SINGAPORE: Fully vaccinated travellers will be able to travel between Singapore and Malaysia via private vehicles such as cars and motorcycles from April, as both countries further reopen the land borders.
Both countries will allow all categories of fully vaccinated travellers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below to enter without quarantine or tests, including pre-departure and on-arrival tests.
In a joint statement on Thursday (Mar 24), Prime Ministers Lee Hsien Loong and Ismail Sabri Yaakob said it was "timely" to further reopen the land border as both countries transition to living with COVID-19.
Singapore and Malaysia have also made "good progress ... in vaccinating their respective populations and managing the COVID-19 pandemic", the leaders said.
They issued the joint statement after speaking on the phone earlier on Thursday.
"Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in our transition towards living with COVID-19," said Mr Lee.
"It reflects the strong collaboration both sides have enjoyed throughout the pandemic and will help both countries emerge stronger from this crisis."
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri added: “Today’s announcement reflects the long-standing relations and multifaceted cooperation as well as strong people-to-people ties between the two countries. This will certainly contribute to the recovery efforts with positive impacts on the economies and livelihood of the peoples of both countries”.
Singapore first launched land and air vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) with Malaysia in November last year, after nearly two years of being shut due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before border restrictions were implemented in March 2020, around 300,000 Malaysians would commute across the border daily for work.
EXPECT HEAVY TRAFFIC: MTI
In a separate statement, the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said travellers may cross the borders via private vehicles, such as cars and motorcycles, in addition to designated vaccinated travel bus services.
Singapore and Malaysia are "progressively restoring other modes of transport, including cross-border public bus services", the ministry added.
Fully vaccinated travellers and non-fully vaccinated children aged 12 and below will no longer need to take a COVID-19 test pre-departure or on arrival. They will also not be required to serve a stay-home notice.
This also applies to fully vaccinated Malaysian cargo delivery personnel, said MTI.
While travellers will no longer need to apply for approval to enter Singapore, they must have valid travel documents, such as their passports and vehicle entry permits, before arrival at the checkpoints.
"Travellers without valid travel documents will be turned back," said MTI.
Travellers can also use the Vaccination Check Portal on the SafeTravel website to submit their digital vaccination certificates in advance.
The ministry added that all travellers, including Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders, must complete their SG Arrival Card within three days before arriving at the checkpoints.
Motorists should also ensure that their vehicles comply with the emissions requirements in Singapore.
"As there might be a surge in travellers looking to cross via the land borders, travellers should expect some traffic congestion at the Checkpoints," said MTI.
It urged people not to rush to travel if there is no urgent need to do so.
"This will allow travellers with a more essential need for travel, such as for employment or to reunite with their families, to do so more smoothly," added the ministry.
VEHICLE ENTRY PERMITS NEEDED, PLAN TRAVEL AT LEAST 2 WEEKS AHEAD: LTA
A vehicle entry permit (VEP) is required for those driving foreign-registered vehicles into Singapore, said the Land Transport Authority (LTA).
Drivers of foreign-registered vehicles must apply for a VEP online and receive LTA’s approval email before they travel.
"They will not be allowed to apply for VEP/Autopass cards or update their road tax and motor insurance for their existing Autopass cards at Singapore’s land checkpoints," said LTA in a news release on Thursday.
Those without Autopass cards must collect their Autopass cards at LTA’s Johor Bahru Service Centre before entering Singapore.
Drivers who are unable to present valid Autopass cards together with LTA’s VEP approval emails at Singapore’s checkpoints will be turned back to Malaysia, LTA said.
The authority advised travellers to plan at least two weeks ahead of their intended travel dates to allow sufficient time for VEP application and approval.
"Due to the expected increase in applications, we seek their understanding that LTA may take a longer time to process VEP applications during this period," LTA said.
"Leisure travellers are encouraged to defer their plans to allow those who with essential travel needs, such as for employment or to reunite with their families, to make their trips."
The authority also said it would upgrate its systems "in anticipation of a significant increase in the volume of VEP applications".
The expected downtime will be from Thursday to Mar 30 and vehicle owners will be able to access the system from Mar 31, LTA said.