If you’re travelling overseas in the near future, you may be required to take a pre-departure COVID-19 test (PDT).
The good news is that whether you’re looking at an ART or PCR, testing prices in Singapore have been falling every month. The price of a PCR test now starts from S$50, while a virtually-supervised ART can be done at S$9.
|Summary: Cheapest Pre-Departure Tests|
(Last updated: 8-Jul-22)
In this post, we’ll look at your options including at-home swabbing, express tests, saliva tests, and more.
|⚕️ Cheapest Pre-Departure COVID-19 Tests|
Which countries require a PDT?
|🌎 COVID-19 Travel Restrictions by Country|
|The following resources summarise COVID-19 travel restrictions by country, including who can enter, vaccination and testing requirements.|
Here’s a summary of the PDT requirements for selected destinations popular among Singapore travellers.
|⚕️ PDT for Singapore Residents|
|Vax.||Unvax. Child Under 12^|
|🇭🇰 Hong Kong||PCR1||PCR1|
(under 5 exempt)
(under 6 exempt)
|🇳🇿 New Zealand||N/A||N/A|
(boosted individuals exempt)
|🇸🇦 Saudi Arabia||N/A||N/A|
|🇿🇦 South Africa||N/A||N/A|
|🇰🇷 South Korea||ART/PCR5||ART/PCR5|
(under 6 exempt)
|🇱🇰 Sri Lanka||N/A||N/A|
|🇬🇧 United Kingdom||N/A||N/A|
|🇺🇸 United States||N/A||N/A|
|^Accompanied by vaccinated parents|
1. Within 48h of departure to Hong Kong
1b. Within 72h of departure to India
2. Within 72h of departure to Japan
3. Within 24h/48h (ART/PCR) of departure to Philippines
4. Within 48h of departure to Qatar
5. Within 1 day/2 days (ART/PCR) of departure to South Korea
If you intend to take a cruise on Resorts World Cruises or Royal Caribbean, you will need to take a supervised COVID-19 test within 1 day of departure (this can be an ART or PCR test).
Testing windows have been summarised in the table above, but pay particular attention to:
- Whether a shorter time frame applies if you wish to do an ART instead of PCR
- Whether the window is in relation to your time of departure or your time of arrival in the overseas country
- Whether the window is described in days or hours- there is a difference!
- Example: South Korea requires a pre-departure ART to be taken within 1 day of departure. If you’re flying at 11 p.m on Wednesday, for example, you can take your test anytime from 12 a.m on Tuesday onwards. This means you could have as much as 48 hours to do your test in some cases
Testing windows shouldn’t be that much of a concern for those taking ART, since the quick turnaround time allows you to do it the day before you fly. You could even do it at Changi Airport just before check-in, thanks to the Raffles Medical Clinic at Terminal 3. Alternatively, you could do it from the comfort of your home via a tele-medicine provider (see below for options).
How much does a PDT cost?
Travelers can do their test at any MOH approved clinic. For those with children aged 12 and below, do check beforehand whether the clinic is able to provide testing, because not all do.
|Approved COVID-19 Test Providers|
|Click the link for “clinics approved to conduct PCR Pre-Departure Tests”. These clinics offer results in the HealthCerts.oa format, which is needed for notarisation.|
Clinic ART/PCR Tests
Here’s an idea of how much you can expect to pay for an ART, PCR or PCR(S) (Serology- for travel to China) at selected clinics across Singapore.
Do note that while South Korea and the Philippines accept ART results, these must be administered in-clinic. Tele-supervised ARTs will not be valid for travel to these two countries.
|⚕️In-Clinic COVID-19 ART/PCR Test*|
|PDT Swab SG||S$35||S$50||N/A|
|Fast PDT Swab||S$28||S$70||N/A|
|The Testing Pro||S$20||S$75||N/A|
|Swab N Go||S$30||S$95||N/A|
|Doctor Anywhere Clinic||S$32||S$95||S$155|
|SATA Comm Health||S$28||S$107||S$157|
|Pinnacle Family Clinic||S$48||S$128||S$214|
|*Prices are subject to change; call clinics for latest information.|
The promised turnaround time for most clinics is 24-48 hours, though in my experience it’s much closer to 24 hours.
Saliva PCR Tests
For those who find nasal swabs too invasive, saliva PCR testing was recently made available in Singapore.
Sample prices are shown below.
|💦 In-Clinic Saliva PCR Test|
|Chain||↑ Saliva PCR|
|Parkway East Hospital||S$150|
Saliva PCR testing is currently accepted for travel to:
- South Korea
For other countries, do contact the respective authorities for clarification.
Express PCR Tests
Express service is available with the following providers:
|⏲️ Express PCR Testing|
|Raffles Medical||S$185||Clinic||6 hours|
|Fast PDT Swab||S$188||Clinic||12 hours|
|PDT Swab SG||S$195||Clinic||12 hours|
|The Testing Pro||S$198||Clinic||5-7 hours|
|Parkway Shenton||S$238||Home||6 hours|
|Swab N Go||S$240||Clinic||6-8 hours|
|Healthway Medical||S$250||Clinic||6 hours|
|Affinity Medical||S$250||Clinic||6-8 hours|
|Fullerton Health||S$278||Clinic||6 hours|
|Swab Station||S$288||Clinic||8 hours|
|Kingsway Medical||S$288||Clinic||8 hours|
|Osler Health||S$350||Clinic||8 hours|
|Paddington Medical||S$380||Clinic||8 hours|
At-home PCR Tests
For those seeking additional convenience, at-home swabbing is also available. This is understandably less cost-effective for a single individual, but if you’re travelling as a family, the prices tend to fall from the second person onwards.
|🏠 At-Home PCR Testing|
|Provider||1 Pax||Additional Pax|
|PDT Swab SG||S$98||S$98|
|The Testing Pro||S$118||S$112|
|Fast PDT Swab||S$168||S$168|
(book via app)
(📱= app based)
|Lion Health||8 a.m to 2 a.m||S$9|
|📱 MaNaDr||9 a.m to 9 p.m||S$11|
|📱 MyCLNQ||24 hours||S$12|
|📱 Hidoc||9 a.m to 4.30 p.m|
|📱 Minmed||9 a.m to 9 p.m |
|Kingston Medical||9 a.m to 6 p.m||S$12.90|
|Intemedical||8 a.m to 11 p.m||S$15|
|Swab N Go||10 a.m to 7 p.m||S$15|
|BCH-ART||8.30 a.m to 8.30 p.m||S$15|
|Belief Family Clinic||24 hours||S$18|
(after hours surcharge applies)
|📱 Doctor Anywhere||8 a.m to 10 p.m||S$21.40|
|📱 Raffles Connect||24 hours||S$23|
|The Tenteram Clinic||6 a.m to 11.30 p.m||S$25|
|Fullerton Health||9 a.m to 5 p.m||S$25|
|Swab Station||8 a.m to 5 p.m||S$25|
(+S$14-24 for after hours, weekend and PH)
|Healthway Medical||9 a.m to 9 p.m|
(9 a.m to 5 p.m on weekend/ PH)
|Bethesda Medical||Varies by day||S$26.75|
|📱 Speedoc||8 a.m to 8 p.m||S$26.75|
Notarising PDT results
Travellers are required to digitally authenticate and notarise their test certificate via the Notarise website prior to travel.
However, in some cases the clinic or lab issuing your certificate may already have done it for you. This was the case for my PDT from Kingsway Medical, which was issued by Accredify.
Swab results issued by Accredify are automatically notarised. The notarised copy along with its QR code has been appended to your digital pre-departure memo. There are no further actions required from you.
You can check if the endorsement has been done by scanning the online verification QR code, which should bring you to Verify. Otherwise, it’s a simple matter of uploading the HealthCerts.oa file provided by the clinic for verification.
The digitally authenticated and endorsed PDT HealthCert and QR code will be emailed to you within 15 minutes. If you presented your NRIC at the medical facility, the QR code will also be automatically uploaded onto your SingPass app.
There is no need to notarise your ART result, and in any case, not all ART results can be notarised.
You can read the full set of FAQs regarding the notarisation process here.
What tests can’t be used for travel?
As a general guide, pre-departure test results must state the lab name, a negative result, and feature your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Passport number
What card should you use for payment?
Swabs at private clinics should code as MCC 8011: Doctors or Physicians. So long as contactless payments are accepted, you can use the cards below to maximise the miles you earn.
|UOB Pref. Plat Visa|
|4.0 mpd||Max S$1,110 per c. month, must use mobile payments|
|UOB Visa Signature |
|4.0 mpd||S$1K-2K per s. month on contactless/ petrol|
|C. Month= Calendar Month, S. Month= Statement Month|
Remember, UOB cards exclude rewards for MCC 8062: Hospitals, so if your swab takes place there you may not earn miles.
If you’re prepaying for your swab online, then you can use the following cards.
|4.0 mpd||Max S$1K per s. month, excludes travel|
|4.0 mpd||Max S$2K per c. month|
|C. Month= Calendar Month, S. Month= Statement Month|
Do note that just because your credit card details are captured online doesn’t mean the transaction itself is processed online. The general rule is that if you receive an OTP, it’s definitely an online transaction. However, the absence of an OTP in itself does not mean an offline transaction.
The cost of pre-departure COVID-19 PCR testing keeps falling, with the cheapest tests now starting at just S$50. There’s also various options available for in-home and express testing, providing additional flexibility.
If you need an ART result, you best bet is to a tele-ART from the comfort of home, with prices starting from just S$9.