Back to top

Response to "VTL scheme: Procedures were frustrating" (The Straits Times, 07 January 2022)

The Straits Times

11 January 2022

VTL scheme: Accurate information on SG Arrival Card needed for smoother immigration clearance

We refer to Mr Lee Kok Kiong's letter, "VTL scheme: Procedures were frustrating" (Jan 7).

Singapore residents and long-term pass (LTP) holders are required to submit their health declaration online via the SG Arrival Card to the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) up to three days before arriving in Singapore.

If there are any changes, they will need to submit a new health declaration with the updated information. Accurate information in the health declaration ensures that appropriate post-arrival health control measures can be applied to the traveller to mitigate the spread of Covid-19 into the community.

In Mr Lee's case, he declared in the SG Arrival Card an incorrect arrival date, which was different from his actual arrival in Singapore. Therefore, he had to resubmit his health declaration when he arrived at Changi Airport. Nevertheless, including the resubmission of the health declaration, Mr Lee completed immigration clearance within 15 minutes of his arrival at the counter.

The SG Arrival Card platform also allows Singapore residents and LTP holders who have been vaccinated overseas to upload their vaccination certificate before returning to Singapore. While this is not mandatory, doing so will enable their vaccination records to be reflected in the HealthHub and TraceTogether apps.

Residents and LTP holders who encounter difficulties uploading their vaccination QR code on to the SG Arrival Card will still be able to proceed with the health declaration submission. Subsequently, when they arrive in Singapore, they can present the physical or digital vaccination certificate to ICA officers for manual checks.

ICA regrets the inconvenience which Mr Lee encountered. We have contacted him to address his feedback. ICA will continue to review and improve the immigration clearance process as we progressively reopen our borders safely.

Patrick Ong
Head, Public Communications and Protocol
Corporate Communications and Service Division
Immigration & Checkpoints Authority

<Original letter>

The Straits Times
7 January 2022

VTL scheme • Procedures were frustrating

I recently returned to Singapore via a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) flight from the United States.

While I am very happy that the Government has allowed travellers like me to fly back to see our families, the procedures can be very frustrating.

Due to the differences in conventions for names and dates between the US and Singapore, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) website could not accept my vaccination QR code from the US.

Since the website allows me to file a declaration only three days before the flight, and inquiries are typically responded to in about five days, there was no way to seek rectification in time.

Moreover, calling the SafeTravel helpline was useless as it was automated with no one to speak to, and repeated information that could already be found online.

At the airport, even though I had received an e-mail acknowledging my health declaration, the immigration officer said that it was not in the system and that I would have to redo it and queue again.

It would have been better if provisional acceptance of the materials could be done on the ICA website, so that any problems could be flagged in advance and officers know what needs to be manually reviewed.

This would avoid the need to have an immigration officer review all the materials and slow the arrival process down.

Another issue I ran into is that some instructions received were contradictory. For example, the e-mail acknowledgement I received included a stay-home notice attachment as I was coming from a high-risk country, but the e-mail also said that stay-home notice is not applicable if VTL conditions are met.

I had to read it several times and cross my fingers that I wasn't doing anything wrong.

I hope many others after me can have a better experience with the VTL flight scheme.

Lee Kok Kiong