South Korea VTL: Pre-departure testing window now 48 hours; up to 13 COVID-19 tests required

Travellers to South Korea will now need to take pre-departure PCR tests within 48 hours of flying, and do ART swabs on days 3 & 5.

While South Korea has decided to keep the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) agreement with Singapore open for the time being (one very bad scare notwithstanding), the continued spread of Omicron has led to a further tightening of test requirements.

From 20 December 2021, travellers arriving from Singapore will now have to:

  • Take pre-departure PCR tests within 48 hours of departure (previously: 72 hours)
  • Take self-administered ARTs on days 3 and 5

All other testing requirements remain the same, and travellers from Singapore can expect to do up to 13 COVID-19 tests, depending on the duration of their stay in South Korea. 

Travel to South Korea: Testing Requirements

Pre-departure PCR test (Updated)

From 20 December 2021, VTL travellers entering South Korea must present a negative pre-departure PCR test taken within 48 hours of their flight time. This window was previously set at 72 hours. 

⏲️ 48 hours or 2 days?

The text on the Korean embassy’s website seems to suggest that your pre-departure test can be done 2 days before departure, not necessarily 48 hours:

” If your arrival time in Korea for your flight is on / after 20 December 2021, travellers must undergo the PCR test within 48 hours of departure. For example, if the VTL traveller is taking the flight on 20 December, he/she may take the test on 18 December.”

Borrowing their illustration, if your flight were at 7 p.m on 20 December, you could take the test anytime from 12 a.m on 18 December onwards. This actually gives you more than 48 hours; up to 72 hours in certain scenarios. 

Just to be on the safe side however, I’m stating the more conservative “48 hours” requirement in this article.

PCR tests in Singapore start from S$107 nett, with at-home swabs available at S$138 nett. You can refer to the latest price update in my article below:

Cheapest pre-departure COVID-19 ART/PCR tests in Singapore

On-arrival PCR test

Incheon Airport East testing centre

This requirement remains unchanged. 

VTL travellers will undergo a PCR test on arrival at Incheon Airport and isolate until the results are out (typically 3-4 hours). A reservation must be made beforehand at the Safe2Go website (payment is done at the time of swabbing). 

For more details on the arrivals process, check out my article below.

South Korea VTL Arrivals Process at Seoul Incheon: My Experience

Day 3 & 5 ARTs (New)

VTL travellers will be required to take self-administered ARTs on days 3 and 5 of their arrival in South Korea, with the day of entry considered as day 1 (the day of entry was previously considered as day 0). 

For example, if you arrive on 21 December (day 1), the ARTs are required on 23 December (day 3) and 25 December (day 5).

If the ART result is negative, the traveller must take a photo of the ART result together with his/her passport’s bio-data page for records. There is no need to submit this to the authorities unless requested.

If the ART result is positive, the traveller must contact the public health centre immediately, and arrangements would be made for a confirmatory PCR test.

While you can purchase ART kits in South Korea, I’d recommend bringing along some ART kits from Singapore which should cost approximately S$5 each.

Day 6/7 PCR test

This requirement remains unchanged (although note the change in definition of arrival day from day 0 to day 1)

If the VTL traveller is staying in South Korea for eight days or more, he/she will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test at a designated hospital/clinic on Day 6 or Day 7. No isolation is required after taking this test.

Travellers can consider the following options, both of which offer online booking:

Travel to Singapore: Testing Requirements

Pre-departure ART/PCR test

VTL travellers to Singapore must do a pre-departure ART/PCR test within 2 days of departure to Singapore.

For example, if your flight at 4 p.m on 25 December, you can do your test anytime from 12 a.m on 23 December. ARTs must be professionally administered; I did mine at Incheon Airport just before my flight for 84,000 KRW, but cheaper options (e.g. 50,000 KRW at H+ Yangji Hospital) may exist downtown. 

On-arrival PCR test

Swab tent at Changi Terminal 3

VTL travellers must undergo a PCR test at Changi Airport, which is administered after collecting your bags and clearing customs. This can be booked via the link below, at a cost of S$125 nett per person.

Changi Airport COVID-19 test

After you’re swabbed, you must proceed directly (via private transportation, taxi or private hire car) to your declared place of accommodation.

Once you receive notification of your negative test result (typically within 4-8 hours), you can proceed with activities as per normal. 

Post arrival ARTs

Supervised swabbing at QTC

 Singapore has tightened its testing regime for VTL arrivals from 7 December 2021 onwards. 

Travellers aged 2 and above now need to undergo daily testing for the first seven days upon arriving in Singapore, as illustrated below:

🇸🇬 Testing Regime for travel to Singapore
Within 2 days before departureProfessional ART/PCR 
Day 1 (arrival)Air VTL: PCR
Day 2Self-administered ART
Day 3Supervised ART
Day 4Self-administered ART
Day 5Self-administered ART
Day 6Self-administered ART
Day 7Supervised ART
Professional ART= Someone swabs you
Self-administered ART= You swab yourself, unsupervised
Supervised ART= You swab yourself, supervised

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)

Overall testing regime

With the latest changes, round-trip travellers from Singapore to South Korea can expect to do up to 13 COVID-19 tests. 

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
🇸🇬 Singapore48h before departure (PCR)From S$107
🇰🇷 South Korea
On arrival at Incheon (PCR)KRW 174,000
🇰🇷 South KoreaDay 3 (ART)~S$5
🇰🇷 South KoreaDay 5 (ART)~S$5
🇰🇷 South KoreaDay 6/7 (PCR)
(if stay ≥ 8 days)
KRW 110,000
🇰🇷 South Korea2 days before departure (ART/PCR)KRW 84,000
🇸🇬 SingaporeOn arrival at Changi (PCR)S$125
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 2 (ART)~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 3 (Supervised ART)S$15
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 4 (ART)~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 5 (ART)~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 6 (ART)~S$5
🇸🇬 SingaporeDay 7 (Supervised ART)S$15

Do note that it’s possible to combine some tests, such as the Day 6/7 and pre-departure test for Singapore. Just remember that your pre-departure test must satisfy the following requirements:

  • 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

In other words, self-administered ART swabs won’t pass muster, but your Day 6/7 PCR test might- provided you get a results certificate in English.

Overall Process

To recap, here’s a summary of the South Korea VTL process from 20 December 2021 onwards.

✈️ 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 48h before flight
  • Take non-stop flight to South Korea
  • Take PCR test on arrival in South Korea (pre-booking required)
  • Take self-administered ART on Day 3 and 5
  • Take PCR test on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea (if stay ≥8 days)
To Singapore 🇸🇬
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore, South Korea, or any Category I/ VTL country
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. S$30K coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for VTP (short-term visitors and long-term pass holders only)
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL (exemption for children aged 12 and below)
  • Complete SG Arrival Card
  • Take pre-departure ART/PCR 2 days before flight
  • Take designated VTL flight to Singapore
  • Take PCR test on arrival in Singapore (pre-booking required) and self-isolate until negative result is received
  • (temporary measure) Take ART swabs at designated testing centres on Days 3 & 7 after arrival in Singapore, plus self-testing on Days 2, 4, 5 and 6
Summary: SG-ROK VTL

South Korea VTL Trip Report

I made a VTL trip to South Korea back in November, and here’s my report on the process from end to end, including testing, life in Seoul, airline and hotel reviews. Enjoy!

🇰🇷 BTS (Back to Seoul)
🇸🇬 Singapore- South Korea VTL 🇰🇷


VTL travellers to South Korea will now be required to do their pre-departure PCR test within 48 hours of departure, plus ART swabs on days 3 and 5 of arrival. It shouldn’t unduly inconvenience most travellers, however, especially since the ARTs are self-administered. 

In any case, I think the bigger story here is that South Korea is continuing to keep the VTL with Singapore open. This can’t be taken for granted in the current climate, so that can only be good news.

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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Lol screw this even NBA players don’t get tested as often


Had a lecturer once tell us “sup paper is not meant to pass u. It’s meant to confirm your failure”

Gosh with 13 test wonder what that means


basically testing every possible window period lol


the yangji hospital website looks like a horror site @.@


For the Incheon airport Antigen (ART) test, how long did it take from your experience to get results and certificate issued?


Hello. Does anyone know if i am required to take another PCR upon return to SGP if stay is less than 48hours?

example itinerary
friday arrival 830am, est custom clearance and pcr test at incheon (1030am)
sunday departure 930am, check in airport 730am

Thank you v much!



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