As Thailand features world-famous beaches and sumptuous cuisines, holiday-makers and other travellers who wish to enter Thailand may be wondering if it is even possible during the Covid-19 pandemic. Here at Samui Times, we have all of your questions answered to help you with entering Thailand “Covid-19 style.”
Can you enter Thailand now during the COVID-19 Crisis?
After shutting its borders since March of this year, only Thai nationals have been allowed to enter the Kingdom on repatriation flights. However, recently the government has said that foreign nationals with valid work permits and those who have been granted permission to work in the kingdom may apply for permission for entry to Thailand.
Where to apply for permission to enter Thailand?
The foreigner must apply for the certificate or permission of entry to Thailand from their local Thai Embassy or consulate. All requests will be forwarded to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and together with the Ministry of Labour and Board of Investment, all applications or requests will be assessed on a case to case basis, taking into account the urgency and economic importance while balancing these with health security considerations among others.
Who is qualified?
Applicants who have any of the following:
- Foreigners or non-Thai nationals who are holding a valid non-immigrant B or IB visa and those with the extension of stay of Non-immigrant B visa.
- Foreigners or non-Thai nationals who are holding a valid work permit or granted permission from the Ministry of Labour to work in Thailand (WP3).
- Foreigners or non-Thai nationals who are holding non-immigrant D and F visas in an urgent need to enter Thailand.
Thailand to Allow International Air Travel
For those who qualify under the groups listed above, July 1, 2020, is the date that Thailand is set to re-open international air travel while also allowing all businesses to re-open.
The lifting will also include interprovincial and international travel, as well as the end of the emergency decree.
Health Certificates for Air Passengers
Upon arrival at airports, travellers should present a health certificate and undergo an initial temperature check, under the guidelines. Online check-in before arriving at the airport should also be given priority.
Mobile tickets are advised, as well as other forms of no-contact technology, such as facial or eye scans.
Passengers are also encouraged to travel as light as possible. With just one small piece of hand luggage. Even more newspapers and magazines will no longer be allowed on board. Furthermore, duty-free sales should also be limited.
The wearing of a mask should be obligatory inside aircraft and terminals. Also, social distancing of at least one meter between passengers should be respected. Terminal access should also be limited to passengers and their companions. Also, those accompanying disabled travellers, and airport personnel.
Aboard planes, passengers should wear masks, move as little as possible within the cabin, and not line up outside toilets to lessen the risk of infecting other passengers. People will be assigned specific toilet stalls on the plane in relation to where they are seated.
Currently, there are no mandatory regulations on seat distancing inside the airplane cabins as it remains a contested issue with airlines citing major financial losses if social distancing is required.
When will it start?
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has not stated when this entry procedure will start. It is safe to assume that if the travel ban is lifted by the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand, then qualified foreigners may apply for permission of entry or may start to travel to Thailand. It is best to contact your local Thai Embassy or consulate for more details.
What do you have to prepare prior to travelling to Thailand?
The foreigner or non-Thai nationals must carry the necessary documents as follows:
- Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Thai embassy or consulate in your current location.
- Fit to Fly Certificate issued by the Thai embassy or consulate in your location. This must be issued no longer than 72 hours before the date of travel. This certificate is also necessary at the airline’s check-in counter for a boarding pass to be issued.
- Health Insurance Policy covering treatment and medical expenses related to COVID-19 with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD.
- Passport with at least 6 months validity upon entering.
How to obtain a Certificate of Entry?
The foreigner must apply for the certificate of entry from the local Thai Embassy or consulate at least 10 working days prior to the intended date of travel and must submit the following documents to the consular section of the Thai embassy or consulate:
- Original or copy of the valid work permit or Letter issued by the relevant authorities of Thailand indicating permission for entry into Thailand for work purposes.
- Copy of the valid non-immigrant B visa or extension of stay based on Non-immigrant B visa
- Copy of the Health Insurance Policy covering treatment and medical expenses related to COVID-19 with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD.
- Copy of flight details of the intended date of travel
Note: In case the foreign national does not have a valid visa or has an expired non-immigrant B visa, he or she can submit all the required documents and a filled-in visa application requesting for the Non-immigrant visa and the Thai embassy or consulate will issue the certificate of Entry and the visa altogether.
Despite the new allowances, land borders still remain closed, which means anyone planning to do a visa run will have to wait until further notice. Thailand’s immigration offices are extending most visas automatically until borders can re-open. Those who need to do a 90-day check-in with immigration can still do so at some locations but may find it easier to use the online 90-day reporting tool.
Below, is a map of Southeast Asia with details of Thailand’s neighboring countries’ border and travel status.
Cambodia: The state of emergency has been extended until further notice. An inter-provincial travel ban was lifted on 17 April, however, lockdown measures such as the closure of non-essential businesses remain in place. Land borders are closed. There are restrictions on entry for travellers arriving from (or residents of) France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA and Iran. Anyone who does arrive must stay 14-days in a mandatory government quarantine center. Tourist visas, e-visas, visa on arrival have been suspended from 31 March until further notice. Visa extensions will be denied for foreigners who are not registered on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by 1 July, 2020.
Laos: International borders are still closed to foreign travellers. Anyone who is permitted to enter the country will be isolated at a hospital if they show symptoms of COVID-19. Local restrictions have been eased further from 18 May. People must continue following social distancing guidelines, wear masks and regularly wash their hands while in public. Large gatherings of more than 50 people remain prohibited.
Malaysia: A nationwide Movement Control Order was implemented on 18 March and is in place until 9 June, including border closures and shutdowns for non-essential businesses. Restrictions differ between regions. Entry to Malaysia for all foreign visitors is restricted until at least 31 August.
Myanmar: All international flights and visas-on-arrival and e-visas are suspended until 31 May. All land borders with neighbouring countries are closed. Lockdowns and curfews are in place across the country and differ between regions. Public gatherings of more than five people are banned, and non-essential businesses have been instructed to close.
Vietnam: Vietnam has temporarily banned entry to the country for all foreigners. Lockdown measures began to be relaxed in a phased approach from 23 April. Most non-essential businesses can reopen, however public gatherings of more than 30 people are still banned, people must still wear masks and maintain a distance of 6ft (2m) in public spaces.
Indonesia: Until further notice, President Jokowi has banned all foreign arrivals and transits. Only travellers with a valid working permit and diplomats are allowed to enter.
If you are indeed granted entry into the Kingdom, you may be wondering what happens next and what do you need to have ready?
What to do upon entry to Thailand?
When entering Thailand, the foreigner or non-Thai national is requested to follow the Thai authority’s guidelines for preventing the Covid-19 pandemic as follows:
- Present the Certificate of Entry to the Thai authorities at the airport of arrival
- Present the completed and signed Declaration Form
- Present the health insurance policy
- Present the valid non-immigrant B visa and work permit
- The foreign national will be subjected to a 14-day mandatory state quarantine at a government-designated facility or other facilities under the supervision of the Ministry of Public Health at his or her own expense.
What health insurance do I need for entering Thailand?
All applicants for non-immigrant type O-A visas are required to have insurance coverage of not less than 400,000 THB/year for inpatient and 40,000 THB/year for outpatient as of October 31, 2019. Most work permit holders will be able to enrol in the Kingdom’s social security program where you can visit specified hospitals for healthcare. Additional Covid-19 health insurance is advised.
***All information in this article is subject to change on a daily basis as nations can and will roll out different laws and regulations at any given time due to the unpredictable Covid-19 situation. ***
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