Jin Park

Returning to Singapore From Korea on the VTL

Please note that this blog post is probably extremely niche information.

  1. This information is only useful for Korean citizens coming back to Singapore that already has a work pass (EP or S-Pass)

  2. This is for the VTL from Korea to Singapore that started on Nov 15th 2021. Theres no guarantee that nothing has changed between Nov 19 2021, when my flight was, and when you read this.

  3. This information is in English. There are more comprehensive and informative anecdotes on Naver blogs and groups in Korean.

  4. I also live in Gangnam, Seoul. The process for you to get a PCR test result might be easier or harder based on where you live and how close you are to a verified clinic or hospital.

In this blog post, I will try to lay out how to prepare to come back to Singapore from Korea as a Korean citizen through the VTL (Vaccinated Travel Lane).

Before you start, please check that there are VTL flights available on the day you would like to travel. Flights should be marked VTL when you are booking them. Please do your research before you book. As of Nov 20th, only Singapore Airlines, Korean Air, Asiana and Scoot provide VTL flights.

After you figured out which flight you would like to take, go to https://safetravel.changiairport.com/ , sign up and look through the travel checklist.

When I checked, these requirements were,

  1. Register for VTP (Vaccine Travel Pass)

  2. Get a PCR test within 2 day before your flight. ex. Nov 3rd flight -> PCR test Nov 1

  3. Have proof of vaccination

  4. Pre-pay for the arrival PCR test

  5. Submit the sg arrival card & health declaration within 3 days of your flight

  6. Have the trace together app

The only part where this might get difficult is getting the PCR test so I’ll go over the easier requirements first.

To pre pay for the arrival PCR test, go back to https://safetravel.changiairport.com/ and go through the checklist. There should be instructions on how to pay for your arrival test. After payment, you will get a QR code. Please save this on your phone or print it out.

To register for the VTP, go to https://safetravel.ica.gov.sg/vtl/requirements-and-process and follow the instructions. You will need proof of vaccination for this step. This is also stated in the checklist.

If you need proof of your vaccination done in Singapore, you can get this from your SingPass app and get the pdf from there. If you are vaccinated in Korea, the process is a bit more complicated. Please search in Naver for the info.

To submit the SG Arrival Card, go to https://eservices.ica.gov.sg/sgarrivalcard/ and follow the instructions. You will not be able to submit this until 72 hours before your flight. This is not required but might be useful to print this out since you might need it.

Get the TraceTogether app from the Play store or Apple app tore and register for an account. You will probably already have this if this is your return flight to Singapore.

The only moderately difficult part is getting a PCR test done in Korea.

The issue here isn’t getting the PCR test done, it is getting it done from an acknowledged clinic and getting your results in English. The Singapore immigration site keeps a list of valid places for getting your PCR test done in Korea but it is a very small list. For Gangnam, there are only 4 clinics and hospitals listed and the expected cost would be around 160,000. For me, I tried to get a test done at Gangnam Severence Hospital but it was completely booked for the date I needed the test.

I checked online and saw that people were getting around this in a creative way. Korea allows (all?) people in within Korea to get a free PCR test from their local health center. The closest one to me was the Gangnam health center1. You can just go when they are open (check their website) and sign up when you are there and get your PCR test in 5 minutes if theres no line. You will get a text message the next day informing you of your results.

To get an English result, you have to first get a Korean result from the health center. So after you get the text message, go back to the health center and talk to someone there about getting your results document. It says when you get the document that this cannot be used to travel abroad. You will get a piece of paper saying you tested negative and how long the document is valid for (48 hours). It does NOT say when your test was or have your passport information.

Now you need to convert this into an English result. There used be many places that allow you to do this. Before, you didn’t even need the Korean document, and could just bring the text message of your results to a clinic and they would print out an English version for you for 3-5000 won. Now, the Gangnam health center cracked down on this a bit and prevented many clinics from providing the english document and instead required you to take the PCR test there at a much higher cost.

What you can do instead is to bring this to Incheon Airport’s Inha hospital and get it converted into English there for 30,000 won. This seems to be a valid method that many other people are doing as well for their flights abroad.

The hospital opens at 8am and closes at 8pm. If your flight is not within these times or you cannot leave enough buffer time until your departure time, just get the PCR result from your local valid hospital and pay the higher fees. It is not worth missing your flight for 100,000 won.

At the hospital, you will need to fill in a form about yourself and your flight and also provide your passport and the Korean PCR result document. The doctor will see you in order and just get the English PCR result printed for you. For me, this took about 30 minutes but it seems like it could easily take over an hour, so please make sure you have enough time.

Now you should be ready and have print outs of

  1. Proof of vaccination
  2. VTP document
  3. PCR result you just received from the airport hospital
  4. And your passport

To be safe, you might also need print outs of

  1. Flight ticket
  2. SG Arrival Pass
  3. Arrival PCR QR Code but i did not need them.

While checking in, they will check your vaccination certificate, VTP and PCR result. They will also ask you for your work pass. If you get through here, you are pretty much done.

After you arrive in Changi airport, you will go to immigration. Since I am a work pass holder, I didn’t need to get my documents checked again, I just got my passport scanned. I’m not sure if this is the norm since other places I’ve read said that they rechecked.

After immigration, you will go get your baggage through baggage claim and go get your arrival PCR test. Since you already have pre-paid, the official there will check your passport along with your arrival PCR QR code and lead you to get swabbed2.

Now you are mostly done and can take a taxi to your place of residence where you will wait for your result. You cannot leave your place until you get your negative result. I got my test done around 4:30 PM and got results around 9:30 PM.

If you find this post informative. Please email me! I would like to know if this was helpful to anyone!

  1. If you go to another health center, this process might be a bit different. Biggest difference being that you might be provided with a printable English result. I’m not sure if this would be accepted but it would be worth researching since you would save a trip to the health center and back. 

  2. This was a bit of a weird experience. I’ve had 5 PCR test before this one and this was the only time it was a bit different. Normally it is just a nose swab but this swab was first a throat swab and then went very shallow in both noses. It was very weird to get throat phlegm in your nose.