India reinstates pre-departure PCR tests for Singapore travellers

Travellers from Singapore and five other Asian countries will need to present a negative PCR test result from 1 January 2023 onwards.

If you’re planning to travel to India from Singapore, or via Singapore in the new year, here’s some bad news: India has decided to reimpose mandatory pre-departure PCR testing on Singapore and five other Asian countries, effective 1 January 2023.

This was announced yesterday to some significant confusion, not least because the High Commission of India in Singapore came out to rubbish the initial reports, suggesting that sources were “erroneously citing incorrect information”. 

However, the official guidelines by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare have now been published, and it includes Singapore as clear as day. 

India reinstates pre-departure PCR testing for selected countries

India is reinstating PCR test requirements for selected countries including Singapore

From 10 a.m IST on 1 January 2023, travellers arriving in India from the following countries will need to present a negative pre-departure PCR test, taken within 72 hours of departure to India. 

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Japan
  • South Korea
  • Singapore
  • Thailand

The requirement applies regardless of vaccination status. Children under 12 years of age are exempt from pre-departure testing. 

The Indian authorities have clarified that the rule also affects those who are merely transiting in these countries en route to India. 

Negative results must be uploaded on the Air Suvidha portal, along with a declaration of one’s 14-day travel history. 

In addition to pre-departure testing, India recently reinstated a system of randomised on-arrival testing that covers 2% of international arrivals, regardless of country. Such passengers will be identified by the airline. They will provide a sample on arrival at the airport and can leave immediately thereafter, without having to wait for a negative result. 

Why is this happening?

India dropped pre-departure PCR testing for arrivals from Singapore in February 2022, and just last month scrapped vaccination requirements, arrival forms and mandatory mask wearing for all flights. Why reinstate the requirement now, and why Singapore?

While we’ll never know for sure, all signs point to China’s reopening on 8 January 2023. And yes, Singapore isn’t part of China (though back in the 90s many of my magazines from the USA saw fit to add “Singapore, China” to the end of my mailing address), but it together with the other affected Asian countries are popular destinations for Chinese travellers.

Other countries like Italy, Malaysia, Japan and the USA have announced pre-departure test requirements for travellers from China, but India is going one step further by testing individuals from countries that Chinese like to visit!

How much does a PCR test cost?

A pre-departure PCR test in Singapore will cost at least S$50 per person, based on my most recent checks back in July 2022. 

A full guide to pre-departure testing in Singapore, including costs, turnaround times and less invasive non-nasal options can be found below.

Cheapest pre-departure COVID-19 ART and PCR tests in Singapore

It figures that just a few days ago, in my recap of the top 10 MileLion articles of 2022, I mentioned this article and how relieved I was not to have to update it anymore. Fingers crossed I didn’t just jinx it.


With Hong Kong and even China discontinuing testing requirements, I was hoping 2023 would be the year we’d see it disappear altogether for Singaporeans.

India, unfortunately, has other plans. From 1 January 2023, a negative pre-departure PCR test result will be required for Singaporeans once again, adding cost and inconvenience to travel plans.

One hopes this won’t have a cascading effect a la 2020, where governments go all lemmings style and follow the leader in imposing testing requirements that may or may not be based in science. 

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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The fact that government spokespersons can’t get their act together.. is laughable.

An Indian

Unfortunately, this is just part of life in the country. The left hand rarely knows what the right hand is doing (or even where the right hand is).
Living there for most of my early years, this was standard, so you just get used to it.
Unfortunate but most people from there will have the same or similar experience.


A 2023 prediction. Over the next 6 months most countries will re-introduce pre-departure testing (either ART or PCR). It will be the new normal of travel.


A 2023 prediction. Many armchair experts with a predilection for spoonfeeding will flood and make 2023 predictions like they are the second coming.


Visit Japan website:-

After December 30th, those who have stayed in China (within 7 days) and/or those who are entering Japan via a direct flight from China need to have an on-arrival test.
Please check the details here.


man the country is already pathetic in dealing with Covid, no less their vaccination campaign, now this…..who want to visit that place anyway?


18 million people a year pre-COVID. Probably a good idea to keep your misguided conceptions to yourself, you only make yourself look bad. The machinery required to vaccinate over a billion people is nothing short of miraculous, even if that same scale causes issues like the one mentioned.


Out of 18 million, how many are from Singapore? And how many are born in Singapore Citizens?


Singapore is not even implementing any measures yet. Seems like passive reaction will only take place when numbers go up again.


Covid is so 2021. Can’t believe there are so many dumb countries around.