Whenever I hear the word “travel bubble”, I can’t help but to get a tiny bit triggered because of the unspoken jinx that befell the Singapore-Hong Kong travel bubble, causing it to close within two weeks after its launch.
That being said, history is unlikely to repeat itself with the Singapore-Germany travel bubble, owing to the advancement of Singapore’s and Germany’s COVID-19 vaccination rate, at 74% and 58% of each country’s population. This travel bubble will allow travellers from both countries to enjoy leisure travel without needing quarantine or stay-home notice (SHN).
If you’re reading this, you’ve probably completed your course of (vaccine, not tequila) shots, and you’re probably bored of taking the same old staycations or daycations. It’s time to relive the thrill of takeoff, the appreciation for different scenery and people!
When will Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble commence?
The Singapore-Germany travel bubble, or Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL), will start on 8 September 2021, according to a SafeTravel news release from ICA. This means Singapore citizens and permanent residents (PRs) can just fly to and from Germany without having to quarantine or serve SHN in either country from that date onwards.
Who is allowed to travel between Singapore & Germany’s travel bubble?
Under the VTL, Singapore citizens and PRs will be able to travel unrestricted between both countries. This means that you do not have to quarantine, serve SHN or follow a restricted itinerary.
Germany has been allowing Singapore citizens and PRs unrestricted entry since 25 June 2021, and now Singapore is simply doing the same.
There are a few caveats though. If you’re not a Singapore citizen or PR but you’ve completed your vaccination course, and you’re travelling to Germany, you will need to apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP). Applications open on 1 September 2021.
What are the requirements to travel between Singapore & Germany?
Here is a summary of what you need to travel to Germany as a Singaporean or PR:
1. Preparing for your trip
Before you fly, you’ll need to be in Singapore for the past 21 days. Not an issue since borders are closed.
Check for travel requirements into Germany here. You are considered vaccinated only if you have one of Germany’s accepted vaccines: only Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca are accepted. More info here.
Do not rely on your TraceTogether app to get you through Germany’s border control! Print or save PDF your vaccine certificate from National Immunisation Registry or HealthHub App.
Your COVID-19 vaccine certificate should include the following details:
- Particulars of the person vaccinated
- Date & number of vaccinations
- Name of vaccine used
- Seal of authentication
2. Booking your flights
Your flight to Germany can be any direct flight. If you book a transit flight, then you will void the 21 consecutive days in Singapore or Germany requirement.
Your return flight to Singapore needs to be a designated VTL flight with the following flight numbers:
- Singapore Airlines: SQ325 or SQ 331
- Lufthansa: LH778
At time of writing, return trips start from $970. This price might spike up due to ravenous demand!
3. Pre-departure testing & check-in
During flight check-in, you’ll need to have these ready:
- Negative PCR test result OR
- Vaccine certificate
4. Arrival & travelling in Germany
To qualify for VTL travel, you’ll need to spend at least 21 days in either Singapore or Germany. So if you are only travelling to Germany, your trip does not need to be 21 days long.
But if you travel or transit to other countries outside of Germany, then you will need to spend 21 consecutive days in Germany before departing for Singapore.
While travelling in Germany, you’ll need to adhere to German health authority mandates.
5. Flight back to Singapore
You’re only allowed fly back to Singapore on the following VTL flights:
- Singapore Airlines: SQ325 or SQ331
- Lufthansa: LH778
Before you return, you need to take a PCR test in Germany before flying back to Singapore. Again, self-test kits are not allowed.
Also, once you land in Singapore, you have to take another PCR test. Book and pay for on-arrival PCR test before your flight back to Singapore.
6. Arrival & staying in Singapore
Upon reaching Changi Airport, you will be prompted to do your on-arrival PCR test along with immigration and customs. You need to self-isolate whilst waiting for your on-arrival PCR test results.
After clearing this PCR test, you’ll have to take another two tests on Day 3 and Day 7 in Singapore. Wait for an email containing your unique hyperlink to book your Day 3 and Day 7 PCR test appointment at designated clinics.
In total, you will need to take 5 PCR tests: 1 before you depart Singapore (~$160), 1 before you depart Germany (~$200), and 3 more (~$160, ~$95 and ~95) after coming back to Singapore. Including an admin fee of about $5, that’s about $715 on PCR tests alone.
How much should you budget for your Germany trip?
As you can glean from above, there are a lot of administrative costs that go into travelling to Germany via the VTL.
Here’s an estimated and summarised table of costs for a 3-week trip to Germany:
|Things you need to travel||Costs|
|Return flight to Germany||From $970|
|Accommodation||About $100 a night, total $2,100|
|Food||$50 a day, total $1,050|
|Transport||$50 a day, total $1,050|
Before flight back to Singapore:
1 PCR test (~$200)
On arrival at Changi Airport:
1 PCR test ($160)
Mandatory Day 3 testing:
1 PCR test ($94.17)
Mandatory Day 7 testing:
1 PCR test ($94.17)
Administrative charge for using the provided link in your email to book mandatory Day 3 & Day 7 testing: $5.75
|Travel Insurance||From $89 (prices vary according to dates and insurance provider)|
The above-mentioned are estimated costs for a solo traveller looking to make a 3-week trip around Germany. Do note that these costs vary from traveller to traveller, especially with regards to fluctuations in flight prices, the type of accommodation and food that you’re comfortable with, and also transport prices.
Flight costs to Germany ($970++)
Flight prices are especially susceptible to fluctuations, it might be $970 today… but tomorrow, it could be $1,070 due to ravenous demand! In this regard, flight prices are much like house prices, it’s always cheaper to buy today.
Accommodation costs in Germany ($100+/- a night, $2,100 total)
Accommodation is where you can save or spend a lot more, depending on the type of traveller you are. You can cut that budget down to ½ or ¼ of that amount if you’re a shoestring hostel-hopper like me.
Food costs in Germany ($50+/- a day, $1,050 total)
This is also another area where you can save or spend a lot more.
If you opt for supermarket meals or decide to cook in your accommodation, you can comfortably cut the budget in half.
If restaurant meals are your thing, be prepared to drop at least $35 per person, per meal. At least tipping isn’t a thing in Germany.
Transport costs in Germany ($50+/- a day, $1,050 total)
If you can help it, abuse Germany’s well-appointed public transportation network. Opt to use the high-speed rails or bus network when travelling interstate, and get out and about the city by walking! Find more information about the German public transport tickets here.
PCR tests (4 tests, $554.09 total)
This is the main bulk of the cost that’s going to put off many prospective travellers including myself — whereas Germany only requires 1 PCR test (if you don’t have your vaccine already), Singapore, in true sinkie spirit, requires 4 PCR tests. FOUR.
That means getting your nose and tongue swabbed with the same cotton bud potentially up to 5 TIMES just to be able to travel, and 4 of which is imposed by the home nation! Talk about being kiasu!
What if I get COVID-19 while travelling in Germany?
Tough luck! You’ll have to foot the medical bill yourself (mostly). This is why it’s especially important to get travel insurance that covers against COVID-19, and FWD is one of the few providers that provide such coverage.
Aside from that, you can tap into existing government subsidies, and make health insurance (MediSave, MediShield Life, Integrated Shield plans or private health insurance) claims for your treatment of COVID-19 in Singapore. This is only applicable if you’re a Singapore citizen, PR, or a long-term pass holder, and only if your symptoms appear within 14 days of your return.
Where else can Singaporeans travel to?
The only other country that Singapore has a VTL arrangement with is Brunei Darussalam. Existing reciprocal green lanes (RGLs) have been suspended.
All other countries will be subjected to varying levels of SHNs as outlined by this SafeTravel document.
Should Singaporeans make travel plans to Germany?
If you have the money and have gotten all your ducks in a row (i.e. getting travel insurance that covers against COVID-19 and making all the necessary arrangements following up to the travel date), absolutely! Who knows if/when the VTL will close again.
If you’re risk-averse, and the idea of travelling to Germany isn’t really appealing to you, then you should not travel and wait till the global COVID-19 situation is better. “Better” is a relative term, because the promises made by governments worldwide and their attempts at controlling the spread of COVID-19 (looking at you, Malaysia) remains to be seen.
That being said, whether you are travelling or not, it’s important to be covered against COVID-19. Take a look at the articles detailing health insurance in Singapore and decide which coverage suits you best!
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