Flying back to Singapore under the new VTF scheme as a fully vaccinated traveller is now the simplest process it has been since the start of the pandemic, but there’s still one unpopular obstacle differentiating the experience from before COVID times – the pre-departure test.
While this swab requirement is hopefully on the way out in the coming weeks, it’s unfortunately still in force for now, and applies to all returning travellers aged two or older in the current calendar year, except for recently recovered travellers.
Good news is that the overseas supervised Tele-ART option has now had its approval expanded to all countries, providing travellers minimum inconvenience when it comes to meeting this requirement, from as little as S$9 plus the cost of your own approved rapid test kit.
The pre-departure test (PDT) requirement is:
- A negative clinic PCR test; or
- A professionally administered (clinic) ART test
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).
Supervised video ART test alternative
Since mid-March Singapore has approved the used of supervised video ART providers based here to offer this service to returning Singapore residents during the same two-day pre-departure window, provided they are:
- a Singapore Citizen, Permanent Resident, Long-Term Pass Holder or Work Pass Holder; and
- physically present in any overseas country at the time of the test; and
- using an ART provider in Singapore offering such services.
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.
Unfortunately the option is not currently available for short-term visitors (e.g. US Citizens visiting Singapore as tourists).
Since 5th April 2022, this overseas supervised video ART service is valid for those arriving from all countries, having initially been restricted to a specific list.
That’s great news for those making quarantine-free trips to regional locations like Thailand and Bali, which were not on the original approved list but can now benefit from this simple pre-departure testing process.
Cheapest overseas Tele-ART options
At the time of writing, a total of over 120 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 in overseas countries.
Prices currently 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 19th 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|
|Kingston Medical||S$12.00||9am – 6pm|
|S$25.00||6pm – 9am|
(via mobile app)
|S$12.00||8.30am – 5pm|
|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 and compare with 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 (e.g. via Zoom / Teams), depending on which provider you choose.
You’ll need an internet connection, and we’d recommend using 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 clinic ART tests suitable for travel from Singapore start at S$18, while a PCR test starts at S$81.
The more convenient supervised video ART test option for returning Singapore residents has now been expanded to all countries, meaning all Singapore residents can take advantage before returning home from any country.
In most locations this means lower costs for this mandatory pre-departure test than you’ll find at clinics, hospitals or airport locations overseas.
There’s also the convenience factor of a supervised swab, taking only 30 minutes, which may be a better prospect than having to plan a clinic visit during one of the final days of your trip.
Hopefully pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated travellers heading to Singapore will be abolished soon, but until then we’ll be keeping this list of the cheapest options up to date for your reference.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)