Good news for those planning end-of-year travel. Singapore’s latest border restriction measures include reduced testing and quarantine, upgrades for 14 countries and relaxed travel history.
If you’re holding out hope for a year-end holiday, those prospects just got a little brighter. Singapore has announced a raft of updates to its border restriction measures, which took effect from 27 October 2021.
- Category III travellers may now serve their Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at home, regardless of vaccination status
- Travellers will undergo fewer tests (for Category II, III and IV countries, there will be no more PCR tests on arrival)
- 14 countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia, have been upgraded
- Singapore will reopen its borders to arrivals from South Asia, regardless of citizenship status
- Time in transit no longer counts towards travel history (except for VTLs)
While this is still nowhere near the frictionless travel of pre-COVID days, these are big steps in a positive direction.
This article was last updated on 4 November 2021.
Loosened quarantine restrictions for Category III arrivals
While hotel-based SHN was once the default for Category III arrivals, this will no longer be the case.
From 27 October 2021, all travellers who enter under Category III restrictions can serve their 10-day SHN at their declared place of residence or accommodation, regardless of their travel history and vaccination status. This measure extends to their family members as well.
Basically, travellers won't have to serve SHN in a hotel anymore, even if their household contains unvaccinated family members or members who did not accompany the traveller out of the country. In other words, you may serve your SHN at home even if your spouse/parent/domestic helper did not travel with you or is not vaccinated.
All travellers are to remain in their declared place of residence or accommodation and wear an electronic monitoring device throughout their SHN period. They are also allowed to take private transport (e.g. taxis and private-hire cars) to their declared place of residence or accommodation instead of booking a special vehicle like before.
As SHN at home becomes the default for Category III travellers, no application is required. This means that Category III SHN effectively becomes like Category II SHN, except the duration of SHN .
Fewer tests for travellers
The testing regimen for travellers has been simplified as of 27 October 2021. Travellers need only undergo one PCR test upon arriving in Singapore and on-arrival swab tests will no longer be done for travellers from Category II, III and IV countries.
For VTL and Category I travellers, testing will be done at Changi Airport after arrival. Travellers will have to self-isolate until the results are released. For Category II, III and IV travellers, testing will only be done at the end of their SHN. Category II travellers will do this on Day 7, while Category III and IV travellers will do it on Day 10.
Category III and IV travellers will also not be required to undergo ART tests on Days 3 and 7 of their SHN.
Upgrades for 14 countries, including Malaysia and Indonesia
From 27 October 2021, 14 countries — Cambodia, Egypt, Hungary, Indonesia, Israel, Malaysia, Mongolia, Qatar, Rwanda, Samoa, Seychelles, South Africa, Tonga, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Vietnam — have been moved to Category III.
Together with the eased restrictions for Category III travellers, this measure means that the cost of quarantine will be significantly reduced since travellers can quarantine at home (even if their family members don’t share the same travel history).
Reopened borders to arrivals from South Asia
While Singapore previously did not permit entry to travellers (except for Singapore citizens and permanent residents) with 14-day travel histories to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, Nepal and Myanmar, as of 27 October 2021, this restriction has been lifted. These travellers will be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore again under Category IV border measures.
Time in transit no longer counts towards travel history
According to MOH's latest press release, a traveller's 14-day travel history will no longer include the time spent in countries or regions where the traveller transited en route to Singapore. It does, however, include the time spent in Singapore before embarking on overseas travel (if any).
In other words, transit in Dubai will no longer add the UAE to your 14-day travel history. What this effectively means is that someone could fly from, say, London to Doha to Singapore and enter Singapore under Category II restrictions, despite Qatar being a Category III country. This is a significant shift compared to before, where all transits counted towards one's travel history.
However, this measure does not apply to travellers under the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL). If you wish to enter Singapore with no SHN requirement, your 14-day travel history must only consist of VTL countries and/or Singapore.
Singapore’s progressive easing of border measures is part of an overall shift towards endemic COVID, and we are fairly confident that we’ll see additional countries added to the VTL arrangement and further loosening of border restriction measures before long.
In the meantime, returning Singaporeans will enjoy a less arduous homecoming with relaxed SHN measures and fewer tests, as well as fewer restrictions if they were to travel.
Travellers are advised to visit the SafeTravel website to check the latest border measures for their associated country or region, and be prepared to be subjected to the prevailing border measures upon entry into Singapore.
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