele-ART supervised swab by video link for your VTL on-arrival test.

Cost of COVID-19 VTL on-arrival
Daytime supervised Tele-ART tests

Clinic Hours Price (inc. GST)*
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Kingston Medical
9am – 6pm S$12.00
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is DA-Logo.png
DA Clinic
8am – 10pm S$12.84
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Raffles Connect
(via mobile app)
8.30am – 4.30pm S$15.00
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Speedoc
9am – 9pm S$16.05

* Plus the cost of providing your own approved test kit.

The cheapest Tele-ART currently available for on-arrival testing at S$12 + S$5 for your own test kit means a total expense of only around S$17, compared to S$15 at a QTC/CTC.

That’s a no-brainer for most without the hassle of leaving home, unless perhaps you live directly next to a QTC and can already see there’s no queue before leaving home!

24-hour supervised ART testing

One of the downsides of visiting a QTC/CTC for your VTL on-arrival test or using a Tele-ART service is that the operating hours in both cases are generally limited to 8am – 10pm each day.

Given the requirement to self-isolate until you have a negative result in hand, that’s not ideal for those arriving at Changi after around 9pm, with no realistic prospect to attend the swab centre or complete the supervised video process until the next morning.

DA Clinic’s earliest Tele-ART booking slots at 8am aren’t much use if you’re supposed to be at work by then!

Good news is that one provider, Kingston Medical, is now offering 24-hour appointment windows, charging an additional S$10 supplement for slots booked in the 6pm – 9am (overnight) period.

Cost of COVID-19 VTL on-arrival
24-hour supervised Tele-ART tests

Clinic Hours Price (inc. GST)*
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Kingston-Medical.png
Kingston Medical
9am – 6pm S$12.00
6pm – 9am S$22.00

* Plus the cost of providing your own approved test kit.

For example, if you’re touching down at Changi on a VTL flight at 11pm, but you need to be in the office for work or attend a face-to-face meeting at 8am the next day, you can simply select a suitable slot to complete your supervised Tele-ART swab at a time you think you’ll have reached home (say, 00.30am in this case).

Kingston’s supervised video ART slots are in 30-minute windows

The Tele-ART cost will be S$22 in addition to the provision of your own approved test kit (so around S$27 in total per traveller), but that’s probably a price many are willing to pay for this flexibility when arriving late at night on the VTL, allowing you to almost immediately end your arrival isolation at any hour of the day if you wish.

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Results take one to four hours and will be notified by SMS and email, in addition to reflecting in your TraceTogether and HealthHub apps. However, the Kingston team advised us that if you need your results urgently, you can let them know during the call or in advance and they will endeavour to assist.

Pro Tip: Provided you complete your on-arrival test with an approved Tele-ART provider within 24 hours of clearing immigration in Singapore on a VTL trip, you do not need to make a QTC/CTC booking via the weblink provided by ICA, nor report your result. It’s all taken care of at the back end by the clinic, using your IC or passport number.

How the Tele-ART works

The Tele-ART process in Singapore is simple enough, with either an in-app video function or weblink sent to you, depending on which provider you choose. You should allow around 30 minutes for completion, but it should be a bit quicker in most cases.

You will have to provide your own test kit approved for use in Singapore, with a second spare kit on standby in case of invalid results, or if you make a mistake.

Some providers will ask for the test kit brand and/or the LOT number of the kit you’ll be using at the booking stage, so you may have to purchase in advance.

The swab supervisor will then guide you through the process, which typically involves:

  • Verifying your identity by holding your IC or passport up to the camera
  • Showing the unopened ART kit including its LOT number
  • Following the test instructions as guided
  • Leaving the ART kit in view of the camera during the 15 minutes it takes for the test to complete
  • Showing the result to the swab supervisor (you may also be asked to take and upload a photo of the kit once the result is shown)
Note: Singapore’s Tele-ART process is only for use by those physically in the country, for meeting pre-departure or on-arrival requirements. You cannot use Tele-ART services based in Singapore for pre-departure testing overseas (e.g. while in Malaysia, before travelling to Singapore).

Pre-departure ART testing

While round-the-clock appointment booking with Kingston is probably less useful in this case, you can also use Tele-ART services in Singapore prior to departure to a country accepting pre-departure ART swabs.

Currently half of Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries (16 out of 32) still require fully vaccinated travellers to take a PDT, with a variety of requirements, timings and exclusions based on the destination country, as shown in the following table.

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
or
ART
PCR 2 days before departure
or
ART 1 day before departure
Age 5 or below
USA PCR
or
ART
1 day before departure Age 1 or below

As you can see, you’ll be able to take an ART test before departure to Australia, Canada, Fiji, the Netherlands or the USA. You can also take an ART to travel to Malaysia via the Land VTL (but a PCR is still required when travelling to Malaysia by air).

Typically these PDTs must be done within 24 hours (or sometimes one calendar day) of your flight departure, so being able to do so from home is likely to be a far more convenient option rather than interrupt your packing by having to visit a clinic for a swab!

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With costs starting at S$12, plus the test kit cost of approximately S$5 (total S$17), this is also cheaper than the lowest cost in-clinic option we know of at the moment, with Northeast Medical charging S$21.40 for a pre-departure ART test with travel certificate (cheapest clinic ART PDT list here).

You cannot use S$15 swabs at QTCs/CTCs to meet pre-departure test requirements when leaving Singapore.

VTL to Singapore

Here’s a reminder of the current process when flying back to Singapore from a VTL country under the quarantine-free programme.

Singapore
Vaccinated Travel Lanes

Key Features

  • 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
  • Travel to Singapore on designated ‘VTL flights’
  • No restrictions on travel purpose or itineraries
  • Must be fully vaccinated with a WHO-approved vaccine in Singapore, or any VTL country (e.g. Malaysia), 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
  • Unvaccinated children aged 12 or under can accompany their parents
  • Visitors and Singapore work pass holders must apply for a VTP in advance*
  • Pre-departure COVID-19 ART or PCR test within two days of departure (e.g. flight on Wednesday, test on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday)
  • On-arrival COVID-19 ART test within 24 hours of clearing immigration in Singapore, at a QTC/CTC or via an approved Tele-ART provider

* Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders are exempt

  VTL: All you need to know



 


 

Summary

Being able to return on the VTL to Singapore and complete your mandatory on-arrival test (within 24 hours) via supervised video swab already saves you a trip to a QTC/CTC.

However, this new possibility to book a Tele-ART appointment at any time of day through Kingston Medical also gives you the flexibility to be free from self-isolation almost straight away, regardless of your arrival time.

This is the perfect option for those who arrive late but have early commitments the following morning, most commonly including the requirement to be physically present at work!

The onerous VTL concept may well be on the way out, in favour of a total border reopening, but on-arrival testing could remain for a while, so this is a welcome round-the-clock option which will hopefully be joined by other providers soon.

Will you be using the 24-hour Tele-ART option on return from a VTL trip, or have you done so already? Let us know in the comments section below.

(Cover Photo: Doctor Anywhere)

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10 comments

  1. Can we use the tele ART test result for pre departure test for travelling from USA to Singapore? After all it is the same on arrival

      1. Suppose you go for a very short trip (less than 2 days), then this can be the PDT for the journey to Singapore? Like I take this on Friday, travel to a VTL country, and take the flight back to Singapore on Sunday. Currently other supervised ART can be used as PDT if it fulfills the 2 days criteria.

  2. Do all the ones listed for post arrival also offer pre departure? Or are the lists of approved tele art providers different for Pre/post ?

  3. If I book directly with these providers, do I still need to use HPB’s COVID-19 Appointment Booking Portal? Or don’t need because I am using my NRIC? Thanks.

    1. No there is no need, they update ICA at the back end for those taking the VTL on-arrival test, using IC or Passport Number

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