Singapore/South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) – “무궁화 꼬찌 피엇 소리다 (Mugunghwa Kkoci Pieot Seumnida)”. While everyone is immersed in the global Netflix “Squid Game” phenomena, did you realise that we have been caught in this red light green light game for almost 2 years? Since COVID-19 was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on in December 2019, we have been trapped in this loop of endless relaxation and tightening of measures. This was the case not only in Singapore, but also in many nations all over the world. Travel bubbles has been “blown” and burst countless times even before anything started, globetrotter can only wait patiently.
Launch of Singapore – South Korea Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL)
The green light finally came on 5 October 2021, when Singapore and South Korea sign the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) agreement that will allow those who are fully vaccinated to travel between the two countries from 15 November 2021 onwards. Under the VTLs, fully vaccinated travellers can travel between Changi Airport and Incheon International Airport, and be subjected to COVID-19 tests in lieu of serving quarantine. This will give everyone reasons to fall back into the embrace of 오빠 (Oppa) without the need for the torturous 14 days “staycation”.
Pre-pandemic, Singapore and South Korea were among each other’s top travel destinations, with a total of 64 weekly passenger services connecting the two countries and carrying 1.6 million passengers annually. During the pandemic, television viewerships grew instead (joking) since nobody can travel. As we learn to start living with the virus, the Singapore – Korea Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) is definitely a step towards to positive.
What you should know before traveling to South Korean under the VTL?
Purpose of Travel – There are no restrictions on the purpose of travel or requirements for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.
Fully Vaccinated – Travellers must show proof of vaccination issued in either Singapore or South Korea to enjoy vaccination-differentiated safe management measures in both countries.
Designated VTL Flights to Singapore – Those who are travelling to Singapore under the VTL must do so via designated VTL flights. They may transit via another VTL country to take the designated flight into Singapore.
Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) for entry to Singapore – Short-term visitors and long-term pass holders will need to apply for a vaccinated travel pass (VTP) to enter Singapore under the VTL. This is not necessary for fully vaccinated Singapore citizens and permanent residents.
Travellers are required to take a pre-departure PCR test within 72 hours before the scheduled departure time to South Korea and test negative.
They also need to take an on-arrival PCR Test. Travellers must make an online reservation for the test at any of the three COVID-19 testing centres in Incheon International Airport before leaving Singapore. After taking the test, travellers must install the Self-Check Mobile App and leave the centre by taking either a taxi or personal vehicle to their hotel or other accommodation and stay there until they are notified via email that they have tested negative for COVID-19.
Those who remain in South Korea for eight days or more are required to take a PCR test at a medical clinic designated by Korean government on day six or day seven of their stay at their own expense. The cost of the PCR test ranges from 135,000 to 180,000 won (S$150 to S$200). If the traveller tests positive for COVID-19, they will be quarantined and treated at hospitals designated by the government and will be responsible for their medical expenses.
For South Korea, unvaccinated children and those who are medically unfit to be vaccinated cannot travel under the VTL.
Short-term visitors must purchase travel insurance for the entire duration of their stay, with a minimum coverage of 30 million won (about S$34,000) for COVID-19-related medical treatment and hospitalisation costs.
It’s been too long since anyone travelled for leisure, so better to be prepared for what is required before making that move. As far as we can see, air ticket prices remains rather competitive at around pre-COVID rates, but factor in the costs of those PCR tests required both in Singapore and South Korea can set you back quite significantly. Meanwhile, if you need some travel ideas, check out our recommendations.