Australia open to fully vaccinated Singaporeans from 21 November

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Leisure travel from Singapore to Australia will be possible from 21 November 2021, at least to Melbourne and Sydney.

Last week, Singapore announced that Australia and Switzerland would be added to the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme from 8 November 2021.

While Singaporeans had been eagerly awaiting Australia’s addition, there was a catch: two-way quarantine-free travel would only apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families. Word on the street was that reciprocal arrangements for students and business pass holders would be in place from late November, while leisure travel could be possible by December. 

But in a very pleasant surprise, those timelines are being brought forward. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that Australia will reopen its borders to all vaccinated Singaporeans, starting with New South Wales and Victoria from 21 November 2021. 

🌎 VTL Agreements
Current VTL
  • Brunei (one-way)
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Netherlands
  • Spain
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
From 8 Nov 2021
  • Australia (one-way)
  • Switzerland
From 15 Nov 2021
  • South Korea
From 21 Nov 2021
  • Australia (two-way, NSW & Vic. only)

Two-way quarantine-free travel to Australia to start in November

Sydney and Melbourne will welcome Singaporeans again from 21 November 2021

The full details of the arrangement have yet to be released, but here’s what we know so far. 

From 8 November 2021, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families will be able to travel between Singapore and Australia with no quarantine on either side. Singapore Airlines has already scheduled For Eligible Passengers Only (FEPO) flights from Singapore to Melbourne and Sydney to cater to this group. 

From 21 November 2021, this arrangement will be extended to travellers from Singapore. Notice how I didn’t say “Singapore residents”. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, it appears that Australia is going to disregard travel history:

The new arrangements are for Singaporeans, not those from other countries who pass through the city state. About 417,000 visitors from Singapore came to Australia in the year before the pandemic, more than half of them for holidays.

The visitors from Singapore must depart from the city state to be eligible but do not have to have spent the previous 14 days there.

Based on my reading of this, so long as you board a flight from Singapore to Australia, you’re fine. In other words:

  • A Singapore resident could fly from Singapore to Australia quarantine-free, regardless of his/her 14-day travel history
  • A resident from a third country would not be able to fly to Australia via Singapore, unless he/she enters Singapore first (with the associated testing/SHN requirements), and then takes a separate flight to Australia

In other words, it won’t be possible to travel from Country X to Australia with a transit in Singapore. Those who want to travel to Australia without quarantine must first enter Singapore, undergo the necessary tests/SHN, then travel to Australia.

This won’t be an issue for residents of Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China or Taiwan, since they can already enter Singapore quarantine-free. Likewise, it won’t be an issue for a resident of a VTL country entering Singapore under the VTL arrangement. The logistics mean you’ll need to schedule some time between your flights (since you’ll need to undergo a PCR test on arrival at Changi ➞ Self-isolate until results are out ➞ Take pre-departure test for Australia ➞ Fly to Australia), but it’s certainly possible. 

Of course, it’s also possible that the arrangement may just be for Singaporeans only (Scoot’s Facebook page referred to Singapore passport holders), but we’ll need to await official confirmation. 

⚠️ Update: The Australian High Commission in Singapore has stated that this arrangement will only be available to Singapore citizens (read comments section)

Testing requirement

Travellers to Australia must take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours of departure time. There are further testing requirements on arrival and post arrival, although these can be done free of charge in Melbourne and Sydney. 

This means that Singaporeans looking to travel to Australia can expect three paid tests per person, as summarised below:

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
(Australia)
Location Remarks Price
🇸🇬 Singapore 72h before departure From S$128
🇦🇺 Australia On arrival
(NSW, VIC)
Free of Charge
🇦🇺 Australia 48h before departure ~S$150
🇸🇬 Singapore On arrival at Changi S$125*
*From 18 Nov 2021. Prior to this, the test costs S$160

Vaccination and other requirements

Apart from the testing requirement, travellers from Singapore to Australia must also satisfy the following:

  • Being fully vaccinated with a TGA approved or recognised vaccine, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen-Cilag, Moderna, Coronavac, or Covishield, at least 7 days prior to arrival in Australia. Children under the age of 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition are exempted from this requirement
  • Presenting a valid vaccination certificate in English, i.e. either the Australian Government issued International Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC) or a paper or digital vaccination certification issued by a national or state/provincial level authority or accredited vaccination provider
  • Completing the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before flight departure. 

All travellers entering Melbourne will need to download the Service Victoria app. This allows users to check-in and display their COVID-19 vaccination status. 

Designated VTL flights

Travellers from Singapore to Australia may take any direct flight from Singapore to Melbourne or Sydney. 

However, travellers from Australia to Singapore must take designated VTL flights. Flights operated by Singapore Airlines are shown below; Scoot is also operating VTL services from Melbourne and Sydney, and I fully expect Qantas and Jetstar to join the VTL party shortly. 

Melbourne

Melbourne – Singapore
8 November 2021 – 26 March 2022
SQ218 Daily 12:35am – 5:15am Airbus A350-900
SQ228 Daily 4:40pm – 9:20pm Airbus A350-900

Sydney

Sydney – Singapore
8 November 2021 – 30 November 2021
SQ212 Daily 9:05am – 2:15pm Airbus A350-900
SQ222 Daily 4:10pm – 9:20pm Boeing 777-300ER
1 December 2021
SQ212 Wednesday 9:05am – 2:15pm Airbus A350-900
SQ222 Wednesday 4:10pm – 9:20pm Airbus A380-800
2 December 2021 – 26 March 2022
SQ212 Daily 9:05am – 2:15pm Boeing 777-300ER
SQ222 Daily 4:10pm – 9:20pm Airbus A380-800

Passengers on non-VTL flights will be subject to the prevailing SHN requirements on arrival in Singapore. 

Here’s an overview of the eligibility criteria for travellers entering Singapore on the VTL scheme.

✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria
All
  • 14-day travel history only includes Singapore and/or any VTL country/countries
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine on the WHO EUL^
  • Present negative pre-departure PCR test taken within 48h before flight to Singapore*
  • Take designated VTL flight to Singapore
  • Take PCR test on arrival and self-isolate until negative result is received*
Long-term pass & short-term visitors
Short-term visitors
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. S$30K coverage
*Children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year are exempt
^Exception for children aged 12 and below, if they are accompanied by vaccinated traveller

Award Costs

If you’re looking to redeem miles, here’s the one-way costs for awards between Singapore and Melbourne/Sydney. I’m not seeing a whole lot of Saver space in Business or First Class for the rest of the year, which isn’t that surprising given how popular the routes are. 

Redemption Cost from Singapore to Melbourne/Sydney
(Flight on Singapore Air)
  Saver
(One-Way)
Advantage
(One-Way)
Economy 28,000 55,000
Premium Economy 47,000 N/A
Business 62,000 90,000
First 85,000 155,000

Complete Guide to VTL travel

Singaporeans can enjoy two-way quarantine-free travel with 11 countries and counting

For a detailed guide on the VTL process, including eligibility, testing requirements, travel insurance, recognition of vaccination certificates and FAQs, refer to this post.

Conclusion

Melbourne beckons

Singaporeans have been pining for Australia ever since travel shut down in March last year, and it looks like their wishes will finally be answered. I’m really surprised that two-way quarantine-free travel opened up so quickly after the one-way arrangement was announced, but hey, I’m not complaining.

The Australian Open is certainly on my to-do list, although that’s in January and I’ll be looking to visit Australia as soon as possible to write about the on-ground situation over there. 

Stay tuned.

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

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Jason

As a fellow Aussie, look forward to seeing your post about your future trip!

kenzo

hi Aaron, i tried booking the flights but it says FEPO for outbound flights. safe to book? though the FEPO shouldnt be there

Ozboy

Same, i looked as far as February and the flights into Sydney were FEPO only.

hmlee

what about children below 12 years old? Since they are unvaccinated, can they enter australia- nsw and vic?

Mike

Already stated in article “Children under the age of 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition are exempted from this requirement”

NICHOLAS

Seems like they closed award space for Biz from MEL-SIN ?

Max

The NSW international travel rules here https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/travel-restrictions/international-travel-rules seem to suggest you can’t visit restaurants until the day 7 test is negative. Is that correct? That rule isn’t unreasonable but makes NSW unattractive to tourists.

hmlee

that will be a total of 4 test, pdt+ on arrival for both countries

Max

Removing it would be logical although also possible that NSW and the Federal Government make their decisions independently. Do you know what the requirements are for travel between Victoria and NSW are if you have international travel history in the past 14 days? I guess it may require even more tests.

Bogus

5 PCR tests to visit NSW.

48 hours pre-departute, on arrival, 7 days after arrival, 48 hours pre-departure, on arrival in Singapore.

I already redeemed seats and got a VTP for a 10 day trip this month thinking I’d have to do 3 tests.

bob hope

And is it still not the case that if testing positive in Australia before return flight to Singapore – then one is not allowed to travel and would need to remain for X days in Australia before testing again and upon testing negative – then being able to return.

Dave

Disappointing that this appears to be Singaporean passport holders only and not for other residents.

If the UK negotiated a deal like this which applied to British passport holders only (i.e. excluded Singaporean residents in the UK) there would – rightly – be outrage.

Seema

Australian high commission has confirmed that it is only for Singaporeans – so “Singapore Passport holders”. So not even PRs – unbelievable!!!!!

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