Update: India is scrapping pre-departure PCR testing for travellers from (and through) Singapore on 13th February 2023. See here for details.
There’s bad news for those of you travelling from Singapore to India next year, with the country set to re-impose mandatory pre-departure PCR testing for travellers from six Asian countries including Singapore, effective from 1st January 2023.
This will mean the inconvenient necessity for travellers to arrange a clinic or home visit for this costly test for all family members prior to taking a trip to India from Sunday this week, as announced by Minister of Health Mansukh Mandaviya on Twitter earlier today.
Further details have also been provided in this press release from India’s Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
India first dropped pre-departure PCR testing for arrivals from Singapore in February 2022, with travellers subject only to full vaccination. Only last month, the country went further and scrapped vaccination requirements, its arrival form, and mandatory mask-wearing on flights.
The news comes, somewhat embarrassingly, only a day after the Indian High Commission denied reports that travellers from Singapore would be included in the list of those requiring a pre-departure test to travel to India.
This about-turn is no doubt primarily associated with concerns over China’s very high COVID-19 infection rates, combined with its almost total relaxation of border restrictions for its own citizens from 8th January 2023, which may lead to a surge in travel.
Singapore confirmed only yesterday it has no plans to tighten entry requirements for travellers from China “at this juncture”, which may have contributed to India’s decision, given the inevitable popularity of Singapore with Chinese tourists.
The mandatory pre-departure PCR test will have to be conducted within 72 hours of departure to India, for those arriving in India from 10am on 1st January 2023.
It applies to those arriving from the following countries:
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
This new process will mean a reinstatement of the Air Suvidha Form for all travellers, since the negative pre-departure results will once again need to be uploaded via that online portal (last used in November).
It’s not yet clear whether those who are merely transiting in Singapore and the other countries listed on the way to India will be affected by the requirement. Update 31st December 2022: Those transiting in Singapore (or the other countries listed) without completing immigration in that country do not need to fill a Self-Declaration form or require a negative PCR test report to enter India. (Source: Delhi Airport Twitter)
Further Update 4th January 2023: Authorities have now confirmed that transit passengers from non-high risk countries who transit in a high risk country like Singapore do need to have a negative PCR test report to enter India, and complete the Air Suvidha form. See here for details.
A random 2% of international travellers (aged 5+) will also undergo a PCR test on arrival in India, in a policy recently re-established just as China began to relax its border measures earlier this month.
This new requirement will add at least S$50 per person in trip costs for India – Singapore travel from next year, but on average the cost of PCR tests in Singapore is still a significant S$106, based on our most recent survey.
Several providers also offer at home and express results options, usually for a higher fee. See our comprehensive guide to COVID-19 testing costs in Singapore for more information.
Just as it had almost completely gone away, even for travel to China and Hong Kong, COVID-19 testing is coming back for Singapore travellers heading to India.
This no doubt stems from concerns over COVID-positive travellers in China beginning to travel extensively once again after three years of lockdowns, including to neighbouring Asia-Pacific countries, a move seen as irresponsible by many while so many of its citizens have contracted the virus.
Several other countries have begun imposing testing on arrivals from China in the last couple of days, including the USA and Japan.
It certainly seems like a “back to 2020” step, but given Singapore’s recent reiteration that it does not intend to change arrival restrictions for those coming from China at this stage, we may find more countries considering us a risk and imposing similar restrictions in the coming weeks.
Let’s hope this new trend is short-lived and doesn’t grow too much further for Singapore residents.
(Cover Photo: Sylwia Bartyzel)