Many of us will personally know of at least one person who has been separated from close family in Malaysia due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Singapore-Malaysia VTL was supposed to allow these long-overdue reunions to take place, and herald the normalising of travel links with our closest neighbour.
While this VTL (along with all the others) has hit a bit of a speed bump following Singapore’s decision to suspend sales of new VTL tickets for travel up till 20 January 2022, it’s still possible to book travel from 21 January 2022 onwards (albeit with 50% of the original capacity available), and those holding existing tickets are unaffected.
Here’s a recap of the requirements for VTL travel from Singapore to Malaysia. You can find the full details laid out in this article.
|✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria
From 🇸🇬 Singapore to Malaysia 🇲🇾
|*Children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year are exempt
^Exception for children aged 12 and below, if they are accompanied by vaccinated traveller
In this article, we’ll focus on one particular aspect that’s been causing problems for some VTL land travellers: uploading COVID-19 ART results to the MySafeTravel portal.
Uploading ART results to MySafeTravel
Since 15 December 2021, it’s been compulsory for VTL travellers to register via the MySafeTravel portal prior to travel to Malaysia. Registration opens seven days before departure.
There are three main things that need to completed on the MySafeTravel portal:
- Registration of Traveller Details
- Upload Vaccine Certificate
- Upload Pre-departure PCR or Professionally-administered ART Result (ART only accepted for land VTL)
(1) and (2) are fairly straightforward. It’s (3) that is the problem, particularly if you’re attempting to upload a certificate for a professionally-administered ART (for those travelling via the land VTL).
What many may not know is that there are two methods of test certification currently used in Singapore.
Method 1: Patient Risk Profile Portal
The first is the Patient Risk Profile Portal (PRPP), run by MOH Singapore and directly linked to the TraceTogether app that we’re all familiar with. This platform is used by almost all GP clinics and is the default system for tracking COVID-19 PCR results for symptomatic patients, and more recently for pre-event ART certification for large events in Singapore.
Upon release of the results, you should receive an SMS link to the certificate with a QR code that looks something like this:
While this is the most widely used method for test certification, it was not initially intended for travel purposes.
However, some countries (such as France and the USA) accept ART results for travel. The PRPP ART certificate also qualifies as a notarised certificate, and is acceptable in general as a valid pre-departure test.
Method 2: Notarised .oa file
The second method of test certification is the use of a notarised, .oa file, generated by third-party platforms such as Accredify or Delta. This is the default certification method for pre-departure PCR tests.
When the results are ready, you will receive an .oa and .pdf encrypted file in your email. This document contains multiple types of QR codes by different international certification bodies including OpenCert, Heartcert, and the EU Digital COVID Certificate.
When clinics use this system, results are usually not uploaded to the PRPP, and thus do not reflect on your TraceTogether app. Obviously, this document will be accepted for travel purposes as that is its intended purpose.
The problem that arises because of these two separate systems is that while majority of clinics upload ART test results to the PRPP system, the Malaysian MySafeTravel portal only accepts QR codes from the third-party HealthCert / EU Digital COVID Certificate.
If you attempt to upload the QR code from a PRPP certificate, you’ll be able to submit your application, but will see an error message like this on the “Submission Status” page subsequently.
This has been the source of much anxiety amongst travellers as they scramble to figure out why the MySafeTravel portal is rejecting their pre-departure test QR codes with less than 48 hours to travel time. There have also been some anecdotal reports of VTL bus drivers keeping those with hardcopy pre-departure test results at the side and boarding them last.
But to be clear: PRPP certificates are still valid for land VTL travel. However, since they cannot be uploaded to the MySafeTravel portal, hardcopies must be brought to the VTL bus and presented for manual verification.
Getting a notarised ART certificate
If you want to avoid this problem altogether, a simple solution is to look for a clinic that provides notarised ART results certificates.
To my knowledge, here are some clinics which provide a notarised certificate for pre-departure ART results:
- Raffles Medical: S$27/test (with promo code SIARMGART)
- Wong Solutions (Home swab service): S$30/test, appointment only
- DoctorAnywhere: S$34.24/test
- Intemedical Clinic: S$37/test, appointments accepted
- My Family Clinic: S$38/test
- Unihealth Clinic: S$38/test
There are likely to be others out there too, so sound off in the comments below with your data points.
If you’re travelling to Malaysia on the land VTL, MySafeTravel portal may reject your ART results certificate. This doesn’t mean it’s invalid; it just means it’s come from the PRPP system which isn’t compatible with the one Malaysia is using.
You can bring your physical certificate to the land checkpoint and all will be well. But if you want to minimise pre-travel stress, another option is to do your pre-departure testing at a clinic that issues notarised ART result certificates.
Safe travels and a happy reunion to all our Malaysian friends who are returning home!