Singapore eases border restrictions for the Maldives, Switzerland, Turkey and more

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From 13 October 2021, Singapore will update its border measures once more, easing restrictions for numerous countries in Europe.

Earlier today, Singapore announced that eight additional countries would be added to the VTL scheme from 19 October 2021, increasing the total number of two-way quarantine-free travel options to 10

Before that happens, there’ll be an update to Singapore’s border restriction categories from 13 October 2021, which sees eased restrictions for travellers from the Maldives, Switzerland, Turkey and more. 

Latest Singapore border measures

Here’s the latest summary of border measures for travel to Singapore, effective 13 October 2021.

🛂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
N/A
(from 19-Oct)
*Must be fully vaccinated to do SHN at home
Category Countries/Territories
(From 13 October 2021)
I
Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan
II Australia, Austria (new), Bahrain (new), Belgium (new), Bhutan (new), Brunei, Bulgaria (new), Canada, Croatia (new), Cyprus (new), Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt (new), Fiji (new), Finland, France, Germany, Greece (new), Iceland (new), Ireland (new), Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein (new), Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway (new), Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia (new), Spain, Sweden, Switzerland (new), Turkey (new), UK (new), USA (new), Vatican City (new)
III Estonia (new), Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Slovenia (new)
IV All other countries/territories
VTL Current: Germany, Brunei
From 19 Oct: Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, UK, USA
From 15 Nov: South Korea

As a reminder, Singapore recently cut its maximum SHN duration to 10 days, and also shortened the relevant travel history assessment period to 14 days. 

The relevant restrictions depend on your 14-day travel history, with the rules of strictest country applying. For example, if you travel from Canada (Category II) to Singapore via Dubai (Category IV), Category IV rules will apply. 

To recap, here’s the relevant SHN measures, depending on your 14-day travel history and vaccination status. 

💉 SHN Measures by Category and Vaccination Status
  Fully-Vaccinated Unvaccinated
VTL No SHN Not allowed
Category I No SHN
Category II 7-day SHN
(home/hotel)
Category III 10-day SHN
(home/hotel)
10-day SHN
(hotel)
Category IV 10-day SHN
(hotel)

Here’s what I see as the most interesting developments in the latest set of border restriction updates.

Turkey moves to Category II

Turkish Airlines B787 Business Class

If you recently bought one of Turkish Airlines’ deep discount Business Class tickets to Europe (starting from just S$1.4K!), you’re in luck.

Turkey’s upgrade to Category II means it follows similar quarantine protocols as most of Europe, i.e. a 7-day SHN at home regardless of vaccination status. It’s just a shame there’s no VTL with Turkey, but even so, this is great news for anyone who took a punt on these tickets last month. 

If you bought one of Etihad’s discounted Business Class fares, sit tight. The UAE is still a Category IV country, so you’re still looking at a 10-day SHN should you transit through Abu Dhabi on your way back to Singapore. 

Maldives moves to Category III

Vaccinated travellers from the Maldives can now SHN at home
Edit: OK I’ve just double checked and this upgrade happened on 2 October. But anyway, still a great option to have!

Need to get away from it all? The Maldives has been upgraded to Category III, which means that fully vaccinated travellers can opt to serve their 10-day SHN at home, instead of in a hotel (you need to be vaccinated to visit the Maldives anyway).

Singapore Airlines is operating daily flights to the Maldives on SQ 432 and 438, on the Boeing 737-800 NG planes it inherited from SilkAir. 

An alternative to SHN

If the idea of an SHN is unpalatable to you, there is a potential workaround, albeit more expensive.

By travelling to a VTL country and staying there 14 days, you can then proceed onwards to Singapore on a VTL flight and avoid an SHN on arrival. This of course assumes that the VTL country accepts travellers from your point of origin without quarantine, but you’ll find that’s the case for the majority of countries listed here. 

🌎 VTL Countries
  • Brunei (entry not permitted)
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • South Korea (entry not permitted from countries other than Singapore)
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

Entry Restrictions by Country

While you’ll almost certainly incur some incremental costs compared to a 10-day SHN in Singapore (S$1,450), I’m sure there will be those willing to pay for 14 days of relative freedom, versus 10 days of confinement.

The only catch is that you’ll need to present a recognised vaccination certificate to board your VTL flight to Singapore. Apart from Singapore’s own vaccination certificate, this also includes:

  • EU Digital COVID Certificates (EU DCC) issued by any VTL country/region
  • Smart Health Cards (SHC) by issuers in the United States and Canada on the CommonTrust Network
  • National Health Service (NHS) COVID Passes on the NHS mobile app
  • Vaccination status on the BruHealth app

It’s currently possible to get your third country vaccination converted into an EUDCC in:

  • France: Non-EU visitors can apply to convert their vaccination certificate into a Health Pass (i.e. EUDCC) before arrival
  • Germany: Non-EU visitors can visit a pharmacy (apotheke) and get their certificate converted into an EUDCC (YMMV; not all will accept non-EU certificates)

I imagine more European countries will soon offer this capability as well, which opens the possibility of third country nationals using this route. 

Conclusion

It’s great to see Singapore progressively easing its border restrictions, with a 7-day home quarantine option soon available to two dozen European countries. Add the seven European countries in the VTL scheme, and it’ll soon be a straightforward affair to travel to Singapore from Europe sans quarantine.

Of course, the real prize here is the expansion of the VTL, which opens up a whole new world of travel opportunities for Singaporeans. While the VTL isn’t without its problems (high costs of testing, children below 12 can’t go, you could get stranded overseas for 14 days), we’re still a heck of a lot better off than we were 12 months ago. 

Exciting times indeed.

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

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ZYX

Sad the TK Italy Biz class deal is gone…

Mike

You’re missing Greece on Cat 2!

David

Hi, just wish to let you know that it is not true that traveler can travel to a VTL country, stay there and come into SG via VTL lane. This is only applicable for Singaporean *returning* to Singapore. For foreigners, you have to be vaccinated in a VTL country before they will approve the VTL pass, *irregardless* if you’ve stayed in a VTL country before coming to Singapore

You can help verify it too as my friends are all unable to make it to Singapore even though they’ve been working in Germany (but non-German nationals)

Harry

I tried this but it looks like this will not work. I am vaccinated in Switzerland, and went to a German pharmacy to get a German EUDCC – which they generated for me without too much problems. However, when doing the VTL application you need to upload QR codes that are related to your actual vaccinations (1 for each jab), and not the QR code on the EUDCC. You can get these using the German CovPass app. But when I uploaded them to the VTL application the system told me my vaccination certificate is issued by a different country than… Read more »

Khan

Hi how about India. Just to check is it under Cat 4. Which vaccination certificate was recognised for India to Singapore

Aravinth

Just called ICA, the restrictions for India has not been lifted.

S. Frida

Complicated article to read…. Its so confusing…. Even if borders are open

drakka66

Hi Aaron, excited that Turkey is on Cat II! Opens up the efficient J-class ticket via Istanbul option. If you have time, can you write an article to talk about how many tests that would imply for a Singaporean trying to say transit back from Germany (or other Cat II) countries, back to Singapore. Would transit in Istanbul, require more tests in Istanbul?

Desi

Waiting for Maldives to get on Cat 1 or VTL sigh. Why why why it’s so much safer to go maldives due to the fact that every atoll is 1 resort and basically we go there for isolation anyway. 😛

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