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Australia opens quarantine-free travel for Singaporeans

Leisure travel to Sydney and Melbourne for Singapore citizens will be possible from 21 November

Hot off the most recent announcements that Australia and Switzerland would be added to Singapore’s Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme, Singaporeans will be allowed to travel to select states in Australia from 21 Nov 2021, sans quarantine.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced at the G20 summit that Australia will be opening its borders for vaccinated Singapore citizens.

The initial announcement last week of Australia’s addition to the VTL scheme was with a caveat: the two-way quarantine-free travel would only apply to Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families. Reciprocal arrangements for students and business pass holders was slated to be in place from late November, while leisure travel was last in the pecking order, to only take effect in December. 

Two-way quarantine-free travel to Australia to start in November

While Australia has yet to announce specifics for this latest development, this is what has been reported so far:

From 8 Nov 2021, Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families will be able to travel between Singapore and Australia with no quarantine on either side, but with Covid-19 tests instead.

Singapore Airlines has already scheduled For Eligible Passengers Only (FEPO) flights from Singapore to Melbourne and Sydney to cater to this group. 

From 21 Nov 2021, this arrangement will be extended to Singapore citizens, as long as they board the flight from Singapore.

Vaccination and testing requirements

To be able to enter Australia, travellers must fulfill the following criteria:

  • Be a Singapore citizen. PRs and employment pass holders are not eligible for the time being.
  • Being fully vaccinated with a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved or recognised vaccine, such as Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen-Cilag, Moderna, Coronavac, or Covishield, at least 7 days prior to arrival in Australia. Children under the age of 12 and those who cannot be vaccinated due to a medical condition are exempted from this requirement.
  • Presenting a valid vaccination certificate in English, i.e. either the Australian Government issued International Covid-19 Vaccination Certificate (ICVC) or a paper or digital vaccination certification issued by a national or state/provincial level authority or accredited vaccination provider. In Singapore, this means a notarised vaccination certificate.
  • Completing the Australia Travel Declaration at least 72 hours before flight departure. 
  • For travellers going to Melbourne: All travellers will need to download the Service Victoria app. This allows users to check in and display their COVID-19 vaccination status. 

Travellers going to Australia are looking at a minimum of 3-4 tests, depending on the length of travel. Both legs of the travel (i.e. Singapore to Australia and vice versa) will require a pre-departure test and an on-arrival test.

Test (Testing Country)Testing deadlineEstimated Price
Pre-Departure to Australia (Singapore)72 hours before departureFrom S$128
On-Arrival in Australia (Australia)Within 24 hoursFrom A$145
Pre-Departure to Singapore (Australia)48 hours before departureFrom A$145
On-Arrival in Singapore (Singapore)On arrivalS$160 (before 18 Nov)
S$125 (18 Nov and after)

As you can see from above, the total testing costs for travelling to Australia can easily rack up to about $550. For visitors to New South Wales who are staying for longer than a week, note that you will need a second swab on Day 7, setting you back by about another $150.

For now, you can get more information on arriving into both New South Wales and Victoria from the respective state governments websites:

Designated VTL flights

Travellers from Singapore to Australia may take any direct flight from Singapore to Melbourne or Sydney. This means that travellers have a choice of Singapore Airlines, Scoot and even Qantas from late November.

However, travellers from Australia to Singapore must take designated VTL flights. Currently, only Singapore Airlines and Scoot have announced their VTL flights. Qantas and Jetstar are expected to join the VTL list in the weeks to come, although they have yet to mention anything.

VTL flights from Melbourne

VTL FlightDay of OpsDepartureArrivalFlight TimeAircraft
SQ218Daily003505157h 40mAirbus A350-900
SQ228Daily164021207h 40mAirbus A350-900
TR19Daily19400045(+1)8h 5mBoeing 787-9
Melbourne-Singapore VTL schedule (8 November 2021 – 26 March 2022)

VTL flights from Sydney

VTL FlightDay of OpsDepartureArrivalFlight TimeAircraft
SQ212Daily090514158h 10mAirbus A350-900 /
Boeing 777-300ER
SQ222Daily161021208h 10mBoeing 777-300ER /
Airbus A380-800
TR13Tue, Thu,
Sat, Sun
21450310(+1)8h 25mBoeing 787-9
Sydney-Singapore VTL schedule (8 November 2021 – 26 March 2022)

All remaining services are non-VTL flights, including flights on Qantas and Jetstar (for now). Passengers on non-VTL flights will be subject to the prevailing SHN requirements on arrival in Singapore. 

Qantas has earlier announced that it is restarting its flights to Singapore (from Sydney and Melbourne) from 22 Nov 21, while its low-cost arm Jetstar will fly from Melbourne to Singapore from mid December onwards.

Flights from other parts of Australia are not part of this plan as yet, but we expect them to join the party in due course.

A note about Australia ETA

While Singapore citizens do not need a visa to visit Australia, you will however need to apply for an Electronic Travel Authority or ETA.

This can previously be done via the ETA website or through travel agents, but is now no longer possible.

Users are instead pointed to a mobile app – AustralianETA – if they are eligible for ETA under current rules and are holders of passports from the following countries/territories: Brunei, Canada, Hong Kong (SAR of China), Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea or the United States of America.

The app can be downloaded (free) from App Store (Apple) or Google Play store (Android).

For more information, visit this website.

Final thoughts

This latest announcement is somewhat unexpected in its limitation to just Singapore citizens, but as countries move towards reopening their borders, we expect this to be an interim restriction.

It’s definitely a move in the right direction, with leisure travel to Australia now possible, adding another option to the existing suite of destinations under the VTL scheme.

While the testing costs may seem daunting, our view is that this should be regarded as the ‘new normal’ when planning and budgeting travel costs. In time to come as the world truly lives in an endemic manner, these costs will also naturally come down, making affordable travel possible once agian.

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