Malaysia Launches Vaccinated Travel Lane with Singapore

Date Published
November 29, 2021

Stock photo of Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Fully vaccinated Malaysians can now fly to Singapore without undergoing quarantine. Photo credit: Asian Development Bank.

Malaysia opened a vaccinated travel lane (VTL) with Singapore today. It is also working with Indonesia on a similar arrangement. The VTL scheme is expected to pave the way for the opening of more travel corridors between ASEAN member states.

The Malaysian Prime Minister’s Office announced last week that quarantine-free travel by land and air to and from Singapore will start on 29 November. Only citizens, permanent residents, and Long-Term Pass holders of these countries who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 may avail of the travel lane. Unvaccinated children below the age of 12 must be accompanied by vaccinated parents or guardians.

“Malaysia and Singapore have achieved more than 95 percent rate of vaccinated adult population,” the Prime Minister’s Office said on 24 November. “This has offered the opportunities for both countries to reopen the land border in a gradual, safe, systematic, and sustainable manner.” The VTL is expected to enhance bilateral and economic relations, facilitate the travel of workers, and enable families separated by the pandemic to be reunited.

The Singapore government also anticipates brisk travel between the two countries to resume with the VTL. “Pre-COVID, Malaysia was amongst the top three markets for annual passenger arrivals at Changi Airport. The Singapore–Kuala Lumpur link was also the busiest international air route in the world, with about 40 flights daily and an average of 7,000 arrivals per day at Changi Airport,” a news release said.

Designated services under the scheme

Travel by air is only between Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Changi Airport. Eligible travelers must book a flight that is covered by the VTL scheme. Participating airlines are AirAsia, Jetstar Asia, Malaysia Airlines, Malindo Air, Singapore Airlines, and Scoot. Each airline will operate one daily service each.

Travel by land is through the road causeway that links Johor Bahru in Malaysia and Woodlands in Singapore. It is currently limited to bus transportation and a daily quota of 1,500 passengers. The boarding and disembarkation points are Larkin Sentral Bus Terminal (Larkin Sentral) in Malaysia and Queen Street Terminal (QST) in Singapore.

Travelers using the VTL must comply with the health requirements of their destination, including COVID-19 testing and predeparture registration with the respective government. Eligible visitors must download and use the contact tracing app MySejahtera for Malaysia and TraceTogether for Singapore during their stay.

The countries started accepting VTL applications on 22 November. Singapore Airlines and its budget arm Scoot reported several VTL flights were already sold out on the first day of booking.

Websites of the Malaysia’s Ministry of International trade and Industry and Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority provide more information on the VTL scheme.

ASEAN travel corridors

Malaysia is also looking at opening a travel lane between Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta and between Kuala Lumpur and Bali for those fully vaccinated, a report from Bernama said.

The two countries are still refining the details of this initiative, said Malaysian Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakub at a joint press conference with Indonesian President Joko Widodo at Istana Bogor this month. He said they will issue a joint statement to announce the opening of borders.

The travel corridor arrangement is one of the initiatives being pushed by ASEAN member states to revive travel and tourism and their economies in general, which were badly affected by the pandemic.

In November last year, ASEAN leaders agreed to draw up a travel corridor arrangement framework that will allow essential business travel first among member states while prioritizing public health safety. They called for a common set of pre-departure and post-arrival health and safety measures. Travelers must follow public health regulations in their destination.

The ASEAN Coordinating Council, supported by the ASEAN Coordinating Council Working Group on Public Health Emergencies, will coordinate and oversee the process of developing the travel corridor framework, taking into account bilateral arrangements of ASEAN member states.

On 28 October this year, leaders of Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Philippines affirmed their commitment to support the creation of travel bubbles at the BIMP-EAGA Summit.

Also called a “green lane (or zone),” a travel bubble allows the flow of people between safe zones and does not require a 14-day quarantine. It covers areas with low or no recent COVID-19 cases. The creation of a travel bubble involves close cooperation between governments in partnership with the private sector.