Singapore-Malaysia VTL: Travellers to do up to 15 COVID-19 tests

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Widest nostrils in Singapore and JB? Travellers on the SG-Malaysia VTL will do up to 15 COVID-19 tests, due to precautions about Omicron.

By my own admission, I’ve not been following the Singapore-Malaysia VTL as closely as some of the other VTL arrangements. That said, I can’t help but sit up and take notice of this latest development.

Malaysia has tightened its COVID-19 testing requirements for travellers arriving under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, both by air and by land. From 8 December 2021, travellers will need to undergo COVID-19 testing for six consecutive days after arriving in Malaysia.

Couple that with the tightened testing requirements on the Singapore side, and it means a traveller could be facing up to 15 COVID-19 tests on a round-trip journey!

Malaysia’s revised testing requirement

Source: Malaysia Ministry of Health on Twitter

Let’s first talk about Malaysia’s tightened testing requirement. 

For Singapore residents travelling to Malaysia, the pre-departure testing requirements remain the same:

  • By air: PCR test within 2 days of departure
  • By land: ART or PCR test within 2 days of departure

Likewise, on-arrival testing remains the same as before:

  • By air: PCR test at KLIA/KLIA2
  • By land: ART at Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal

What’s changed is that additional testing will now be required on Days 2-6 (the day of entry into Malaysia is considered as Day 1):

  • Day 2, 4 and 6 will involve self-administered ART swabs
  • Days 3 and 5 will involve professionally-administered ART swabs

The Day 3 and 5 tests can be done at any approved healthcare facility. Day 2, 4 and 6 tests can be done using approved ART kits purchased at any pharmacy.

Here’s the summarised test procedures for VTL arrivals to Malaysia from 8 December 2021 onwards:

🇲🇾 Testing Regime for travel to Malaysia
DayTest
Within 2 days before departureAir VTL: PCR
Land VTL: Professional ART/PCR
Day 1 (arrival)Air VTL: PCR
Land VTL: Professional ART
Day 2Self-administered ART
Day 3Professional ART
 Day 4Self-administered ART
Day 5Professional ART
Day 6Self-administered ART
Children under the age of 2 are exempt from the testing regime

The results of Day 2, 4 and 6 ARTs must be reported through the MySejahtera app (Android | iOS).

Singapore has also tightened VTL testing requirements

The Malaysia testing requirement is just half the story, because Singapore has also tightened its testing regime for VTL arrivals from 7 December 2021 onwards. 

Travellers now need to undergo daily testing for the first seven days upon arriving in Singapore, as illustrated below:

🇸🇬 Testing Regime for travel to Singapore
DayTest
Within 2 days before departureProfessional ART/PCR 
Day 1 (arrival)Air VTL: PCR
Land VTL: ART
Day 2Self-administered ART
Day 3Supervised ART
Day 4Self-administered ART
Day 5Self-administered ART
Day 6Self-administered ART
Day 7Supervised ART
Children under the age of 2 are exempt from the testing regime

ART swabs are all self-administered, with the Day 3 & 7 tests conducted under supervision at a Combined Test Centre (CTC) or Quick Test Centre (QTC) by 2130 hours on the relevant days.

QTC/CTC Locations
Book Appointment
Children aged 3 to 12 must be accompanied by a caregiver aged 21 years old and above for supervised ART swabbing. The caregiver may be required to help administer the test if the child is unable to do so.

On Days 2, 4, 5 and 6, tests will be unsupervised and done at home (these must be done before going out for activities on that day). Travellers must submit their results from Days 2, 4, 5 and 6 tests via the portal below.

Report ART result (Land)
Report ART result (Air)

What this means is that a round-trip journey from Singapore to Malaysia could involve up to 15 COVID-19 tests!

⚕️ SG-Malaysia VTL Testing Regime
LocationWhen ART/PCR
🇸🇬 Singapore2 days before departureAir: PCR
Land: Professional ART/ PCR
🇲🇾 MalaysiaOn arrival
(Day 1)
Air: PCR
Land: Professional ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 2Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 3Professional ART 
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 4Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 5Professional ART 
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 6Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 Malaysia2 days before departureProfessional ART/PCR
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival
(Day 1)
Air: PCR
Land: Professional ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3Supervised ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7Supervised ART
Self-administered ART: You swab yourself, unsupervised
Supervised ART: You swab yourself, supervised
Professional ART: Someone else swabs you

Now of course, this is a worst case scenario. If you’re staying in Malaysia/Singapore for less than 6/7 days, you’ll do slightly fewer tests. There’s also the opportunity to combine some of these, as I’ll illustrate below.

Combining tests

By air: 4-day trip from Singapore to Malaysia

Take the example of a Singapore resident taking a 4-day trip to Malaysia by air. His/her testing schedule would look like this:

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
LocationWhen ART/PCR
🇸🇬 Singapore2 days before departurePCR
🇲🇾 MalaysiaOn arrival
(Day 1)
PCR
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 2Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 3Professional ART
(counts as pre-departure test to SG)
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 4- Fly to SingaporeSelf-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival
(Day 1)
PCR
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3Supervised ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7Supervised ART
Self-administered ART: You swab yourself, unsupervised
Supervised ART: You swab yourself, supervised
Professional ART: Someone else swabs you

All in all, this person does 12 COVID-19 tests.

He/she could use his/her Day 3 professional ART result as the pre-departure test for VTL travel to Singapore, provided it meets the following criteria:

  • The test is taken at a recognised laboratory, clinic or medical facility
  • The test result certificate is in English and states the following
    • the traveller’s name, and at least one other personal identifier such as the date of birth or passport number corresponding exactly with the information in the traveller’s passport used for entry into Singapore;
    • a negative COVID-19 test result;
    • the date and time when the COVID-19 test was taken; and
    • the name of the testing institution conducting the COVID-19 test

Now, the Malaysian authorities have not specified whether travellers are exempt from taking their scheduled ART on the day of departure (in contrast, the ICA clearly states thatIf the traveller’s day of departure from Singapore is on the day of the test, they are exempted from taking their scheduled ART on that day”).

I’m going to err on the side of caution and assume you still have to, which means that on Day 4, our traveller will do a self-administered ART, report the results, then board the flight back to Singapore where seven further COVID-19 tests await him/her. 

By air: 5-day trip from Singapore to Malaysia

Then let’s look at another example of a Singapore resident taking a 5-day trip to Malaysia by air. His/her testing schedule would look like this:

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
LocationWhen ART/PCR
🇸🇬 Singapore2 days before departurePCR
🇲🇾 MalaysiaOn arrival
(Day 1)
PCR
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 2Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 3Professional ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 4Self-administered ART
🇲🇾 MalaysiaDay 5-Fly to SingaporeProfessional ART
(counts as pre-departure test to SG)
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival
(Day 1)
PCR
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3Supervised ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6Self-administered ART
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7Supervised ART
Self-administered ART: You swab yourself, unsupervised
Supervised ART: You swab yourself, supervised
Professional ART: Someone else swabs you

All in all, this person does 13 COVID-19 tests.

The main difference is that his/her day 5 test will double count as:

  • The professional ART required for reporting via MySejahtera 
  • The pre-departure test requirement for VTL travel to Singapore

I’m not clear what the setup is at KLIA and whether passengers can do pre-departure swabs as well as on-arrival ones, but if not you can also consider using CLEA, a professionally-supervised swab overseen by a doctor on video call. You’ll receive a results certificate that has all the information required to fly. 

CLEA has confirmed (and travellers have substantiated) that its tests will pass muster for VTL travel to Singapore, notwithstanding the fact they’re technically self-administered. 

Conclusion

Upon learning about the new testing requirements, a friend travelling to Malaysia complained that he’d soon have the widest nostrils in Singapore and JB (and if that Batam bubble ever gets off the ground…).

I get that no one likes the prospect of 15 COVID-19 tests, but on the bright side, it’s far from the worst possible outcome. Despite the Omicron variant, both Singapore and Malaysia are endeavoring to continue the VTL, and for those looking forward to reunions with friends and family- what’s a few more tests?

In fact, those travelling to Malaysia arguably have it easier, in the sense that assuming you use CLEA, all your tests can be done from the comfort of home. In contrast, those in Singapore must physically travel down to a testing centre on Days 3 and 7, which like it or not will disrupt your schedule.

But all in all, a small price to pay for keeping the Singapore-Malaysia VTL alive.

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

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RailTravel Station

Thanks for the tip for CLEA. My concern is about the 24 hour time taken to issue the certificate, which may not be in time to report for the Malaysia VTL Days 3 and 5 tests. I’ll update my Malaysia VTL trip plan (https://railtravelstation.com/malaysia-vtl-trip-plan/) once they reply my query on this.

Hulk

I’m also waiting for their reply on this. FYI, they can do pre-departure RTK-AG as well for MYR15.

nostrils

my nose is gonna be so big…

kopi lim

Lol screw off, as if cheap massages, movies and seafood is worth that much of a hassle.

Not to mention you’d probably get robbed at some point in your trip.

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