Update 10th April
Lion Health now offers the cheapest overseas video pre-departure ART test at S$9
Update 7th April
Minmed is now offering PDT Tele-ARTs at S$12
Update 6th April
Swab N Go has reduced its PDT Tele-ART pricing from S$20 to S$15
Good news for returning Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders, with the Ministry of Health (MOH) now approving supervised Tele-ART swabs conducted by Singapore-based providers as eligible pre-departure tests when returning quarantine-free from any country in the world.
This replaces a previous limitation, which required you to be physically present in one of 52 approved countries (at the last count), with only had one option in South East Asia, which has been quite restrictive for many of our readers taking regional trips.
The latest relaxation will make returning to Singapore under the new Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) simpler than ever for residents, and hopefully comes ahead of an eventual removal of pre-departure testing requirements for all fully vaccinated travellers arriving in the city, in the coming weeks.
All countries are now recognised
Until 4th April 2022, the new supervised Tele-ART service pre-departure test for Singapore residents returning home was only available to those physically present in the following 52 countries.
PDT Tele-ART approved countries
(prior to 5 April – no longer in force)
🇨🇿 Czech Rep.
🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia
🇰🇷 South Korea
🇻🇦 Vatican City
The most recent additions included Canada, South Korea and Switzerland, but popular regional quarantine-free countries like Thailand and Indonesia were still excluded, to the annoyance of many.
Thankfully from 5th April 2022 the MOH has now opened up the option regardless of which country you are returning from or taking your test in.
MOH continues to state that you should not use the Tele-ART “for any other purpose the country or region you are departing from may require testing for, unless the relevant authorities of the country/region have expressly permitted you to do so”.
MOH now also adds:
In other words, this approval is for pre-departure ARTs to satisfy Singapore only, not for testing if you suspect you are COVID-19 positive while you are overseas. For those cases, you should refer to guidance from authorities in your current location for testing, reporting and any applicable isolation requirements.
You can therefore now utilise the overseas supervised video ART service within two days of departure before leaving any country.
Remember this is not a ‘carte blanche’ approval to use any telemedicine provider in these overseas countries, like Project Screen in the UK, for example.
Your provider (the person at the other end of the video call) must be in Singapore, operating as part of an MOH-approved clinic.
The pre-departure test (PDT) requirement is:
- A negative clinic PCR test; or
- A professionally administered (clinic) ART test; or
- A supervised video ART test conducted by an approved provider based in Singapore, whichever country you are physically present in.
This must be taken within two calendar days of departure (e.g. if your flight departs for Singapore at 11.55pm on Wednesday, you can take the test anytime on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday).
Singapore residents only
One part of the supervised video ART pre-departure test that hasn’t changed yet is that it remains an option only for returning Singapore residents, comprising:
- Singapore Citizens; or
- Singapore Permanent Residents; or
- Singapore Long-Term Pass Holders; or
- Singapore Work Pass Holders
Unfortunately the option is not currently available for short-term visitors (e.g. U.S. Citizens visiting Singapore as tourists).
Cheapest overseas Tele-ART options
At the time of writing, a total of over 150 providers in Singapore have been approved by the Ministry of Health (MOH) to offer supervised pre-departure video ART swabs including service provision if you are located overseas.
Arguably the most popular provider to date, Doctor Anywhere, recently hiked its price from S$12.84 to S$21.40 today, but prices elsewhere thankfully start at S$9 plus the cost of your own Singapore-approved ART test kit (~S$5).
MOH also allows you to use a test kit approved for use in the country you are physically present in, but check with your provider first whether they will support this.
Here are over 20 of the providers offering the cheapest rates as of 22nd April 2022 (please feel free to let us know in the comments section if you find other competitive options).
Cost of COVID-19 pre-departure
Overseas Video ART tests
|Clinic / Provider||Price
|Lion Health||S$9.00||8am – 2am|
(via mobile app)
|S$11.00||9am – 9pm|
|Minmed||S$12.00||9am – 9pm|
(via mobile app)
|S$12.00||8.30am – 5pm|
|Kingston Medical||S$14.00||9am – 6pm|
|S$25.00||6pm – 9am|
|Intemedical||S$15.00||8am – 11pm|
|Swab N Go||S$15.00||10am – 7pm|
|Speedoc||S$16.05||9am – 9pm|
|Doctor Anywhere||S$21.40||8am – 10pm|
|S$21.40||9am – 9pm|
|Faircare Medical||S$23.00||9am – 10pm|
|S$46.00||10pm – 9am|
|BCH-ART||S$25.00||8am – 9pm|
|Fullerton Health||S$25.00||9am – 5pm|
9am – 9pm
9am – 5pm
|Swab Station SG /
|S$25.00||8am – 5pm|
|The Tenteram Clinic||S$25.00||6am – 11pm|
|Unihealth||S$25.00||9am – 6pm|
|S$39.00||6pm – Midnight|
|S$49.00||Midnight – 9am|
|Bethesda Medical||S$26.75||24 hours
9am – 6pm
9am – 2pm
(via mobile app)
|Belief Family Clinic
9am – 6pm
9am – 9pm
6pm – 9pm
9pm – Midnight
Midnight – 9am
* Plus the cost of providing your own approved test kit.
Do note that the provider operating hours shown above refer to Singapore Time (SGT). Some providers will ask you to book your test in SGT and others in the local time zone of your approved overseas testing country.
As you can see some providers offer 24-hour testing for overseas Singapore residents returning, while some are restricted to working hours in Singapore itself, or charge more for nighttime appointments.
You can check the current local time in Singapore via this link, which also allows you to view local times in other cities – worth checking before making your overseas Tele-ART booking.
How the Tele-ART works
The Tele-ART process with a provider in Singapore is simple enough, with either an in-app video function or weblink sent to you, depending on which provider you choose. You’ll need an internet connection, and we’d recommend Wi-Fi if possible (beware of exceeding your overseas data roaming limits if you’re using 4G/5G).
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 or one approved in the country you are testing from, with some providers recommending you have a second spare kit on standby in case of invalid results, or in case 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)
PDTs when travelling from Singapore
Don’t forget we have an up-to-date rundown of the cheapest pre-departure test options in Singapore, both for clinic and supervised swabs, for those departing to countries also requiring this test (like the USA and Vietnam).
Pre-departure ART tests suitable for travel from Singapore start at S$21.40, while a PCR test starts at S$88, or S$80 each if there are five of you needing swabbed at the same time.
The much more convenient supervised video ART pre-departure test option for returning Singapore residents has now been expanded to any origin country, great news for travellers especially in regional locations like Thailand and Indonesia, who will no longer need to hunt down a local clinic, provided they are Singapore residents.
This will improve flexibility for many travellers, with the ability to take your test in the comfort of your own hotel room or villa, taking just 30 minutes or less out of your day.
It also hopefully comes not too far in advance of a complete removal of pre-departure testing requirements for fully vaccinated travellers heading to Singapore, which we hope to hear about an be reporting on soon.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)