Since 19 October 2021, unvaccinated children aged 12 and below have been eligible for VTL travel to Singapore, provided they’re accompanied by a fully vaccinated individual. This was no doubt a massive relief for parents, who were staring down a second successive year with no family holiday.
However, it’s important to remember that restrictions apply on both sides, and if you’re bringing unvaccinated children overseas, slightly different testing and/or quarantine requirements may apply.
What VTL requirements are children aged 12 and under exempt from?
|✈️ Summary: VTL Scheme|
|For children aged 12 and below|
|*Children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year are exempt|
Even though children 12 and up are eligible to get vaccinated in Singapore, children aged 12 and below are exempt from the VTL’s vaccination requirement.
The age of the child is based on the calendar year; in other words:
|Unvaccinated child born in||Eligible for VTL travel in|
|2009 and after||2021|
|2010 and after||2022|
|2011 and after||2023 |
(let’s hope there’s no need for the VTL beyond 2022…)
To be specific, all that matters is the date you enter Singapore. For example, if you take your unvaccinated child (born 2009) for a vacation where you leave Singapore on 28 December 2021 and return 4 January 2022, he/she would not be eligible for VTL travel to Singapore since he/she will be considered 13 by the time you return.
Unvaccinated children must be accompanied by a VTL traveller who meets all VTL requirements for entry into Singapore, i.e. fully vaccinated with a vaccine on the WHO’s EUL.
Vaccinated Travel Pass
Long-term pass holders and short-term visitors need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), but this requirement is waived for children aged 12 and under.
A VTP is not required for Singapore citizens or permanent residents, regardless of age.
What VTL requirements are children aged 12 and under not exempt from?
With the exception of being vaccinated and applying for a VTP, all other VTL requirements apply to unvaccinated children aged 12 and under. They must:
- Have a 14-day travel history that only includes Singapore and/or any VTL country
- Present a negative pre-departure PCR test taken within 48h before flight to Singapore*
- Take a designated VTL flight to Singapore
- Take a PCR test on arrival and self-isolate until a negative result is received*
*Does not apply to to children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year
What about pre-departure testing?
While vaccinated Singaporeans may be exempt from pre-departure testing, the same rule may not apply to their unvaccinated children.
Here’s a summary of pre-departure testing requirements by country. Additional tests may apply on arrival.
|⚕️ PDT for Singapore Residents|
(under 5 exempt)
(under 5 exempt)
(under 5 exempt)
|🇩🇰 Denmark||Min. 4-day quarantine3||Min. 4-day quarantine3|
(under 12 exempt)
(under 12 exempt)
Min. 5-day quarantine
(under 6 exempt)
(under 6 exempt)
(under 12 exempt)
(under 12 exempt)
Min. 5-day quarantine; exemption for under 12
|🇰🇷 South Korea||PCR8||Not admitted*|
(under 16 exempt)
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||N/A11||N/A11|
|🇺🇸 United States||ART/PCR12|
(under 2 exempt)
(under 2 exempt)
|1. Within 72h of departure time to Australia|
2. Within 72h of departure time of last direct flight to Canada
3. With negative PCR test from Day 4 onwards; otherwise 10 days
4. Within 48/72h (ART/PCR) of departure time to France
5. Within 48h/72h (ART/PCR) of entry into Germany
6. Within 72h of entry into Italy
7. Within 24h/48h (ART/PCR) of departure time to Netherlands
8. Within 72h of departure time to South Korea
9. No testing required
10. Within 48h/72h (ART/PCR) of departure time to Switzerland. Further tests on Day 7 (under 16 exempt)
11. Day 2 test required
12. Within 3 days of departure date to USA
^Unvaccinated children aged below 12 will be admitted if travelling with fully vaccinated parents
*Unvaccinated children aged 5 and below will be admitted if travelling with fully vaccinated parents. They are exempt from testing
|🧒 12 years old and unvaccinated?|
If your child is unvaccinated and 12 years old, he/she falls into a strange twilight zone of sorts. While he/she can enter Singapore on the VTL, most countries only waive the swab/quarantine requirement for unvaccinated children below 12 years old.
For example, Canada requires unvaccinated youth 12 to 17 years of age to do a 14-day quarantine, and all testing requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day-8 tests, whether or not they are accompanied by fully vaccinated adult.
To simplify this section, I am going to assume that if your child is 12 years old, he or she is vaccinated.
|Entry Requirements: Australia|
Unvaccinated travellers are not permitted to enter Australia. However, an exception applies for children aged under 12 accompanied by fully vaccinated parents.
All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must do a pre-departure test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Australia.
The testing requirement is waived for children under the age of 5.
|Entry Requirements: Canada|
Unvaccinated travellers from Singapore are not permitted to enter Canada for tourism purposes.
However, unvaccinated children under 12 years of age accompanied by travellers who qualify as a fully vaccinated traveller may enter, with the following rules:
- fulfill all testing requirements for pre-entry, arrival and Day-8 tests (unless under the age of 5)
- do not need to quarantine as long as they follow the public health requirements outlined in the handout provided at the border
Do note that the rules can be quite restrictive- the unvaccinated child is not permitted to travel on “crowded public transportation that does not ensure physical distancing and masking (e.g., crowded subway)”, or “attend large crowded settings, indoors or outdoors, such as an amusement park or sporting event.”
All travellers, regardless of vaccination status, must undergo a pre-departure test within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your flight to Canada. If you have a connecting flight, the test must be conducted within 72 hours of the scheduled departure time of your last direct flight to Canada.
An arrival test may be conducted, based on randomised selection, and applies equally to vaccinated and unvaccinated travellers. Day-8 tests (only for unvaccinated) will be self-administered via a kit issued at the airport.
The testing requirement is waived for those under the age of 5.
|Entry Requirements: Denmark|
Unvaccinated travellers from Singapore are required to do a pre-departure ART/PCR test within 48h/72h of entry into Denmark (i.e. when you cross border control).
This is waived for those under the age of 16, so there’s no issues for those travelling with unvaccinated children aged 12 or under.
|Entry Requirements: France|
France recently downgraded Singapore to its Orange List, which means that unvaccinated travellers must take a pre-departure ART/PCR test within 48h/72h of the scheduled departure time of their flight to France. They must also provide a compelling reason for their trip (tourism doesn’t count) and undergo self-isolation for seven days upon arrival.
This is waived for unvaccinated children under the age of 12 accompanied by fully-vaccinated adults.
|Entry Requirements: Germany|
Singapore was recently added to Germany’s list of high-risk countries, which presents unique problems for those with vaccinated with Sinovac, or travelling with unvaccinated children.
Those with Sinovac vaccines must take a pre-departure ART/PCR test with 48h/72h of entry into Germany, and quarantine for at least five days on arrival in Germany. A negative test can be presented on Day 5 to be released from quarantine.
Unvaccinated children aged below 12 are not required to do a pre-departure ART/PCR test, but will still have to quarantine for five days. There’s no way of avoiding this, even if they’re travelling with fully vaccinated parents.
There’s considerably less impact for those vaccinated with Moderna or Pfizer; the main difference is the need to register online prior to arrival in Germany.
|Entry Requirements: Italy|
All travellers to Italy, vaccinated or not, must undergo a pre-departure ART/PCR test within 72h of entry into Italy (i.e. when you cross border control). They will also need to fill out a digital Passenger Locator Form before boarding.
The testing requirement is waived for those under the age of 6. Unvaccinated travellers must self-isolate for five days, but this is waived for those aged 0-17 who are accompanied by a vaccinated adult.
|Entry Requirements: Netherlands|
Unvaccinated travellers from Singapore are required to do a pre-departure ART/PCR test within 24/48h of the scheduled departure time of their flight to the Netherlands.
This is waived for those under the age of 12.
|Entry Requirements: Spain|
Spain does not require Singapore residents to undergo a pre-departure COVID-19 test, regardless of whether or not they are vaccinated.
|Entry Requirements: UK|
Children arriving from Singapore do not have to quarantine on arrival in England. This applies whether the child is vaccinated or not. 5 to 17 year olds:
- do not have to take a COVID-19 test before travel to England
- must take a test on or before Day 2 – arrival day is day 0
The Day 2 test can be a cheaper lateral flow test (ART), rather than a PCR test. This must be pre-booked with a private provider prior to check-in for your flight, and you’ll need to quote the booking reference number when filling out the mandatory passenger locator form.
Despite the name, the test can be done any time between arrival and Day 2, so you might want to do it at the Heathrow Airport for convenience.
Children aged 4 and under do not have to take any COVID-19 travel tests.
|Entry Requirements: USA|
All entrants to the USA, regardless of nationality, must present a negative COVID-19 PCR or ART test taken three days before the flight’s departure to the USA.
Note that this is three days, not 72 hours. For example, suppose your flight departs Singapore at 6.40 p.m on 27 November 2021. You can take a test anytime from 24 November 2021 onwards.
This is waived for those under the age of 2.
How much does pre-departure testing cost in Singapore?
You should expect to pay upwards of S$130 for a pre-departure PCR test in Singapore. ART swabs are cheaper at around S$30. Self-administered ART swabs will not be accepted for travel purposes; you’ll need to visit a clinic and get a results certificate that states your name, date of birth and travel document number.
For full details, refer to the post below.
What else should you know?
There’s an existential issue overshadowing all overseas travel for Singapore residents right now, which isn’t just limited to to the VTL.
Travellers entering Singapore under Category II, III, IV restrictions, or the VTL, must do a pre-departure test within 48 hours of their flight to Singapore. If this test comes back positive, they are not permitted to fly to Singapore for 14 days.
While this is problematic enough for adults who can’t work from home, it’s even worse for kids who may have to miss school. If this is a concern, then it’d be prudent to avoid travel in the last two weeks of December. This effectively sets 20 December as the cut-off date for travel (assuming you’re able to produce a negative PCR result 14 days later, which might not be guaranteed)
Only Category I countries are exempt from a pre-departure test, but unfortunately, none of them are accepting tourists at the moment.
Unvaccinated children aged 12 and under will be able to accompany their vaccinated parents for overseas travel, and return to Singapore under the VTL with no SHN required. I expect this to be a temporary concession however. Once vaccinations open to this age group (in early 2022), it should be made a requirement, possibly in time for the June 2022 school holidays to encourage uptake.
In the meantime, note that the requirements for you may be different from what’s required of your unvaccinated child.
In my book, the easiest countries for travelling with unvaccinated children would be Denmark, France, Netherlands (though the COVID passport requirement will be a pain), Spain, and Switzerland.
Of course, if your child is 12 years old and unvaccinated, the situation gets significantly more complicated. It’s good reason to book their jabs the moment it becomes possible.