Where’s the cheapest pre-departure COVID-19 swab test in Singapore?

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Need a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR or ART swab? Here's the cheapest places to get it done, plus express and home swabbing options.

As of October 2021, fully vaccinated Singaporeans can visit 143 countries and territories without quarantine; of these, 90 require a COVID-19 test. The more expensive PCR test is still the de facto standard in many places, although a growing number of countries accept the cheaper ART swabs too. 

In this post, we’ll look at the options for doing a pre-departure COVID-19 test (PDT) in Singapore. 

🌎 COVID-19 Travel Restrictions by Country
The following resources summarise COVID-19 travel restrictions by country, including who can enter, vaccination and testing requirements.
Timatic Sherpa

Overview: Pre-departure COVID-19 test

As a general rule, ART/PCR tests must be taken within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time. However, some countries impose a tighter 48 hours timeline on ART results. The specific regulations will differ from country to country, so be sure to check the specific requirements via the Timatic or Sherpa tools. 

✈️VTL: PDT Requirements
Entry To Testing
🇨🇦 Canada PCR test within 72 hours of departure time of last direct flight to Canada
🇩🇰 Denmark N/A
🇫🇷 France N/A
🇩🇪 Germany N/A
🇮🇹 Italy ART or PCR test within 72 hours of arrival time in Italy
🇳🇱 Netherlands N/A
🇰🇷 South Korea PCR test within 72 hours of departure time of flight to South Korea
🇪🇸 Spain N/A
🇬🇧 UK N/A (on-arrival test must be done by Day 2)
🇺🇸 USA ART or PCR test within 3 days of departure date to USA. E.g. if flight at 1pm on a Friday, test can be taken any time from Tuesday
Note: The above assumes you are fully vaccinated with a recognised vaccine like Moderna and Pfizer. Those vaccinated with Sinovac may still have to undergo pre-departure testing (e.g. Germany)

Travelers can approach any MOH approved clinic directly to book their test. For those with children aged 12 and below, do check whether the clinic is able to provide testing (it’s mentioned in the list). 

Approved COVID-19 Test Providers
Click the link for “clinics approved to conduct PCR Pre-Departure Tests”. These clinics offer results in the HealthCerts.oa format, which is needed for notarisation.

Travellers must digitally authenticate and notarise their test certificate via the Notarise website prior to travel. It’s a simple matter of uploading the HealthCerts.oa file provided by the clinic for verification. 

The digitally authenticated and endorsed PDT HealthCert and QR code will be emailed to you within 15 minutes. If you presented your NRIC at the medical facility, the QR code will also be automatically uploaded onto your Singpass app.

You can read the full set of FAQs regarding the notarisation process.

How much does a COVID-19 PCR test cost?

When I first published this article in November 2020, PCR tests cost about S$200 each. The good news is that prices have come down significantly, and it’s possible to find options at the S$130-140 mark now. 

Some countries (most notably China) require travellers to take an additional serology test on top of PCR (also known as an antibody test). This incurs an additional fee, which may differ depending on which vaccine you received. 

Clinic Testing

Here’s an idea of how much you can expect to pay at the major medical chains. Do note that prices may differ by clinic location. 

⚕️ COVID-19 Test Prices
Chain ART ↑ PCR PCR(S)
SATA CommHealth
S$28 S$135 S$185
DA Clinic S$32 S$136 S$180
Parkway Shenton S$28 S$138 S$166
Raffles Medical
S$30 S$138 S$178
Northeast Medical
TBD  S$140 S$231
Q&M Medical
S$25 S$145 S$175
OneCare Medical S$35 S$150 S$198
Healthway Medical
S$40 S$150 S$190
Heartland Health
S$43 S$154 S$189
My Family Clinic
S$38 S$158 S$198
Minmed S$30 S$160 S$200
AcuMed Medical
S$30 S$168 S$216
ProHealth Medical
TBD S$179 S$212
Fullerton Health S$48 S$180 S$234
Pinnacle Family Clinic S$48 S$185 S$270
Central 24-HR Clinic
S$60 S$200 S$259
Prices are subject to change; call clinics for latest information.
PCR (S)= PCR + Serology test

At-home testing

For those seeking additional convenience, Homage offers a swab-at-home service.

This costs S$250 for the first person, so it’s obviously much more expensive than the other options here. However, the second person onwards costs S$145, so if you need to get the whole family swabbed, there’ll come a point where the per person cost averages out to something more acceptable. 

Swabs by Homage are accepted as valid PCR pre-departure tests for those looking to travel overseas. 

Alternatively, Speeddoc offers a similar service, with the price ranging from S$245-275 for the first person (a special rate of S$195 is advertised if you book via the Speedoc app) and S$165 for subsequent swabs.

Express testing

The promised turnaround time for most clinics is 24-48 hours, though in my experience it’s much closer to 24 hours.

Express service is available with the following providers:

  • Swabstation: S$300 for 6-8 hour results (swab by 3 p.m)
  • Fullerton Health: S$321 for results by 7 p.m (swab by 10.30 a.m)
  • IMC: S$333 for 4-6 hour results
  • Minmed: S$340 for 6-hour results (S$380 if swab after 6 p.m)
  • Jaga-Me: S$342 for 3-4 hour results

Discounts

If you belong to the following groups, you can enjoy a discounted PCR test with selected providers. 

⚕️ COVID-19 Test Prices
Discount For PCR PCR (S) Provider
OCBC Cards S$128 S$170 Healthway
Promo code: OCBC + first 6 digits of card
DBS Cards
S$128 S$170 Healthway Medical
Mention DBS at counter
S$132 S$170 DA Clinic
Mention DBS at counter
Traveloka S$130 S$160 DA Clinic 
Book a intl. flight or hotel via Traveloka by 31 Dec 21 
Collinson S$138 S$178 Fullerton Health or Raffles Medical
Open to all
Cathay Pacific S$160 N/A Raffles Medical or AcuMed
Use code CATHAYPAC for Raffles Medical; show e-ticket at AcuMed counter
Klook S$168 N/A AcuMed
Use code 15VISAWED for S$15 off on Wed
PCR (S)= PCR + Serology test

Collinson has partnered with Singapore Airlines to offer discounted pre-departure testing at Raffles Medical. Passengers can do a PCR test for S$138, a PCR + Serology test for S$178, and an antigen test for S$30. 

Be sure to click the tab for “Raffles Medical”, since the Fullerton Health tests are more expensive.

Overseas testing

While it’s outside the scope of this article, Singapore Airlines provides a list of pre-departure test facilities in each of the destinations it serves, giving you a starting place to begin your search.

Here’s my experience getting a swab test done in Munich.

Conclusion

Pre-departure COVID-19 PCR tests are now widely available throughout Singapore, and while prices are still steep, at least they’re lower than before. What’s also encouraging is some countries (most notably the USA) are now accepting the cheaper ART swabs for entry. 

Hopefully Singaporeans will soon be able to do the less invasive saliva and breathalyser tests soon, in lieu of the (sometimes painful) nose swab. 

Aaron Wong
Aaron founded The Milelion with the intention of helping people travel better for less and impressing chiobu. He was 50% successful.

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ernie eong

i am getting one done in the geylang area on 30Jan and am hoping to board a flight singapore – yangon Myanmar 02 Feb but am waiting for the visa issuers to com eback on line so i can get to my next destinationi am getting my covid test done at AnTeh dispensary SG$168all up so fingers crossed i have had almost 12 covid tests done from Auckland to now so it is pianless to do.does anyone know much of flights into yangon as thet’re all stopped until 31 Jan ?

Deb

OCBC Cards has discount as well – $150 for PCR or $190 for PCR + serology if you purchase on the HealthPass by OCBC app for tests at Healthway medical clinic. Info on their website: https://www.healthpassbyocbc.sg/

LionDen

What’s the best credit card to use to earn the most miles from PCR test? Are miles cards excluded from earning points since these are clinics/hospital.

Adam

There’s a Milelion article on this — please do a search.

TanKH

Do you guys reckon vaccinated people still need to be tested? Is this the same as the antigen rapid test?

Marcus Chong

I really hope we don’t have to do such tests when you are vaccinated.

TM

Just found out that the safra discount at raffles medical doesn’t apply for covid testing (as of 26 Jan).

TM

Ah shucks, forgot to do so. They were quite insistent that the discount applies only to normal GP consultation though

Doris

Acumed prices have dropped to $157 (before GST)

Khin

I found one clinic at Geylang Bahru MRT Station that did my worker’s predeparture covid swab for $148 flat. Went at 2pm, I got test results memo at 10pm. Would recommend people to go there

asprino

$160 at raffles and acumed if you hold a CX tix

Lila

It might be useful to add Osler Health to this list also. They are the most popular option in the expat community and there are lots of travelers there so it would be a useful reference. It is 60 dollars for an ART test there.

ANG

Hi Aaron, would you know if the 72/48 hours starts from the time of the report, or the time the swab was taken? Because for the 48 hours requirement, it can get tight at times. Thanks!

Raghuram

Do I need to do ART if I’m flying to Spain. But layover at Milan. Not exiting plane. Taking Singapore Airlines

Thomas

Not very sure myself, please help

sebastian

I am planning to travel to Italy end Oct. wondering i am right with the revised procedure and glad to hearing yr comments.
1. do a PCR 72 hrs before departure as is a requirement by Singapore government though italy accept both PCR/ART,
2. as i will travel on a VTL flight by SQ, there will be no need for me to do any test in italy prior to departure for singapore,
3. upon arrival into SIngapore, need to do a PCR test .
thanks

PYn

1. I don’t think you need to take a PCR 72h before, just a ART test.
2. You need to take PCR test in Italy before 48/72h boarding.
3. Yes, you need to still take the PCR test in SG.
Correct me if I am wrong?

Jin

I am planning to fly from Singapore to Frankfurt then to Rome then back to Singapore. Based on your article, I do not have to do PDT on arrival at Frankfurt ya? But I have to do PDT on both arrivals to Rome and Singapore?

Reeve

Can pre-departure ART (instead of PCR) tests be notarized?

Karen Wong

Italy accept ART Test – but is only for 24 hrs validity?

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