Singapore, Japan launch 'residence track' for business travellers

The "residence track" comes in addition to the business track, or reciprocal green lane, which was launched last Friday. PHOTOS: CHONG JUN LIANG, AFP

Singapore and Japan have launched a "residence track" for business executives and professionals who are work pass holders, in addition to an earlier reciprocal green lane catering mainly for short-term business travellers.

Applications for the residence track will start next Wednesday, said Singapore's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) in a statement yesterday .

Both sides have been in discussions since July on the residence track, said MFA, adding that necessary public health safeguards will be in place.

It comes in addition to the reciprocal green lane, also known as the business track, which was launched on Friday last week and is for short-term essential business and official travel between both countries.

This will help restore connectivity and support economic recovery for Singapore and Japan, both Foreign Affairs ministries said in an earlier joint statement on Sept 11.

Last month, Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi said the two countries were in talks to set up the two tracks that will allow cross-border travel.

More details on the residence track including the eligibility requirements, health protocols and application process will be published on the websites of both ministries before Sept 30.

Singapore currently permits visitors from Brunei, China, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Korea, with a varied number of restrictions in place.

Earlier this week, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement that a new business travel pass is being piloted for senior executives in Singapore with regional or international responsibilities who need to travel regularly for official and business purposes.

Travellers on this pass, which is not country-specific, will be required to abide by a strict, controlled itinerary when they travel abroad for work.

Upon return, the traveller will be given the option of taking a Covid-19 test in lieu of serving a stay-home notice, and self-isolating until the results are out.

MOH said the number of passes will be strictly limited in the initial phase to ensure that public health outcomes of this pilot can be monitored.

"If the pilot is successful, and public health measures are fully abided by, we will consider expanding the scheme in a safe and calibrated manner," it added.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 26, 2020, with the headline Singapore, Japan launch 'residence track' for business travellers. Subscribe