South Korea VTL: 10-day quarantine now required for all travellers

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Due to the Omicron variant, South Korea will require all international arrivals to quarantine for 10 days.

Update: The Korean embassy has confirmed that the VTL will continue as per normal, with no quarantine required. For the latest updates, refer to this post

It’s safe to say the Omicron variant is wreaking havoc with everyone’s year-end plans, already impacting VTLs with the UK, Australia and India. 

And now, unfortunately, it’s South Korea’s turn. South Korea reported its first five cases of the Omicron variant on 1 December, and the government is reacting by tightening its border measures, effective 3 December.

10-day quarantine now required for all travellers

International passengers arriving in South Korea will be subject to 10-day quarantine

From 3 December 2021, South Korea will require all international arrivals to undergo a 10-day mandatory quarantine, regardless of vaccination status. This rule will remain in effect for two weeks until 11.59 p.m on 16 December 2021, but from what I understand, it’s highly likely to be extended for the rest of the month.

South Korean citizens and foreigners on long-term stay will be allowed to quarantine at home, while foreigners on short-term stay will have to be quarantined at a temporary facility designated by the government.

The country will also be putting its “living with COVID-19” transition on hold while it evaluates the risk of the Omicron variant. 

In case there was any doubt as to whether the VTL would be affected, here’s what the MFA mentioned in its initial announcement:

ROK authorities have agreed that fully vaccinated travellers entering the ROK from Singapore will be subject to the same COVID-19 protocols as fully vaccinated ROK nationals, such as quarantine exemption and prevailing social distancing guidelines.

Fully-vaccinated Korean nationals are subject to the 10-day quarantine, so you can bet there’ll be no different treatment for Singaporeans. 

Some people have asked me whether this notice by the Korean embassy means that VTL travellers are exempt from quarantine. The answer is no; this notice was issued on 1 November and simply serves as the basis for excusing VTL travellers from quarantine ahead of the 16 November commencement. It is not related to the latest developments.

Update: The Korean embassy in Singapore previously updated its VTL page with the following notification, but later removed it. Those who have contacted the embassy have been told to wait for further updates. 

Update: Singapore Airlines has mentioned that it is in the midst of clarifying the revised entry requirements with the Korean authorities. Sit tight, everyone

What if you’ve already booked your flights?

Complimentary Rebooking Policy

If you have VTL travel to Korea planned, you will be able to change your dates without penalty thanks to Singapore Airlines’ complimentary rebooking policy (fare differences may apply). This is valid for all tickets issued by 31 March 2022.

Date of ChangeRemarks
On/before 31 March 2022Unlimited free changes
From 1 April 2022One free change

Any booking changes must be made before the original travel date (at least 2 hours before departure), or within a year of the ticket’s date of issuance, whichever is earlier. Both dates and destinations can be changed:

If your booking was made through a travel agency or partner airline, you will need to contact them directly for assistance. 

It remains to be seen if Singapore Airlines will offer refunds, however. When the UAE VTL was put on hold, passengers were able to claim refunds for their bookings, so there’s a possibility a similar concession may be offered here. 

Tightened measures for VTL travel to Singapore

Additional testing will apply to VTL travellers from 3 December 2021

In case you’re already in Korea and planning to head home early, do note that Singapore will be tightening its border measures and VTL testing regime from 3 December 2021 as well.

VTL Testing Regime
 CurrentFrom 3 Dec 2021
Pre-departure testART/PCR within 2 daysART/PCR within 2 days
On arrivalPCRPCR
Day 3N/AART
(new)
Day 7N/AART
(new)

From 3 December 2021, air travellers arriving on the VTL scheme will need to undergo supervised, self-administered ART swabs at a Quick Test Centre on Days 3 and 7 of their arrival (the day you enter Singapore is Day 1).

These must be done by 2130 hours (Singapore time) on the relevant days, and instructions will be emailed to travellers on arrival in Singapore.

There is no need to isolate while awaiting the results of the Day 3 and 7 ART swabs (which will anyways be rather fast, given they’re the ART variety). These tests will cost S$15 each, and can be done at any of the venues below.

Quick Test Centres
Book Appointment

Children aged 2 and below in this calendar year are not required to undergo Day 3 and Day 7 ARTs. Children aged 3 to 12 must be accompanied by a caregiver, aged 21 years old and above. The caregiver may be required to help administer the test if the child is unable to do so.

For avoidance of doubt, the routine for pre-departure testing before coming to Singapore remains the same. Both ART/PCR swabs are acceptable, and both must be done within 2 days of departure time to Singapore.

Also, there is no requirement that you stay in Singapore for at least seven days between your trips. You are excused from testing if the scheduled time of departure of your flight is before 2130 hours on the day of test.

Conclusion

December is turning out to be quite a miserable month for travel indeed, as country after country tightens its border measures while we wait to learn just how bad Omicron is.

If you have upcoming travel to Korea planned, you should definitely monitor Singapore Airlines’ Facebook page to see if they plan to offer refunds on VTL flights. If your travel is happening within the next 24-48 hours, I’d definitely call up the airline and at the very least move your dates further into the future, if only to buy some time.

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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Freddy

I think it’s very possible that SIA will offer refund because of this. When Denmark imposed quarantine requirements on people from Singapore a few weeks ago, SIA offered refund.

Enil Esav

Another VTL bites the dust!

AT2

We are due to fly this Sat! Should we change the destination to Maldives/Fiji, postpone the date or try to get refund?

Totalf1

My completely personal, unofficial and current opinion would be to take the refund and then rebook after Omnicron peaks. It really doesn’t make sense for short term trips to quarantine in a foreign country (assuming you don’t have family in Korea) for so long.

AT2

Appreciate your opinion. Yes, seems that cancelling the trip makes the most sense. 🙂

Lau Wei Jing

Makes complete sense to cancel and stay home – much safer in this environment. Why would you want to risk it.

Anton

Im going today 2nd Dec.. will i get quarantined ? Im super worried.. i called incheon airport they also don’t know yet about the details. I cannot reach anybody including SIA, STO, etc..

Miles

Rule says it will start Friday, Dec 3. https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/south-korea-travel-singapore-vtl-quarantine-covid-19-omicron-variant-2351496

But nothing is certain better confirm elsewhere.

Anton

I have read all the korean news, calling incheon airport several times, 1 person from incheon said it will kick start on the 3 Dec. I am hoping before that day the arrival process would stay the same.. I am just dissapointed with SIA, they better delete the 24 contact center number if its just getting picked up by machine with no chance connected through to the officer

Lau Wei Jing

Typical SIA – cannot handle anything during crisis. Just wants to look good when things work well. When it comes to crisis management, they are extremely poor and useless. This applies to their management and their policies to frontline staff. Never fan of their style.

kopi lim

What do you expect them to do? They are probably flooded with calls from would be travellers now.

So good you go be SIA CEO lor

Annoying

So annoying.

Azure

Hi there, any chance anyone knows how much the quarantine facilities will cost?

Vivi

Omg!!😖 any idea if we rebook the same flights later but the fare is only half of what i had paid for my original ticket, will the fare difference be refunded to me? I paid $1164 per ticket but January fares are only $579, will SQ refund the $585 to me?

melv

SQ would not refund excess fees/miles. Best to take the refund and rebook on the lower fares.

Vivi

Oh okie thanks😭 was really looking forward to this trip!!😖

Lau Wei Jing

Yup, take the full refund and rebook.

Nick

If can book on a cheaper fare and refund the excess money I would have go for thailand. If they can just do a full refund of the money it would be very already.

Vivi

Yep im waiting for SQ to confirm if VTL pax are also req for 10 days quarantine and also to give us a full refund if that’s the case😣

Lion Den

Jialat!!!!

Tan W

Any way of getting refunds on the on-arrival PCR tests at Incheon and Changi that has been booked and paid?

Last edited 10 months ago by Tan W
AT2

Anybody knows if we should cancel the SQ flight ourselves through manage your booking or wait for SQ to cancel? But our flights are this Sat and if there is no instructions from SQ, they may think we are still flying? 🙁

TariboWest

If you cancel through manage your booking, wouldn’y you incur the cacellation charge? Better wait for the ‘free refund’ announcement.

Jth

Straits times reported that KDCA has not made a decision on whether vtl travellers will be subject to mandatory quarantine. Are you aware of that?

Mel

Yeah, I just read that too. There’s nothing that officially calls out that VTL travellers will be subject to quarantine as well

Pbe

Can share the link omg

Pbe

Ive booked my flight with Scoot. Do you think they will offer any refunds also?

Nick

Thank you for the information provided. My flight is on 30 dec. I’m hoping that they will just stop everything and refund the money. The amount spent on swab tests and all the hassle is just not worth it.

I guess the best thing to do now is to hold the gun and hope for the best.it makes more sense to refund the money so that we can do other things rather than wait.

Curi

Am I crazy or is the message from the screenshot of MOFA’s Embassy Notice gone from their website now?

Curi

I think they’re being hesitant because of economic reasons lol. It’s likely they’re monitoring to see if the Omicron variant situation in Singapore becomes worse? But I remember also reading somewhere that termination of VTL needs at least one week’s notice, and even if this isn’t an official termination yet, there’s probably a lot more people involved in the discussion before they make an announcement.

Jth

Yes it’s gone. It has reverted to the original notice that says vtl travellers are exempt..

kre

actually, i’m quite surprised that this decision comes into effect so quickly because i’ve definitely read somewhere on MOFA’s website (or somewhere similar) that termination of the VTL needs at least one week’s notice. i suppose this isn’t an “official termination”, but they probably need to work things out a bit more. i do feel for those travelling tomorrow/this weekend though because there’s so much uncertainty.. i hope they get this settled soon ):

Blue

I was supposed to have been on the 3 Dec SQ flight to Seoul – got thru their contact centre this morning, and they gave me a full refund. They said they’ll be doing so because of the change in border restrictions.

Anon2

How long did you wait to be connected? Any tips for us?

Lelouch

haiyaaaaa i even bought winter jackets for these. wanted to go meet my BFF.
wait first, maybe singapore vtl exempted.
if really bo bian, just do some learning during my 3 weeks block leave, write some songs or even my startup app.

Pbe

Same here. 2 weeks block leave too. Everything booked.

Chris

I call and cxl
Refund take 6week to return

John

just landed, process was very seamless and no quarantine confirmed. Public transport can be used, but the Arex is not running.

John

ps. I would like to thank the editors of this website for the excellent report on this VTL, it helped me a lot.

Lelouch

Nice, my flight is 1530 in future but I booked 1600 PCR test is there enough time? Or should I book a later test? Also using apec card and applied for the 10,000krw eVisa anyway. I wonder if apec card is faster or all the same?
Oh man I like arex cos it’s fast too bad they took it down.
Can I take airport bus? 15,000krw to my hotel doorstep.

Last edited 10 months ago by Lelouch
John

I am afraid not. I got off as one of the first and it took me still a good 20 minutes. This being said, thanks to this excellent blog I had all the documents printed and ready. Next to me at the counters lots of people fiddled and acted surprised when asked, hence the line behind me got much longer. Finally, if I recall correctly, the blog author had a 2 hour wait from the back of the plane. Regarding the buses, I wanted to take them, but there is a dedicated foreigner sales point (Door 11) and the routes… Read more »

AT2

Why is Arex not running?

Seoulmate

Arex Express will resume operation from 01 Jan 2022, the regular all stop train is still running. Majority of the airport buses are not in operation too except for bus 6009 to Seoul.

AT2

Ah, we were planning to take Arex to Seoul Station. This means we have to take boring taxi.

Anon2

We have landed. Just wanted to share that taking the all stop Arex is allowed.

Anon

Zaobao reported that the korean government is saying that the VTL between Korea and Singapore will remain and there is no quarantine requirements for travellers in the VTL.

https://www.zaobao.com.sg/realtime/world/story20211202-1219343

Rue

Latest update is that the VTL will continue without change on the Embassy website

Tan W

Yes, now then they come and say…. after a lot of people have cancelled everything. Communication failure on the part of the authorities. A lot of very angry people now.

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