Changi Airport News Travel VTL

Singapore scraps Vaccinated Travel Lanes, reopens to all countries from 1 April

Singapore is reopening its borders to fully vaccinated travellers from around the world on 1st April, ditching its complex VTL process and allowing travellers to enter quarantine-free on any flight.

With neighbouring countries in the Asia-Pacific region making the shift to COVID-19 endemicity and relaxing entry restrictions in recent weeks and months, we have been eagerly awaiting news of Singapore’s next step to relax its border measures, as the country’s wave of Omicron infections subsides.

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The Multi-Ministry Taskforce has now announced that from 1st April 2022 the complex Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme will finally be disbanded, around seven months after it was first introduced, and replaced with a simpler Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) concept, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to enter from all countries on any flight.

“Normal travel will resume almost to pre-COVID times for fully vaccinated persons.”

Ong Ye Kung, Singapore Minister for Health

On-arrival testing is being removed, with pre-departure tests also potentially set to be scrapped, following a review in two to four weeks from now.

“We are now ready to fully reopen our borders and welcome travellers. From 1 April, all fully vaccinated travellers can enter Singapore quarantine-free under the Vaccinated Travel Framework.”

S. Iswaran, Singapore Minister for Transport

The news comes exactly two years to the day since Singapore closed its borders to all short-term visitors, and limited entry for work pass holders, a policy that took effect on 24th March 2020.

Other relaxations to Singapore’s safe management measures, including group sizes and mask-wearing mandates, will also by relaxed a few days earlier than the border reopening, from 29th March 2022.

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Here’s what we know so far as the details of the border relaxation are being released, with more specifics to follow.

Singapore Border Reopening
Vaccinated Travel Framework
Key Points

  • From 1st April 2022, fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel to Singapore from any country, except those with 7-day travel history including countries on the ‘Restricted’ list (currently impossible, there are none!)
  • A booster dose is not required
  • Children aged 12 or below are exempt from the vaccination requirement
  • Short-term visitors will no longer need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP)
  • Short-term visitors will need travel insurance, with a minimum S$30,000 cover
  • The SG Arrival card (for all travellers) will be simplified
  • Pre-departure test remains (PCR or ART within 2 days of departure)
  • Travellers can arrive on any flight, operated by any airline
  • No more on-arrival test
  • No quarantine on arrival

  VTF Process (ICA)

Proof of vaccination for short-term visitors will be moved from the VTP, which is being scrapped, into the simplified SGAC (Arrival Card).

In time, the pre-departure test (PDT) requirement for air travel will also be removed, making the process when flying to Singapore almost completely pre-COVID. This may be possible within “two to four weeks”, according to Ministers.

That would be a fantastic step for travellers, removing the worry about being stranded overseas due to a positive PDT result.

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Most of Singapore’s current list of VTL countries, including all countries in Europe, for example, already do not require fully vaccinated visitors to complete a PDT, so hopefully two-way quarantine-free and test-free travel is on the horizon for Singapore residents to and from many countries in the near future.

Note: For those entering Singapore by land, the pre-departure test requirement will be removed from 1st April 2022.

Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to enter Singapore from all countries on any flight from 1st April 2022. (Photo: Changi Airport Group)

All these relaxations are clearly fantastic news for travellers, airlines and Changi Airport, and the shift to a simpler border process will certainly help us all get travelling to more places, for lower costs and with less inconvenience than before.

“Under the new Vaccinated Travel Framework, CAAS will allow all fully vaccinated travellers from any country or region to enter Singapore quarantine-free, as long as they have not visited any countries or regions on the MOHโ€™s Restricted Category in the past seven days.

“There are currently no countries or regions [in] the Restricted Category.”

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Fully vaccinated?

In order to be considered fully vaccinated for entry into Singapore under the VTF, you must meet one the following conditions at least two weeks before arrival:

  • Received the full regimen of WHO EUL Vaccines (see below) and meet the minimum dose interval period; or
  • If you contracted COVID-19 before being vaccinated, you must have received at least one dose of any WHO EUL Vaccine (see below) at least 28 days from your first diagnosis of a COVID-19 infection. You must produce acceptable proof of your first positive COVID-19 diagnosis in this case.

Approved Vaccines

Manufacturer / Vaccine Doses Minimum interval between doses
Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty 2 doses 17 days
Moderna 2 doses 24 days
AstraZeneca 2 doses 24 days
Covaxin 2 doses 24 days
Serum Institute of India (Covishield) 2 doses 24 days
Janssen / J&J 1 dose N/A
Sinopharm 2 doses 17 days
Novavax 2 doses 17 days
Sinovac 2 doses 13 days
Two doses of different vaccine types, both from the list above 2 doses 17 days

Proof of vaccination is preferably via digitally-verifiable means (QR code), but non-digital (paper-based) certificates are also accepted. See here for full details.

What about arriving from Malaysia via land?

These new border measures apply to travellers arriving in Singapore by air from all countries, including Malaysia, but what many of our readers are also eager to know is what relaxations will be made for the land border.

The Ministry of Health has stated that this will form part of a separate joint announcement with their Malaysian counterparts, so stay tuned for that.

“We are also working towards the full resumption of land travel with Malaysia for fully vaccinated persons. Details on the exact border measures for fully vaccinated travellers entering Singapore via the land borders will be announced jointly with Malaysia.”

Singapore Ministry of Health

What about those arriving from restricted countries?

Singapore’s list of restricted countries is currently empty, with all countries and regions around the world in the ‘General Travel’ category.

The restricted category may be used in future, for example if a new COVID-19 variant of concern emerges in a specific location.

“In the event of a new variant with potentially significant public health risk, we may re-classify significantly affected countries/regions under the Restricted Category with stringent border measures, such as the need for entry approvals for short-term visitors to enter Singapore.”

Singapore Ministry of Health

If the list is used in future, travellers with a seven-day travel history including one or more restricted countries will be subject to the following requirements:

  • A pre-departure PCR test is mandatory (rather than the VTF traveller requirement comprising either a PCR or ART test)
  • An on-arrival PCR test will be conducted
  • Seven-day SHN at a dedicated facility will be enforced on arrival in Singapore, at a cost of S$1,015
  • A mandatory PCR test before the end of the SHN period, which will be arranged by ICA, at a cost of S$125

Let’s hope this category remains empty and does not need to be used, however in the event that it does come into force one option for travellers will be to clear their seven-day travel history of restricted countries by travelling to a ‘General Travel’ country for at least a week, before flying to Singapore.

Farewell VTL

Singapore was one of the first countries in the Asia-Pacific region to pioneer quarantine-free travel for those fully vaccinated against COVID-19 with a pilot programme from Brunei and Germany way back in September 2021.

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Some analysts said the scheme was “not scaleable” way back in October last year, but boy did Singapore prove them wrong!

Since then the VTL has been expanded to 32 countries, most of which allow two-way quarantine-free travel for Singapore residents, and boasts close to 1,000 weekly flight arrivals at Changi operated by 34 different airlines.

Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lanes

2-way quarantine-free

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡บ Australia
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ญ Cambodia
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฏ Fiji
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France

๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ท Greece
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ณ India
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡พ Malaysia
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ป Maldives
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands

๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ญ Philippines
๐Ÿ‡ถ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Qatar

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Saudi Arabia
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท South Korea
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Sri Lanka
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ญ Thailand
๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿ‡ท Turkey

๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡ช UAE
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ง UK
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ USA

๐Ÿ‡ป๐Ÿ‡ณ Vietnam

1-way quarantine-free
(to Singapore)

๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ณ Brunei
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Hong Kong

๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฉ Indonesia

Updated: 23 March 2022

The VTL concept was always a temporary solution of course, purely a way to get quarantine-free travel started from identified safer countries at a time when vaccination was still rolling out at different paces around the world.

“The VTL has served as an effective pathfinder to help us adjust and refine our protocols and to build public confidence in reopening our borders safely to vaccinated travellers.”

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Thankfully the scheme has now run its course, with high vaccination rates both in Singapore and worldwide.

Those touching down in Singapore from 1st April 2022 will no longer need to arrive on a designated VTL flight, since the scheme will then be terminated.

“Airlines no longer need to operate designated VTL flights into Singapore, and fully vaccinated travellers may now enter Singapore on any flight. Correspondingly, there will no longer be quotas applied on daily arrivals.”

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore
VTL flights came with many complex requirements, and they often changed

Our full list of VTL flights to Singapore shows that on the final day of the scheme (31st March 2022), 140 designated flights will land at Changi tagged with the quarantine-free seal of approval, operated by 34 different airlines from 29 different countries.

That’s out of around 200 total passenger flight arrivals at Changi the same day, so the VTL programme already covers the majority of arriving flights (70%) anyway.

The concept has also become a bit pointless in many ways.

Not everyone travelling on VTL flights was even tested, since those in transit at Changi no longer need to have a pre-flight swab unless their destination country requires it (which many now don’t).

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Those travelling on fifth freedom VTL flights, like Rome to Copenhagen and Barcelona to Milan, who don’t continue to Singapore, don’t even need to comply with any of the VTL requirements, meaning passengers travelling all the way through to Singapore could be sat next to someone unvaccinated or untested for the intra-Europe hop.

It’s good news for airlines and travellers

Singapore’s VTL artificially limits capacity due to arrival caps, and unfortunately this affects fares and redemption opportunities.

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This new policy will give airlines the freedom to restore services to Singapore from non-VTL countries, and operate all flights from VTL locations as regular quarantine-free options, rather than having a mixture of both on the same route.

Turkish Airlines is operating daily flights from Istanbul to Singapore, but only its Sunday service is a designated VTL option. Now the airline will be able to carry passengers quarantine-free on all flights. (Photo: Adam Moreira)

Effectively, airlines will be able to react more ‘naturally’ to demand and border openings, as they did before COVID-19 and as they have been doing in other countries again more recently.

It’s good news for Changi Airport

One of the key aims for travel relaxation is undoubtedly to restore Changi Airport’s hub status once again in the region.

“Singapore is taking a major step forward to restore air connectivity to the world, to rebuild and reclaim Singaporeโ€™s position as a premier air hub.”

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

Before the VTLs came along, Changi Airport was recording less than 10,000 passengers per day (it has more luggage trollies than that!). That was the same total that usually passed through the terminals, on average, every 6 minutes, before COVID-19.

Changi Airport had more luggage trollies than daily passengers between April 2020 and October 2021. The VTLs finally changed that, but totals are still less than 15% of pre-COVID.

The VTLs have certainly helped change this, as anyone who has flown recently will tell you, with the airport more bustling again, especially during peak departure hours in the late evening.

Passenger traffic has gone from around 4% of pre-COVID levels in August 2021, just before the first VTLs kicked off, to 14% in February 2022.

Minister Iswaran confirmed today that the total has since reached around 18% in the most recent week (mid-March 2022).

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The airport operator and the government will certainly be hoping that these latest travel and border relaxations will serve to boost the airport to much more significant traffic levels than now, perhaps even to 50% or more this year.

Safe Management Measures

Many Singapore residents will also be curious about the changes to Safe Management Measures in Singapore itself.

Here’s an infographic summary from CNA about these changes, which take effect from 29th March 2022.

SMM changes from 29th March 2022
(Source: CNA)

Summary

Earlier this month we already knew Singapore’s complex Vaccinated Travel Lane concept was on the way out, but not exactly when that would happen.

Now we have our answer – 1st April 2022 will be the day you no longer have to take a designated VTL flight to Singapore, or arrive with a specific travel history including only certain countries, with all fully vaccinated travellers welcomed on any flight from across the world.

Singapore retains the option to activate its country exclusion (or ‘Restricted’) list, in the event of serious outbreaks or new variants, but for the time being everyone will be welcome to arrive from Friday next week via the simple VTF process, without serving any quarantine, provided they are fully vaccinated.

This is great news for travel, Changi Airport and the airlines operating here, and should unlock hassle-free travel opportunities for many Singapore residents throughout the rest of 2022 and beyond.

The announcement also comes alongside Singapore’s largest relaxation of domestic safe management measures since the start of the pandemic, including allowing people to socialise in groups of 10 and lifting its mandatory mask policy for those in outdoor settings.

(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)

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9 comments

  1. Youโ€™re quicker than ST and CNA wow! Thanks for the great article this will put SG back on the map canโ€™t wait to travel more freely!! ๐Ÿ˜Š

      1. You could take a shortcut to France, they have good wines in Burgundy & Champagne, Iโ€™ve been told. ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Yes – book your flight to anywhere in the world you want to go, return on any flight quarantine-free. Most importantly – enjoy it!

  2. Thanks for this incredible news and all you have done helping us with VTL testing, correct flights, guides and so on all through this time

    Now just need Japan to open and Iโ€™m 100% happy!

    1. Oh yes Japan is one we’re all waiting for. SIA can easily fill its A380s on those flights for a few weeks once that border opens, I have no doubt!

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