Border Measures: Cat. III to SHN at home, fewer PCR tests, travel history excludes transit, upgrades for Malaysia, Indonesia and more

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Singapore will update its border measures from 27 October, featuring eased quarantine, less testing, relaxed travel history and upgrades for 14 countries.

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. IIICat. IVVTL
Short-term visitors
Application requiredATPDetails on ICA websiteVTP
Pre-departure PCR test
48h

48h

48h

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

10D
(home)

10D
(hotel)
Post-SHN PCR testN/A
D7

D10

D10
N/A
CategoryCountries/Territories
I
Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan
IIAustralia, 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
IIIEstonia, 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
IVAll 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)

Transit in Dubai will no longer add the UAE to your 14-day travel history

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

Hotel-based SHN will no longer be the default for Category III arrivals

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

On-arrival swab tests will no longer be done for Category II, III and IV 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.

Conclusion

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.

Exciting times. 

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

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asprino

Is Egypt Cat 2 or 3 now?

Muneer

How about train travel?….if train passes thru a Cat 3 country (while traveling from one Cat 2 country to another, but you don’t get off..Eg. In Europe). Will it be considered as transit?

Matthew

Yup. Mentioned here in the context of VTL which has stricter conditions:

https://www.changiairport.com/en/airport-guide/Covid-19/FAQ.html#anchorVTL

Technically, if your train doesn’t stop in the Cat 3 country that it’s passing thru, it’s no different from being in a plane that overflies that country.

Muneer

Thanks a lot for clarifying, Matthew. Will be useful for my trip in Dec 😊.

Anon22

For VT, the pre-departure PCR test for Korea to be done within 48 hours and no longer 72h of departure time?

Last edited 11 months ago by Anon22
TS77

Regarding, “ Singapore will also reopen its borders to arrivals from South Asia, regardless of citizenship status. ”

Does this mean EP holders in Singapore don’t need to ask for MoM permission to return before they leave? Thanks

TS77

Ahh ok Aaron thanks, best to keep it VTL then!

freedom

hmmm. how is transit defined? Is one coming from London transiting through Doha and entering Doha for a few hours considered transiting Doha, not considered for Cat III?

Last edited 11 months ago by freedom
Shahrul

Yeah, as long as you remain in transit hall. Didnt go through Doha immigration.

Tiffany

Outbound: Singapore – Taipei (1hr) – Seoul

  • Will we be allowed to board the plane to Taiwan since we have a connecting flight to Seoul?
  • Will we be eligible for quarantine free travel in Korea with a (super duper short) stopover?

Inbound: Seoul – Taipei (transit for an hr) – Singapore

  • Will we be able to board the flight to Taiwan to catch our flight back to Singapore?
  • Since we’re flying in from Taiwan (Cat I), we will only need to do a PCR test on arrival?
Tiffany

Ah the stricter rules apply so no go then. Bummer

freedom

Taiwan, still no transit, I think.

invisible

What about putting people in THA? When this will be scrapped?

Sanath

Can someone please answer, if person has no such accommodation to do SHN at Home.. can he/she be allowed to opt for Dedicated SHN?

W L

Are you homeless?

Leo

No, and you will have to arrange your own accommodation with the hotel, serviced apt, airbnb etc. Dedicated SHN is only for traveler from Cat. 4. And if you don’t have any accommodation upon arrival, you will have to book it at a restricted area and I doubt anyone wants to go through such procedure. Any doubt, call safetravel hotline and ask the CSO whom will share with you examples that you shouldn’t follow!

Jim

Does this mean pre-departure tests are no longer required when coming back to Singapore, for VTL (and Cat 1) flights?

freedom

The government should consider arrival tests for fully vaccinated Singaporean citizens and PR instead of pre-departure test.

ZYX

With borders opening up, obviously arrival test arrangements cannot accommodate the volume of arrivals.

freedom

Domestic tests have decreased thanks to the reduced number of tests after arrival. On-arrival tests is more beneficial to the returning citizens and PRs as that’s where they will enjoy better care. The same for pre-departure tests for foreigners coming to Singapore as they receive better care in their origins than in Singapore.

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