South Korea VTL: No quarantine required for travellers from Singapore

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South Korea has announced that travellers from Singapore will still be able to enter without quarantine, despite tightened border measures.

In an unexpected (but welcome) turn of events, South Korea has announced that the VTL arrangement with Singapore will continue uninterrupted, despite the country’s decision to impose a 10-day quarantine on international arrivals due to the Omicron variant. 

This means that travellers from Singapore will continue to enjoy quarantine-free access to South Korea, provided their 14-day travel history consists of only Singapore and/or South Korea. 

VTL arrangement to continue

Two-way quarantine-free travel to Korea will still be on the cards

Yesterday, the South Korean authorities announced that all international arrivals would be subject to a 10-day quarantine from 0000 hours on 3 December 2021 to 2359 hours on 16 December 2021, in an attempt to curb the importation of Omicron cases.

South Korean citizens and foreigners on long-term stay would be allowed to quarantine at home, while foreigners on short-term stay would be quarantined at a temporary facility designated by the government. The country also announced plans to put its “living with COVID-19” transition on hold while it evaluates the risk of the Omicron variant. 

It seemed almost certain this would affect the VTL arrangement with Singapore as well. After all, an MFA announcement on the initial VTL stated 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”, and if Korean nationals entering from elsewhere would be subject to quarantine, surely there couldn’t be special treatment for Singapore?

In fact, at one point the Korean embassy in Singapore updated its VTL page with the following notice.

But almost as soon as the page was updated, it reverted to the original version. Those who rang up the embassy were told to wait for an official announcement; even Singapore Airlines seemed to be in the dark as to what was going on. 

Now the Korean embassy has posted the following notice on its website, which means it’s business as usual. 

Korea-Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL)

[Update on 02 Dec 2021]: VTL travel arrangement would proceed without change at the moment. 

Eligibility and arrivals procedure in Korea

Travellers from Singapore will continue to enjoy quarantine-free access to Korea

With confirmation that travellers from Singapore can continue visiting Korea quarantine-free, here’s a reminder of the eligibility criteria. 

✈️ Summary: South Korea VTL
To South Korea 🇰🇷
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore and South Korea only
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. 30M KRW (~S$35K) coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for K-ETA (foreigners only)
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL (exemption for children aged 5 and below)
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 72h before flight
  • Take non-stop flight to South Korea
  • Take PCR test on arrival in South Korea (pre-booking required)
  • Take PCR test on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea (if stay ≥8 days)
  • On arrival at Seoul Incheon Airport, you’ll go through a roughly 1-2 hour process that involves document verification, immigration, and swabbing. For a full, step-by-step report of the arrivals process, refer to the article below.

South Korea VTL Arrivals Process at Seoul Incheon: My Experience

Tightened measures for VTL travel to Singapore

Additional testing will apply to VTL travellers from 3 December 2021

Even though quarantine-free travel to Korea is still on the cards, do note that Singapore will be tightening its border measures and VTL testing regime from 3 December 2021. 

VTL Testing Regime
  Current From 3 Dec 2021
Pre-departure test ART/PCR within 2 days ART/PCR within 2 days
On arrival PCR PCR
Day 3 N/A ART
(new)
Day 7 N/A ART
(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 (here’s how to get it done at Incheon Airport), and 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

The last 24 hours have had more twists than your average Korean drama, but now there’s official confirmation that Singaporeans can continue to enter Korea quarantine-free. 

Given the unpredictable nature of the Omicron variant, however, those who have decided to travel should be aware that restrictions can change unexpectedly and at short notice. It’s always a good idea to keep abreast of the latest developments via the MFA’s official channels, and register your trip beforehand.

For some insights into what post-COVID life looks like in Korea, check out my report here. 

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

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Tan W

After everyone scrambled to cancel their tickets, hotel, PCR booking etc etc………………now then they come and say this………. terible….:(

julie

lucky i never cancel . jus wait 1 day only wat. relax

Ken

What?!?

Aaaagghh I cancelled EVERYTHING last night based on your post which was what just a guess??

Tan W

Not Aaron’s fault. Communication failure from the authorities.

Ken

There was no announcement last night that VTL part would kaput but my trusted source ML was sure sure in ystdys article. Sorry to be mad but I’m the one who has to explain to my wife and kids that I messed up from a wrong assumption. Just got to to try and salvage something for them now 😔

jolene

dude.

1. korean embassy posted on its VTL page that all travellers had to quarantine
2. ST posted on telegram that VTL was suspended

these things happen. situations are fluid. if you want to get angry at someone, get angry at the korean side for leaving ambiguity in the situation.

Mandy

Exactly what Jolene said. Geez, I’m sure we’ve all benefited from Aaron’s posts, this finger pointing is just not nice.

Chris

True …
Just also take note if continue spike ( believe it will) of numbers esp omicron cases and ROK will roti prata again and again .

Mandy

Exactly what Jolene said. Geez, I’m sure we’ve all benefited from Aaron’s posts, this finger pointing is just not nice.

beezelbub

Wow so self entitled. I think this is karma!

Nick

This travelling really ali baba. Just be firm law don change and change.

James Quek

Good news for the tour agencies and those still desired to go SK.

Tan W

Hope the hardcore ones will still go an contribute to the local economy in ROK, once they get over the anger of having to scramble and cancel everything based on news from this morning. Flip prata!

roc83

since yesterday SQ has zeroed the availability on most vtl flights from EU and US in december and early jan (even though seats are available – coz one can book those flights when booking as transit in singapore with onward connection.
Would be great to know more why they did so as with other airlines once can still book vtl flights in december

Vivi

Oh welcomed news but praying this don’t get changed again🙏🏻

Chris

Really dramatic …
Anyway Tks for sharing .
I chicken out already .

Longtimereader

Disgusting… gov shld use POFMA against irresponsible clickbait reporting like this. No evidence but you told people how to cancel. Pathetic. Shame on you.

ZLWYD

I want to raise a petition to ban you from the internet for irresponsible blaming of people who have no relations to the source of information. Can I do that? Like what many people already mentioned, if you really want to blame, go write an email to ROK embassy for their lack of clarity and flip-flopping.

Cancel VTL you complain. Re-open VTL you also complain. Seriously…
Pathetic. Shame on you.

J4Jfan

Err actually tink same. Whatever the fanboys say – ROK website act say 7 day notice 4 any VTL change. Scaremongering based on non fact. Not helpful ☹️

CSS

POF your MA… Go bark somewhere else lah

MisterKen

Read garbage, then you end up doing garbage. Be more careful of nonsense crap like this. Lesson learned

Charly Lim

wow. the number of people blaming Aaron for something he isn’t responsible for, is truly astounding.

Wil

the number of ppl blaming Aaron is amazing! Did not countercheck on other news source. Even ST and Korean embassy got it wrong initially.

Also got ppl blame SIA for not knowing anything.

Many have forgotten that we are living in a pandemic phase and things are fluid and can change at a moment notice.

If you decide to take the risk to travel, stop blaming ppl for giving wrong info or the govt for flipping their policy,

kopi lim

Entitled sinkies are actually blaming the messenger and everyone but themselves for kanchiong spider kneejerk reactions. What a joke.

Pbe

Can someone help me understand whether i need to do another pcr test on 6th/7th day.
I fly to Seoul on 6 Dec and fly back to Singapore on 13Dec. The agent has told I need to do another pcr test on 12 Dec… very confused. And if i need to, where is a good place other than incheon airport to do the test? Thank you!!!

R123

PCR for 6/7th only required if you are there for 8 days or more. SIA website comes the list of other places for PCR but I suspect not all of them comes with results in english. Incheon could be safe bet.

Vivi

Hi Aaron, i am flying out tomorrow to Seoul but I just received an email from K-ETA for ‘Notification of Delete for Application’. The email address is [email protected]. The subject is ‘Please Complete your K-ETA Application. Is this a scam email? Where should I call to double check? I just checked my application on the website and it’s still all good. Kindly advise, thanks.

JSquare

Hi,

I am still abit confused with the arrival day. Embassy web stated arrival day is as day 1 but many mention to be as day 0. As i will be going for 10days, 48hours PDT and Day6/7 testing can be together if deem arrival day as day 0. Hope to seek clarification from past travelers here. Thank you in advance

Yan Wen

According to the KR embassy notice, with the new testing requirements they have also changed the arrival day from Day 0 to Day 1. This means for a 10 day trip, the Day 6/7 PCR test can no longer be used for the PDT back to SG.

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