VTL: Which airports offer pre-departure antigen rapid testing (ARTs)?

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Singapore accepts ARTs for pre-departure testing. Here's which airports provide ART swabbing, and how much it'll cost you.

If you’re heading to Singapore on the VTL, you’ll probably be familiar with the pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement (PDT) necessary to board your flight. 

The good news is that ever since 12 November 2021, Singapore has been accepting the cheaper, faster antigen rapid tests (ARTs) for PDT purposes.

Since the waiting time for ART results is usually less than 30 minutes, you can integrate it into your check-in process, showing up at the airport a little earlier, getting swabbed and checking in as soon as the certificate is out (well, assuming it’s negative). This means greater convenience for travellers, since there’s no need to set aside separate time during the trip just to settle PDT. 

In this post, we’ll look at which airports offer on-location ART swabbing, and how much it costs.

Recap: Pre-departure test requirements

Pre-departure tests must be taken within 2 days of departure

VTL travellers to Singapore must take a COVID-19 ART or PCR test within 2 days of departure. 

Note that the window is 2 days, not 48 hours. If your flight departs at 11.30 p.m on 28 December 2021, for example, you can do take your test anytime from 12.00 a.m on 26 December 2021 onwards.

✈️ What about connecting flights?
For passengers who are taking a connecting flight to Singapore, the 2 days will be counted from the scheduled departure of his flight from his first embarkation point of his journey to Singapore. For example, if the passenger’s flight itinerary is LAX-NRT-SIN, the COVID-19 test must be taken within 2 days before the scheduled departure of his flight from LAX.

As per the ICA, COVID-19 test certificates must contain the following information:

Travellers should ask for a copy of their negative test result as it will be considered by the airline and immigration officer as proof that the traveller has been tested for COVID-19. The documentary proof should:

  • Be in English (or accompanied with an English translation);
  • Contain the traveller’s name, and Date of Birth or Passport number (per the passport used to travel to Singapore); and
  • Reflect the date and result of the test

A sample antigen test certificate is shown below. Notice how it has information like the name, date of birth, passport number, date of test, and name of the testing facility. 

Sample antigen test results certificate from Seoul

Despite the wording about self-swabs not being allowed, it’s been confirmed by multiple sources that CLEA supervised self-swabs are accepted for VTL travel from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore (see table below). 

In my experience, you don’t need a physical copy of the results certificate when travelling to Singapore. However, if you’re transiting through Singapore to other destinations, it’s best to get a physical copy just in case. 

Which airports offer antigen testing?

Here’s my best effort at compiling a list of ART providers at various airports. Do note that certain airports may have multiple testing options, in which case I’ve taken the cheapest for reference.

If you’re aware of any on-airport providers that are cheaper, do sound out below. 

⚕️ On-Airport Rapid Antigen Test Prices
CountryAirportART Price
🇦🇺 AustraliaMelbourne A$59
(~S$58)
Sydney A$59
(~S$58)
🇰🇭 Cambodia
Phnom PenhNot available
Siem ReapNot available
🇨🇦 CanadaVancouverC$79
(~S$83)
🇩🇰 DenmarkCopenhagenDKK 199
(~S$42)
🇫🇯 FijiNadiNot available
🇫🇮 FinlandHelsinki€79
(~S$121)
🇫🇷 FranceParis€30
(~S$47)
🇩🇪 GermanyBerlin€43
(~S$66)
Frankfurt€29
(~S$45)
Munich€41
(~S$64)
🇮🇳 India
ChennaiNot available
DelhiINR 350
(~S$6)
MumbaiINR 150*
(~S$3)
🇮🇹 ItalyRome€20
(~S$31)
Milan€50
(~S$78)
🇲🇾 MalaysiaUse CLEARM 15
(~S$5)
Plus the cost of an ART self-test kit
🇲🇻 MaldivesMale
(most resorts will arrange for testing on-site)
Not available
🇳🇱 NetherlandsAmsterdam€58
(~S$89)
🇰🇷 South KoreaSeoul84,000 KRW
(~S$96)
🇪🇸 SpainBarcelona€29
(~S$44)
🇱🇰 Sri LankaColomboNot available 
🇸🇪 SwedenStockholmSEK 495
(~S$74)
🇨🇭 SwitzerlandZurichCHF 55
(~S$81)
🇹🇭 ThailandBangkok
THB 350
(~S$14)
🇹🇷 TurkeyIstanbulTRY 175 
(~S$20)
🇬🇧 UK
London£35^
(~S$64)
Manchester£32
(~S$58)
🇺🇸 USAHoustonNot available
Los AngelesUS$80
(~S$108)
New York JFKUS$179
~(S$242)
San FranciscoNot available
SeattleNot available
^Use code BAOFFER for 4% off, valid for all passengers
*This price seems a little too good to be true, so exercise caution (for what it’s worth, the provider is listed on the official Mumbai Airport website).

Most locations will provide results within 30 minutes. If you’re travelling during peak periods (typically morning and evening departures), you should budget a bit more time for queueing. You will not be able to receive your boarding pass until the test certificate is presented at the check-in desk. 

Conclusion

Travellers to Singapore can use ART results for the purposes of PDT, which reduces cost and adds convenience to the travel process.

Do note that airport testing, while convenient, may not necessarily be the cheapest option. If your primary concern is saving money rather than time, you may be able to find cheaper alternatives downtown. 

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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Happy Camper

Mumbai at $3..? Maybe cos they recycle? 😜

On a more serious note, if anyone wants to take ART PDT at BCN Airport, make sure you have a secured appointment because when we wanted to do so there was a sign out “SOLD OUT” and “For Those With Appointments Only”.. grrr.. No such problems in SIN or FRA…

…else get it done in town before going to airport.

Somebody

Or maybe they have economies of scale that WHO sources from them @ $2.50 per test rather than pay fat cats like Abbott 4 times for the same tech?

https://www.finddx.org/newsroom/pr-22jan21/

Reading a bit more about the world helps; just saying!

Johnny

Happy Camper – if that was any western airport would you make the same mildly racist comment or would you blindly commend them?
Aaron, people like this have no place on your forums.
Disgusting and pathetic, and also your comment about BCN is totally false. Been through 3 times in past month without issues flying SQ back to SIN.

Happy Camper

🙄

Freddy

What’s with the US$179 test at JFK? That price is outrageous…

Happy Camper

Buy kits from Mumbai and sell at JFK..? 😂

Johnny

Not true at all Aaron. Suggest you also check your facts (see above).

Johnny

You can also get it done FREE in town at any of the mobile vans around Manhattan.
Happy Camper once again showing his racist colours.

Happy Camper

Get a life.

Johnny

Not so happy now are we camper?😂

Freddy

Please. Don’t a racist. It’s not funny.

Elti

Correction on Thailand -> there’s also a clinic called ANS, level B2 (door 4). Next to Thai Smile offices. Costs 450 THB now 350 THB (promotion price) . Line handle @ansthailand. Opening hours 6am to 4pm

Elti

It’s for all, I took it last week 🙂 np. Thank you for all you do

Disarm

ART testing is free in Switzerland, just book an appointment online.

Johnny

Aaron, you get a certificate. We used one back from Zurich in November. Depends where you go in town (see comment re as nyc above – so many permutations in global cities today it is very difficult to generalise and make blanket assumptions. This article is a little misleading and incomplete as a result (no fault of yours for trying to help tho!)

Johnny

Gladly! Will do post arrival in SG tomorrow.

Whonarain

As far as I remember it is only free if you have Swiss health insurance

Somebody

Bigger question is whether it is worth the risk of turning positive on arrival? I for one would prefer an RT-PCR as close to departure as possible. Admittedly we are past partaking the pleasures of NCID but if I am COVID +, I would rather wait it out abroad. Going with the PCR option increases the odds of catching a potential infection early. It never gets to 100% as we saw with the Vinyl Bar case but ART is just pushing the envelope. I am not in the ‘shut down VTL’ camp but would prefer going back to PCR tests… Read more »

freedom

Unless someone with a job prefers to live at two different time zones, it does not help most working people.

Somebody

@Aaron, the Delhi number seems wonky. RT-PCR is INR 500 so RAT is unlikely to be 650. Please take a look at this – https://www.newdelhiairport.in/faq#rt-pcr-online-booking. (COVID-19 Test tab). The cost for RAT is INR 300 according to this link.

cheesecake

coronatest.de – available at many Berlin train stations (in all likelihood, you’d be taking the train from one of these stations to the airport anyway, so why pay more at the airport?)

ART costs only EUR15 and emailed results received in 20 mins.

Amos

Done my research for YVR.

$79 at YVR is the cheapest…every. Any establishment outside is charging more than that, and up to $300…just because they can. You’ll need to book an appt at https://covid-medical.ca 2hrs ahead of your scheduled departure time.

Amos

Ultima Medical Clinic is your second option for a wee bit more, and appts can be booked at https://yvrmedical.com

Amos

Hey Aaron, there’s a page on the SQ website that links to various testing options available at VTL destinations. The link for Seattle doesn’t work, but SFO will fall under San Mateo Country, and the link does work.

https://www.singaporeair.com/en_UK/sg/travel-info/pdt-pcr-locations/

https://www.arcgis.com/apps/Nearby/index.html?appid=43118dc0d5d348d8ab20a81967a15401

As far as I understand, EVERYONE can get tested for free in California.

Last edited 9 months ago by Amos
Amos

Sorry. I stand corrected. Pre-departure tests will incur a fee. FOC testing is random and useless for travel certification in most cases.

Yogi

We are in SF now and just got the ART test at onpoint https://onpoint-testing.com/downtown-san-francisco/
they are the cheapest we could find ( $68 USD) and efficient. They email result within 1-2 hours and has QR code. Need to book online but payment on site.
lots of free ART sites in SF but not certain they will be acceptable for travel and take 48 hours to get the email result.
best to just pay for it and be certain.

Amos

That’s great! Thank you so much for sharing information from the other side, because it really helps to know what the situation is like. Some testing sites have links to an external website for booking, and they will mention if their tests can be used for international travel. How did you guys find out about Onpoint anyway?

P.s I left my heart in SFO.

Yogi

Found out just by a google search. On point receptionist confirmed that its accepted for travel on SQ and the confirmation they email has all the requirements that the SQ site indicates must be met ( they add DOB and not passport no. but this is ok according to SQ site) . We are returning on tomorrow evening’s flight so will update if we get knocked back at the airport 🙂

Alian

wouldnt it be risky to do PDT at Airport if the queue for testing is long? Results may be fast for ART test but my concern is potential long queues. Would this not be a risk to factor in, so in the end might as well do it a day before in the city.

cheesecake

Also packing your luggage and trekking all the way to the airport and, in case tested positive, have to trek all the way back to the city. Isn’t it better to get tested in the city as soon as the testing window allows (2 days prior) so if positive can still make arrangements (booking accommodation in advance, rescheduling flights within the change policy of the airlines) without the physical (and emotional!) toil of going to the airport and having to do these things there?

jordan

one could also argue that the most responsible thing to do would be to test as late as possible, so as to lower the chances that you might be infectious on the plane.

SQ Flyer

The practical thing to do would be to test as early as possible (i.e. as soon as the 2-day window allows) to mitigate the likelihood of a logistical nightmare right before check-in.

The responsible thing to do would be to not board the flight if symptoms present subsequently (which would also result in a logistical nightmare, but there is a lower chance of this happening given the earlier negative test).

Yap

For Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport in Madrid, Spain, their testing centre is at T4. Testing centre website can be found here: https://travelcovidtestcenter.com/adolfo-suarez-madrid-airport/ ART – 25€ PCR – 59€ Rapid PCR – 98€ Prices are all displayed on the site. Test centre is located near the WH Smith bookstore. When contacted, they say tests take longer on weekends and holidays, and people who book online will be given priority in the queue. Rapid PCR tests take 35-60mins. Contact them by email if you have specific questions (email address in the hyperlink above). They are fairly responsive (2-3 working days). Source: Myself,… Read more »

Dickson

I just got back from Madrid & Milan. The situation with PDT (whether ART or PCR) is bad. For Milan, there’s 2 PDT centres, one at Arrival hall and the other at Sheraton Malpensa. Don’t expect to be able to do any walk-ins. You have to book at least a day in advance. I ended up booking a 4:15am slot. Even with a booking, expect to queue at least an hour. All the centres are now overwhelmed as countries after countries imposed PDT as requirement for entry. In Madrid, forget about the airport PDT without appointment. The line without appointment… Read more »

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