UAE VTL: No more pre-departure PCR test required for fully vaccinated arrivals

The UAE has scrapped its pre-departure test requirement for all fully vaccinated or recently-recovered travellers, effective 26 Feb.

The UAE has become the latest VTL country to scrap its pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement for fully vaccinated (or recently recovered) travellers, regardless of origin or travel history.

This came into effect from 26 February 2022.

Travellers were previously required to present a negative PCR test result, taken within 48-72 hours of departure. 

UAE drops pre-departure COVID-19 test requirement

From 26 February 2022, travellers arriving in the UAE are no longer required to present a negative PCR test. This is provided they can show proof of full vaccination with one of the following vaccines: 

  • AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria)
  • AstraZeneca (SK Bioscience)
  • Covaxin
  • Covishield
  • Janssen
  • Moderna (Spikevax)
  • Pfizer-BioNTech (Comirnaty)
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac
  • Sputnik V

The primary regime must have been completed at least 14 days before departure, with the exception of Janssen, which must be completed at least 28 days before departure.

Passengers with a COVID-19 recovery certificate issued at most one month before departure are also exempt from the testing requirement. 

All COVID-19 vaccination and recovery certificates must have a machine-readable QR code, and be in English or Arabic. Certificates in other languages are acceptable if they can be validated at the departure point. SMS certificates are explicitly not accepted. 

I could be wrong, but the recovery memos issued in Singapore don’t have QR codes. There’s no issue for Singapore vaccination certificates however, provided you download the one from Notarise.

All children aged under 16 are exempt from testing and quarantine requirements. 

Confirmation of the latest requirements is already reflected in TIMATIC.

On-arrival test still required for Abu Dhabi

Arrivals at Abu Dhabi airport are still required to take a COVID-19 test

Do note that all travellers to Abu Dhabi will still be required to do a free COVID-19 test on arrival at the airport after collecting their baggage.

No isolation is required after this test, and travellers can be on their way as soon as it’s done. 

All passengers arriving at Abu Dhabi International Airport through both terminals 1 and 3 will be tested at the AUH PCR testing facility. Results of the Covid-19 tests will be shared by SMS, as well as being available on the Alhosn mobile application. Passengers can leave the airport once they have finalised the PCR test processes.

Singapore-UAE travel: Total testing costs

⚕️ Testing: Singapore-UAE Travel
LocationRemarksPrice
🇦🇪 UAE (Abu Dhabi only)On arrival (PCR)Free^
🇦🇪 UAE2 days before departure (ART/PCR)~AED 150
(~S$55)
🇸🇬 SingaporeWithin 24h of arrival (ART)S$15*
^Children aged 15 and under exempt
*Children aged 2 and under exempt

Thanks to the removal of the pre-departure testing requirement, round-trip travellers between Singapore and the UAE will incur around S$70 or so in testing costs, making it one of the cheapest VTL countries to visit from a testing point of view. 

Travellers who have recently recovered from COVID-19 can be exempted from all pre-departure and on-arrival testing requirements when travelling to Singapore, subject to presenting acceptable proof.

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

VTL flights from the UAE

While you can take any flight you wish to the UAE, if your trip is 7 days or less, you’ll want to make sure you either fly non-stop, or only transit in Category I or VTL countries en route. A 7-day travel history that includes non-Category I/non-VTL countries will disqualify you from taking a VTL flight back to Singapore. 

When flying to Singapore, travellers must take a VTL flight or else serve a 7-day SHN on arrival. VTL flights from the UAE to Singapore are currently operated by Singapore Airlines, Etihad and Emirates from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, as per the following schedule.

FlightsDays
SQ495
SMTWTFS
DXB 2335

SIN 1050 (+1)
EK352
SMTWTFS
DXB 1000

SIN 2125
   
EY470
SMTWTFS
AUH 0105

SIN 1220
    

Schedules will change after 26 March 2022, so refer to the Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Etihad websites for the latest information. 

VTL travel to Singapore

Singapore has eased border restrictions from 22 Feb 2022

Singapore recently relaxed its border measures for VTL travellers, replacing the on-arrival PCR test requirement at Changi Airport with a supervised ART at a QTC/CTC within 24 hours of arrival. Alternatively, VTL travellers can opt to do a DA Tele-ART from the comfort of their own home. 

Also noteworthy is the scrapping of the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) requirement for the majority of long-term passholders. Only work permit holders and short-term visitors are now required to apply for a VTP.

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

With these changes, here’s a summary of the requirements for VTL travel to Singapore. 

✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria
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

Which VTL countries don’t require pre-departure tests?

With these latest changes, the following VTL countries no longer require pre-departure tests for fully vaccinated travellers.

  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • India
  • Sweden
  • Spain
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • UAE
  • UK

For the full list of pre-departure test requirements, and places to get your test done, refer to the post below.

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

Conclusion

No more pre-departure testing for a trip to Dubai | Photo: Dubai Mall

The UAE has scrapped its pre-departure testing requirement for fully vaccinated or recently recovered travellers, which will save travellers from Singapore at least S$95 or so in testing costs. 

It’s heartening to see more and more countries moving to a living with CO, VID approach (Dubai has also scrapped its outdoor masking requirement!), and one hopes that Singapore will shift away from its current VTL model towards one purely differentiated by vaccination status soon.

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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ZYX

Something worth noting: Abu Dhabi used to required negative PCR for arrival from other Emirates, now the requirement is gone altogether

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