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Singapore recently announced a list of Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) which allow (or will allow) vaccinated travelers to enjoy quarantine-free travel to Singapore from the United States, Canada, select European countries, Bruni, and South Korea, but while the gradual opening up of Singapore is great news, travelers should be aware that there are important rules governing the VTLs and anyone unaware of these rules could find themselves in the middle of an expensive mess.
Vaccination requirements for VTL travel
If you want to take up the opportunity of using a VTL and entering Singapore without having to quarantine upon arrival, will have to comply with the following vaccination requirements:
- Travelers must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 with any vaccine in the World Health Organisation (WHO) Emergency Use List.
To be considered fully vaccinated, a traveler requires two shots of an approved vaccine or one shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Mixing of approved vaccines is accepted and the final dose must be completed at least 14 days prior to arrival in Singapore.
- You must provide a vaccination certificate in English issued by Singapore or the VTL country. All vaccination certificates must be digitally certifiable (i.e. contain a QR code for verification).
- Children aged 12 and below (as of calendar year) are exempted from these vaccination requirements. However, they must be accompanied by a fully vaccinated traveler on the VTL flight. This exemption does not apply to VTL flights into South Korea.
Residents of Singapore, the EU, or the UK who were previously unvaccinated and had recovered from a past Covid-19 infection are considered fully vaccinated if they have received at least one dose of an approved vaccine. Such travelers will be required to provide an EU or National Health Service (NHS) recovery certificate from Covid-19 or a discharge memo issued in Singapore.
Testing requirements for VTL travel
Travelers on a VTL flight entering Singapore will be required to take two Covid-19 PCR tests (antigen and lateral flow tests are not accepted):
- A pre-departure test taken within 48 hours of departure.
- An on-arrival test at Changi Airport.
Note: Infants aged 2 and below (as of calendar year) are exempted from all PCR tests.
What countries are on Singapore’s VTL list?
Singapore has opened up Vaccinated Travel Lanes for travel to/from the following countries:
- United States
- The Netherlands
- The United Kingdom,
- South Korea (from 15 November 2021)
This list is accurate at the time of writing but will vary with time.
Key things to know about Singapore’s VTLs
You can’t simply book a VTL flight and fly
Using Singapore’s VTL lanes isn’t as simple as booking your flight and enjoying your trip. Apart from making sure that you fulfill all the criteria required of someone taking a VTL flight, you have to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) between 7 and 30 days before your intended date of entry into Singapore.
Your movements before your VTL flight are important
In order to be eligible for VTL travel, passengers must not have any travel history outside of Singapore and the VTL countries in the 14 days leading up to their VTL flight and, importantly, Singapore considers transit countries to be part of your travel history so you will not be eligible for a VTL flight if you have transited through a non-VTL country within 14 days leading up to your planned travel to Singapore.
For example, a traveler flying from the US to the UK via Portugal would not be valid for VTL travel between London and Singapore if the stop in Portugal was within 14 days of travel to Singapore (because Portugal isn’t on Singapore’s VTL list). This applies even if a traveler’s stop in Portugal is only long enough to change aircraft.
Not all flights from a country on the VTL list are VTL flights
Vaccinated Travel Lanes refer to specific flights to/from countries on Singapore’s VTL list so if Singapore Airlines operates more than one flight out of your departure city or country, it’s possible that only some of those flights will qualify for VTL travel.
At the time of writing, these are the VTL approved flights between North America and Singapore:
- New York (JFK) – Singapore: SQ23
- Los Angeles (LAX) – Singapore: SQ37
- San Francisco (SFO) – Singapore: SQ33
- Seattle – Vancouver – Singapore: SQ29
Any other flights between the US/Canada and Singapore are not designated as VTL flights and cannot be used to enter Singapore without quarantine.
Note: While Singapore Airlines is the only airline offering VTL travel to/from North America, some European carriers have VTL flight rights too – check for eligible airlines here.
You need insurance
To qualify for VTL travel to Singapore, short-term visitors must purchase travel insurance with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 (~US$22,000) for Covid-19-related medical treatment and hospitalization costs, prior to travel to Singapore.
You need to download and use a designated app
All visitors to Singapore must now use the TraceTogether app during their stay to facilitate contact tracing. After leaving Singapore, visitors are expected to keep the TraceTogether app and its data for 21 days (it’s unclear how Singapore plans to police this).
Singapore, one of my favorite cities, is slowly reopening its doors to visitors, but it’s doing so tentatively. This means that there are quite a few hoops to jump through if you want to use the Vaccinated Travel Lanes to visit Singapore and you would be well advised to read all the requirements of VTL travel very carefully – failure to comply with one or more requirements will almost certainly see you prevented from traveling and that could turn out to be a very expensive mistake.