Great news for those heading to the USA, with the government there confirming that pre-departure testing requirements will be relaxed from Sunday this week, meaning no PCR or ART swab test for those touching down from Sunday 12th June 2022 onwards.
While the test itself was inexpensive, costing Singapore residents from just S$9 via a Tele-ART service, up to around S$25 for a clinic-based test, the inconvenience and added complication of the process was the major issue for travellers.
For returning US Citizens, this policy change also removes the worry of testing positive before departure on the trip home, which has put many people off travelling overseas due to the fear of becoming unable to return as planned.
The news comes ahead of the peak summer holiday season, and also in time for many Singapore families taking advantage of the June school holiday period.
History of USA testing requirements
The USA has had a variety of travel restrictions, including testing, since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in March 2020. Here’s a summary:
- 14th March 2020
USA applied a travel ban for non-residents arriving from EU countries.
- 26th January 2021
USA began requiring pre-departure testing for all international arrivals, in the form of a PCR or ART test within three calendar days of departure.
- 8th November 2021
USA replaced travel bans for arrivals from specific countries with a vaccination requirement for all travellers aged 18+ arriving from overseas.
- 6th December 2021
USA tightened its pre-departure testing window to one calendar day before departure. PCR or ART tests still accepted.
- 12th June 2022
USA removes pre-departure testing requirement for travellers.
Since January 2021, all travellers aged two or above heading to the USA from overseas have been obliged to have a pre-departure COVID-19 test in order to check in for their flight, in the form of a PCR or professionally-administered or observed antigen (ART) test.
Initially you could take the test within three calendar days of your flight departure day (e.g. if departing on Thursday, you could test on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday).
However, the rules were tightened in early December 2021 over Omicron variant concerns, and the USA has since insisted on the test being completed within one calendar day of departure, in the form of:
- a PCR test within one day of departure; or
- an ART test within one day of departure.
Currently it means that if you’re departing for the USA on a Thursday, for example, you must test on either Wednesday or Thursday, but no earlier.
Departure refers to the timing of your flight to the USA, or the first flight in a series of flights to the USA booked as a single ticket with en-route connections, where transit times at intermediate airports are no longer than 24 hours.
New USA test requirements
If your departure to the USA is on or after 00:01 Eastern T