Singapore to extend VTL scheme to Bali, Penang, Vietnam, Greece and all cities in India

CAAS said the steps will help to reclaim and rebuild Singapore's position as a premier air hub. PHOTOS: UNSPLASH

SINGAPORE - Vaccinated air travellers will be able to enter Singapore from more cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India without having to serve quarantine.

Announcing the expansion of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme on Friday (March 4), the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said it will also launch new VTLs for Greece and Vietnam, restoring two-way quarantine-free travel with these two countries.

Travel history requirements will be eased as well for travellers entering Singapore from Europe under the VTL scheme. This means travellers with recent travel history to the European Economic Area  – which comprises 27 European Union member states, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway – will be able to enter Singapore. 

Transport Minister S. Iswaran said in a Facebook post on Friday afternoon that the moves are part of Singapore's plans to safely reopen its borders and reclaim its position as a global business and aviation hub.

The VTL scheme allows travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter Singapore without having to serve quarantine. These travellers will have to test negative in a Covid-19 test before departure for Singapore, and take another test within 24 hours of their arrival.

CAAS said the move to expand the VTL to more cities in Malaysia, Indonesia and India will facilitate travel and improve the Singapore air hub's connectivity with these key markets.

From March 16, the VTL for Malaysia will be extended beyond Kuala Lumpur to include Penang, starting with four daily flights each way between Singapore and Penang.

On the same day, the VTL for Indonesia will be extended beyond Jakarta to include Denpasar in Bali, starting with two daily flights from Denpasar to Singapore.

As Indonesia plans to launch a trial to allow vaccinated travellers to enter Bali from mid-March, this will facilitate two-way quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Bali.

The VTL for India will extend beyond Chennai, Delhi, and Mumbai to include all Indian cities. Budget carrier Scoot said on Friday that it will progressively operate VTL flights from the other cities from March 15.

Meanwhile, vaccinated travellers from Greece and Vietnam who are looking to enter Singapore under the VTL can do so from March 16.

Greece is already open to vaccinated travellers from Singapore, while Vietnam has announced plans to reopen its borders to international tourists from March 15.

The Greek VTL will mean that Singapore has established two-way quarantine-free travel with all countries in Europe that have direct flights to Singapore.

Short-term visitors and work permit holders eligible to travel on the new VTLs will be able to apply for a vaccinated travel pass starting from 10am on March 13.

Fully vaccinated Singaporeans, permanent residents, children aged 12 and below, and all other long-term pass holders do not need to apply for the pass.

On the easing of travel requirements for travellers entering Singapore from Europe, CAAS said the move will provide greater flexibility for travellers visiting or coming from Europe.

Currently, travellers are allowed to tap the VTL scheme only if they have not travelled outside of the countries that Singapore has VTLs with in the seven days prior to departure.

But from March 16, travellers who have been in any country in the European Economic Area within the last seven days prior to departure for Singapore will be allowed to enter under the VTL.

As the European Economic Area allows free movement of people among its countries, this essentially opens up quarantine-free travel to the 30 states in the area. For example, a Singaporean can now travel to Iceland via London and return without having to quarantine.

Since Sept 8 last year, Singapore has established VTLs with 30 countries/regions.

CAAS said that as at 11.59pm on Thursday, it has issued 348,518 vaccinated travel passes to travellers from these countries/regions for entry into Singapore between Sept 8 last year and March 16 this year.

A total of 456,215 VTL travellers have entered Singapore so far. They comprise 132,099 short-term visitors, 119,289 long-term pass holders and in-principle approval pass holders, 167,380 Singapore citizens and permanent residents, and 37,447 children aged 12 years and below.

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CAAS said it will continue to monitor the public health situation and adjust border measures when needed.

Both Singapore Airlines and its budget arm Scootsaid they will expand their VTL network to more cities in line with the latest updates to Singapore’s border policy.

Passengers travelling to the countries that Singapore has started VTLs for should check the rules for entry to their destinations, as requirements vary across countries.

For example, under Bali’s reopening trial, fully vaccinated travellers will have to take a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival, and have to stay inside their pre-booked accommodation while waiting for the test result. The trial is set to start on March 14, but could be brought forward.For entry into Penang under Malaysia’s VTL scheme, short-term visitors do not need to apply for a pass, unlike Singapore’s VTL scheme. But they will have to fulfil other requirements like taking a pre-departure PCR test and getting travel insurance with a minimum coverage of RM100,000 ($32,300).


VTL in numbers

32

Number of vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) Singapore will have from March 16: Australia, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Denmark, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Malaysia, Maldives, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Qatar, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States

456,215

Total number of VTL travellers since Sept 8, 2021

132,099

Short-term visitors

119,289

Long-term pass holders and in-principle approval pass holders

167,380

Singapore citizens and permanent residents

37,447

Children aged 12 and below

348,518

Number of vaccinated travel passes issued for entry between Sept 8, 2021, and March 16, 2022

21

New non-VTL countries that travellers can visit in seven days before departure for Singapore: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

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