Here are the things to remember for what may be your first international flight after the pandemic
For many, a trip outside of the country is the first major indication that life is slowly, cautiously, optimistically returning back to normal. After two years of staying at home, Filipinos have been traveling with a vengeance domestically and soon, as borders open, internationally.
With favorite Asian destinations like Hong Kong and Japan still closed to leisure visitors, Singapore is fast becoming the first stop for many families wanting to ease back into traveling, especially as the city-state has lifted a lot of its requirements beginning April 1.
It can get quite jarring to fly again for the first time in two years, and my personal experience was no different. Last-minute preparations—including procuring a VaxCertPH proof of vaccination, as well as making sure I have an acceptable insurance policy to cover my trip—added to the stress (which came from not knowing what to expect during the entire journey, from immigration) and made me forget my passport at home, a realization I had when I was about to check in.
There are quite a few things to remember, even when Singapore has relaxed their requirements.
As soon as you decide to travel
Book your SG Clean accommodations. SG Clean Quality Mark is a stamp of assurance on the commitment and measures taken by the premises operators to upholding good sanitation and hygiene practices which aims to minimize the spread of diseases. When booking on search aggregator sites, a hotel will often display its SG Clean badge.
Download your VaxCertPH certificate. Non-fully vaccinated tourists are not welcome in Singapore—except for a few exceptions. You must show a proof of vaccination and next to IVC, the International Certification of Vaccination, or the Yellow Card, which you can get from the Bureau of Quarantine in Manila, your best bet is our national vaccine certificate downloadable at vaxcert.doh.gov.ph. Children 12 and below are not required to show proof of vaccination.
With favorite Asian destinations like Hong Kong and Japan still closed to leisure visitors, Singapore is fast becoming the first stop for many families wanting to ease back into traveling.
Buy your travel insurance. Before April 1, purchasing insurance with a value of SGD 30,000, with Covid coverage was required. It no longer is, but you don’t want to skimp because getting sick in another country will be very costly.
Three days before you leave
Submit SG Arrival Card and e-health declaration via the official and free e-service on the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website. Complete your SG Arrival Card (SGAC) within three days before arrival. Upon the completion of your SGAC submission, you will receive an email acknowledgement which you can present for smoother pre-boarding and immigration checks.
Download the Trace Together app. But keep in mind it will only be activated once you are cleared by Singapore immigration.
Two days before you leave
Have an RT PCR test or an antigen test (24 hours validity).
Call your bank to notify them of your travel. I don’t use credit cards, so I rely on my debit cards whenever I travel. It used to be that I didn’t have to call ahead for my bank cards to work abroad—but after two have to years, it seems you do need to reactivate your card.
One day before you travel
Plan your itinerary and buy your tickets online. I’m usually very relaxed with my schedule, but because of Covid restrictions, many attractions no longer allow walk-ins, or at least prefer you have prior schedule so they can manage crowds. Universal Studios Singapore, for example, requires a reservation. It is best to book your tickets a day before you leave so you have firmed up on your schedules.
Turn on Bluetooth. You don’t need WiFi or an internet connection to register your entrances and exit, but make sure the Bluetooth on your phone works.
Make sure to activate your Trace Together app.
As soon as you exit Immigration, you can activate your Trace Together app. This is a non-negotiable. Every place you enter will need you to check in and check out with the Trace Together app.
Be wary of group sizes allowed in public places. The cap on social gathering size for social activities is currently 10 persons, regardless of vaccination status. Some restaurants allow only five people per table and, at Singapore’s food courts, some tables are still off limits to enforce social distancing.
Two days before you return to the Philippines
Make sure to undergo RT PCR or ART. The Philippines requires every one who enters the country—whether returning resident or tourist—to present proof of negative COVID test. I found out too late that a negative test was needed, so I had to do a last-minute one at the airport for 30 SGD. Results for the ART are emailed to you after 30 minutes.
After you arrive home. Do not delete your Trace Together app until after 21 days. That gives the government enough time to complete contact tracing in case of possible Covid exposure.