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6 Countries (Not Within The VTLs) That You Can Travel To For Year-End Holiday Without Needing To Serve Quarantine Upon Arrival

Skip the quarantine and start exploring the country on day 1


Travelling overseas is the trending hot topic right now ever since Singapore announced that fully vaccinated travellers will not need to serve quarantine upon return for travel between Singapore and countries via the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs). As of 20 October 2021, these VTLs are with Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States, with South Korea to begin on 15 November.

And while everyone is busy booking their designated VTL flights to these countries, why not consider countries not within the VTL arrangement, and still enjoy the same freedom of travel with zero quarantine upon arrival?

There are other countries that allow you to enter without serving quarantine. This makes departure and arrival to the destination country as fuss-free as VTL with even more flight options. The difference is that upon your return to Singapore, you would have to serve a seven-day Stay-Home-Notice (SHN). For some, this may not be too much of a chore as the SHN can be served at your home residence, as long as you have a room with a dedicated toilet.

VTL Category (II/III) Countries
Pre-Departure To Destination Country Take PCR test and produce a valid negative test result before arrival
Arrival At Destination Country No need to serve quarantine The 6 countries listed below do not require quarantine
Pre-Departure to Singapore Take a PCR test within 48 hrs before departure at an internationally accredited or recognised lab/clinic/medical facility.
Arrival At Singapore Take On-Arrival PCR Test.
Self-isolate until negative test result is produced (within 24 hours).
Serve 7 days SHN. This can be served at home (in a room with dedicated toilet) or at a hotel or serviced apartment.
Take PCR test on Day 7 of SHN

Note: from 26 October, travellers from Cat II/III/IV countries would not have to take the on-arrival PCR test but would take a PCR test on last day of their SHN. The test would cost S$125. 

Viola! It’s not even that much of a hassle especially if you’re already planning for a trip.

In this article, we highlight six other countries not within the VTLs that you can travel to just in time to spend year-end holidays without wasting any precious time and money to serve quarantine upon arrival.

Read Also: Cost Guide To Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs)

6 Non-VTL Countries That Do Not Require Quarantine Upon Arrival

After being cooped up in Singapore for over 1.5 years, it’s time to dust cobwebs off our passports and luggages. We kept in mind that these destinations should hit a minimum of 50% vaccination rate, in addition to zero quarantine upon arrival, and we do not need to serve quarantine at an SHN-Dedicated Facilities (SDF) when we return to Singapore. The bonus is the fact that Singapore Airlines (SQ) offers flights out to these destinations, albeit with layovers for an airline transfer.

Fiji: Fancy a beach retreat, with pristine white sands and option to scuba dive in clear sparkling waters? Head to Fiji. SQ would take you to Sydney for a layover where you would need to switch over to Fiji Airways. Total flight duration: 14 hrs.

Finland: Located top of the globe, near the Arctic Ocean, you can spot the northern lights, or aurora borealis almost every night with clear skies. And since we’re approaching winter months where there are only a few hours of day time and the country is usually in darkness, we can argue that chances of seeing a natural light show would be pretty high. Take SQ to Copenhagen for a layover and switch to Scandinavian Airlines. Total flight duration: 16 hrs.

Greece: Spend your holiday in the birthplace of democracy, philosophy and the Olympic Games. The land where it all started is brimming with ancient ruins, temples of Greek Gods, and museums. And if you’re not into history and greek mythology, you can still enjoy the beautiful scene of Greece’s iconic white and blue houses that’s dotted across the country. With a layover at Milan, you would need to switch from SQ to Aegean Airlines and land at Athens. Total flight duration: 21 to28 hrs depending on which flight.

Iceland: Famously known as the Land of Fire and Ice because of its breathtaking landscape of volcanoes and massive glaciers, Iceland is also famous for its Norse mythology, folklore and Viking history. Similar to Finland, Iceland is also one of the best places to catch the aurora borealis as it is located near the Arctic Ocean. Take SQ to Frankfurt for a layover and switch over to Lufthansa. Total flight duration: 22 hrs.

Portugal: A great alternative to VTL country Spain, Portugal tends to be slightly cheaper than Spain in terms of cost of living which then translates to lower travel costs for travellers. But what stands out for Portugal is its seafood and wine. Picture yourself, laid back in one of the restaurants with a platter of fresh, succulent seafood. One hand holding octopus, the other holding a glass of green wine- Portugal’s specialty wine. To travel to Portugal, take SQ to London for a layover and switch over to Tap Air Portugal. Total flight duration: 19 hrs.

Switzerland: Just its name conjures up images of the Swiss Alps, majestic forests, cheese, wine and chocolate. I’m not even exaggerating when I say I can smell hints of the forest, cheese, wine and chocolate just from thinking about Switzerland. Needless to say, Switzerland is one romantic destination to spend with your partner during Christmas and New year. And like a cherry on top, SQ offers direct flight to Zurich! Total flight duration: 13 hrs.

Non-VTL Country Validity of PCR Test Before Arrival Country’s Fully Vaccinated Rate SHN Upon Return To Singapore
Fiji 72 hrs 57.7% 7 days
Finland 48 hrs 67.3% 7 days
Greece 72 hrs 58.9% 7 days
Iceland 48 hrs 75.8% 7 days
Portugal 72 hrs 85.2% 7 days
Switzerland 48 hrs 61.8% 7 days

*Please note that this information is accurate of 20 Oct 2021. For reference, Singapore’s vaccination rate is currently at 82.4%. The 7 days SHN may be served at home (in room with dedicated toilet), hotel or serviced apartment.

What To Prepare When Travelling To these Non-VTL Countries

All six non-VTL countries listed above require visitors to be fully vaccinated at least 14 days from the second dose, and on top of being fully vaccinated, one needs to undergo a Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test and submit a negative test result before arrival in any of the countries.

This PCR test may be taken at any of the clinics offering PCR Pre-Departure Test. The validity of the PCR test before arrival varies from country to country, and the onus falls on the traveller to ensure the testing meets the requirements of the country they are entering. It is best to work out the time needed to take and receive their test result from the clinic before the scheduled flight so that the results would arrive on time.

Protect Yourself During The Trip

In light of the current COVID-19 situation, entry restrictions and requirements may change at short notice. Therefore, it’s advisable for all travellers to check with their travel agent or the embassy of the country they’re going to. Travellers should brace themselves for any changes with little or no advance notice.

You should also consider getting the following:

Travel Insurance – Protect yourself and be well-covered when you travel. Make sure your policy comes with COVID-19 coverage that covers medical expenses if you contract COVID-19 overseas. The usual plans do come with coverage for flight cancellations or delays caused by the airline, but you should get one that includes trip cancellation or delays due to passenger displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

Some of the benefits that insurers are offering under COVID-19 extensions in their travel policies include:

  • Pre-departure PCR swab tests,
  • Overseas medical expenses
  • Overseas hospitalisation allowance
  • Emergency medical evacuation and/or repatriation
  • Pre-departure trip cancellation or postponement
  • Trip curtailment or rearrangement losses

Self-Test Kits – For those who are travelling for longer periods (more than 1 week), you might want to consider bringing over some self-test kits in case it’s hard to obtain overseas. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises international travellers to be tested every 3-5 days regardless of vaccination status.

Purchasing it locally should not be difficult. Local stores such as Watsons, Guardian are selling self-test kits. You can even get it while shopping for groceries at Singapore’s largest supermarket chain NTUC FairPrice.

Read also: Who Pays For Your COVID-19 Testing And Treatment? 5 Things You Need To Know Before Travelling Out Of Singapore

Entering Singapore From Non-VTL Countries

For those who have travelled or transited in multiple countries in the past 14 days before arriving in Singapore, they will need to serve the most stringent category out of the countries visited. Example: From Singapore, you travelled to Denmark but transited via Switzerland, instead of being exempted from quarantine for travelling to a VTL country, you would be required to serve home isolation for seven days.

In a scenario where you’re returning from a high-risk country that Singapore categorised as level 3 and 4, you will need to serve 10 days at an SHN-Dedicated Facility (SDF). In addition to serving a stricter SHN, you are required to self-test an Antigen Rapid Test on days 3 and 7 upon your arrival in Singapore, and take a PCR test on day 10 of SHN.

The cost for a 10-day SDF for one adult is $1,450 or $950 for two adults.

The non-VTL countries mentioned in this article belong to category 2 and only require a 7-day home isolation on your return to Singapore. Of course, the cost of the SHN will vary based on your choice of accommodation.  Choosing to isolate at home would be the cheapest option compared to self-sourced hotel or serviced apartment.

Read Also: Will The COVID-19 Pandemic Spell The End Of Era For The Wet Market?

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