Photo credit: The Travel Intern
Since the introduction of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes, travelling is no longer just a dream in this Covid pandemic. But that also means there are many changes to the way we travel.
Before we dive into the various travel restrictions, here’s a quick recap on what the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) is about:
The VTL is a scheme that allows fully vaccinated travellers to skip quarantine in specific countries upon arrival, as well as Singapore upon return. For this to happen, certain conditions need to be fulfilled.
From taking pre-departure Covid-tests to booking designated VTL flights, here’s what you need to know before going on a trip overseas!
*As these travel restrictions are constantly changing, we will be updating this piece regularly so bookmark this for future reference!
Photo credit: The Travel Intern
Singapore currently has arrangements with 27 countries under the VTL scheme.
They include Brunei, Germany, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, United Kingdom, United States, South Korea, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden, Indonesia, India, Australia and Malaysia.
Six more countries will also be included, with Thailand starting 14 December and Cambodia, Fiji, Maldives, Sri Lanka and Turkey starting 16 December. However, these countries have already opened their borders to vaccinated travellers.
The VTL scheme with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates is also currently deferred due to the new Omicron variant of the virus.
Some exceptions to the scheme are Brunei and Indonesia, which is currently not open to Singapore for leisure travel and Australia, which will only open certain states such as Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales and Victoria to vaccinated Singaporeans.
*Note: Travellers from Singapore to India are still required to undergo quarantine. However, visitors from Brunei, India, Indonesia and Australia can enter Singapore on a designated VTL flight and skip quarantine.
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You must be fully vaccinated to travel and this includes the 14 days after you have completed the second dose of the vaccine. Only vaccines on the World Health Organisation Emergency Use Listing will be recognised — these include Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty and Moderna.
After which, you’ll need to obtain a digital vaccination certificate as proof of your vaccination status, which can be done on Notarise.
As of 25 November 2021, Singapore-issued vaccination certificates have also been recognised as the equivalent of Europe’s Digital Covid Certificate. This means that travellers can be exempted from restrictions such as Covid tests and quarantine when moving across borders in Europe as well as 18 non-EU countries.
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Depending on the country you’re travelling to, you might need to take a pre-departure Covid test.
This can be either the Polymerase Chain Reaction Test (PCR) or the Antigen Rapid Test (ART). The former involves a thorough throat and nasal swab while the latter is a simple nasal swab.
France, Malaysia*, the Netherlands, United Kingdom
*applies to both air and land travel.
Negative PCR test 72 hours before departure: Australia, Cambodia, Canada, Fiji, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Switzerland, Thailand, the United States
Negative PCR/ART test 72 hours before entering the country: Italy, Germany#, Turkey#
#PCR test is not required if you have a digital vaccination certificate
Negative PCR test 96 hours before departure: Maldives
Find out where to take your PCR test from the Ministry of Health’s approved list.
*Pro-tip: UOB Cardmembers can take the Covid test at a special rate at certain Fullerton Health outlets
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In this Covid situation, wearing masks has become the new norm. So apart from your clothes and other travel essentials, remember to pack in masks as well as it may be mandatory in certain countries!
Mandatory mask-wearing indoors and on public transport (incl. taxis): Australia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland*, France, Korea, Germany, Italy, Maldives, the Netherlands*, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland*, United Kingdom, United States
*Masks are required on public transport but not necessarily indoors as it’s up to the various establishments
*Note: Mask-wearing is generally not compulsory outdoors for the countries listed above, unless there are certain circumstances. Do check the destination country before going.
Mandatory mask-wearing indoors and outdoors: Cambodia, Malaysia, South Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Turkey
*Note: Various cities/states in certain countries have different rules regarding mask-wearing so do check beforehand
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You never know what may happen overseas, especially during this uncertain period. So it’s best to have insurance that covers Covid-related matters such as overseas medical expenses, quarantine overseas, repatriation or trip cancellation due to Covid.
In some cases, such as South Korea, you’re required to purchase travel insurance for the entire trip, with a minimum coverage of ₩30,000,000 (~S$34,000) for Covid-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs.
Here’s a sweet deal for UOB Cardmembers, get 40% off a single-trip plan and 20% off an annual plan from pre- to post-trip!
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Besides taking pre-departure Covid tests, you’ll also need to prepare documents to enter certain countries.
Here’s a breakdown:
Australian Capital Territory
*Note: Remember to check if you need to apply for a visa to the destination country too
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Take note that some countries might require you to take a PCR test upon arrival so do check the requirements for your destination country before you go!
Here’s what we know so far:
Australia: Take a PCR test within 24 hours after arrival and complete a three-day quarantine period. Travellers also need to undergo another PCR test on day six.
Cambodia: On-arrival, take an ART test and wait 15-20mins until the results are out.
Canada: Travellers can be randomly selected for an on-arrival test.
Fiji: Upon arrival, travellers must head to their pre-booked accommodation at a Care Fiji Commitment (CFC) certified property (minimum three-nights) and take an ART test there after two days.
Malaysia: An on-arrival PCR and ART test is required via air and land travel respectively. In addition, travellers must complete a professionally administered ART test on day three and five, as well as a self-swab ART test on day two, four and six. The results are to be submitted on the MySejahtera application.
South Korea: Before your departure flight, make an online booking for the test at any of the three Covid testing centres in Incheon International Airport.
Travellers must take the test upon arrival and if you remain in South Korea for eight days or more, you are required to take another PCR test at a Korean government-approved medical clinic on day six or seven.
Switzerland: A PCR/ART test is required between day four and seven after entry. After which, you must report the results to the competent cantonal office.
Thailand: Undergo a PCR test at a pre-booked government-approved hotel where travellers must stay for a night until the results are out. Take a self-swab ART test on day six or seven and submit the result in the MorChana application.
Turkey: Travellers can be randomly selected for an on-arrival test.
United Kingdom: Take a test at a self-swab facility or a house swab anytime before day two of your arrival.
*Note: Arrival day is counted as day zero for Australia, South Korea and the United Kingdom
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For countries that require travellers to take a PCR test on arrival, you’ll need to head straight to your accommodation to self-isolate while waiting for the results — usually within 24 hours.
Be sure to book a nice accommodation with an attached toilet as you might not be able to step out for the day. Some sites you can check out are Agoda, Booking.com, and Expedia, where you can enjoy attractive discounts with UOB Cards.
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You can travel to any VTL country on any flight (except South Korea), but you must take a designated VTL flight directly back to Singapore.
Check which airlines are operating designated VTL flights to Singapore down below:
|Asiana Airlines||South Korea|
|Emirates||United Arab Emirates|
|Eithad Airways||United Arab Emirates|
|British Airways||The United Kingdom|
|Jetstar Asia||Australia, Malaysia|
|KLM Royal Dutch Airlines||The Netherlands|
|Korean Air||South Korea|
|Royal Brunei Airlines||Brunei|
|Scoot||Australia, Germany, Malaysia, South Korea, Saudi Arabia|
|Singapore Airlines||Australia, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, The Netherlands, United Arab Emirates, The United Kingdom, The United States|
|United Airlines||The United States|
On another note, you are also required to stay in the VTL destination for at least 14 days before departure to Singapore.
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Once you’ve booked your flight home, here’s a couple more things you’ll need to do before returning to Singapore.
1) Take a PCR test within 48 hours before departure at an internationally accredited or recognised laboratory, clinic, or medical facility in the country, and test negative for Covid.
2) Submit an SG Arrival Card (SGAC) with pre-trip health and travel history declaration three days before your arrival in Singapore.
3) Book an on-arrival PCR test at Changi Airport before departure.
4) Take a post-arrival supervised ART test on days three and seven at Quick Test Centres (QTC) or Combined Test Centres (CTC).
5) Take a post-arrival self-administered ART test on days two, four, five and six.
You are not allowed to take public transport upon arrival in Singapore so arrange for a private hire straight to your accommodation and self-isolate until you receive a negative result from the Covid test.
*Note: Arrival day is counted as day one for Singapore.
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As more VTLs open up, we’re grateful to be able to travel once again. However, we still need to keep in mind the various restrictions in place and stay updated with the ever-changing Covid situation.
Research your destination country a few days before you fly off from resources such as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website, the respective country’s embassy website and various airlines’ websites.
Also look up what are the social distancing rules implemented in the country, such as if masks are mandatory and what you can or cannot do there.
Bookmark this article as we’ll be updating the ever-changing restrictions as they come. Hopefully in the next update, more VTL countries will be added to this list!