Singapore has announced a major update to its border measures, which take effect from 27 October 2021.
The key highlights are the loosening of quarantine restrictions for Category III arrivals, a reduction in the number of tests for travellers, and the upgrading of Malaysia, Indonesia and 12 other countries. Singapore will also reopen its borders to arrivals from South Asia, regardless of citizenship status.
More intriguingly, one’s 14-day travel history will no longer include time spent in transit, unless the passenger is entering Singapore under the VTL scheme.
Latest border measures
Here’s a summary of Singapore’s overall border restrictions, effective from 27 October 2021. New developments have been highlighted in yellow.
|🛂Singapore Border Restrictions by Category|
|Cat. I||Cat. II||Cat. III||Cat. IV||VTL|
|Application required||ATP||Details on ICA website||VTP|
|Pre-departure PCR test||✖||✔|
|On-arrival PCR test||✔||✖||✖||✖||✔|
|Post-SHN PCR test||N/A||✔|
|I||Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan|
|II||Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bhutan, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, USA, Vatican City|
|III||Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Slovenia, |
New: Cambodia, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mongolia, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Tonga, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam
|IV||All other countries/territories|
The relevant measures depend on your 14-day travel history, and the rules of the strictest country apply. For example, if your travel history includes Category II and III countries, Category III rules apply to you.
Time in transit no longer counts towards travel history (except VTL)
I couldn’t find this mentioned in either the Straits Times or CNA’s reporting, but it’s a crucial development nonetheless.
Inside MOH’s press release is this little footnote (emphasis mine):
* 14-day travel history does not include the time spent in countries/ regions whereby traveller transits enroute to Singapore. It does include the time spent in Singapore by traveller before embarking on the overseas travel (if any). This does not apply for travellers under the Vaccinated Travel Lane. For the travel history requirements under the Vaccinated Travel Lane, please check the SafeTravel website for details.
This is an important policy shift compared to before, where transits did count towards your travel history.
What this effectively means is that someone could fly Qatar Airways from London to Doha to Singapore and enter Singapore under Category II restrictions, notwithstanding the fact that Qatar is a Category III country.
I was suspicious that this might be a typo, but went to check the ICA’s website, and indeed it appears again (emphasis mine):
This checklist is only suitable for travellers with travel history (excluding transit) to any Category (III) country/region in the past 14 days before arrival in Singapore.
Before you get too excited, here’s a reminder that this doesn’t apply to those taking the VTL. If you want to enter Singapore with no SHN requirement, your 14-day travel history can only consist of VTL countries and/or Singapore.
Category III travellers may now serve SHN at home
From 27 October 2021, all travellers who enter under Category III restrictions will be allowed to serve their 10-day SHN at their declared place of residence/accommodation, regardless of the vaccination status and travel history of the traveller and their household members.
In other words, there’s no need to serve SHN in a hotel anymore, even if your household has unvaccinated family members or family members who did not accompany you on your travels. To illustrate, a husband could serve his SHN at home with a wife who did not travel with him, or a couple could serve their SHN at home along with a domestic helper who did not travel with them.
All travellers must remain in their declared place of residence/accommodation and don an electronic monitoring device throughout their SHN period. They will also be able to take private transport to their declared place of residence/accommodation (i.e. taxis, private hire cars- there’s no more need to book a special vehicle like before).
No application is required; as SHN at home becomes the default for Category III travellers. In effect, Category III SHN becomes like Category II SHN, with the exception of duration.
Fewer tests for travellers
From 27 October 2021, Singapore will simplify its testing regime so that travellers need only undergo one PCR test on arrival to Singapore.
- For Category I and VTL travellers, this will be done at Changi Airport after arrival, with travellers having to self-isolate until the results are released
- For Category II, III and IV travellers, this will be done at the end of their SHN. Category II will do this on Day 7, while Category III and IV will do this on Day 10
There will be no more requirement for Category III and IV travellers to undergo ARTs on Day 3 and 7 of their arrival, during their SHN.
Upgrades for Malaysia, Indonesia, the UAE and more
From 27 October 2021, Cambodia, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mongolia, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Tonga, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam will be moved to Category III.
This, coupled with the easing of restrictions for Category III travellers, significantly reduces the costs of quarantine (since you can do it at home, even if your family members don’t have the same travel history).
Lifting on restrictions for South Asia
Singapore currently does not permit entry to travellers with 14-day travel histories to Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, except for Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
From 27 October 2021, this restriction will be lifted, and these travellers will be permitted to enter or transit through the country again under Category IV border measures.
Singapore’s latest border measures remove further friction from the travel process, and the decision to exclude transits from one’s 14-day travel history will be good news to anyone who snapped up one of those cheap Etihad or Turkish Airways fares.
I also suspect we’ll see further developments on the VTL front next week, with Australia all but certain to be added to the scheme.