Good news: Transits no longer count towards travel history when entering Singapore

Last Updated:

From 27 October, Singapore will no longer include transit countries when assessing a traveller's 14-day travel history. Here's the implications.

Singapore recently announced some major updates to its border control measures, allowing Category III travellers to serve their SHN at home, reducing the testing requirement on arrival, and upgrading more than a dozen countries including Malaysia and Indonesia.

From 27 October 2021, passengers from Category III countries will serve their 10-day SHN at home by default

While these are no doubt exciting developments, there was something else that caught my eye. Buried in the footnotes of MOH’s press release was this little gem (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.

I almost thought this was a typo, but the ICA’s website states it clearly in black and white (emphasis mine):

If you have visited or transited in multiple countries in the past 14 days before arriving in Singapore, note that:


(1) [For Travellers arriving before 26 Oct, 2359h] The most stringent category out of all the countries/regions you have visited (including transit) will apply. For example, a traveller who had travel history to Category (II) countries/regions before departure, but transited in a Category (IV) country/region on the way to Singapore, will be subject to Category (IV) measures;

(2) [For Travellers arriving from 26 Oct, 2359h] The most stringent category out of all the countries/regions you have visited (excluding transit) will apply. For example, a traveller who had travel history to both Category (I) and (II) countries/regions before departure, but transited in a Category (IV) country/region on the way to Singapore, will be subject to Category (II) measures; and

(3) A pre-departure COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction test is not required if you have remained in a Category (I) country for at least 14 consecutive days before departure.

There you have it. From 27 October 2021, transiting in a given country will not add that country to your 14-day travel history. 

That’s a very big development, which gives Singaporeans more flight options when travelling in and out of Singapore. 

⚠️ This doesn’t apply to the VTL!
This does not apply to travellers entering Singapore under the VTL scheme. You will still need to take designated VTL flights back to Singapore, and your 14-day travel history (inclusive of transits) can only consist of VTL countries and/or Singapore. Passengers who take non-VTL flights will be subject to the prevailing border restrictions depending on their 14-day history. 

More options for flying

Transits in Doha will no longer count towards your travel history

Under the current system, travellers need to be very careful about how they travel to and from Singapore, because a transit in the wrong country could result in a longer-than-expected SHN on return. 

To illustrate, suppose John takes a 7-day trip to the UK, a Category II country. He flies from Singapore to London and back via Doha on Qatar Airways. On arrival in Singapore, he will be subject to Category III restrictions because of the transit in Qatar. It doesn’t matter that he technically didn’t enter Qatar at all; he was physically there, and that’s all that counts.

But from 27 October 2021 onwards, transits don’t have any impact on your travel history. John would be able to enter Singapore under Category II restrictions, regardless of whether he flew Emirates, Etihad, or Qatar Airways to London. 

Turkish Airlines new Business Class

This is great news for anyone who jumped on one of the cheap Etihad fare deals we saw in September (return Business Class to Europe from S$1,391). Heck, it could even be useful to those who bought the firesale Turkish Airlines fares (return Business Class to Europe from S$1,411), should the destination you booked get upgraded to Category I while Turkey remains in Category II. 

All in all, it means a lot more freedom in choosing carriers. 

How is transit defined?

Transit area at Doha International Airport

ICA’s website does not specifically define “transit,” but a natural reading of the word would mean you don’t legally enter the country. So if you flew with Qatar Airways and had a 3-hour layover in Doha, you’re fine. Of course, if you entered Qatar to do a Doha City Tour, that ceases to be a transit. 

Outside of airports, it seems like there could be other grey areas. Suppose you take a train between two Category II countries, but the route passes through a Category III country. You stay on the train the whole time, and only disembark once you’re at your destination.

I see nothing wrong with this either. In fact, Changi Airport’s FAQs suggest that this is fine in the context of the much stricter VTL scheme, so how much less non-VTL travel? 

4. If I pass through a non VTL country/region at any point of my trip, am I still eligible to board a VTL flight? For example, If I take a train or drive from Italy to Germany, while passing through Switzerland, which is a non-VTL country.

You will be eligible to take a VTL flight to Singapore if you fulfil the following criteria:

  • Your journey does not include a stop in Switzerland (ie. your train is just passing through the country, and you do not disembark).  Otherwise, it will be considered that you have transited in a non-VTL country/region. 

  • After your stopover in Switzerland, you travel to a VTL country/region and spend at least 14 days there before your flight to Singapore.

  • Fulfil all other VTL requirements here 

What about driving? That’s where I’m less certain. If you’re driving between two Category II countries and pass through a Category III country without ever getting out of your car, I don’t see how that’s any different from flying. 

And yet it seems the level of autonomy that drivers have compared to plane or train passengers might be an issue. I’ll just say I don’t know, and if this is really important to you, you’re best off asking ICA.

Conclusion

From 27 October 2021, Singapore will no longer consider transit countries when assessing a traveller’s 14-day travel history. Once again, this does not apply to the VTL scheme, so you’ll still have to pick designated VTL flights when coming back to Singapore

But those flying to non-VTL countries will enjoy much more freedom in terms of choosing outbound and inbound flights, and if another ME3 fare deal comes up, I may well jump on it. 

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

Similar Articles

Comments

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

11 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Brian

Isn’t it troublesome for the sg immigration to check the passengers itinerary upon landing to issue different SHN period based on passenger’s itinerary?

I.e

passenger 1 – flies Etihad from Milan to sg via Abu Dhabi (cat 2)

Passenger 2 – flies Etihad from Abu Dhabi to Singapore. (Cat 3)

Of course I am banking that UAE will eventually be cat 2.

Adam

It depends on the traveler’s declaration. If you lie on it, well that’s a crime and you can get charged in court.

Wlee

So if I take a Qatar flight to London with a stopover at Doha, can I still take the vtl sq flight back to Singapore after 7 days?

asprino

have you read the article? no

SKS

Don’t be so mean, some just can’t be bothered to read.

Last edited 1 year ago by SKS
Riel

Great developments! So correct me if i am wrong, if i fly SIN-JFK direct. followed by JFK-MUN (transit in IST), followed by VTL flight MUN-SG -> i will not be subjected to SHN?

freedom

for VTL, transit counts. You can enter as Cat II.

SKS

Read the article again and you will have your answer.

Concerned

I believe this article is rather misleading.

Travellers entering Singapore must:

  1. Arrive in Singapore on a designated VTL flight (list below); and
  2. Have only travelled to / transited via any VTL countries/regions and/or Singapore, in the last 14 consecutive days before departure for Singapore.

I suggest for Aaron to take down this article before official confirmation from the authorities. Otherwise, many people might really go on to plan for transit in none VTL countries.

I read

The article is fine. You’re not reading it properly.

Concerned

you are right. after reading a second time. finally i noticed the disclaimer that it isn’t applicable to VTL.

CREDIT CARD SIGN UP BONUSES

Advertisment

Featured Deals

Advertisment

Follow us

7,110FansLike
2,641FollowersFollow

TAGS