Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble starts on 22 Nov – here's everything you need to know about the travel procedures

Teng Yong Ping
·Lifestyle Editor
·7-min read
People wear masks at a street where is selling tourist's souvenir in Hong Kong, Saturday, Feb, 1, 2020. China’s death toll from a new virus continues to rise as a World Health Organization official says other governments need to prepare for“domestic outbreak control” if the disease spreads. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
A street selling tourist souvenirs in Hong Kong in Feb 2020. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

SINGAPORE — Singapore and Hong Kong announced today that an air travel bubble (ATB) between both territories will begin this month on 22 November.

Singapore’s Minister for Transport, Ong Ye Kung, said the ATB is possibly the first arrangement of its kind in the world amid the COVID-19 pandemic, as it allows movement of both business and leisure travellers, and completely replaces the need for quarantine with COVID-19 testing procedures.

“This is as close as it gets to cross-border travel pre-COVID-19, and it is only possible because both Singapore and Hong Kong have successfully controlled the spread of COVID-19,” said Ong.

Under the air travel bubble (ATB), travellers between Singapore and Hong Kong will be subject to COVID-19 tests before departure, in lieu of quarantine or Stay-Home Notice. There will be no restrictions on the purpose of travel and no requirement for a controlled itinerary or sponsorship.

Travellers from both cities must travel on designated ATB flights that will only serve ATB travellers. As a start, there will be one flight a day into each city with a maximum of 200 travellers per flight. This will be increased to two flights a day into each city from 7 December 2020. See the flight schedule here. If the COVID-19 situation deteriorates in either city, the travel bubble arrangements will be suspended.

Travellers must meet eligibility criteria and adhere to the prevailing border control measures and public health requirements of both cities.

To be eligible for travel, a person must have remained in Singapore and/or Hong Kong in the last 14 consecutive days prior to departure.

In Singapore, holders of Work Permits or S-Passes issued by the Ministry of Manpower working in the construction, marine shipyard, or process sectors are not eligible for travel to Hong Kong under the ATB.

ATB procedures for travellers in both directions are not exactly the same, said Ong, as each government would implement slightly different rules in their own territory. For example, flight passengers do not need to take an extra COVID-19 test at the airport upon arriving in Singapore, but have to take such a test on arriving at the Hong Kong airport.

Read on below for the different travel procedures for travellers from both territories.

Travel from Singapore to Hong Kong

For people in Singapore who intend to travel to Hong Kong and return to Singapore, here are the steps and travel arrangements you need to make:

  1. Purchase a ticket for a designated ATB flight, either with Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. See the flight schedule here.

  2. Apply for a pre-departure COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test on the ICA SafeTravel website. Application must be made at least seven days before departure and a confirmed flight ticket to Hong Kong is needed in order to apply. Before 1 December, travellers must apply to be eligible for the COVID-19 test – clinics and testing centres will not administer the test unless approval has been granted. The cost of the PCR test is to be borne by the applicant. After 1 December, when the government will open up access to testing, travellers need not apply for approval to take the test.

  3. Take COVID-19 test at approved clinic or testing centre. The test should be done within 72 hours before departure from Singapore. The list of testing centres can be found here or on the SafeTravel website. Note that not all testing locations offer testing for children.

  4. Prepare for entry into Hong Kong – complete Hong Kong’s health declaration online here, and book and pay for your COVID-19 test to be done upon arrival at Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA).

  5. Check in at Changi Airport for your departing flight – submit documents to the airline for checking.

  6. Upon arrival at HKIA, submit documents to Hong Kong immigration for checks.

  7. Take your arrival COVID-19 test which you should have booked before departing Singapore. Wait for your test result. The waiting time for test results may be four to six hours.

  8. After you test negative for COVID-19, you are free to enter Hong Kong.

These are the procedures for travellers returning to Singapore from Hong Kong:

  1. Take another COVID-19 test at a clinic in Hong Kong. The test should be taken within 72 hours before departing Hong Kong. (The pre-departure test taken in Singapore, or on-arrival test taken in Hong Kong, can be used if they remain valid, i.e. the test specimen was collected within 72 hours before the return flight timing.)

  2. Submit your SG Arrival Card on the SafeTravel website here.

  3. Check in at HKIA. The airport will check your travel documents for compliance with ATB conditions. A negative COVID-19 test report is required.

  4. Arrive at Changi Airport and enter Singapore after immigration checks documents for re-entry.

Travel from Hong Kong to Singapore

Foreign travellers from Hong Kong who intend to enter Singapore will need to apply for an Air Travel Pass (ATP) between seven and thirty calendar days prior to their date of entry into Singapore.

Travellers can apply for the ATP from 12 November, 8am (Singapore time) for entry into Singapore on or after 22 November.

To facilitate the contact tracing process in Singapore, travellers from Hong Kong are required to download and register for the TraceTogether app on their mobile devices prior to departing, keep it activated during their stay in Singapore, and not delete it for 14 consecutive days after leaving Singapore.

Here are the steps and travel procedures for people in Hong Kong who intend to travel to Singapore and return to Hong Kong:

  1. Apply for a visa (if needed).

  2. Purchase a ticket for a designated ATB flight, either with Singapore Airlines or Cathay Pacific. See the flight schedule here.

  3. Apply for Air Travel Pass here. Singapore Citizens, Singapore Permanent Residents and Singapore Long-Term Pass (LTP) holders are not required to apply for an ATP. LTP holders refer to Work Pass holders, Student’s Pass holders, Long-Term Visit Pass holders and Dependant’s Pass holders, and those who have been granted In-Principle Approval for an LTP.

  4. Take a pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test at one of the recognised testing institutions in Hong Kong within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of your flight. Children aged 12 or younger are not required to take a COVID-19 test before departing Hong Kong for Singapore.

  5. Bring a mobile device which is compatible with Singapore’s TraceTogether contact tracing app, download the app and register.

  6. Complete and submit the SG Arrival Card here, within three days prior to arrival in Singapore.

  7. For Long-Term Pass holders only, apply for entry approval from the relevant Singapore government agencies.

Travellers from Hong Kong to Singapore do not need to take a second COVID-19 test upon arrival at Changi Airport, but will have to take another test before returning to Hong Kong.

These are the procedures for travellers returning to Hong Kong from Singapore:

  1. Take a pre-departure COVID-19 test at one of the designated clinics or testing centres in Singapore within 72 hours before the scheduled time of departure of your designated flight.

  2. If your pre-departure COVID-19 test specimen was collected within 72 hours prior to the time of departure of your return flight to Hong Kong, you do not need to take another COVID-19 test in Singapore.

  3. Submit your Health Declaration here.

  4. Book and pay for your post-arrival COVID-19 test.

  5. Check in at Changi Airport.

  6. Upon arrival at HKIA and after passing through immigration checks, take your arrival COVID-19 test which you should have booked before departing Singapore. Wait for your test result. The waiting time for test results may be four to six hours.

  7. After you test negative for COVID-19, you are free to enter Hong Kong.

Refer to the information on Singapore’s Safe Travel website and Hong Kong’s Air Travel Bubble website for details.

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