Will we really get to travel without any restriction or quarantine? This seems like a question that would be asked a hundred years back under the Caste System and not now. It is a fact that in 2021 that we have become so disconnected in person! Travelling was never that difficult. Said to be the second world most powerful passport, the iconic little red book was simply just a hindrance in the drawer for most of last year and this year. Usually, we will be able to enter 192 countries easily, but now, there are all sorts of other considerations that we have to take note of. Being an avid traveller, I certainly welcome the establishment of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes! With the VTL, there is no restriction on our itineraries as well as the travelling motive. A positive move towards fuss-free travelling like in the past. I have been busy finding out all the details and doing the necessary procedure needed to embark smoothly. I would just like to share a little on the VTL as well as some relevant information that I have found out. Do note that I will be writing from a Singaporean perspective who is travelling out of Singapore. Hopefully, it will be useful for those who are intending to travel or my friends across the ocean who are looking to visit Singapore.
The Vaccinated Travel Lane is not limited by nationality but rather by your point of origin. Everyone is allowed to take part in the VTL as long as they have no travel history to other countries or regions other than Singapore, Category I and VTL destinations in the prior 14 days to departure. Some VTL destinations are more strict, for example, Australia and South Korea. You must also be fully vaccinated with a WHO EUL Vaccine at least 2 weeks before arrival in Singapore and have a vaccinated cert issued by any of the VTL destinations as well as Singapore. Needless to say, you shouldn’t be travelling if you are a close contact. Being civic-minded and responsible is the way going forward now! You have to fly on specific VTL flights and for visitors to Singapore, you will need to get travel insurance as well as apply for a VTP before arrival. For the majority of Singaporeans, you will be required to be tested at least twice! The actual number of COVID-19 tests required depends on where you are heading to. I will share more in detail later on. For more information, you can check out the Safe Travel website.
VTL Designated Flights
There are specific VTL designated flights from each destination into Singapore. Both flights on Singapore Airlines and other foreign carriers are available. You will have to fly on these flights to be eligible to enter Singapore quarantine free under the VTL scheme. You can check out this page for Singapore Airlines VTL flight schedule. VTL flights are selling like hotcakes and it might be challenging or expensive to get one. If you are able to do a 7 days SHN for residents, entering via a non-VTL flight might be easier and cheaper. After all, 7 days SHN at home is pretty doable if you can work from home. For the miles chaser like me, do not worry, I have double and triple check, you can still do the 100 USD layover trick. It does not matter you buy a round trip or one way ticket, as long as your inbound flight is a VTL.
COVID-19 PCR Test
Going ahead, I believe that this will be the norm for travelling! Until the virus is eradicated. Instead of looking at it as a test cost, I would rather say, let’s look at it as the new cost of travelling! The new “Visa” fee! As mentioned, at the very least you are looking at 2 Covid testings when travelling on the VTL. Thankfully, ART is more accepted these days which lowers your cost significantly. Let me share more about it as well as the test cost and venues you can go for the test.
Pre Departure COVID Test in Singapore, 24 – 72 Hrs before Flight Departure
Travellers can take a COVID ART / PCR swab test at any approved clinic or testing centre to do the test. Please make your appointment early as you need to get your slots available. Depending on your flight timing, there are certain cut off timings to be met. There are plenty of clinics and testing centres offering the service. You should not pay more than 40 SGD for an ART test and not more than 150 SGD for PCR. Back in Nov 20, I did mine at Parkway Shenton for the HK ATB (Burst). While digital copies are widely accepted, I will still advise you to have a hard copy on hand as well. Currently at the point of writing for VTL destinations in Europe only Italy (72 Hours) and Netherlands (24/48 Hours) require a test before arrival. Please check for the most updated information as the situation is very fluid!
Post Arrival COVID Test
For the post-arrival test requirements, only UK requires you to take a on arrival test by Day 2 after arriving. Once again, do check for the latest regulations as this might be out of date.
Pre Departure COVID Test & Testing Venues in Barcelona
Before you fly back to Singapore, you are required to have a negative COVID-19 test report 48 hours before departure as well. ART tests are accepted nowadays which is a blessing given how less invasive they are. Furthermore, they are much cheaper. The shorter turnaround time needed to get the results will also be a blessing for travellers. Do try to make an appointment in the city that you are due to fly back. If your flight is on a Mon or a Sun, do pay extra attention as there might be limited options to get tested on Sat and Sun. This is especially common over in Europe! I will also like to share some of the testing options that I have found in Barcelona, my last city before flying back to Singapore on a VTL flight.
PCR Test cost 60 Euros for next day results by 7 to 9pm. This is only available from Mon to Fri. Sat testing cost 80 Euros and results are available next day from 1 to 4pm. ART testing cost 25 Euros and available daily, results in 1hr. Reservations must be made online. Sat timings are from 9am to 12.30pm.
Turo Park Dental and Medical Centre
PCR Test cost 95 Euros. Results are available in 24 hours. ART cost 45 Euros. Reservations must be made online and paid for. Cancellation will incur 10 Euros and must be done in advance of 30 days. They have locations at Gracia, Eixample and near Sagrada Familia.
Institut Medic Catala
PCR test cost 85 Euros for 24 hours, 110 for 5 hours and 170 for 2 hours. By appointment only. ART test cost 45 Euros. Open from 8am to 8pm daily.
24 hours PCR test cost 88 Euros. Appointments are required and can be made online. ART test cost 40 Euros.
48 hour test cost 99 Euros, 24 hours cost 120 Euros and 2 hour cost 150 Euros. Appointments are required.
PCR test cost 65 Euros. Appointments are required. Only open and available on Wed, Thu and Fri.
Available at Barcelona Airport in two locations. T1 Ground Zero, open from Mon to Sun 9am to 6pm and T1 Ground 3, open from Mon to Sun 3am to 7pm. No boarding pass is required to access the Ground Zero location. The test must be booked and paid online. The maximum time taken to receive test results is 12 to 24 hours. Maximum time in Airport centre takes 12 hours. PCR test cost 70 Euros. Expedited Report cost 95 Euros. ART test cost 29.17 Euros. Bookings are required. City outlets are more expensive at 110 Euros and only open on weekdays. For city outlets, if you purchase online it is 98 Euros for PCR test.
Post Arrival COVID Test in Singapore Changi Airport
Upon arriving in Singapore of a VTL designated flight and entering under the scheme, you will be required to take an arrival test after arriving at Singapore Changi Airport. You will then have to straight to your place of residence by private transportation such as taxi or private hire car to self-isolate while awaiting the test results. It used to be a fixed 160 SGD Nett. But recently it is reduced to 125 SGD. You will have to book it online before arrival. You can do so here.
COVID Vaccination Cert Singapore
You have to show the notarized copy of the vaccination cert when you are checking in at the counter in Changi Airport. You can’t simply show the TraceTogether one.
COVID Vaccination Cert Apps – EUDCC
I do hold both a Swiss Vaccine Cert and a French EUDCC. However, based on current rules, EU has accepted Singapore cert as equivalent to EUDCC. As such, you do not have to get a EUDCC. The notarized copy of the vaccine cert from Healthhub would be fine. As a general rule, you are considered vaccinated for a period of one year from your last shot.
Medical Expenses – Home Country (Singapore)
Now comes the most important question! This is by far the most crucial aspect to me. While I look at the expenditure on testing as the new cost of travelling, I certainly do not want to go bankrupt over a little getaway. With both Singapore and Europe without doubt having hefty medical expenses, especially if you are not getting subsidy rates or a local resident in either country! Thankfully for Singaporeans, the “unofficial travel ban” has been removed by the government and we can now use our Medisave and Integrated Shield Plan for COVID Medical expenses even if we are infected within 14 days of returning. After 14 days, I would assume that the government will continue to pick up the bill as they have done for the rest of the local residents. The scenarios are as follow:
- COVID medical bills within 14 days of arrival – Subsidies / Medisave / Private Insurance
- COVID medical bills after 14 days of arrival (Contact tracers determined that you are a local infection) – Government bear the inpatient medical bills
- COVID medical bills after 14 days of arrival (Contact tracers determined that you are an imported infection) – Subsidies / Medisave / Private Insurance
With that, I will say that my risk is mainly being transferred. It is not difference from a usually sickness that require hospitalization. You will be able to tap on our regular healthcare financing.
Overseas Travel Insurance
There are now travel insurance to get that cover COVID expenses. One of them is from AIG travel guard specifically for customers travelling on Singapore Airlines, it provides COVID covers up to 350,000 SGD. You can also get insurance from other agencies such as Allianz, AXA, Ntuc Income and Sompo. For certain VTL destinations, like South Korea their government do require a minimum amount of coverage. For example, a minimum coverage of 30,000,000 KRW which is around 34,500 SGD for COVID-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs is required for South Korea. Below I will zero in on the various key features of the travel insurance plans from each provider. I will cover those coverages that are more relevant in the current environment such as COVID-19 coverage. The usual travel insurance inclusions are rather similar, like flight delay / lost bag etc. I will just go for the most comprehensive and top tier plans right now, this isn’t the time to stinge on travel insurance. The price that I provide below are on quotes based on per pax, for a 21 days trip duration in Europe and in SGD. You can find a little summary table below. Do note that the list is not exhaustive and the prices shown are the point when I am checking to prep the post.
|Provider||COVID Medical Coverage||Quarantine Allowance |
(Hospitalization not required)
|Car Rental Excess Coverage||Price|
|Aviva – Prestige||20,000||100 Daily|
Capped at 2000
|AXA – Comprehensive||150,000||50 Daily |
Capped at 700
|Sompo – Superior||200,000||100 Daily|
Capped at 1400
|AIG – Supreme||250,000||100 Daily|
Capped at 1400
|AIG X SQ – Worldwide|
(Only for Return trip on SQ)
Capped at 2800
I hope that this will be useful for everyone who is looking to travel on the ATB agreement and yes I do note that it is a lot of steps and much more troublesome in comparison to the past. Perhaps this will be the new norm? Perhaps we will never go back to the past? Oh well, for now, I am planning to just work things out as I come across it in Europe.