As summer ends, many companies are hoping to resume business travel. To help interested parties plan for the next Asia-Pacific (APAC) trip, this LawFlash outlines current entry bans and quarantine requirements in popular APAC locations. These rules are subject to rapid change based on the global and local pandemic situation.
China’s borders are currently closed, and entry remains strictly controlled. Only the following categories of travelers may enter the country:
Effective August 9, 2021, Hong Kong implemented a “vaccine bubble,” which further opened the borders to non-Hong Kong residents who are fully vaccinated. The current entry conditions for non-Hong Kong resident travelers are as follows:
Country risk categorization is subject to rapid change based on the local pandemic situation. The most up-to-date country list and quarantine requirements are published on the Hong Kong government’s dedicated website.
Currently, foreign nationals who have stayed in designated countries/regions within the last 14 days are denied entrance to Japan unless such foreign nationals are under special circumstances. As of August 24, 2021, there are 160 such designated countries/regions.
Eight countries/regions (Singapore, Korea, Taiwan, China [including Hong Kong and Macao], Brunei, Vietnam, Australia, and New Zealand) are excluded from the denied countries list. However, the issuance of visas for these places is strictly restricted with the exception of foreign nationals under special circumstances.
Foreign nationals who are deemed to be under “special circumstances” include
Business Track/Residence Track: The frameworks of “Business Track” and “Residence Track” for cross-border travel between Japan and designated countries/regions have been suspended since January 14, 2021.
Boarding requirements: All entering from foreign countries (including Japanese and foreign nationals with reentry permission or other permission under special circumstances) are required to take a COVID-19 RT-PCR within 72 hours before departure.
Quarantine requirements: All persons (including Japanese nationals and foreign nationals with reentry permission or permission under special circumstances) entering from foreign countries are required to (1) submit a COVID-19 Testing Certificate that meets certain requirements and certifies a negative result; (2) take a COVID-19 test at the arrival airport; and (3) submit a written pledge to (a) remain at home for 14 days after arrival, (b) refrain from using public transportation, (c) install certain applications (MySOS and COCOA [COVID-19 Contact-Confirming Application]), and restore and report health and location information to the Health Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare through such applications every day during the quarantine period. Foreign nationals who stayed in certain designated countries or regions within the last 14 days where a new virus variant is widely spread are required to stay in a hotel reserved by the quarantine station for the first three days (depending on the country/region, it could be the first six or ten days) of the quarantine period, and are required to be tested for COVID-19 afterward.
These requirements could be changed within short notice based on the local COVID-19 situation.
An overview of Singapore’s border policies with respect to various “categories” of countries is as follows:
Category I - Hong Kong, Macao, Mainland China (including Jiangsu province), and Taiwan
Travelers from these countries/regions are required to take a COVID-19 PCR test at the Singapore checkpoint, and must then proceed immediately to self-isolate until their test comes back negative. Once tested negative, they can go about their activities in Singapore, without a need to serve any further form of quarantine or stay-home notice (SHN).
Category II - Australia, Brunei, Canada, Germany, and New Zealand
Travelers from these countries are required to take an on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test at the Singapore checkpoint. Once they have entered the country, they are required to serve a seven-day SHN in either a suitable accommodation (such as preassigned hotels or served apartments) or a place of residence. It should be noted that there is no restriction for the work pass holder to work electronically during the period of the SHN.
On the seventh day of the SHN, the entrant is required to retake a COVID-19 PCR test.
Category III – Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Norway, Republic of Korea, and Switzerland
Travelers from these countries are required to be fully vaccinated before arrival. For the purposes of entry into Singapore, an individual is considered fully vaccinated 14 days after receiving the full regimen of Pfizer-BioNTech/Comirnaty, Moderna, or WHO EUL vaccines.
Travelers must perform the following:
These requirements may vary slightly depending on the individual’s circumstances. Also, individual pass holders who were vaccinated overseas will also be required to take a serology test to confirm their vaccination status after serving their SHN.
Category IV – All other countries excluding Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (Excluded Countries)
Travelers from these countries are required to be fully vaccinated before arrival. Travelers must do the following:
Entry for travelers with travel history to all Excluded Countries is presently prohibited.
Vaccinated Travel Lane – Brunei and Germany
As of August 27, 2021, Singapore’s Ministry of Health has opened up a new Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) for travelers from Brunei and Germany. The VTL will commence beginning September 8, 2021.
Travelers who wish to travel using the VTL must apply for a Vaccinated Travel Pass. To qualify, travelers must be fully vaccinated in their VTL country of departure, or Singapore. A PCR test must be taken 48 hours before departure and on days one, three, and seven of arrival.
To successfully travel to Singapore, travelers will also need to ensure that their travel dates are cleared with Singapore’s Immigration and Customs Authority. This can be done by booking a date using one of Singapore’s open “travel lanes”—different lanes apply for Work Pass Holders, their dependents, or individuals and short-term visitors wishing to enter the country.
Our APAC immigration team can assist in navigating the landscape and provide recommendations for travel planning. Our services include entry eligibility assessment, quarantine exemption assessment, and related visa/entry approval/quarantine exemption applications.
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If you have any questions or would like more information on the issues discussed in this LawFlash, please contact any of the following Morgan Lewis lawyers:
Shannon A. Donnelly