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]
|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
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.
With the revised testing regime, here’s how much VTL travellers to Singapore stand to save.
|Day||Till 21 Feb 2022||From 22 Feb 2022|
|Total||7 tests, S$155||1 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.
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.
Not allowed entry via VTL
Apply for and present entry approval
Apply for and present VTP
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?