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Singapore's latest travel protocols: UK & US move to Cat II, VTL with South Korea, and more

Singapore's latest travel protocols: UK & US move to Cat II, VTL with South Korea, and more


From 13 October, Singapore's VTLs will be expanded to nine more countries/regions, which comprise six European nations, in addition to the US, Canada, and South Korea.

Effective 13 October 2021 (Wednesday), the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK) will be classified under Category II of Singapore's travel classification, as announced by Minister for Transport S. Iswaran. This would mean that travellers must:

  • Take COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours before departure at an internationally accredited or recognised lab/clinic/medical facility;
  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival;
  • Serve a seven-day Stay-Home-Notice (SHN), and
  • Take a COVID-19 PCR test on Day 7 of SHN.

Previously, since 6 October, both countries were under Category III which had travellers undergo more stringent rounds of testing. As for other countries/regions such as Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, and Spain, they remain under Category II. Travellers can visit this website here for more details about the respective categories.

Explaining this decision, Minister Iswaran said: "MOH (the Ministry of Health) has established a risk-based categorisation of countries/regions with attendant border measures. It is based on a public health assessment of a country/region’s COVID-19 situation, including their infection rate and vaccination coverage. It is the baseline setting upon which we assess further reopening moves. We review this framework regularly as the COVID-19 situation, here and abroad, continues to evolve."

Vaccinated Travel Lanes expanded; total of 10 countries/regions up for travel

"On 8 September this year, we commenced our first Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) with Germany and Brunei, which allowed fully-vaccinated travellers from these two countries to enter Singapore without quarantine requirements," the Minister shared in the same announcement.

He added, as of 8 October, more than 3,100 travellers from Germany and Brunei have entered Singapore via VTL, and all travellers have complied with the testing regime, including the requirement to be tested post-arrival on the third and seventh day. Through this, there have been two imported cases.

"Both were detected at the point of arrival by their PCR test, and were isolated before interaction with the general community," Minister Iswaran reiterated. Prior to this, Singapore had limited her borders to fully-vaccinated travellers from only "very low-risk countries/regions" in Category I, such as Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.

On that note, Minister Iswaran revealed, effective 13 October, VTLs will be expanded to "more Category II countries/regions". This would mean that VTLs will be applicable to:

  • Six other European countries (in addition to Germany): Denmark, France, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, and the UK, and
  • Two North American countries: Canada and the US.

"All eight countries are already open to travellers from Singapore. So the VTLs will restore two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and them," the Minister shared. Application for VTLs will open on 12 October, and approved travellers can enter Singapore 19 October onwards.

VTL with Republic of South Korea

Beyond those eight countries, Singapore has also established a VTL with Republic of South Korea (ROK), which will begin from 15 November 2021. This was announced by Minister Iswaran on 8 October 2021 (Friday).

"We will open applications for the VTL with the ROK on 8 November. Approved travellers from the ROK can enter Singapore from 15 November. Similarly, approved VTL travellers from Singapore may enter the ROK from 15 November," the Minister explained.

"This is a significant agreement. Especially as it is the first such travel arrangement between two major aviation hubs in Asia. We hope that it will pave the way for more countries in our part of the world to safely reopen their borders to each other."

VTL protocols: What's the process?

To ensure VTLs can go ahead smoothly, Minister Iswaran reminded VTL travellers of three key protocols.

For starters, travellers must present "verifiable and authenticated digital proof of vaccination" to enter the respective countries.

"The European and Asian VTL countries whom I have listed, all issue national digital vaccination certificates," said the Minister. "For Canada and the US, we will start by accepting digital vaccination certificates issued in the Smart Health Card format on the CommonTrust Network. This will enable our border agencies to read and verify their digital vaccination certificates."

Proof of vaccination issued in any VTL country for travel under the VTLs will be accepted as well. This means that a traveller, who could have been vaccinated in France, can travel to Singapore under the Germany VTL.

Next is travel history. With the expansion of VTLs to countries/regions of a similar risk profile, Minister Iswaran said that travellers with a 14-day travel history in any of the VTL countries and/or Singapore will be allowed entry. Before, VTL travellers must have remained in the country of departure and/or Singapore in the 14 days prior to departure for Singapore.

The third is the testing regime, in which VTL travellers have to go through two tests: a negative PCR test result taken 48 hours prior to departure, and an on-arrival PCR test. Prior to this, travellers had to undergo four tests (two PCR tests on the third and seventh day after arrival, a pre-departure, and an on-arrival PCR test).

Minister Iswaran concluded that while these border measures are "still a far cry" from pre-COVID times, it is a significant step in the reopening of Singapore borders, and crucial to reclaiming and rebuilding her status as an international aviation hub with global connectivity.

"We aim to restore safe two-way quarantine-free travel with more countries/regions from around the world, and are engaged in several discussions to that end," he added.

VTL protocols: Who is eligible?

For VTL travellers entering Singapore with effect from 18 October 2021, 2359hrs: Travellers must be fully vaccinated and have valid proof of vaccination issued in any VTL country/region or Singapore, regardless of which VTL country/region they depart from. 

For Singapore citizens (SCs) and Permanent Residents (PRs): SC/PRs returning to Singapore via the VTL do not need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP), if they adhere to the VTL travel requirements detailed here

For short-term visitors and Long-Term Pass holders: Fully vaccinated travellers who are short-term visitors (including business and official travellers), or holders of Long-Term Passes (i.e. Long-Term Visit Pass, Student’s Pass, Work Pass or Dependant’s Pass) travelling into Singapore from one of the VTL countries/regions must apply for a VTP if they intend to enter Singapore on the VTL.

ALSO READEntry into Singapore: From 1 Nov 2021, WP holders and dependants must be fully vaccinated before arrival

Image / Minister S Iswaran's Facebook

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