VTL travellers arriving in Singapore can now take public transport from the airport

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VTL arrivals are now permitted to take any form of transport from the airport, bringing travel closer to pre-COVID days.

Ever since the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) began in September 2021, one constant rule has been that arriving VTL passengers must take private transport (e.g. taxi, private hire car, or private vehicle) to their place of accommodation, and isolate until they receive a negative on-arrival test result.

On the plus side, the waiting time for a negative result has been progressively reduced, as Singapore shifted from PCR tests to supervised ARTs and now to self-administered ARTs. 

And now there’s even more good news: arriving VTL passengers can take any form of transport when leaving the airport, including buses and MRTs.  

VTL passengers can now take public transport

Instructions at Changi Airport for fully vaccinated travellers who have recently recovered from COVID-19

Previously, the ICA’s instructions for arriving VTL passengers stated that they were only allowed to take public transport after testing negative on their on-arrival self-administered ART.

Travellers are only allowed to take public transport (e.g. public buses/trains) and proceed with their activities after testing negative on the ART. If travellers wish to depart from the airport to a testing centre or to isolate at their place of accommodation before submitting a negative test, they can only take private transportation, taxi, or private hire car.

-Previous advisory for VTL travellers

Frankly, I wasn’t even aware of this concession, and neither were staff on the ground apparently. When I returned to Singapore on 20 March, the impression I got from the Changi Airport staff was that passengers had to head to their accommodation before doing their ARTs, and public transport was only for fully vaccinated travellers who had recently recovered from a COVID-19 infection.

But the latest update makes it a moot point:

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.

-Current advisory for VTL travellers

This confirms that arriving VTL travellers are no longer restricted in their choice of transportation. Similar wording applies to arriving Category I (China, Macao, Taiwan) travellers too. 

If you’re returning through a non-VTL flight from a General Travel country (previously known as Category II, III or IV) country, you must continue to head directly to your declared SHN accommodation using private transport.

Travellers must commute directly to their declared Stay-Home Notice (SHN) accommodation using private transport, taxis (including street-hailed taxis) or private-hire car (GrabSHN, Go-Jek, Ryde, MVL Tada). Click here for the latest transport advisory.

The use of public transport (e.g. trains, buses) is prohibited.

-Current advisory for General Travel travellers

VTL on-arrival testing

Submission of ART results

As a reminder, VTL arrivals in Singapore are required to take a self-administered ART within 24 hours of arrival and report the results (whether positive or negative) via Sync.gov.sg before proceeding with activities in Singapore.

ART kits must either be HSA-approved, or approved in the country of origin. 

Travellers will receive an email shortly after clearing immigration from ICA Airport Command Post, which contains a link to submit the result. Of course, you’re free to visit the submission portal and complete the form even before the email arrives- it’s a generic link. 

  • 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.

As mentioned earlier, I recently returned to Singapore on a VTL flight, and the arrivals process is refreshingly simple (even simpler now that you can take public transport!). Here’s what it was like for me.

My experience with the simplified VTL arrivals process in Singapore

Conclusion

VTL & Category I travellers are now allowed to take public transport from Changi Airport to their home or hotel, which brings travel even closer to pre-COVID days. 

Just remember that you’re required to do your self-administered ART and obtain a negative result before heading anywhere other than your home or hotel. It should be fairly simple to find a quiet corner in the airport terminal or toilet, swab yourself, and be free 15 minutes later. 

No, please don’t do it on the MRT. 

(HT: Ming Zhi)

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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Isaac

Can you do the ART swab while on the plane? Perhaps an hour before landing?

Tim

Cool

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