The Covid -19 lockdown nightmare is almost all over. It's a new dawn! It's a new day! With no more restrictive Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) in place from April 1, the world is truly your oyster again.
Time to bring out your passport, your credit cards, your kids (if you have them) and start packing! Of course, don't forget to also book your travel insurance.
In place of the tedious VTLs, the Singapore government has a new streamlined travel framework in place where countries and regions will be classified into two broad categories - general travel or restricted.
What are the new travel restrictions?
Breathe a sigh of relief. Under the new travel framework, most of the travel restrictions have been lifted. With no more VTLs, as long as you're fully vaccinated, you no longer have to scour the Singapore Airlines website for a VTL flight or wait it out for a VTL ferry to enter Singapore quarantine-free.
It gets even better - currently all countries fall under the general travel category. Unless the Covid-19 situation worsens to a worrying extent in a particular part of the world, you can expect the regulations to stay this way. So, what exactly do you have to prepare before you leave?
1. Trip prep(arations)
Here's your easy-to-digest checklist of what you need to do before you fly:
Have your Covid-19 vaccine certificate with the following particulars:
- Your personal details
- Dates & number of vaccinations
- Name of vaccine used
- Seal of authentication (not an issue with HealthHub app or PDF from National Immunisation Registry)
A pre-departure Covid-19 test as per requirement by foreign authorities. Find related information here.
2. Buy Covid-19 travel insurance (yes, it exists!)
Here are three phases that you need to consider for your travel insurance coverage:
Coverage before your trip
- Check if your insurer requires you to get a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test before purchasing your policy
- If you get Covid-19 before your trip, you can cancel it and get reimbursed
Coverage during your trip
- Whether your medical expenses would be covered should you get Covid-19
- Whether quarantine allowance is included
Coverage after your trip
- What is the coverage for getting Covid-19 in Singapore
Covid-19 coverage is not always a default within travel insurance policies. While most travel insurance providers have tailored their plans to include Covid-19 coverage, it's still an add-on for some. It can cost an extra $20 to $40, exclusive of the mandatory PCR tests that you have to take before flying back to Singapore!
3. Whip out your credit card to book your flight
Did I say whip out your credit card? If you don't have one already, find the best credit cards here. With no more VTL flights, you can fully focus your attention on finding the cheapest flights.
4. Check-in procedures before flying
The most exciting moment is boarding the plane itself, but before that, some more paperwork!
Have these documents ready:
- Your passport
- Negative PCR test result or Vaccine certificate
Again, do your due diligence on the travel documents that's required by the foreign authorities of your travel destination. What's worse than being turned away at the airport?
5. Travelling to your country of choice
It goes without saying that every household runs itself differently, and you can apply this concept to other countries as well. You will have to adhere to their health authority mandates:
|Country||Health Mandate||TraceTogether equivalent|
|Brunei Darussalam||Public Advisory||BruHealth|
|Germany||Ordinance on Coronavirus Entry Regulations||Corona-Warn-App|
|Canada||Health Canada’s Mandate||COVID Alert|
|Denmark||Danish Health Authority||Smitte|stop|
|Italy||Ministero della Salute||Immuni|
|United Kingdom||GOV.UK||NHS COVID-19|
|Australia||Australian Department of Health||COVIDSafe|
|South Korea||Republic of Korea||SafeKorea|
|Indonesia||Republic of Indonesia||PeduliLindungi|
|Qatar||State of Qatar GCO||Ehteraz|
|Saudi Arabia||Ministry of Health SA||Tawwaklna|
|United Arab Emirates||UAE||Alhosn UAE|
6. Coming home to Singapore
This bit is now far less expensive than before. You used to have to take four PCR tests during peak pandemic, but from April 26 onwards, fully vaccinated travellers do not have to take any tests.
|General Travel Category Countries/Regions||Summary of Travel Requirements|
|Fully vaccinated travellers and children aged 12 and below||Non-fully Vaccinated Traveller|
|All countries/regions||No tests required||Any of the following Covid-19 test, within two days before departure for Singapore:
On-arrival PCR test
seven-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at declared place of accommodation
SHN-exit PCR test
If in the future, you happen to travel to a country in the restricted category, these are the regulations to follow:
|Restricted Category Countries/Regions||Summary of Travel Requirements|
|All Travellers Regardless of Vaccination Status|
6a. What if you get Covid-19 after returning?
You first need to check your travel insurance provider's coverage for Covid-19.
Travel insurance providers like Aviva, AXA and FWD require that you notify them within 14 to 30 days of you getting Covid-19 for you to benefit from the coverage. Then, you simply have to make an online claim via your insurers' mobile app or website with the relevant documents:
- Doctor's memo stating that you have caught Covid-19 and you require treatment
- Flight itinerary or boarding pass
- Medical report or inpatient discharge summary
- Original medical bills
That being said, insurance is still largely a "phygital" thing, so if you would rather have someone guide you along the mess of paperwork, definitely ring your agent up or call your insurers' hotline.
You can also tap into existing government subsidies, make health insurance claims via MediShield Life, Integrated Shield plans or private health insurance for your Covid-19 treatment in Singapore. This is only open to Singaporeans, PRs and long-term pass holders only, and if your symptoms appear within 14 days of your return.
Only one PCR/ART test to travel? Two-dle loo!!
If you do get Covid-19 before your trip, you had best make sure you already have your travel insurance policy already purchased! It can cover trip cancellations, inconveniences and/or the whole shebang.
If you're really paranoid though, you can definitely afford to be a hermit until your travel dates. You'll want to minimise as much spending as possible because the flight tickets, accommodation, food and travel insurance expenses will add up to a pretty penny.
Look at this way, you've been a hermit since March 2020, what's a few more weeks or days' worth of isolation? It will all be worth it when you finally get to spread your wings and experience the thrill of takeoff and landing.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.