Breaking: Singapore launches VTL with South Korea from 15 November

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Singapore will launch a VTL with South Korea from 15 November 2021, adding two-way quarantine-free travel for fully-vaccinated individuals.

Singapore has announced that South Korea will be the next country added to the VTL scheme, paving the way for two-way quarantine-free travel from 15 November 2021.

Singapore Airlines will be converting its 6X weekly flights to/from Seoul into VTL flights from 16 November (there’s no flight scheduled on 15 November for now), and travellers will have to do up to five PCR tests in total.

✈️ Summary: South Korea VTL
To South Korea 🇰🇷
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore and South Korea only
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. 30M KRW (~S$35K) coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for electronic travel authorisation
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 72h before flight
  • Take non-stop flight to South Korea
  • Take PCR test on arrival in South Korea
  • Take PCR test on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea (if stay >8 days)
To Singapore 🇸🇬
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore, South Korea, or any VTL country
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. S$30K coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for VTP (short-term visitors and long-term pass holders only)
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 48h before flight
  • Take designated VTL flight to Singapore
  • Take PCR test on arrival in Singapore
CAAS Summary: SG-ROK VTL

South Korea added to VTL scheme

From 15 November 2021, fully-vaccinated Singapore residents will be able to travel to South Korea and back with no quarantine requirement on either side. Travellers will instead undergo the following PCR tests: 

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
Location Remarks Price
🇸🇬 Singapore 72h before departure From S$130
🇰🇷 South Korea On arrival ~S$200
🇰🇷 South Korea 6-7 days after arrival ~S$175
🇰🇷 South Korea 48h before departure
~S$150-$200
🇸🇬 Singapore On arrival at Changi S$160

South Korea has confirmed (link in Korean) that travellers from Singapore will be required to take a pre-departure test within 72 hours of departure, as well as on arrival, and 6-7 days after arrival if you’re staying that long. This means you’re looking at up to five tests in total.

To travel from Singapore to South Korea on the VTL, you must have spent the past 14 days in Singapore and/or South Korea only.

To travel from South Korea to Singapore on the VTL, you must have spent the past 14 days in Singapore, South Korea, or any other VTL country designated by Singapore. 

With South Korea’s addition to the VTL, here’s a summary of Singapore’s border restrictions:

🛂Singapore Border Restrictions by Category
  Cat. I Cat. II Cat. III Cat. IV VTL
Short-term visitors
Application required ATP Details on ICA website VTP
Pre-departure PCR test
48h

48h

48h

48h
On-arrival PCR test
SHN
7D
(home or hotel)

10D
(home or hotel)*

10D
(hotel)
ART during SHN N/A
D3, 7

D3, 7
N/A
Post-SHN PCR test N/A
D7

D10

D10
PCR on D3, 7
*Must be fully vaccinated to do SHN at home
Category Countries/Territories
I
Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan
II Australia, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Finland,  Germany, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sweden
III Austria, Bahrain, Bhutan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus , Egypt, Fiji, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Maldives, Norway, Slovakia, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA
IV All other countries/territories
VTL Germany, Brunei, South Korea (from 15 Nov 2021)

Designated VTL flights

Travellers must take designated VTL flights to avoid an SHN. All passengers on these flights will be fully vaccinated, with Singapore as their final destination (i.e. no transit passengers). 

For avoidance of doubt, passengers travelling on any flight other than the ones listed below will be subject to prevailing SHN rules, i.e. a 7-day SHN at home or a hotel in the case of Category II restrictions.

Singapore Airlines is currently operating 6x weekly flights to Seoul on its Boeing 787-10 aircraft, while Asiana is operating 3x weekly service on an Airbus A330. Korean Air operates 2x weekly service on Boeing 787-9 aircraft as well. 

Singapore Airlines B787-10 Business Class
Flights Days
SQ608
S M T W T F S
SIN
0125
ICN
0850
       
SQ600
S M T W T F S
SIN
0805
ICN
1530
       
SQ607
S M T W T F S
ICN
1030
SIN
1615
    ✔    ✔   
SQ601
S M T W T F S
ICN
1635
SIN
2220
       

The Straits Times has reported Singapore Airlines saying it will convert all six flights between Singapore and Seoul into VTL services from November 16th. Seats are going fast, so act quickly. 

This will also be slightly different from the Germany-Singapore VTL, where Germany was already accepting Singaporeans without quarantine at the time of the VTL’s announcement. In that case, you could fly over to Germany any time you wished, then return to Singapore without quarantine when the VTL started. In the case of South Korea, we’re likely to have to wait till 15 November before we can leave for Seoul. 

KrisFlyer award costs

If you’re thinking of redeeming miles, here’s how much it will cost:

Redemption Cost from Singapore to Seoul
  Saver
(One-Way)
Advantage
(One-Way)
Economy 25,000 45,000
Premium Economy 34,500 N/A
Business 47,000 70,000

Award space is fast disappearing for November, so you’ll need to make a decision soon.

Using the VTL as an alternative to SHN

A 14-day stay in Germany can replace a 10-day SHN in Singapore

I recently wrote about how the VTL can be used as an alternative to SHN in Singapore. 

Origin VTL country
(Stay 14 days)

VTL flight
Singapore 
(no SHN)

The basic idea involves flying from your point of origin to Germany, staying there 14 days, then proceeding onwards to Singapore on a VTL flight.

While there’s incremental costs involved — a 10-day SHN in Singapore costs S$1,450, versus 14 days of food and accommodation in Germany plus a separate positioning flight — I imagine some people will be happy to pay, since Germany does not require fully vaccinated individuals to quarantine. Do note you’ll need to be vaccinated either in Singapore or Germany for this to work, as this is an existing VTL requirement. 

⚠️ Sinovac is not recognised in Germany, but even so, those vaccinated with Sinovac can avoid quarantine by presenting a negative PCR test

However, this will not work for South Korea. 

South Korea remains closed to visitors, so you wouldn’t be able to travel from a third country, spend 14 days there, then head to Singapore. 

Conclusion

Mark this as developing for now, but the addition of a second VTL country (yes, I’m ignoring Brunei since you can’t get in) is exciting news indeed. I expect demand for flights to be off the charts. 

In the meantime, you can read a full report of my VTL experience to Germany, including the full testing procedure on return to Singapore.

Bavarians at the Gate: Trip Planning

Who’s planning a South Korea getaway?

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

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Stefan

I’m planning for it! ❤️🇰🇷

James

That’s a good news. Seoul will be a more popular destination that Munich or Frankfurt. Hopefully, do not need to do 5 x PCR Tests.

James

Aaron, going for inaugural flight?

bent

all flights, no? as per report from ST

ooyaboon

Are the SQ tickets all sold out? I have a feeling it will be gone by the end of today. VTL or not, wack first, plan later. lol

John

Unfortunately, it is only for vaccinated people which is very discriminatory. Vaccines don’t really work well now. Also, kids and some people cannot get vaccinated. Shameful of them to require vaccines.

iris koh

please don’t feed the troll

Spoon

Don’t worry, la! I’m sure you will be protected as long as you have faith! Maybe can take some bodybuilding powder. Did you know that it also builds your resistance to Covid in addition to building muscles?

Sho

i m really wondering why you dont want to get the vaccine? the rule is solid, and very considerate for many people. get vaccine!

Adib

raise hand ^VV^

Gallen

Same key risk as with the other VTLs – stuck in Korea for an additional 14 days if one tests positive for Covid-19 prior to the pre-departure flight back to Singapore?

bent

no different. That’s the risk you have to bear if you wanna travel these days.

YSY

up to the risk appetite level then. by the way, would like to clear my carried forward AL for this VTL trip! Think about mattress run in Marriott properties ^^

Last edited 3 months ago by YSY
Candy

If have to do so many PCR tests then may not be worth the trip though it sounds tempting!

ithh

The testing regime for VTL flights should be relaxed. The tests on Days 3 and 7 after return can be dropped.

Freddy

According to Zaobao, all six weekly flights currently scheduled by SQ will be for VTL.

https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/singapore/story20211008-1201455

gary

might have to do more pcr tests in s korea also like in singapore (on arrival, day 3, 7)

Diplomacy Watcher

Yes, but the two tests in Korea are free if done at the community testing facilities. Been there, done that. The in-Korea testing regime is the same as those who apply for the Quarantine Exemption Certificate at the Korean Embassy (so that form/application is now no longer necessary).

Diplomacy Watcher

In Korea, every “gu” (district) operates its own 보건소 (public health center). For instance, the Gangnam-gu office operates its own one with free testing (see link, please Google Translate: https://www.gangnam.go.kr/board/broadcast01/3222/view.do). This news article is in Korean (https://www.dongascience.com/news.php?idx=45470) but a quick Google Translate should suffice. As a traveller to Korea I was given a 코로나 무료검사 (Corona free test) at the public health center on the day of my arrival and on day 7. When you arrive at Incheon Int’l Airport, you will be given documents by staff from the Ministry of Health and Welfare and you need to carry these… Read more »

Diplomacy Watcher

This is another example, a link to the Daegu City official city government page: http://covid19.daegu.go.kr/00936602.html. Ctrl/Command+F the words 무료 검사 (“free test”). In English, the relevant sentence in that part of the text says “Free tests are available at the screening clinics of public health centers without distinction of distance, region, symptoms, or epidemiology.”. Any one in Korea is eligible for a free COVID-19 test.

Last edited 3 months ago by Diplomacy Watcher
Audrey

hello, would you know if health centres to do PCR arrival tests open on weekdays only? meaning cannot fly on weekend?
Thank you

James Quek

Can the day 6 or 7 PCR test be the PDT for returning to Singapore?

James Quek

Minimum is 6 x PCR Tests ie stay less than 8 days in SK. Will we be lucky to have a trip report from you?

ZYX

I don’t get why ppl are so excited. Isn’t VTL for travellers coming to Singapore? Not to mention discouraging company policy for travelling abroad…

Jimmy

“The jointly launched VTLs will be the first of their kind between two major aviation hubs in Asia and build on longstanding relations to safely revive cross-border air travel and people-to-people flows, said the ministry.” – StraitsTimes

It is bidirectional agreement based on my understanding of the news.

Last edited 3 months ago by Jimmy
ZYX

Still, I’m not impressed…Some visa-free for all countries pls, like Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius etc

Wen Hui

What’s the benefit for Singapore of opening up to any of these though other than SQ selling tickets? With Korea or Germany it’s a two-way flow of passengers. Not necessarily tourists but plenty of family members making use of the lane to visit relatives in Singapore as well as business travellers.

Last edited 3 months ago by Wen Hui
Ortloc

Up to $1,000 per person just for PCR tests? Count me out.

EP holder living in SG

Are long term passholders required to purchase travel insurance, too? Surely Singapore citizens and PRs are not required to do so, right?

Max

For coming from Germany to Singapore it wasn’t required for long term pass holders so I see no reason it would be coming from Korea. If Korea imposes a similar requirement then I would assume it would apply to all Singapore residents/citizens.

EP holder living in SG

Thanks Max. Your sharing of experience helped me a lot! 🙂

Stefan

Does anyone know whether the outbound flight (SIN-ICN) can be on any non-stop flight (i.e. I am looking at Korean Air on the 15th)?

Ortloc

By changing all ICN flights to VTL, SQ is very brave to forgo transit passengers. Will an eligible eligible population of 4.7m be enough to sustain DEMAND in the long term, given the exorbitant testing cost? Given the high number of cases (higher than SK, in terms of numbers), I doubt Koreans are much interested in coming to Singapore.

Sam

considering most transit traffic from S Korea would traditionally be Aus, Indo etc all of which are handling very limited amount of people currently I imagine SQ are more than happy to swap to carrying high loads of O&D passengers instead

ithh

There are probably new rules on carriage of vaccinated transit travellers that SQ is already aware of.

UBS_camel

After travelling in Europe past few weeks – the Singapore “VTL” are a joke. 8 PCR tests?! I have been to Switzerland for a couple of days and no test needed, no masks in the fresh air. Can see why singapore economy is going to go down the pan next year… the FT and NYT articles have obviously hurt the government enough for some statement tmrw from the dear leader but it’s too late- Singapore now longer a sensible place to base a business. Welcome to the hermit kingdom

Michael

Unbelievably true. I have also recently escaped from what we can only describe as a hermit kingdom now, spending some time in the UK and Germany. It is shocking how different life is.

I don’t think I will be returning to Singapore for very long unless they sort themselves out quick. It’s a total waste of my time and years of my life just to save a bit of tax.

Traveller

Is sinovac recognized for SouthKorea?

Dilys

I believe that the Day 3 and day 7 PCR tests are only for travellers, not for returning Singaporeans. If you read the ICA website (for current VTL), it said nothing about returning residents. I interpret it as returning residents do not have to take the pcr tests on day 3 and day 7. Becos Singaporeans have no VTP, visit pass and long term pass to be cancelled. 13. What are the penalties if travellers miss their scheduled Day 3 or Day 7 test?​ Failure to undergo the required COVID-19 PCR tests may constitute an offence under the Infectious Diseases… Read more »

Last edited 3 months ago by Dilys
Dilys

And also in one of the FAQs, there is mention of ‘do you have to take the PCR test if your flight (departing Singapore) is at 3pm (for day 3 or day 7)’. Are they expecting returning SCs and PRs to leave SG after 3 or 7 days?

I think the day 3 and day 7 tests are still required but it seems pretty ambiguous.

Last edited 3 months ago by Dilys
Dilys

https://www.caas.gov.sg/who-we-are/newsroom/Detail/singapore-further-reopens-borders-in-cautious-step-by-step-manner/ Read point 6. Nothing is being said on PCR tests for day 3 and day 7 for SCs and PRs. It is mentioned in point 4 for ‘travellers’. Fully vaccinated Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents do not need to apply for a VTP to enter Singapore under the VTL. For those who are vaccinated in Singapore, they can show their vaccination status on the HealthHub app to the airline at check-in before departure for Singapore. For Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents who are not vaccinated in Singapore, they can present proof of their vaccination taken in their country of… Read more »

ZYX

Can u read Pt 2 please?

Dilys

Day 3 and day 7 tests have been removed for VTL,

From Oct 19, the number of PCR tests will be reduced from four to two for those entering Singapore under vaccinated travel lanes.

These travellers will still be required to take a PCR test within 48 hours of their departure to Singapore, and take another test upon arriving at Changi Airport, self-isolating until they get a negative test result.

They will no longer need to undergo PCR tests on the third and seventh day after arrival. 

Denise T

Im really keen too! But I am worried that cases get too high and VTL gets cancelled. Would the airlines allow for cancellation refund?

Michael

7 tests in total. In Europe the borders are open, in the US and UK life has moved almost entirely beyond covid.

What an unattractive place Singapore has become.

Spoon

Goodbye and see you soon!

BigBoss

Anyone has any idea if I am already travelling to Korea via quarantine exemption certificate issued by korea embassy on 1st Nov, spend 14 days days till 15 nov, am I able to fly back on 16th nov without shn?

BigBoss

Thanks for your reply. I was supposed to be flying off on 20th October but now thinking of delaying my trip to avoid the SHN 🙂

Jin

Something something something *obligatory reference to Squid Games*. The end.

phister

Would rather spend the money flying to Munich. Never liked Korean food nor people/culture.

Last edited 3 months ago by phister
Sam

Hi, I have a few questions and do anyone know if we still need to apply for the K-ETA to enter S.Korea via VTL? And if we are leaving S.Korea on the 6th day, do we still need to take the PCR test?

Jeff

Hi all

if i stay korea for 8 or 9 days, can we combine this PCR test into 1?

1)Take PCR test on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea

2) While in Korea
Take pre-departure PCR test 48h before flight

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