Singapore and Japan launch travel lane for business professionals

MORE business executives and professionals will now be able to travel between Singapore and Japan, using a new "Residence Track" unveiled by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) on Friday.

Prior to this, only short-term and essential business was permitted between the two countries under the "Business Track" launched earlier this month. Travellers on the business track have to abide by a controlled itinerary for the first 14 days in the receiving country.

Under the new residence track, executives and professionals who are work pass holders will be able to travel between the two countries, subject to safeguards. These safeguards, together with the detailed eligibility criteria and application process, will be made available on the Web sites of the Singapore and Japan's ministries of foreign affairs by Sept 30.

So far, Japan has residence tracks in place with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Taiwan. These arrangements allow cross-border travel subject to a 14-day quarantine period.

Similarly, Singapore has steadily opened up business travel lanes with a growing number of countries since the first lane was established with certain China provinces in June. Reciprocal arrangements are now in place with Malaysia, South Korea and Brunei, besides China and Japan.

Protocols differ across the travel lanes, depending on the prevailing public health situation in both the host and receiving countries.

Discussions are underway with other countries and jurisdictions, including Indonesia, Thailand, Hong Kong and Australia.

In parallel, Singapore is piloting a business pass for senior executives based in Singapore to travel overseas. Travellers on this pass have the option of undergoing a Covid-19 test in lieu of serving a stay-at-home notice. While the pass is not country-specific, travellers will still have to abide by any international restrictions, including reciprocal green-lane arrangements in place. The pass is being trialled with a select list of executives, and is currently not open to applications.