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.|
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|
|🇨🇦||Canada||PCR test within 72 hours of departure time of last direct flight to Canada|
|🇮🇹||Italy||ART or PCR test within 72 hours of arrival time in Italy|
|🇰🇷||South Korea||PCR test within 72 hours of departure time of flight to South Korea|
|🇬🇧||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.
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
|My Family Clinic
|Pinnacle Family Clinic||S$48||S$185||S$270|
|Central 24-HR Clinic
|Prices are subject to change; call clinics for latest information.
PCR (S)= PCR + Serology test
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.
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
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|
Promo code: OCBC + first 6 digits of card
Mention DBS at counter
Mention DBS at counter
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
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.
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.
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.