Singapore-Malaysia COVID-19 Border Restrictions & Reopening
This is an archive of the Singapore-Malaysia border restrictions and reopening in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Singapore, Malaysia, and around the world from 24 January 2020 till date.
I had previously compiled this on the Shuttle Tebrau information page to update passengers on travel restrictions. With travel opening up again, I have shifted the details here to keep an archive of it, continue updating the timeline on this article, and to reinstate the Shuttle Tebrau information page for current Shuttle Tebrau train information.
This is a significant historical event as the Singapore-Malaysia land border was the world’s busiest land border crossing with about 350,000 passengers and 50,000 vehicles travelling between JB and Singapore every day before COVID-19.
Singapore-Malaysia COVID-19 Border Restrictions & Reopening Timeline (2020 – date)
23 January 2020: Singapore confirms its first case of COVID-19. The 66-year-old man, a Wuhan resident, arrived in Singapore with nine travelling companions on Monday (Jan 20), and stayed at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa resort.
24 January 2020: Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, temperature screening will be implemented at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoints from 24 January 2020, 12 noon onwards. Arriving travellers from the Shuttle Tebrau at Woodlands Train Checkpoint will be screened in the train hall before proceeding for immigration clearance.
3 March 2020: Singaporeans are advised to defer non-essential travel to Iran, northern Italy, Japan and the Republic of Korea. From 4 March 2020, 2359 hours, all new visitors with recent travel history to Iran, northern Italy or the Republic of Korea within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore. Residents (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) with recent travel history to Iran, northern Italy, or the Republic of Korea within the last 14 days will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). Under the SHN, they will have to remain in their place of residence at all times for a 14-day period after returning to Singapore.
15 March 2020: Singapore will implement additional precautionary measures to further reduce the risk of importation of COVID-19 to Singapore. These include travel advisories against all non-essential travel abroad, and further restrictions on travellers coming into Singapore. From 16 March 2020, 2359 hours, all travellers (including Singapore Residents, Long Term Pass holders, and short-term visitors) entering Singapore with recent travel history to ASEAN countries (ie. Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, MALAYSIA, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam), Japan, Switzerland, or the United Kingdom within the last 14 days will be issued with a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). In addition, they will have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day SHN, for example a hotel booking covering the entire period, or a place of residence they or their family members own. In addition to the SHN requirement, from 16 March 2020, 2359 hours, all short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will have to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in the country they are resident before their intended date of travel. The submission will have to be approved by Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) before travel to Singapore, and the approval will be verified by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the Singapore checkpoints. Short-term visitors who arrive in Singapore WITHOUT the necessary approval will be DENIED ENTRY into Singapore. They are therefore advised to secure the approval before making definitive travel bookings. Singapore Overseas Missions in Malaysia High Commission of the Republic of Singapore – Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur) Chancery : 209, Jalan Tun Razak 50400 Kuala Lumpur Malaysia Tel : +60-3-2161-6277 Fax : +60-3-2161-6343 (General), 2164-1013 (Consular) Website : https://www.mfa.gov.sg/kl Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Operational Hours : Mon – Fri 8.30 am to 1 pm, 2 pm to 5 pm Sat, Sun & Public Holidays – Closed Consular Counter Hours: Mon – Fri 9 am to 1 pm, 2 pm to 5 pm Sat, Sun & Public Holidays – Closed Consulate-General of the Republic of Singapore – Malaysia (Johor Bahru) Consulate-General : Suite 35.02, Level 35 Johor Bahru City Square Office Tower 106-108, Jalan Wong Ah Fook 80000 Johor Bahru Tel : +60-7-226-5012 Fax : +60-7-226-5013 Website : https://www.mfa.gov.sg/jb Operational Hours : Mon – Fri 8.30am to 1pm 2.00pm to 5pm Sat, Sun & Public Holidays – Closed
15 March 2020 in tandem with the above update: THE SHN CURRENTLY DOES NOT APPLY TO SEA AND LAND CROSSINGS WITH MALAYSIA. However, separate arrangements for precautions are being worked out by a bilateral joint working group.
16 March 2020 10.14pm: Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has announced a movement restriction order in Malaysia. All Malaysians are barred from leaving Malaysia, while those returning from overseas are to conduct a period of self-quarantine for 14 days. Tourists and foreign visitors are also barred from entering Malaysia.
17 March 2020 1.41pm: Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud has confirmed that all Malaysians working in Singapore and Thailand will be not allowed to commute to the countries during the two-week restriction of movement order
18 March 2020 2.02pm: The Johor state government says it hopes to reopen the border with Singapore within the next few days. Mentri Besar Datuk Hasni Mohammad said this would be done with more stringent health checks on both sides of the border. “Among the categories exempted are those with work passes by Malaysia or Singapore, students studying in Singapore, those with specialised skills, businessmen, those involved in logistics and others that would be announced soon, ” he added.
18 March 2020 9.20pm: ALL Singaporeans, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors entering Singapore from 11.59pm on Friday, 20 March 2020, will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN). This supercedes the above advisory issued on 15 March 2020 to defer all non-essential travel abroad.
22 March 2020 12.35pm: ALL short-term visitors will NO LONGER BE ALLOWED to enter or transit through Singapore from 11.59pm on Monday (March 23) in view of the heightened risks of importing coronavirus cases into the country. Work pass holders and their dependants will be allowed to return to Singapore only if they work in sectors that provide essential services such as healthcare and transport.
7 June 2020 4.11pm: Malaysia borders are still shut amid the Covid-19 pandemic during the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO).
8 June 2020: Singapore welcomes Malaysia’s proposal to resume cross-border travel between the two countries. Singapore is prepared to work with Malaysia to address the needs of cross-border travellers, including short-term business and official travellers and Malaysian workers who were previously commuting between Singapore and Malaysia. Such proposed arrangements would have to include mutually agreed public health protocols to allow the safe resumption of cross-border movement. Both countries will require some time to work out the details and this will also depend on the COVID-19 situation in Malaysia and Singapore.
19 June 2020: Malaysia has agreed to allow citizens from both Singapore and Brunei to visit Malaysia freely, on the condition that the same flexibility is extended to Malaysians entering both countries.
20 June 2020: Singapore is prepared to work with Malaysia to address the needs of cross-border travellers, including short-term business and official travellers, and Singaporeans and Malaysians who were previously commuting between both countries. Such bilateral arrangements would have to include mutually agreed public health protocols, to preserve the public health and safety of citizens on both sides. Both countries will require some time to work out the details on the gradual easing of border restrictions to ensure a stable recovery from the COVID-19 situation.
27 June 2020: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Malaysia Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin agreed to establish a Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and a Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) to address the needs of different groups of cross-border travellers. The RGL will facilitate cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries. Travellers would have to adhere to a set of COVID-19 prevention and public health measures, which are under discussion and will have to be mutually agreed upon by both countries. The PCA will allow Singapore and Malaysia residents who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to periodically return to their home countries for short-term home leave. They will be able to return home for leave after spending at least three consecutive months in their country of work, and they will be allowed to re-enter their country of work after their home leave. This is part of a gradual and phased resumption of cross-border travel between Singapore and Malaysia. Operational details of the RGL and PCA will be announced in due course.
14 July 2020: Singapore and Malaysia have agreed to start cross-border travel on 10 August 2020 for long-term pass holders and essential business and official travellers under the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA) arrangements. Malaysian Foreign Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein and Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan announced this in a joint statement on Tuesday (July 14). The requirements, health protocols and application process involved for entry and exit into Malaysia and Singapore will be published 10 days before their implementation.
20 November 2020: All travellers entering Singapore from 22 November 2020, 2359 hours who have a travel history (including transit) in the past 14 days to Malaysia will be required to serve a 14-day SHN at dedicated SHN facilities. This also applies to travellers entering Singapore to work under the Periodic Commuting Arrangement and returning Singapore-based travellers under the Singapore – Malaysia Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL). Travellers who are not SCs or PRs, and who have recent travel history to Malaysia within the last 14 days prior to entry will be required to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure. Travellers will need to present a valid negative COVID-19 test result as a condition of approval to enter Singapore. This requirement will take effect for those arriving in Singapore from 27 November 2020, 2359 hours. This requirement will not apply for returning Singapore-based travellers under the Singapore – Malaysia RGL.
4 May 2021: The stay-home notice (SHN) period for travellers from higher-risk countries or regions to Singapore will be lengthened to 21 days. The extended SHN will apply to travellers arriving from all countries and regions, except Australia, Brunei, mainland China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau, from Friday at 11.59pm. They will be required to serve their 21-day SHN at dedicated facilities. In addition, the period of recent travel history being assessed for border measures will also be increased to 21 days from 14.
23 June 2021: The stay-home notice period for new travellers from higher-risk countries or regions to Singapore will be shortened from 21 days to 14 days from 24 June 2021. Travellers will be required to test themselves regularly with self-administered antigen rapid test (ART) kits in addition to the existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
23 October 2021: Travellers from Malaysia will be placed under Category III measures from 26 October 2021, 11.59pm. Travellers from Malaysia will serve their 10-day SHN at their declared place of residence or accommodation, regardless of the travellers’ and their household members’ vaccination status and travel history. However, they must always remain in their declared accommodation and don an electronic monitoring device throughout their SHN period.
8 November 2021: Travellers from Malaysia will be placed under Category II measures from 11 November 2021, 11.59pm. Travellers from Malaysia will serve a 7-day stay-home notice (SHN) at their declared place of residence or accommodation, down from 10 days previously. The Changi Airport – Kuala Lumpur International Airport Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) were also announced in this press release, which will launch on 29 November 2021.
15 November 2021: Co-chair of the Covid-19 task force and Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong said that the vaccination travel lane (VTL) scheme through land borders with Malaysia may be launched “in a few weeks” with bilateral discussions progressing well. This will be a phased opening of Woodlands Causeway and Tuas Second Link.
18 November 2021: Menteri Besar Johor YAB Dato’ Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad announced that the Singapore – Malaysia VTL via land borders will launch on 29 November 2021.
18 November 2021: Menteri Besar Johor YAB Dato’ Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad announced that the Singapore – Malaysia VTL via land borders will launch on 29 November 2021 only for long term pass (border) holders, Malaysians working in Singapore, and Singaporeans working in Johor Bahru.
21 November 2021: Menteri Besar Johor YAB Dato’ Haji Hasni bin Haji Mohammad announced that about 1,440 people are expected to be able to travel between Johor and Singapore in the first week of the implementation of the land vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between Singapore and Malaysia.
Authorities will conduct a pilot test on the land VTL between Johor and Singapore on Monday, 22 November 2021.
23 November 2021: Singapore and Malaysia had a trial run on the morning of 23 November 2021 for 2 VTL bus routes. A Causeway Link bus carried about 30 Malaysian government officials, departed from Johor Bahru Larkin Sentral at about 10:30am and arrived at Singapore Queen Street Bus Terminal at 12:30pm. In addition to doing a Polymerase Chain Reaction Test (PCR) in advance, all passengers must also fill out a health declaration form, and staff will check if passengers have completed the vaccination before boarding the bus. Transtar Travel also had a trial run at about 8am from Singapore Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange.
24 November 2021: Singapore and Malaysia jointly announced the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) across the Causeway from 29 November 2021. The VTL (Land) will be rolled out in a safe and calibrated manner.
The Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) by Bus will launch on 29 November 2021 with 2 routes operated by Causeway Link and Transtar Travel as part of the first phase of the land VTL. With the introduction of Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) between Singapore and Malaysia via bus on the Johor-Singapore Causeway, passengers are allowed for quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Malaysia.
- Causeway Link VTL1 Bus • JB Larkin Sentral ⇄ Singapore Queen Street Bus Terminal
- Transtar Travel VTL2 Bus • JB Larkin Sentral ⇄ Singapore Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange (WTBI)
24 November 2021: Singapore’s Minister for Trade and Industry Gan Kim Yong said that “Whereas the next step is probably looking at the possibility of allowing the train between Singapore and Malaysia to also tap on this VTL land access, so that Singaporeans and Malaysians can then also make use of (the) train to travel. But both bus and train are more manageable because they have a fixed capacity.”. Source: CNA
However, the Singapore-JB VTL Train cannot run immediately due to Gemas-Johor Bahru Electrified Double-Tracking Project (EDTP) progress and track closure from 23 November 2021 till at least May 2022.
28 November 2021: An on-arrival Antigen Rapid Test (ART) will be conducted for Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) passengers arriving in Singapore at Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange and Queen Street Bus Terminal, in view of the new B.1.1.529 strain of the coronavirus (Omicron).
29 November 2021: The Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) by Bus launched 29 November 2021 with 2 routes operated by Causeway Link and Transtar Travel as part of the first phase of the land VTL. Causeway Link VTL1 Bus departed from Larkin Sentral at 7.30am and Transtar Travel VTL Bus departed from Woodlands Temporary Bus Interchange at 8.00am. With the introduction of Vaccinated Travel Lane-Land (VTL-Land) between Singapore and Malaysia via bus on the Johor-Singapore Causeway, passengers are allowed for quarantine-free travel between Singapore and Malaysia.
29 November 2021: The Singapore-Malaysia Vaccinated Travel Lane-Air (VTL-Air) launched 29 November 2021 with 6 flights each way operated by Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Scoot, AirAsia Berhad, Jetstar Asia, and Malindo Air.
29 November 2021: Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that Singapore and Malaysia are aiming to expand the land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) scheme to include general travellers from mid-December.
Discussions will also start on piloting a sea VTL to allow Singapore cruise ships to call at Malaysian ports.
30 November 2021: Vaccinated Travel Lane (Air) [VTL (Air)] travellers entering Singapore from Thursday, 2 December 2021, 11.59pm will face additional measures in view of the new Omicron Covid-19 variant. VTL (Air) travellers entering Singapore from Thursday, 2 December 2021, 11.59pm are required to undergo post-arrival Day 3 and Day 7 COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Tests (ARTs) at Quick Test Centres (QTCs) by 9.30pm on Day 3 and Day 7.
However, there are no changes to Malaysia-Singapore Vaccinated Travel Lane (Land) [VTL (Land)] arrangements.
1 December 2021: Vaccinated Travel Lane travellers entering Malaysia are required to undergo additional self post-arrival Day 3 and Day 7 COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test Kits (RTK) Tests on Day 3 and Day 7. This applies to both Vaccinated Travel Lane (Air) [VTL (Air)] travellers entering Malaysia by plane, and Vaccinated Travel Lane (Land) [VTL (Land)] travellers entering Malaysia by bus.
Malaysia Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin announced this additional RTK tests for VTL travellers on Wednesday, 1 December 2021. This is in view of the new COVID-19 Omicron variant which has been making headlines in the past few days, but has not been detected in Malaysia so far.
3 December 2021: All VTL travellers entering Singapore on both air and land vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) will be put on a daily COVID-19 testing regime over 7 days using antigen rapid tests (ARTs) from 11.59pm on 6 December 2021. Alongside the previously announced Days 3 and 7 tests at a combined test centre (CTC) or quick test centre (QTC), this means 4 new tests on Days 2, 4, 5, and 6.
8 December 2021: All VTL travellers entering Malaysia on both air and land vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) will be put on a daily COVID-19 testing regime over 6 days using Antigen Rapid Test Kits (RTK-Ag) from 8 December 2021. This new development overrides the previous Day 3 and Day 7 self-administered RTK tests.
23 December 2021: The Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) has impose limits on the number of VTL arrivals for the time being to limit exposure to imported Omicron cases. All new ticket sales will be frozen for VTL flights and buses for travel into Singapore from 23 December 2021 to 20 January 2022, both dates inclusive.
23 December 2021: Malaysia follows Singapore Multi-Ministry Taskforce (MTF) to suspend ticket sales for VTL flights and buses for travel from Singapore to Malaysia from 23 December 2021 to 20 January 2022, both dates inclusive.
13 January 2022: Travellers to Malaysia who are fully vaccinated and have recently recovered from COVID-19 do not need to undergo mandatory quarantine from Thursday, 13 January 2022, as announced by Malaysia Minister of Health Khairy Jamaluddin on Wednesday, 12 January 2022.
24 January 2022: All Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) travellers arriving in Singapore are no longer required to do post-arrival Day 3 and Day 7 supervised Antigen Rapid Test (ART) at Combined Test Centres (CTCs) or Quick Test Centres (QTCs). The 7-day VTL testing regime will be relaxed with VTL travellers only being required to do unsupervised self-administered ARTs from Day 2 to Day 7 of their arrivals, only if they need to leave their place of residence or accommodation.
24 January 2022: Travellers to Singapore who are fully vaccinated and recently recovered within 90 days of their last infection will be exempted from all testing and Stay Home Notice (SHN) (quarantine) requirements if they are able to provide appropriate documentary proof.
8 February 2022: National Recovery Council (NRC) chairman and former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has announced that Malaysia’s borders are set to fully reopen on 1 March 2022, as reported by The Star and New Straits Times. The NRC agrees that Malaysia’s borders are to fully open as early as March 1 without the need for mandatory quarantine to support the nation’s recovery and other industries related to tourism.
11 February 2022: The reopening of Malaysia’s borders from 1 March 2022 as previously announced by the National Recovery Council (NRC) will not proceed. Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has said that the NRC announcement on 8 February 2022 by chairman and former Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is only a proposal and it needs to be discussed in the government, apart from getting a recommendation from the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH).
22 February 2022: The enhanced testing regime which requires VTL travellers to take self-administered Antigen Rapid Test (ART) from Day 2 to Day 7 upon arrival into Singapore will cease. VTL and Category I travellers will no longer need to perform an on-arrival PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test. Instead, they will have up to 24 hours from their entry into Singapore to take a supervised self-swab ART at one of the testing centres located across Singapore.
28 February 2022: The Ministry of Health (KKM) Malaysia has announced on 28 February 2022 that Malaysia will remove VTL post-arrival Days 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 Antigen Rapid Tests (RTK-Ag) from 3 March 2022. This brings down the total number of COVID-19 tests to enter Malaysia by VTL from 7 to 2, with the pre-departure test and on-arrival test still required.
5 March 2022: Malaysia’s international borders will be reopened soon to allow more Malaysians to spend time with their family members during Hari Raya Aidilfitri in May 2022, as confirmed by Malaysia’s Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob on Saturday, 5 March 2022.
8 March 2022: Malaysia will fully reopen its international borders on Friday, 1 April 2022, as the country begins to transition to the COVID-19 endemic phase. Malaysia Prime Minister Dato’ Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob has announced this reopening on Tuesday, 8 March 2022. International travellers entering Malaysia would only need to have valid travel documents to enter and exit the country, and Malaysians can travel freely to other countries with similar open borders.
11 March 2022: Singapore announced that all vaccinated travellers travelling in to Singapore under Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) and Category (I) areas will only need a post-arrival Unsupervised Self Swab (USS) Antigen Rapid Test (ART) within 24 hours of their arrival into Singapore from 15 March 2022.