Singapore has been one of the biggest draw for Indians, and a long standing hub for Indian passengers to transfer to Japan/Australia as well as the North American continent who chose to fly west. However, it always sounded odd that they could not enter the country unless they had a separate visa for Singapore. I remember back in 2013, I could not organise a visa in time, and I was at the lounge for the whole 15 hours I was in Singapore. A client of our mileage redemption service recently flew Singapore Airlines Suites Class from Australia to India, however, he needed a separate visa as well for Singapore.
But this has been changed as of October 2016. The new rules notified by the Singapore Immigration and Checkpoints Authority now allow for a 96-hour Visa Free Transit Facility for Indians, on one leg of their trip (outbound or return) when travelling from India to a third-country by air. To be admitted Visa Free, here are the requirements for Indian passengers:
- You need to have a valid onward air ticket with journey commencing within 96-hours of arrival.
- You need a valid visa/long-term pass (with a validity of at least 1 month from the date of entry into Singapore) issued by the any of the following countries:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom
- United States of America
- Single Journey Visas (SJV) issued by the above countries are also acceptable when transiting through Singapore on the onward or return leg of the same journey. For those on the return leg of the journey, i.e. after the SJV has been utilized, the following conditions must be met:
- The traveller travels directly from the country that issued the SJV, on route through Singapore, directly back to the home country; and
- The traveller has not returned to their home country since the SJV was last utilized.
How does this work?
So if you have long term residency or visas (such as the US B1/B2) on your passport, you should be able to go through to Singapore without a visa when travelling to any country. Let us say, you are doing a Mumbai-Singapore-Seoul trip and you would like to enter Singapore for a 2 night halt, you could flash your 5-year or 10-year American visa (B1/B2 at the least), and go into Singapore.
However, if you have a single visit visa to Japan, then you can only do, for example, a Mumbai-Singapore-Tokyo trip, and stop at Singapore on one of the legs of your journey.
It does strike me as odd that instead of the entire Schengen Zone, Visa Free Transit is offered only against long term Visa issued specifically by Germany and Switzerland.
Another point to remember, the 96 hour transit cannot be extended under any circumstances, so don’t bank on that if you need to stay longer.
Here is the exact notification from the ICA. You can use this privilege with any carrier and not just Singapore Airlines.
This is great news for us, because this means that Indians can now plan a journey to/through Singapore while going to other countries, and this should add to the attractiveness of Singapore as a transit destination.
Will you be considering utilizing the Singapore Visa Free Transfer Facility in the future?