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Singapore to commence quarantine-free travel lanes from Germany and Brunei from 8 September

Singapore residents can now visit Germany and back without any form of isolation or quarantine requirements.

The Singapore government yesterday (19 Aug 2021) announced that it will waive quarantine requirements for vaccinated travellers from Brunei and Germany from 8 Sep 2021, subject to several conditions, including frequent testing.

The arrangement, called Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), will allow a set number of fully vaccinated visitors or returning residents to come into Singapore from these two countries without the need for any Stay-Home Notice.

While this new VTL covers both Brunei and Germany for a start, many travellers will most likely be interested in Germany as a leisure destination, after being starved of travel for more than a year.

Let’s cover how the VTL will work in detail.

Overview of the mechanics

To be clear, the VTL mechanism is only applicable for the inbound journey to Singapore. For Singapore-based residents, the outbound journey and its requirements is dependent on the country you are visiting (more on this later).

For your VTL journey to Singapore from Germany, Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), has outlined the following requirements:

Vaccination RequirementBe fully vaccinated against COVID-19, with shots taken either in Singapore or Germany
Stay requirementMust remain fully in Germany and/or Singapore for the preceding 21 days before travel to Singapore
Purpose of visitNo restrictions
Take VTL-designated flightYou may only travel on a VTL-designated flight to Singapore (more details below).
Note that if you don’t travel on VTL-designated flights, you may be denied entry or the usual SHN rules apply.
Testing requirementsTake the following PCR tests:
1. Pre-departure test within 48 hours of departure
2. Upon arrival at Changi Airport
3. Day 3 after arrival
4. Day 7 after arrival
Insurance requirements (for short-term visitors)Short term visitors will need COVID-19 travel insurance with a minimum coverage of S$30,000 for COCIVD-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs.

The overview of the travel process to Singapore is detailed as follow:

Apply for Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP)Important: VTP is not required for Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents
Short term visitors and long-term pass holders must apply for a VTP between 7 and 30 days before their intended arrival in Singapore.
Pre-departure testTake a pre-departure PCR test in Germany within 48 hours of their scheduled flight departure time
Take VTL-designated flightTravel on a VTL-designated flight to Singapore
On-arrival testTake a PCR test upon arrival at Changi Airport. Proceed directly to your place of residence/home, and self-isolate until results are out
Post-arrival testsTake another test on Day 3 and Day 7 in Singapore at a designated clinic. These tests must be pre-booked and paid.
Travel flow for Singapore citizens & PRs planning to go Germany for holidays

The number of VTL travellers will be limited by available flights dedicated to the scheme, which are all non-stop services from Germany (Frankfurt or Munich) to Singapore at the moment.

You may transit en-route to Germany on your outbound journey, however you won’t be eligible to use the VTL on your way home unless you remain in Germany for 21+ days.

For leisure travellers visiting Singapore, they will be required to download and keep the TraceTogether app activated on their mobile devices at all times while in Singapore. Upon request by the Singapore Ministry of Health, a visitor must provide all data in the TraceTogether app should he/she test positive for COVID-19 while in Singapore or in the first 21 days after leaving Singapore.

A note about the stay requirements

The wordings of the stay requirement has tripped some people up, thinking that they need to stay in Germany for at least three weeks before they qualify. This is not the case. To be eligible for VTL, your preceding 21 days be be spent in either Singapore or Germany. That means, if you are vaccinated and have been in Singapore for 16 days, took a direct flight to Munich, spent five days there, you will still be eligible for VTL-travel back to Singapore (16 days in Singapore, 5 days in Germany).

Fully vaccinated status

An individual is considered fully vaccinated two weeks after one received the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna or any vaccine in the World Health Organisation’s Emergency Use Listing, such as Sinovac or AstraZeneca.

Travellers must have been fully vaccinated in Singapore or in their country of departure (in the cases of the VTL, this refers to Germany or Brunei). Vaccination taken anywhere else in the world but recognised here are not eligible for the time being. This means that if you have taken your shots somewhere else before coming to Singapore, and want to take advantage of the VTL to visit Germany, you are out of luck.

Testing requirements

Under the VTL arrangements, travellers will be required to take 4 PCR tests before travelling and upon arrival in Singapore. When to take the tests, and how much they cost, are outlined in the table below:

WhenType of testEstimated cost
At most 48 hours before departure timePCR test~S$110
Upon arrival in Singapore (Day 1) PCR test S$160
Day 3 upon arrival in Singapore PCR test S$94.16
Day 7 upon arrival in Singapore PCR test S$94.16
Total~S$460

As you can see, the total cost of tests adds up to over S$460, which can be a significant sum on top of the travel expenses. This excludes the other related expenses, including time and effort to travel to and from the test sites.

For short-term travellers coming to Singapore, they may be able to avoid the Day 3 and/or Day 7 tests, provided their outbound flights are before 3pm (1500H) on the day of the test. For instance, if a traveller arrives in Singapore on 1 Oct 2021 and departs on 3 Oct 2021 12pm, they will not be required to take the Day 3 (and of course the Day 7) test. However, if the flight is departing 3 Oct 2021 6pm, the traveller will still be required to take the PCR test before departing, even though the results may only be available after departure.

VTL-Designated flights

Travellers using the VTL will have to use a designated flights by Singapore Airlines or Lufthansa when travelling to Singapore.

The first flight will take off on 7 Sep 2021, and only one flight a day from Germany is VTL-designated. For a start, Singapore Airlines will operate 5 VTL-designated flights a week (3 from Frankfurt and 2 from Munich), while Lufthansa will operate two flights a week, both from Frankfurt.

AirlineFlightRouteDepArrAircraftDays of Ops
Singapore AirlinesSQ325FRA-SIN22001625(+1)B777-300ERTue, Fri, Sun
Singapore Airlines SQ331MUC-SIN13150705(+1)A350-900Mon, Wed
LufthansaLH778FRA-SIN21551645(+1)A340-300Thu, Sat

Booking and redemption is now now available through to the end of October 2021. If you are hoping to redeem your miles for a cushy seat up in the pointy end, you can expect to pay Advantage rates for redemptions on VTL flights.

Award rates for KrisFlyer members flying on Singapore Airlines and Lufthansa between Singapore and Germany are as follows:

KrisFlyer Redemption
Singapore  ↔  Germany
CabinSaver
(on SQ)
Advantage
on (SQ)
Star Alliance Award
(on LH)
Economy38,00070,000 45,000
Premium Economy64,500n/a n/a
Business92,000120,000 92,000
First / Suites125,000220,000 140,500

Note that for Singapore residents, there are currently no isolation requirements for arrivals into Germany as long as you are either fully vaccinated, or have lived in Singapore for the past six months. For unvaccinated travellers, a pre-departure PCR or ART test will be required for entry into Germany. Hence, It doesn’t matter which flight you travel on from Singapore to Germany.

However, note that transits (e.g. Singapore – Dubai – Frankfurt) will add another country to your 21-day stay history, so you will have to stay a minimum of 21 days solely in Germany before using the VTL for your return trip.

For more details on the VTL and FAQs, ICA has done up a pretty thorough list here.

Final thoughts

Finally the light is clearly visible at this end of this tunnel: the VTL with Germany is officially the first realistic opportunity for leisure travel out of Singapore, without hefty quarantine on either end.

The VTL is a good compromise in lieu of lengthy quarantine periods, which is clearly the deterrent for leisure travel at the moment. The frequent PCR tests are however a strong barrier to consider, given that a total of four tests adds up to over $400, clearly not a small sum of money.

Even without the VTL, Singapore’s newly-defined classification of countries now places Germany into Category 2, which shortens SHN to only 7 days, and can be done either in a hotel of choice or at home. The irony of this classification is that only two PCR tests are required for non-VTL travel from Category 2 countries: upon arrival in Singapore, and at the end of the SHN period.

Having said that, with how Singapore does its risk profiling of countries almost on a daily basis, I will hold my breath until the flight actually takes off. Taking a leaf out of what happened with the Hong Kong travel bubble last year, I will be mentally prepared for contingencies even before the first flight takes off.

Let’s now pray that nothing happens before popping the champagne!

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