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of a dent in the figure, but now here’s something that will: from 10 March 2022, the Day 6/7 PCR test requirement has been replaced by a self-administered ART.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
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 🇰🇷|
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.
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$81|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||On arrival at Incheon (PCR)||KRW 120,000|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||Day 6/7 (ART)||~S$5|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||2 days before departure (ART/PCR)||~KRW 84,000|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Within 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
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.
Do also check out my complete guide to South Korea VTL travel, available via the link below.
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.