South Korea VTL: Day 6/7 PCR test replaced by self-administered ART

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From 10 March, travellers to South Korea staying 8 days or more will do a self-administered ART, instead of a PCR test.

South Korea has long been one of the most expensive VTL trips in terms of testing costs, with travellers having to take up to 3x PCR tests and 2x ARTs (the pre-departure one in Seoul costs almost S$100!).

The recent scrapping of Day 3 and 5 self-administered ARTs didn’t put much of a dent in the figure, but now here’s something that will: from 10 March 2022, the Day 6/7 PCR test requirement has been replaced by a self-administered ART. 

Changes to South Korea Day 6/7 testing

Public testing centre in Seoul

Travellers to South Korea who were staying at least eight days were previously required to take a PCR test on Day 6 or 7 (the day of entry is Day 1), at their own expense. This cost upwards of 110,000 KRW (~S$122).

For travellers entering from 10 March 2022, the requirement has been downgraded to a self-administered ART:

  • No reporting of a negative test result is required
  • If a positive test result is received, the public health centre must be contacted immediately

You can bring along your own ART kits from Singapore, as South Korea does not have a specific list of approved kits. 

This means that travel to South Korea will now consist of just two PCR tests:

  • Within 48 hours of departure in Singapore
  • On arrival at Incheon Airport

As a reminder, this only applies to travellers entering South Korea from 10 March 2022 onwards. If you entered before this date, you’ll still be bound to the previous testing regime of a PCR test on Day 6/7. 

Overview: South Korea VTL

Here’s a summary of the South Korea VTL process following the latest changes. 

✈️ Summary: South Korea VTL
To South Korea 🇰🇷
  • 14 day travel history: Singapore and South Korea only
  • Purchase travel insurance with min. 30M KRW (~S$35K) coverage (short-term visitors only)
  • Apply for K-ETA (foreigners only)
  • Fully vaccinated with any vaccine in the WHO EUL (exemption for children aged 5 and below; unvaccinated children aged 6 and above not allowed entry)
  • Take pre-departure PCR test 48h before flight
  • Take non-stop flight to South Korea
  • Install Self-Check Mobile App and report daily health status for 14 days or duration of stay, whichever is shorter
  • Take PCR test on arrival in South Korea (pre-booking required) and isolate until negative result received
  • Take ART on Day 6 or 7 in South Korea (if stay ≥8 days)

FYI: it’s once again possible to take the AREX or other public transportation from Incheon Airport to your hotel after taking the on-arrival PCR test. This was previously not allowed, but has been restored for arrivals from 3 March 2022 onwards. 

You will receive a sticker from the airport test centre which says as much. 

Photo: Audrey

VTL travel to Singapore

Travellers must take an ART/PCR test within 2 days of flying to Singapore, unless recently-recovered

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

South Korea VTL: Testing costs

⚕️ VTL Testing Regime
LocationRemarksPrice
🇸🇬 Singapore48h before departure (PCR)From S$81
🇰🇷 South Korea
On arrival at Incheon (PCR)KRW 120,000
🇰🇷 South KoreaDay 6/7 (ART)~S$5
🇰🇷 South Korea2 days before departure (ART/PCR)~KRW 84,000
🇸🇬 SingaporeWithin 24h of arrival (ART)S$15

Testing costs for South Korea are gradually coming down, thanks to the scrapping of Day 3 & 5 self-administered ARTs, and more significantly, the switch to self-administered ARTs for Day 6/7 testing.

Furthermore, Incheon Airport is now waiving the medical consultation and documentation fee for arriving passengers, which saves a further 54,000-60,000 KRW (S$60-66) depending on time of arrival.

Round-trip travellers are now looking at around S$327 in testing costs per person which, don’t get me wrong, is still a lot of money, but a definite improvement from the S$600+ when the VTL was first launched!

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.

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

For a rundown of the cheapest places to get your pre-departure test in Singapore, refer to the article below. 

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

South Korea VTL: Full report

VTL guide at Incheon Airport

I did a South Korea VTL trip back in November- be sure to check out my full review of the process from start to finish, including the arrivals process at Seoul Airport, and pre-departure testing before returning to Singapore. 

🇰🇷 BTS (Back to Seoul)

Do also check out my complete guide to South Korea VTL travel, available via the link below.

Full Details: Singapore – South Korea VTL

Conclusion

South Korea has downgraded the Day 6/7 PCR test requirement to a self-administered ART, which will further reduce the cost of travel for anyone looking to stay eight days or more. 

It’s no secret that the South Korea VTL comes with expensive testing costs, so it’s good to see any move that makes it more affordable for travellers. 

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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Nick

Hi Aaron,thanks for the constant super updated updates. I just need a clarification regarding coming back from South Korea as it states a pcr/art test of 84000 won. But when I booked the test time it still states much more expensive. Should I go to a local hospital and test or do my own art test. Not to forget I will have to go down to the airport early to wait for the test result.will really appreciate your reply on this matter as its the last piece of jigsaw puzzle. I defiantly agree with you that as we wait the… Read more »

glad

yes! I’d like to know this too.. may I also know which hospitals in seoul (other than airport) offer ART for the pre-departure test coming back to SG? I’ve tried googling it but most of them only offer PCR.

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