FAQ: How can workers travel between Singapore and Malaysia and what are the COVID-19 protocols in place?

FAQ: How can workers travel between Singapore and Malaysia and what are the COVID-19 protocols in place?

The two cross-border travel schemes - the RGL and PCA - will be open to applications next Monday.

Commuters take the  Woodlands Causeway to Singapore from Johor a day before Malaysia imposes a lock
View of the Woodlands Causeway between Singapore and Malaysia, Mar 17, 2020. (Photo: Reuters/Edgar Su)

SINGAPORE: Singapore and Malaysia have finalised arrangements for cross-border travel via the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA), and both schemes will be open for applications next Monday (Aug 10).

The PCA will allow Singapore and Malaysia citizens or Permanent Residents (PRs) who hold long-term immigration passes for business and work purposes in the other country to enter that country for work.

The other cross-border travel scheme - the RGL - is for Malaysia and Singapore residents keen to do shorter-term travel of up to 14 days, for essential business and official purposes.

For those who need to travel for work purposes, we have compiled a list of frequently asked questions based on information released by the authorities so far.

Q: How can Malaysian citizens/ Permanent Residents holding a Singapore work permit apply for PCA and when can they return home?

A: Under the PCA, Malaysia Citizens and PRs with valid Singapore work passes should remain in Singapore for at least 90 days before returning to Malaysia for home leave. Those eligible to apply will need to have the following passes – Employment Pass, EntrePass, Personalised Employment Pass, S Pass and Work Permit. The pass should be valid for at least 15 days from the date of entry into Singapore.

The entry and exit point between Singapore and Malaysia must be via the land crossings - Woodlands Checkpoint or Tuas Checkpoint.

When they enter Singapore, travellers under this scheme are required to serve a Stay-Home Notice (SHN) of at least 7 days and undertake a COVID-19 swab test. The employee must remain in the declared SHN accommodation for at least 7 days from the date of entry into Singapore and test negative for COVID-19, whichever is later. Once the employee has served the SHN and tests negative for COVID-19, the employee can commence work.

Authorities conducting temperature screening at Tuas checkpoint
Authorities conducting temperature screening at Tuas checkpoint on Jan 24, 2020. (Photo: TODAY/Najeer Yusof)

Singapore-based companies that wish to apply for the PCA for their employees may submit their applications from Aug 10 at 12pm onwards, through CorpPass.

Employers may choose a date of entry within a 60-day window of their application. All applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Employers must submit their applications at least 7 days before their employees enter Singapore.

READ: Measures for Singapore-Malaysia travel include minimum 7-day stay-home notice, COVID-19 test

Q: For Malaysia citizens/PRs who have entered Singapore via PCA, what are some of the health protocols involved?  

A: After clearing immigration, the employees will have to take their personal transport. These include motorbikes, private buses that only ferry Malaysian passengers who are serving SHN, or taxis and private hire cars directly from the immigration checkpoint to the declared SHN accommodation. They should not stop at any other destination along the journey.

If they are being driven, the employees should indicate clearly to the driver that they are serving an SHN. The employee should not take public transport or flag down a taxi while serving the SHN.

Singapore swab test for COVID-19
A healthcare worker dressed in personal protective equipment collects a nasal swab sample for COVID-19 in Singapore on Apr 27, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

Those under SHN will only be permitted to leave their accommodation to head to the designated testing facility for the COVID-19 swab test on the assigned date and appointment time of swabbing, with similar transportation restrictions. 

The employee or the employer will bear the costs of the employee’s accommodation for the SHN and post-arrival COVID-19 swab test in Singapore, subject to prevailing Ministry of Manpower requirements.

READ: Singapore, Malaysia have settled arrangements for cross-border travel from Aug 10, not ready yet for daily commuting: Vivian Balakrishnan

Q: For Singapore citizens/PRs holding a Malaysia work permit, how different is the procedure to obtain PCA?

A: The minimum duration of stay as well as the entry and exit points are the same.

Those eligible to apply for a PCA must hold a long term visa for business or work purposes in Malaysia.

Employers can apply for PCA for their employees to enter Malaysia via the MyTravelPass online application at least 10 working days before the date of travel. Employers also need to provide a letter of appointment and copy of passport during the application.

Meanwhile, as part of health protocols outlined by Malaysia’s Immigration Department, employees will be subject to a modified Home Surveillance Order (HSO) for 7 days. 

They must also undertake a COVID-19 test via antibody test kits at the end of HSO and will be released from HSO if tested negative. Travellers must also subscribe to the MySejahtera application, developed by the Malaysia government to manage the COVID-19 outbreak and conduct contact tracing across the country.

These travellers may also apply for a waiver for their SHN during the duration of their short-term home leave in Singapore, after spending at least 90 days working in Malaysia.

According to Singapore’s Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA), the intent of the Malaysia-issued PCA passes is to allow Singapore Citizens and PRs to re-enter Malaysia after their home leave, to continue with their business or work. In lieu of SHN, the returnee will undergo a COVID-19 swab test upon arrival at Woodlands Checkpoint or Tuas Checkpoint in Singapore, at their own cost.

Q: How can a Singapore resident apply for RGL to visit Malaysia?

A: All nationalities who are legal residents in Singapore and need to enter Malaysia for essential business travel and official purposes can apply for RGL. This will be approved on a single-entry basis.

Unlike the PCA where employees may only travel via the land crossings, individuals entering the other country via RGL may also travel via air. Hence, Singapore residents may also fly to Malaysia via direct flights and enter through Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), KLIA2 and Penang International Airport.

The maximum period of stay is 14 days. Travellers are required to submit and adhere to a controlled itinerary throughout the duration of their visit.

Before departing Singapore for Malaysia, the traveller’s sponsoring enterprise or government agency in Malaysia will apply on behalf of the applicant. This should be done at least 10 days before the date of travel. The sponsor would also need to provide a traveller certificate to certify that traveller has tested negative for COVID-19 via a swab test taken within 72 hours before departure.

Health workers collect samples for COVID-19 in Malaysia
Health workers collect samples for COVID-19 testing in Gombak on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur on Apr 22, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

Documents needed for online application are a copy of the traveller’s passport, letter of invitation, an itinerary for the duration of stay, proof of hotel accommodation as well as health and travel history declaration.

Upon arrival in Malaysia, the traveller will be transferred to accommodation via transport provided by the sponsor or government agency. The traveller is also required to subscribe to the MySejahtera mobile app, and undertake a COVID-19 swab test at the point of entry or 24 hours of arriving in Malaysia.

If tested positive, the traveller will be accorded the necessary medical treatment by the Malaysia government. If tested negative, the traveller may proceed with the controlled itinerary.

Q: Is the process any different for Malaysia residents applying for RGL to enter Singapore?

A: All legal residents in Malaysia, who need to make single-entry, short-term essential travel to Singapore for business and official purposes, are eligible to apply for the RGL.

Similarly, travellers have to take a swab test within 72 hours of departure.

Residents in Malaysia seeking to travel to Singapore for short-term essential business or official travel via the RGL must be hosted by a company or a government agency in Singapore.

The host company can self-sponsor and file the application for a SafeTravel Pass on behalf of the traveller either directly or through a sponsoring government agency.

When the SafeTravel Pass application is approved, an approval letter will be issued to the sponsoring company or government agency by email within three working days.

With this letter, an approved applicant who is a visa-required passport holder may then apply for a visa for travel to Singapore through the usual channels at least four working days before departure. 

A health worker takes a nasal swab test sample from an essential worker
A health worker takes a COVID-19 nasal swab test sample from an essential worker in Singapore, Jun 10, 2020. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

If the applicant already has an existing valid visa, the visa suspension will be lifted when the SafeTravel Pass is approved, and the traveller need not apply for a new visa.

For travellers entering Singapore by air, they are encouraged to pre-register and pre-pay for the COVID-19 swab test prior to entry into Singapore. Preregistration and pre-payment can be made at the online portal and travellers should expect to pay around S$300 for the test upon arrival at the airport.

For travellers entering Singapore by land, travellers will make payment at the testing stations located at Woodlands and Tuas Checkpoint. Only card payments or PayPal are accepted. Travellers should expect to pay around S$200 for the test upon arrival at the land checkpoints.     

Q: Is travel for study or leisure purposes permitted via PCA or RGL?

A: No, the PCA and RGL are not to facilitate movement for students or tourists across the border. SafeTravel Passes are only issued to travellers making short-term essential business and official travel. These passes are not applicable for tourists.

Travellers seeking to enter Singapore for study may wish to visit the ICA website.

Meanwhile, those seeking to enter Malaysia for purposes other than essential business and official travel should contact the Malaysian High Commission in Singapore for further details.

Q: What about emergency travel for compassionate reasons, to attend a funeral or visit a sick loved one?

Singapore’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan said on Jul 26 that both countries were working on terms to allow people to travel between Singapore and Malaysia on compassionate reasons such as to visit their loved ones who are sick or to attend funerals. 

He said that this category of people moving across borders is on a “much smaller scale” and authorities are working out arrangements to facilitate this. However, no details have been announced yet.

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Source: CNA/am

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