Singapore Border Restrictions: Poland & Saudi Arabia upgraded to Cat. II; six European countries moved to Cat. III

Singapore will modify its border measures from 23 Sept 2021, easing restrictions for Poland, Saudi Arabia and six other European countries.

Singapore has announced an updated set of border restrictions, which take effect from 22 September 2021, 2359 hours (effectively 23 September 2021). 

The latest developments see Poland and Saudi Arabia moving from Category III to Category II, which means a reduction in SHN duration from 14 to 7 days.

Six European countries also make the move from Category IV to Category III, allowing fully-vaccinated individuals to serve their 14-day SHN at home instead of a hotel. 

There are no new developments on the VTL front, but Category I/II countries remain strong candidates provided they are willing to lift restrictions on vaccinated travellers from Singapore. 

Latest Singapore border measures

Terminal 3 arrival hall

Here’s the summary of the latest border measures for travel to Singapore, effective from 23 September 2021 onwards. 

🛂Singapore Border Restrictions by Category
 Cat. I Cat. II Cat. IIICat. IVVTL
Short-term visitors
Application requiredATPDetails on ICA websiteVTP
Pre-departure PCR test
48h

48h

48h

48h
On-arrival PCR test
SHN
7 days

14 days

14 days
ART during SHNN/A
Day 3, 7, 11

Day 3, 7, 11
N/A
Post-SHN PCR testN/A
Day 7

Day 14

Day 14
No SHN. PCR test on Day 3, 7
Cat I: Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan
Cat II: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, Poland (new), South Korea, Saudi Arabia (new)
Cat III: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria (new), Croatia, Czech Republic (new), Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France (new), Italy, Japan,  Latvia (new), Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal (new), Spain (new), Sweden, Switzerland
Cat IV: All other countries/regions
VTL: Germany, Brunei

As a reminder, the pre-departure PCR test window was tightened from 72 hours to 48 hours on 9 September 2021, and added as a requirement for Category II countries. The ICA’s current policy is that anyone diagnosed or suspected to have a COVID-19 infection in the past 21 days cannot travel to Singapore, which means that a positive pre-departure test would further delay your return. 

The relevant restrictions depend on your 21-day travel history, with the rules of strictest country applying. For example, if I travel from Canada (Category II) to Singapore via Japan (Category III), Category III rules will apply. 

Here’s the relevant SHN measures, depending on your 21-day travel history and vaccination status. 

💉 SHN Measures by Category and Vaccination Status
 Fully-VaccinatedUnvaccinated
VTLNo SHNNot allowed
Category INo SHN
Category II7-day SHN
(home/hotel)
Category III14-day SHN
(home/hotel)
14-day SHN
(hotel)
Category IV14-day SHN
(hotel)

FAQs

What if i transit in a higher category country but don’t actually enter it?

Any amount of time in a higher category country causes those restrictions to apply, even if you don’t legally enter it

So long as you were physically present in a higher category country in the past 21 days, the rules applying to that country take precedence. 

For example, someone who flies on Emirates from Canada to Singapore with a transit in Dubai would be required to do a 14-day SHN in a hotel, notwithstanding the fact that Canada is a Category II country. This is because the UAE is a Category IV country, and your time on the ground, however short, adds it to your 21-day travel history. 

This means that non-stop flights are the way to go for now, unless you’re transiting in a same or lower category country. For example, someone who flies on Cathay Pacific from Canada to Singapore with a transit in Hong Kong could serve a 7-day SHN at home, since Hong Kong is under Category I. 

As a LTP holder, do I need approval to enter Singapore?

Yes. 

Long Term Pass (LTP) holders will need their HR department or CorpPass admin to apply for re-entry approval, which can be done between 3 and 30 days before entering Singapore. The general processing time is one working day (excluding the day of submission). 

If you’re an LTP holder travelling on the VTL, you will be able to apply for a VTP by yourself, without needing to involve your employer. This can be done between 7 and 30 days before entering Singapore, with instant approval/rejection. 

Where can I do my pre-departure test?

Test centre in Munich

The MOH provides a list of recognised competent authorities and accreditation bodies for COVID-19 testing, specifically for Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, India and Philippines.

For all other countries, travellers are advised to seek advice from the relevant Department/ Ministry of Health.

I realise that’s kind of vague, but the general rule is to apply common sense: if the provider is located at the airport or a major hospital, it should pass muster. Alternatively, you can ask the concierge at your hotel for recommendations. 

For what it’s worth, during my Germany trip I used a provider called Medicare, which sent samples to the EuroFins lab for processing. The results were accepted without any issue at check-in. 

What are the requirements for home-based SHN?

Travellers entering under Category II and III rules have the option to serve their SHN at their place of residence, but there’s a difference in the rules and procedures. 

Category III

If Category III rules apply to you, you can serve your SHN at home instead of at a hotel if the following conditions are met:

  • You must be fully-vaccinated (14 days after receiving the full regimen of any vaccine on the WHO EUL)
  • Your 21-day travel history can only include Category I, II and III countries/regions
  • You must make an application via this link to opt out of hotel-based SHN, at least two days prior to travel to Singapore
  • You must occupy your residence alone, or only with household members who are fully vaccinated or unvaccinated minors (12 and below) with the same travel history as you, and who are also serving their SHN of the same duration during the same period
  • You cannot have anyone else present at your residence (e.g. domestic helper) who does not have the same travel history as you

If approved, you will need to pre-book a dedicated transport vehicle prior to arrival in Singapore. Approved providers can be found here, and you can expect to pay S$290 nett per vehicle of four pax. This covers transport from:

  • Checkpoint to residence
  • Residence to testing facility for COVID-19 tests

Category II

The rules for Category II home-based SHN are considerably less strict, compared to Category III.

First of all, there is no need to apply to opt-out of hotel-based SHN. This is confirmed on the opt-out form itself:

Source: ICA

Second, there is no need to arrange for special transport from airport to home. You may take any form of private transport, e.g. taxi or private hire car. 

Third, there is no need to have the entire residence to yourself. Instead, you must have a private room with an attached toilet. Obviously, family members and anyone without the same travel history may not enter your room during this period.

Conclusion

Singapore’s latest set of border measures mean that a traveller content to enter Singapore under Category II rules (note: not VTL) could visit Germany and Poland on a single vacation. Alternatively, he/she could transit in Poland on the way from Germany to Singapore (I can’t remember offhand if LOT is still operating its Singapore flight), opening up more options for award redemptions. 

There’s further good news for the six European countries upgraded to Category III, which they’re making good progress in the eyes of the Singapore authorities. With any luck, these will be up for a further upgrade to Category II and even VTL arrangements in the near future. 

If you asked me to pick the next VTL candidates at the moment, my money would be on South Korea and Switzerland. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion to help people travel better for less and impress chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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lim

japan to be next vtl pls !!!!

Kris

no point to be on the VTL if Japan doesnt accept tourists! all eyes on this!

John

Tokyo transit is infinitely better than HK

Kris

i wonder why UK isn’t upgraded to even a mere Cat 3 yet. people there are really living with the virus endemically, albeit with a high case count.

Lucky 7

That’s exactly contrary to the endemic policy. When have we closed borders to a country for having high flu count?

Hawaii

not very logical from the Singapore government saying they want to live with this virus … UK cases (per capita) are not that much hugely higher than Singapore now experiencing over 1,000 cases a day and taking into account the UK having a much larger land mass and space for people to live and move about.

Lucky 7

It’s not logical to care about case count if the virus is asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic.

For example, more than half the world probably has had HPV at least once in their lives without even knowing. Do we care? no.

Kerry

Any insight on how often upgrades are approved? Really need the UK and Isle of Man to be included in a SHN at home category!

Mike

Good writeup. Think Cat 2 countries would make for realistic holiday plans, assuming the other country lets us in. 7 day SHN + the extra costs for a couple of PCR tests seem reasonable for a two week holiday. Cat 3 (with the $290 cab/14 day SHN) still pretty unrealistic for most leisure travellers.

Last edited 2 years ago by Mike
Diplomacy Watcher

It is probably important to note that unlike the different categories, Singapore’s VTL is one that is “politically created”. As the Republic of Korea (ROK) has revoked visa waiver access for Singapore citizens, it is unlikely, given the principle of reciprocity in international relations, for the Singapore Government to put the ROK on the VTL list. In fact, until recently, the ROK Government refused to issue Quarantine Exemption Certificates to vaccinated Singaporeans with valid visas to enter Korea, on that exact same principle of reciprocity because the Singapore Government unilaterally suspended the Reciprocal Green Lane arrangement with Korea.

JW19

You do know that the Reciprocal Green Lane with Germany was suspended at the same time it was suspended with Korea right?

Diplomacy Watcher

Germany never rescinded visa-free/waiver access for Singapore nationals to Germany even at the height of the pandemic. The Singapore Government was the one which restricted entry access to German/Korean/other nationals in the early days of the pandemic. Ultimately, this action by the Singapore Government would be seen by the Koreans as a political/diplomatic one. The Reciprocal Green Lane was also a bilateral arrangement between Singapore and the other countries, but the base conditions of entry (visa-free/waiver access on either end, or other restrictions if any) for the differing jurisdictions were different in the first place. Whatever the case, for the… Read more »

Josie

What’s the difference between Cat 3 & 4? 🤔

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