When I returned to Singapore on the inaugural VTL flight from Munich in September 2021, a marathon process awaited on arrival. I had to do a PCR test at the airport, return home and isolate for six hours until a negative result was received, then take further PCR tests on Day 3 and Day 7.
Fast forward to today, and the VTL arrivals experience has been significantly simplified. I returned on a VTL flight from San Francisco last night, and completed all the legal requirements immediately upon reaching home.
|🎾 Tennis Paradise|
Overview: Simplified VTL arrivals process
From 15 March 2022, all VTL travellers arriving in Singapore are required to do a self-administered ART within 24 hours of arrival and report their results via Sync.gov.sg before proceeding with activities in Singapore.
There is no more PCR test at the airport, nor supervised ART at a QTC/CTC.
Before boarding their VTL flight to Singapore, VTL travellers will need to:
- Present a negative pre-departure ART/PCR test taken within 2 days of flight to Singapore (age 2 and below exempt; remotely-supervised options are available)
- Complete SG Arrival Card
As always, they must be fully vaccinated with any vaccine on the WHO EUL, and their 7-day travel history can only consist of Singapore and/or VTL countries and/or Category I countries and/or EEA countries.
Arriving in Singapore
My Singapore Airlines flight arrived at Changi Terminal 3 (though some SIA flights arrive at Terminal 1 now), and upon disembarkation, we headed straight for immigration.
Just before you take the escalator down to the arrival hall, there’s a booth selling local SIM cards and Wi-Fi eggs, so if you need one, be sure to get it here.
Automated immigration (with face scans replacing fingerprints) is available to all Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term passholders.
However, if you’re a fully vaccinated and recently-recovered traveller, you’ll want to approach one of the manual immigration desks to be issued a special sticker. This exempts you from all SHN (even if you arrived on a non-VTL flight) and on-arrival testing requirements as well as the need to take private transport home from the airport.
After immigration came luggage collection and customs screening. Duty-free shopping is available (at least in Terminal 3, last I remember it’s still closed in Terminal 1), and you can visit it before you leave the secured area.
Once you leave the secure area, you’ll see a sign confirming that fully vaccinated and recently-recovered can take the bus/MRT home.
Here’s the thing though: Unless you fall into that category (and received the special exempt sticker at immigration), you must take private transport (taxi, private-hire vehicle, private car) from the airport.
Update: The ICA has now updated its website to permit the taking of public transportation!
“Travellers are allowed to depart from the airport via any form of transportation (e.g. public bus, train, private transport, taxi or private hire car). However, they may only proceed with their activities after testing negative on their ART and submitting their result”
That’s not withstanding the fact you could theoretically find a quiet corner in the terminal, do your self-administered ART, and have freedom of movement following a negative test result 15 minutes later.
I believe they want people to do their ARTs at home or in the hotel, and avoid turning the arrival area into a makeshift swabbing centre.
Reporting self-swab ART results
I passed through immigration at 7.45 p.m, and received an email at 10 p.m from ICA Airport Command Post (they’ll send it to the email address you indicated in your SG Arrival Card).
Within 24 hours of arrival in Singapore, you are to self-administer an Antigen Rapid Test (ART) and submit the result at https://sync.gov.sg.
You must self-isolate in your accommodation until you have tested negative and submitted your results. ART kits may be purchased at drugstores/pharmacies around Singapore.
If you test positive on your ART, you should self-isolate for at least 72 hours. You may end your self-isolation when you test negative on another ART.
Please refer to https://go.gov.sg/covid-travellers for more information.
The email contains a link to Sync, where you’ll report the result of your self-administered swab (you’re welcome complete the form even before you receive the ICA email, of course).
Sync is remarkably simple to use:
- Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long-Term Pass Holders (LTPHs) with SingPass accounts should login to Sync with SingPass to submit results
- LTPHs and short-term visitors without SingPass accounts should login to Sync with their passport number, date of birth and nationality to submit results
Once registered, there’s only three fields for you to complete: date of swab, time of swab, and ART result. You are not required to submit a photo of the ART kit.
Click submit, and you’ll be able to see your submission under your COVID-19 records, tagged as a “self-swab” ART. This will also show up under your HealthHub.
Travellers who test positive are required to self-isolate for at least 72 hours, and can end self-isolation when they test negative on another self-administered ART.
I continued to receive reminder SMSes the morning after I submitted my result, but you can ignore them if you’re already submitted your result.
The VTL arrivals process has come a long way since September last year, with only a simple self-administered ART standing between you and freedom.
The next step would be for Singapore to eliminate pre-departure testing for fully vaccinated individuals altogether, though the recent move to allow remotely supervised tele-ARTs should remove a chunk of the hassle.