VTL travellers from Singapore to South Korea are currently required to perform self-administered ARTs on Days 3 and 5, as part of tightened measures introduced back in December due to fears over Omicron.
This requirement has now been scrapped, effective 1 March 2022. While it’s a step in the right direction, travellers will still be required to take PCR tests before departure, on arrival and on Day 6/7, which make South Korea one of the most expensive VTLs in terms of testing costs.
South Korea scraps Day 3 and 5 ARTs
Prior to 1 March 2022, travellers to South Korea were required to perform self-administered ARTs on Days 3 and 5 of arrival in South Korea (the day of entry is taken as Day 1).
- If the ART result was negative, the traveller had to take a photo of the ART result together with his/her passport’s bio-data page for records. There was no need to submit the results
- If the ART result was positive, the traveller had to contact the public health centre immediately, and arrangements would be made for a confirmatory PCR test
From 1 March 2022, this requirement has been removed, as per an update on the Korean Embassy in Singapore’s website.
Additional Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) to be taken while in Korea (updated)
No longer applicable to travellers who will seek entry into Korea from 01 March 2022, 0000hrs (KST) onwards
Do note that this applies to travellers who enter from 1 March 2022; if you arrived in South Korea before this date, you should still continue with the Day 3 and 5 ARTs, even if the dates fall in March.
Travellers are still required to take a pre-departure, on-arrival and Day 6/7 PCR tests, depending on the duration of their stay:
- Pre-departure (PCR): Within 48 hours of flight to South Korea
- On-arrival (PCR): On arrival in South Korea
- Day 6/7 (PCR): On Day 6/7, provided you are staying at least 8 days in South Korea
With the latest changes, here’s a summary of the VTL travel requirements from Singapore to South Korea.
|✈️ Summary: South Korea VTL|
|To South Korea 🇰🇷|
VTL travel to Singapore
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.
Not allowed entry via VTL
Apply for and present entry approval
Apply for and present VTP
With these changes, here’s a summary of the requirements for VTL travel to Singapore.
|✔️ VTL Eligibility Criteria|
|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
South Korea VTL: Testing costs
|⚕️ VTL Testing Regime|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||48h before departure (PCR)||From S$98|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||On arrival at Incheon (PCR)||KRW 120,000|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||Day 6/7 (PCR)||~KRW 110,000|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||2 days before departure (ART/PCR)||~KRW 84,000|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Within 24h of arrival (ART)||S$15|
Even with the scrapping of the Day 3 and 5 ART requirement, South Korea remains one of the most expensive VTL destinations in terms of testing costs, with travellers looking at a per person bill that could easily exceed S$470.
If it’s any consolation, fully vaccinated individuals 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.
For a rundown of the cheapest places to get your pre-departure test in Singapore, refer to the article below.
South Korea VTL: Full report
I visited South Korea on the VTL back in November- be sure to check out my full review of the South Korea VTL from start to finish, including the arrivals process at Seoul Airport, and pre-departure testing before returning to Singapore.
Do also check out my complete guide to South Korea VTL travel, available via the link below.
VTL travellers to South Korea who enter from 1 March 2022 will no longer be required to take Day 3 and 5 ARTs.
While any simplification of the testing regime is welcome, this won’t make a significant impact on the overall testing costs- the real pain points are the relatively expensive PCR tests before departing, on arrival, and on Day 6/7. Hopefully these get scaled back to ARTs in the near future, because PCR tests are more suited to a COVID-zero policy than an endemic one.