Travel VTL

Philippines VTL: Pre-departure ART test now accepted

One of Singapore's simplest regional VTLs just got simpler, with the Philippines now accepting pre-departure ART tests in place of more costly PCR swabs.

Travel to the Philippines, one of Singapore’s most recent Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) countries, is now a simpler process with the country joining the welcome trend of downgrading its pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement from a PCR test to the cheaper, quicker ART method.

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The new rules are already in effect and will reduce costs for travellers from Singapore heading quarantine-free to the Philippines by an average of S$80 per person.

The Philippines reopened to fully vaccinated tourists on 10th February 2022, later joining Singapore’s VTL network on 4th March 2022, for two-way quarantine-free travel.

Manila. (Photo: Shutterstock)

New PDT options

For those arriving in the Philippines from overseas on or after 11th March 2022, the new pre-departure COVID-19 testing options are either:

  • a PCR test within 48 hours of departure; or
  • an ART test within 24 hours of departure.

The timing applies prior to departure at the first embarkation point in a continuous journey to the Philippines (i.e. where you do not leave the airport premises at any transit points).

For most of our readers that means the best option will be to have an ART test within 24 hours of the departure time of your non-stop flight from Singapore.

For example if you are departing to Manila with Jetstar on 3K765 at 4.35pm on Wednesday, simply take a pre-departure ART test from 4.35pm on Tuesday onwards.

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Children aged three or below by date of birth on departure are exempt from the requirement to have a pre-departure test to enter the Philippines.

At the time of writing, Singapore Airlines has yet to update its travel guidance for those entering the Philippines, so you may come up against some resistance when presenting an ART test at the check-in desk, however the staff should be able to reference the IATA Timatic regulations listed above.

Cost savings

Allowing travellers the option to take an ART test will significantly reduce costs, with PCR tests in Singapore on average costing around S$118, though there are a good number of options in the S$90 – S$100 range.

Pre-departure ART tests including a certificate for travel, meanwhile, cost around S$36 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 meaning S$320 for a group of four.

The Shangri-La Boracay. (Photo: Shangri-La)

Convenience is another factor, with most providers in Singapore sending through your ART test results within just one hour of being swabbed, meaning the Philippines’ 24-hour pre-departure window for those taking an antigen rapid test should be more than adequate.

Video ART testing (don’t!)

While Singapore now allows travellers to perform a supervised pre-departure self-swab ART test by video call, the requirements for those taking an antigen test to travel to the Philippines state that it must be “a laboratory-based or clinic-based Antigen test”.

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Since neither of these criteria apply to a supervised self-swab over video link, you should not use a Tele-ART service for pre-departure testing purposes prior to travelling to the Philippines.

Play it safe and visit an approved clinic.

Designated VTL flights

You can take any flight from Singapore to the Philippines and enjoy quarantine-free arrival. It’s the return portion of your trip back to Singapore itself where you must take a specifically-approved designated VTL flight to arrive under the quarantine-free process.

Cebu Pacific is operating designated VTL flights from Manila to Singapore. (Photo: Airbus)

Designated VTL flights from the Philippines to Singapore have been confirmed by Cebu Pacific, Jetstar, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Scoot from four cities; Cebu, Clark, Davao and Manila.

Here’s the latest list of flights you’ll need to book to return to Singapore quarantine-free between now and the end of October 2022 (click to expand):

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= TR389
A321neo
CEB
14:45
SIN

18:30

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

27th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
3K780
A320
CRK
06:40
SIN

10:20
3K774
A320
CRK
14:00
SIN

17:40
 bgcolor= TR387
A320
CRK
18:30
SIN

22:05

Important

From 1st April 2022, there will be no more designated VTL flights to Singapore.
All fully vaccinated travellers can enter quarantine-free on any flight operated by any airline on any route.

4th March 2022 - 31st March 2022

  Days
M T W T F S S
 bgcolor= TR361
A321neo
DVO
14:40
SIN

18:10