SHN To Be Lifted From Sept 2021: Where Can Singaporeans Travel To?

SHN To Be Lifted From September: Where Can Singaporeans Travel To?

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At long last, quarantine-free leisure travel may be close at hand. Here’s where Singaporeans may be able to jet off to from early September

It’s been more than 15 months since COVID-19 forced Singapore to close its borders, and unless you’re one of the lucky few who travelled in early 2020, you probably haven’t touched your passport in ages. 

Thankfully, there’s finally some light at the end of the tunnel. With vaccination rates on the rise, Singapore has announced its intention to reopen borders from “early September”, removing the 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) requirement for vaccinated individuals arriving from certain countries. 

Depending on the risk profile of the country in question, travelers may either undergo a test upon return, or a shortened seven-day SHN at their own place of residence. Either way, it’s a massive improvement from the status quo, which rules out travel for all but the most determined of individuals. 

The next question on everyone’s mind is: Where can I go? 

The way I see it, there are two parts to this equation (and it goes without saying that you’ll need to be fully vaccinated to even begin making plans). 

Which countries accept Singaporeans without quarantine?

We first need to consider which countries will accept Singapore travellers without quarantine. 

The following countries are open to vaccinated individuals holding Singapore passports, without any testing requirement.

Albania
Armenia
Bahamas
Belgium
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Colombia
Croatia
Cyprus
Denmark
Ecuador
El Salvador
Faroe Islands
France
Germany
Guatemala
Honduras
Kyrgyzstan
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Mexico
Monaco
Morocco
Norway
Romania
Slovenia
Andorra
Austria
Belarus
Belize
Bulgaria
Costa Rica
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
Egypt
Estonia
Finland
Georgia
Greece
Ireland
Latvia
Lithuania
Macedonia
Moldova
Montenegro
Netherlands
Republic of Kosovo
San Marino
Slovakia
Spain
Switzerland

The following countries are open to vaccinated individuals with Singapore passports, provided a negative COVID-19 test is produced. 

Afghanistan
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahrain
Brazil
Cabo Verde
Djibouti
Eswatini
Gabon
Ghana
Greenland
Guinea-Bissau
Haiti
Iraq
Kenya
Maldives
Malta
Mozambique
Nicaragua
Peru
Puerto Rico
Russia
Saint Barthelemy
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Sierra Leone
Sri Lanka
Suriname
Tanzania
Trinidad and Tobago
Turkey
Uganda
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
Zambia
Anguilla
Aruba
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
Dominica
French Polynesia
Gambia
Guam
Guyana
Iceland
Jamaica
Jordan
Lebanon
Mali
Mauritania
Namibia
Panama
Portugal
Qatar
Rwanda
Saint Lucia
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
South Africa
Sudan
Tajikistan
Thailand
Tunisia
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
United States
Venezuela
Zimbabwe
Afghanistan
Antigua and Barbuda
Bahrain
Brazil
Cabo Verde
Djibouti
Eswatini
Gabon
Ghana
Greenland
Guinea-Bissau
Haiti
Iraq
Kenya
Maldives
Malta
Mozambique
Nicaragua
Peru
Puerto Rico
Russia
Saint Barthelemy
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
Saudi Arabia
Serbia
Sierra Leone
Sri Lanka
Suriname
Tanzania
Trinidad and Tobago
Turkey
Uganda
United Kingdom
Uzbekistan
Zambia
Anguilla
Aruba
Botswana
Burkina Faso
Côte d’Ivoire
Dominica
French Polynesia
Gambia
Guam
Guyana
Iceland
Jamaica
Jordan
Lebanon
Mali
Mauritania
Namibia
Panama
Portugal
Qatar
Rwanda
Saint Lucia
Sao Tome and Principe
Senegal
Seychelles
South Africa
Sudan
Tajikistan
Thailand
Tunisia
Turks and Caicos Islands
United Arab Emirates
United States
Venezuela
Zimbabwe

*Do remember that COVID-19 restrictions are fluid and can change on short notice, and it’s always advisable to confirm the latest details with the country’s embassy or the MFA. 

While this looks like a very long list (~120 countries and territories), not all of them will be realistic choices. If we’re talking about quarantine-free travel, then your options will likely be limited to countries with direct flights to Singapore

For example, there is no direct flight between Singapore and Belgium. While it’s possible to get to Brussels via Turkish Airlines, you would need to change planes and transit in Istanbul. That would jeopardise your eligibility for a quarantine waiver on arrival, since you’ve been physically present in a third country (even if you technically didn’t enter it). 

Therefore, among all the countries in the two lists above, the following would be the most realistic:

  1. Denmark
  2. France
  3. Germany
  4. Greece
  5. Maldives
  6. Netherlands
  7. Qatar
  8. Russia
  9. South Africa
  10. Spain
  11. Switzerland
  12. Thailand
  13. Turkey
  14. United Arab Emirates
  15. United Kingdom
  16. United States

All of the above countries accept vaccinated Singaporeans without quarantine, and have direct flights to/from Changi Airport. 

Which countries will Singapore accept without quarantine?

As I mentioned, that’s only half of the picture. While a Singapore passport holder could easily enter any of the 16 countries mentioned above, there’s a reason why everyone is holding back: SHN.

It’s one thing to avoid quarantine on the outbound leg, but if you need to serve a 14-day SHN on return to Singapore, travel becomes much more impracticable. Indeed, the only countries exempt from SHN are Brunei, New Zealand and China – none of which are open to Singapore passport holders at the moment. 

Singapore’s plan is to open up travel corridors with countries and regions that have “managed COVID-19 well”. This has yet to be defined, but in a recent interview with the Straits Times, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung suggested the following:

“Once a place’s (COVID-19) infection rate is going down, vaccinations are going up and you go below, say, two or three infections per 100,000, we should start monitoring those countries seriously.”

Here’s what the seven-day average of new cases per 100,000 and vaccination rates look like for the 16 countries with direct air links to Singapore. 

CountryNew Cases per 100,000Fully Vaccinated
UK57.355%
Spain55.454%
Netherlands37.848%
Maldives33.449%
France27.944%
Greece24.846%
South Africa20.13.9%
Thailand19.35.1%
Russia16.016%
USA15.749%
United Arab Emirates14.270%
Turkey13.727%
Denmark13.549%
Switzerland7.846%
Qatar4.760%
Germany1.949%
New cases refer to seven-day average. Data as of 25 July 2021 from Bloomberg and NY Times.

Unfortunately, there are very few countries that fall below the two to three cases per 100,000 benchmark, and it’s possible that this threshold may not even be reached in countries with high vaccination rates that opt to treat COVID-19 as endemic. 

You may also have noticed that popular destinations like South Korea and Japan are missing from the list. Neither country is accepting tourists at the moment, although their new infection rates remain promisingly low (~3 per 100,000) and should they decide to open borders, it’s a good bet they’ll be on Singapore’s “approved” list.

Hong Kong is also absent, namely because the Air Travel Bubble (ATB) has fallen into a limbo of sorts in the wake of Singapore’s decision to abandon a COVID-Zero strategy. While I still believe that both sides will do their best to hammer out an agreement, I’m much less confident about this materialising than I was a few months ago. Further updates on the ATB will be made in late August. 

The proposed travel bubble with Australia has hit a roadblock, due to the flare-up of cases down under. It’s highly unlikely there will be any progress on this front until the end of the year, and even so it’s likely that business and education travel will be given precedence. 

Should you start making plans?

So where does this leave you? Is it time to start booking tickets?

My stance would be this: there’s nothing wrong with making flexible bookings for direct flights out of Singapore for EU countries and the USA. (As mentioned, I would recommend booking direct flights because third-country transits are likely to affect your eligibility for quarantine-free travel.)

Most airlines are already offering free-of-charge rebooking for date and destination changes, although you won’t be able to get a cash refund unless the airline cancels your flight

I’m leaning towards the EU and USA as candidates for border openings, because of their higher vaccination rates compared to the rest of the world. Germany and Switzerland in particular look like safe bets, although agreements with Taiwan, Japan and South Korea could also be forged if the other side is willing.

Conclusion

There’s grounds to be optimistic about leisure travel from Q4, although the experience of the past two years is good reason to temper your expectations. 

One thing’s for sure though: Vaccination holds the key to overseas travel, and that’s every reason to get your jab. 

Read these next:
From Travel Insurance to Flight Hygiene: 5 Questions About Post-COVID-19 Travel
How Would Travel Look Like In 2021?
COVID-19 Tests In Singapore: Its Cost And Where To Go
Will My Travel Insurance Cover COVID-19?
Best Travel Insurance In Singapore (2021)


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