Two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintan was restored on 25 February 2022 under the VTL (Sea) arrangement. The VTL concept has since been scrapped, but quarantine-free access continues under the new Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF).
If you’re planning on hopping over for a quick getaway, here’s some good news: the cheaper antigen rapid tests (ARTs) are now accepted for pre-departure testing.
ARTs now accepted for travel to Batam & Bintan
Previously, travellers from Singapore to Batam & Bintan were required to present a negative PCR test result taken within 48 hours of departure.
While the cost of PCR testing continues to fall every month (tests now start from S$80 per person), it’s still a steep price to pay- even more than the ferry ticket, in some cases!
From 19 April 2022, travellers from Singapore to Batam & Bintan can present a negative ART result taken within 24 hours of departure, provided their 14-day travel history consists of only Singapore (I would assume that Indonesia can also be part of the travel history, though it’s not explicitly stated).
|❓ What about recently-recovered travellers?|
Indonesia now recognises recovery certificates, but their process makes very little sense.
Travellers who can show proof of recovery from COVID-19 in the past 30 days before departure are exempt from taking a pre-departure test. However, they must take an on-arrival PCR test, and if this comes back positive, serve a 5-day isolation at a dedicated facility (at their own expense).
Therefore, it’s much better to do a pre-departure ART, even if you’ve recently recovered. ARTs are less sensitive and therefore less prone to showing false positives for “shedders.” Moreover, wouldn’t you rather know that you’re positive before you leave home, rather than when you reach the Indonesia side?
For avoidance of doubt, ART results are only valid for travellers entering Indonesia through the Riau Islands Province (which consists of Batam, Bintan, Tanjung Pinang among others). If you’re travelling to other parts of Indonesia such as Bali, a pre-departure PCR test taken within 48 hours of departure is still required.
Travel between Singapore and Batam/Bintan
With the latest changes, here’s the updated requirements for travelling from Singapore to Batam & Bintan.
|🇮🇩 Summary: Travel to Batam/Bintan|
Do note that Indonesia no longer requires an on-arrival PCR test, unless the passenger:
- Has a body temperature greater than 37.5°C
- Is not fully vaccinated
- Is travelling under the recovered traveller scheme
This means that most travellers will have freedom of movement from the moment they arrive, with no isolation required.
Returning to Singapore under the VTF is extremely straightforward as well. Travellers are only required to complete the SG Arrival Card and take a pre-departure ART/PCR test within two days of departure. Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long Term Passholders have the option to take a remotely-supervised tele-ART from the comfort of their hotel.
|✔️ Vaccinated Travel Framework|
& Unvax. Aged 12 and Below
|*Children aged 2 or under in the current calendar year are exempt. Exemptions may apply for recently recovered travellers who are fully vaccinated|
The process will become even simpler from 26 April 2022, when Singapore scraps its pre-departure test requirement for fully vaccinated travellers.
For a complete guide to travel under the VTF, refer to the post below.
Testing for Singapore-Batam/Bintan Travel
|⚕️ Testing: Singapore-Batam/Bintan Travel|
|🇸🇬 Singapore||Within 24h of departure (ART)||From S$11|
|🇮🇩 Indonesia||2 days before departure (ART)||From S$9|
Thanks to the elimination of the PCR test requirement, testing costs between Singapore and Batam/Bintan are almost negligible.
Travellers simply need to take one supervised ART in both directions, which starts from S$9 plus the cost of your own antigen test kit (~S$5).
If you’re not eligible to take a tele-ART when returning to Singapore, you can book an in-person ART for 100,000 IDR (~S$9.50) in Bintan.
Travellers from Singapore to Batam & Bintan can now take a pre-departure ART instead of a costly PCR, provided they’ve remained in Singapore for the past 14 days. This means that testing costs for a round-trip journey now start from S$18 (plus the cost of your own antigen kits), much more reasonable in the grand scheme of things.
Let’s hope that Bali and other parts of Indonesia start accepting antigen tests soon as well.