Major VTL changes: Supervised ARTs to replace PCR tests; VTP not required for long-term passholders

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Singapore will streamline the VTL process from 22 February 2022, with ARTs replacing PCRs, no more VTPs for LTP holders and more.

I recently wrote about how the MOH was exploring the possibility of ARTs replacing PCR tests for travellers from low risk Category I and VTL countries. While this was promising news, I really didn’t expect to see any changes for a couple of months at least.

But change has come, and in a big way. From 22 February 2022:

  • VTL (and Category I) travellers will do a supervised ART within 24 hours of arrival, instead of a PCR test at Changi Airport
  • The enhanced testing regime involving Day 2-7 self-swab ARTs will be removed
  • The relevant travel history period will be shortened from 14 days to 7 days
  • Long-term passholders will no longer need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) or Entry Approval

Here’s a quick summary of the revised criteria. 

✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria
[From 22 Feb 2022]
All
  • 7-day travel history only includes Singapore and/or VTL countries and/or Category I countries
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine on the WHO EUL^
  • Complete SG Arrival Card
  • Present negative pre-departure ART/PCR test taken within 2 days of flight to Singapore*
  • Take designated VTL flight to Singapore
  • Take supervised ART within 24 hours of arrival and isolate until negative result received*
Short-term visitors & Work permit holders
*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

Changes to VTL testing regime

Supervised ARTs replace PCR tests

QTC/CTC Locations

From 22 February 2022, VTL travellers will no longer take an on-arrival PCR test at Changi Airport. Instead, they will be required to take a supervised self-swab (SSS) antigen rapid test (ART) at test centres located across Singapore, within 24 hours of arrival.

Travellers will receive a link to book a test at a Quick Test Centre (QTC) or Combined Test Centre (CTC) in the testing notice issued to them on arrival. This test should cost S$15, though the pricing is yet to be confirmed. 

Except for going for the SSS, travellers are required to isolate in their accommodation until they have tested negative on the supervised ART. They should take private transport to/from the QTCs or CTCs. Travellers who feel unwell should visit a clinic for medical advice via private transport.

In general, the earliest that QTC/CTCs open is 8.00 a.m, and the latest they close is 9 p.m. However, there are a few 24-hour locations, such as Intemedial at Ang Mo Kio, allowing you to swab any time of day. 

The Raffles Medical at Changi Terminal 3 Basement 2 is also listed as a QTC/CTC, so assuming you can make a booking it could be an option too:

  • Mon-Fri: 08:30am to 05:30pm
  • Sat-Sun, public holiday: 08:30am to 05:30pm

It’s unclear at the moment whether supervised tele-ARTs like the one offered by DA can be used; if so that’s even better. 

No more Day 2-7 self-swab ARTs required

VTL travellers are currently required to take self-administered ART swabs from Days 2-7 before leaving their house or accommodation (the day of arrival is Day 1). This requirement will be scrapped from 22 February 2022.

As a matter of best practice, however, you may wish to continue with this nonetheless.

Overall savings

With the revised testing regime, here’s how much VTL travellers to Singapore stand to save.

DayTill 21 Feb 2022From 22 Feb 2022
TestPriceTestPrice
1PCRS$125ARTS$15 (TBC)
2ART~S$5
3ART~S$5
4ART~S$5
5ART~S$5
6ART~S$5
7ART~S$5
Total7 tests, S$1551 test, S$15 (TBC)

If you have already booked a PCR test via the Safe Travel Concierge for arrival from 22 February 2022 onwards, you can cancel it for a refund. A S$3 administrative fee usually applies; you can try emailing to request a waiver due to the change in regulations, but there’s no guarantee it’ll be granted. 

As a reminder, if you’re a fully vaccinated, recently recovered traveller, you will be exempt from all pre-departure and on-arrival testing when travelling to Singapore for a period of 90 days. 

Big news: No more SHN, testing or “14-day stranding” for recently-recovered vaccinated travellers to Singapore

Relevant travel history period reduced to 7 days

In order to board a VTL flight, a traveller’s 14-day travel history (including transit stops) must only include Singapore, Category I or VTL countries.

From 22 February 2022, this period is reduced to 7 days. This makes it more feasible to combine a non-VTL and VTL country into one trip, travelling first to the non-VTL country and then spending 7 days in the VTL country before flying home.

No more VTP for LTP holders

One major gripe of the VTL was that long-term pass (LTP) holders had to apply for a VTP before returning to Singapore. While this could be self-applied and approvals were instant, it still added an additional element of uncertainty to the process.

From 22 February 2022, fully vaccinated LTP holders (except work permit holders) no longer need to apply for a VTP to travel to Singapore on a VTL flight. 

In other words, fully vaccinated Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents, all other long-term pass holders and In-Principle Approval (IPA) holders, and children aged 12 years and below in the calendar year do not need to apply for a VTP to enter Singapore under the VTL.

As an aside, fully vaccinated LTP holders (except work permit holders) can also enter Singapore via non-VTL channels (e.g. Work Pass Holder General Lane, Student’s Pass Holder Lane) without the need for Entry Approval. 

LTPHsVTLNon-VTL
  • Long Term Visit Pass
  • Immigration Exemption Order
  • Student’s Pass
  • Employment Pass
  • EntrePass
  • Personalised Employment Pass
  • Tech.Pass
  • Training Employment Pass
  • Work Holiday Pass
  • Dependant’s Pass
  • S Pass holders

✔️

  • Show Long-Term pass/ in-principle approval letter and proof of vaccination status to transport operators/ checkpoint staff
  • No need to apply for or present entry approval/VTP
  • Non-Malaysian male work permit holders in the CMP sector
  • Dormitory-bound work permit holders

Not allowed entry via VTL
✔️
Apply for and present entry approval
  • Confinement Nannies
  • Migrant Domestic Workers
  • All other work permit holders
✔️
Apply for and present VTP

Conclusion

VTL travellers to Singapore from 22 February 2022 will enjoy a much more streamlined process, with no more PCR testing at Changi Airport or self-swabs for the next six days. LTPs will also be free from the vagaries of the VTP system, making overseas travel much less stressful.

Transport Minister S Iswaran has said that the ultimate goal is quarantine-free travel for all vaccinated travellers, so here’s to that happening soon. 

Singapore has also introduced new border risk classification categories, capping the maximum SHN at 7 days, and removing mandatory hotel-based quarantine. 

What do you make of the VTL changes?

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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Dave

In addition to EP/SP holders no longer needing VTPs: They also no longer need their HR to apply for non-VTL flights. Frankly that’s the even bigger news as VTPs were auto-approved but non-VTL approvals could take sweat, tears and months to be obtained.

https://www.moh.gov.sg/docs/librariesprovider5/default-document-library/annex-e.pdf

Last edited 7 months ago by Dave
James Quek

Self-administered ART on D1 will be ideal.

Daniel

Woohoo, the news I’ve been waiting for! Booked hotels already 😀

ZYX

Big leap forward to normalcy but may still be too stringent for Formula 1.

Iwan

I wonder why can’t they do supervised ART at the airport, where we normally do the PCR. That should allow us to get the result instantly and no isolation/quarantine required as soon as we leave the airport.

Matrix.RX1

I think todays announcement is a forebear to a massive VTL extension!

Anthony

What about short term visitors to Singapore, are they able to do the ART only?

Ortloc

I hope the on-arrival test site at the airport will continue as a 24hr QTC. Arriving in the evenings/nights and having to isolate for 12 hours or travelling to one of the few 24 hour QTCs is a step back from test and go at the airport.

Those who have to get back to work the next day have to waste another half day off just to get tested at a CTC/QTC.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ortloc
Kelvin

Erm why do you need to take a half day off to take a 5 minute cab to a QTC (they are literally everywhere now) and do a swab that takes ~20 minutes from start to end?

Last edited 7 months ago by Kelvin
Ortloc

Erm, because it is considered AWOL if you’re not in the office during official working hours? Not every company is forgiving and/or not every employee is willing to take advantage of their company, especially when the overseas trip was a personal one.

Also, don’t assume that there will not be any queue at the QTC/CTC.

Last edited 7 months ago by Ortloc
Kelvin

Come on, are seriously using the word AWOL for not being in the office for half an hour during working hours? Email your boss like an adult, step out of the office, maybe work a bit later that day to make up for it if you really have to. If your boss doesn’t let you step out of the office for half an hour probably it’s time to consider a new job yeah?

Shiwfang

If you could also add in the cost of taxi to and fro for ART test at QTC/CTC. Taxi and Grab is hard to get by nowadays and very expensive. This is from my previous experience on-non VTL trip back to Singapore. Hope they announce good news for non-VTLflight soon.

Trang

If I already had covid and recovered, will I be exempted from 7 day SHN if Im not on VTL flight?

Christine

Can confirm that those on EP & DP belongs to Long term pass holders group?

Mohd

I just paid for entry approval for LTVP holders today via my HR, really wondering if I can get a refund on that since their travel is after Feb 21…

Any info from the authorities on the that?

Matrix.RX1

2 data points. First, test at 08:50 this morning, result at 09:32 via email. Second, testing is similar to ART, way less intrusive.

Zikry Ghazaly

Does that mean EP/SP holder can comeback to Singapore via normal flight? No need under VTL anymore and no quarantine?

Glenn

I am a visitor on VTL flight and will need the arrival ART test. I notice you mention 24hour clinic but it lists “pre event testing”. will they offer the arrival VTL ART test that I need or do I need to find a clinic that lists “community ART testing” ? A bit confused. Thanks

Glenn

thanks!

Peso

DA has updated their page and notified app users that their Tele-ART service can now be used for on-arrival testing. https://doctoranywhere.com/tele-art/#:~:text=incoming%20VTL%20travellers

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