Singapore has scrapped the vast majority of its COVID-era travel restrictions. There’s no more VTL flights or pre-departure testing, mandatory travel insurance, or even vaccination requirement.
However, it’s not quite business-as-usual yet. The two remaining measures that visitors are most likely to notice are:
- Mandatory masking on public transport and healthcare venues
- The SG Arrival Card requirement
While there’s been some talk of removing (1) in the weeks to come, it seems like (2) is set to become a permanent feature of travelling to Singapore, like it or not.
SG Arrival Card to be a “permanent feature”
|SG Arrival Card|
As a reminder, all arrivals to Singapore (including Singapore citizens and residents) are currently required to complete the SG Arrival Card before entering the country.
This can be done within three calendar days prior to the date of arrival in Singapore (including the day of arrival); for example, if you’re arriving on Thursday 9 February, you can complete the SG Arrival Card anytime from Tuesday 7 February onwards.
The process should take no more than five minutes, and can be completed free-of-charge via the ICA’s official website or the MyICA Mobile app (Android | iOS).
The only exceptions to the rule are Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term passholders returning to the country via the land checkpoints with Malaysia. This concession has been in place since 15 April 2022.
While there was some hope that the SG Arrival Card would only be a temporary measure, and eventually disappear like the rest of the COVID-era measures, Singapore Health Minister Ong Ye Kung has confirmed that it will be a permanent feature of travelling to Singapore.
Per a report in The Straits Times:
|📰 SG Arrival Card will be permanent feature to guard against import of infectious diseases: Ong Ye Kung|
The SG Arrival Card, which travellers including Singaporean residents submit before returning to the Republic, will be a permanent feature to guard against importing infectious diseases of concern such as yellow fever, the Middle East respiratory syndrome and Ebola, said Minister for Health Ong Ye Kung in Parliament on Monday.
“We don’t want them to become endemic diseases in our part of the world,” said Mr Ong, noting that the SG Arrival Card is a necessary permanent feature to prevent such diseases from coming into Singapore. “Of course, all features are reviewed from time to time.”
Mr Ong also said that information pertaining to a traveller’s travel history and how they feel, is dynamic, and therefore not captured in existing government systems.
Moreover, the information required can be submitted digitally, with only three questions to ascertain the risk of a traveller being infected with the current diseases of concern, he added.
He was replying a question from Mr Liang Eng Hwa (Bukit Panjang) on whether the Ministry of Health (MOH) will review the need for the card.
In the grand scheme of things, the SG Arrival Card is a minor hassle, though a hassle nonetheless.
It’s really no big deal if you forget to do it before flying, since the Card can be completed even while you’re standing in the arrival hall at Changi Airport (though some outstations will insist on seeing your confirmation email before checking you in).
However, it’d be even more convenient if there were some way to integrate it with the airlines’ check-in process. That would require some technical wizardry that’s beyond my expertise, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented- the online check-in process already collects information required for the United States APIS, for example.
The bigger problem with the SG Arrival Card is that it’s led to the flourishing of numerous scam sites that charge you money for something that should be free. A simple Google search throws up dozens of websites masquerading as the official portal, with “administrative fees” as high as US$70 per application!
I’m sure all of you are way too smart to fall for that sort of thing, but you’d be surprised at how many inexperienced travellers would bite.
Then again, that’s not a problem unique to the SG Arrival Card; any sort of official process, be it a health declaration or an electronic travel authorisation, is prone to such spoofing from ne’er-do-wells.
What happens if you answer yes to any of the questions?
Inside the SG Arrival Card are three Health Declaration questions:
- Have you visited any of the listed countries in Africa or Latin America in the past 6 days prior to your arrival in Singapore?
- Did you start to have any symptoms in the last 7 days: fever, rash, cough, runny nose ,sore throat, loss of sense of smell, or shortness of breath?
- Do you currently have fever, cough, shortness of breath, headache, or vomiting and have visited Africa or the Middle East in the past 14 days prior to your arrival in Singapore?
The one you’re probably most curious about is (2), and what impact it has on your entry into Singapore.
The short answer is: not much. Based on reports I’ve seen, all that happens is that the automated immigration gates will sound an error when you try to clear. You’ll then be escorted to one side for a quick chat with a health official, who will advise you to monitor your health via ART kits for the next seven days and isolate if required. They will then give you a slip showing you’ve been examined, and you’ll be manually cleared by the immigration officers. That’s it.
Do remember that it’s a serious offense to knowingly provide false information in the Health Declaration; if your condition changes between the time you submit your SG Arrival Card and the time you enter Singapore, you must submit a revised declaration.
While travel to Singapore has virtually returned to pre-COVID conditions, the SG Arrival Card will continue to be a fact of life for the foreseeable future.
It’s not that big a deal to me, but it would be nice if it could be somehow integrated into the check-in process to make everything more seamless.
Well at least it can be done online. Not like Australia and NZ where you still must fill out silly pieces of paper.
Still quite backwards tho.. Many countries removed the arrival cards alr. we added it back
Most silly is asking residents filling them.
#1 can actually be a big deal! There are some popular tourist destinations like Peru and (surprisingly) Argentina that are covered in the list of countries. (Most of Argentina including Buenos Aires doesn’t have endemic yellow fever, except the north bordering Brazil, which I didn’t realize until I was on this trip.) I declared “yes” when I was returning from Argentina earlier this year (I’ve already been vaccinated against yellow fever for a separate trip, so it wasn’t a big deal) and similarly to the reports for #2, the gate didn’t let me through and I had to step aside… Read more »
Worth decision: useless, constraining, overall nonsensical.
It’s very unlike Singapore.
This MP and his teams of MP always think problematically. People are blinded voting for PAP logo and didn’t check on their the MP progress
So you rather vote for a lying Khan?
from this clown minister of health again….
Says the #1 Clown
What a colossal waste of time