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Is Thailand allowing tourists into the country? The short answer is yes but for some, the process could be quite confusing. Moreover, there are differences in the course of action you should take, depending on your country of residence.
As a result, many people experience frustration while trying to figure out the path to their Thai vacation.
Others drop the idea altogether because they get overwhelmed and can’t figure out how to get into Thailand. The Thai government has begun to loosen up the measures but unfortunately, the Coronavirus is still part of the global landscape.
At the time of writing Thailand has only 26,598 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 85 deaths, and naturally, the officials want to keep these numbers low. However, for those who are determined to go on that Thai vacation, we will walk you through everything you need to know to enter the country. Let’s begin.
Do I need a Visa to Enter Thailand for Tourism?
Currently, under the Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme, citizens of 64 countries (including the US, Canada, Germany and more) can travel to Thailand without obtaining a visa. Until recently the Visa Exemption Scheme was suspended in an effort to isolate the country and prevent COVID-19 from spreading, but the officials decided to lift the suspension in early December to attract tourists.
However, tourist whose countries aren’t part of the Visa Exemption Scheme will need to obtain a visa in order to enter the Kingdom. You can see if you need a visa and apply for it electronically directly on the Thai E-Visa Official Website.
The process goes as follows. You first create an account and fill in the application form providing up to date info.
Then you should upload supporting documentation which includes:
– Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months.
– Photograph of the applicant, taken within the past six months.
When you are pre-approved you will also be required to submit
– Evidence of upcoming travel to Thailand (air ticket paid in full) and ASQ hotel reservation (more on that below).
Once that is done and you pay your visa application fee (cost varies between issuing countries) you can wait for approval of your visa and check the status online. Then once issued you can go to your local Embassy or consulate ad collect the document.
As of now, most tourists with regular tourist Thai visa can stay up to 30 days in Thailand and those under the visa exemption up to 45 days with some countries eligible for stays up to 90 days (e.g. Argentina).
Even if you come from a country that is visa-exempt it is strongly recommended your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in Thailand.
If you don’t follow this advice your entry into the country could be denied, so preparing and checking your passport is an important part of the process. If Thailand requires a visa for your visit and you want to spend more than 30 days in the country, you can apply for a Special Tourist Visa (STV).
Thailand Special Tourist Visa (STV)
Individuals who have an interest in obtaining the STV should contact their local Tourism authority, the Thai Embassy or apply through an accredited agency. Your application will be submitted to the Immigration Bureau so they can perform a background check.
After you receive pre-approval from the Bureau of Immigration you or the representing agency should submit the visa form, pay the visa fee (2,000 Baht, around $65) and then provide proof of ASQ accommodation, booked a chartered flight to Thailand and a copy of health insurance policy.
Your travel insurance should cover the entire period of the stay – 90 days and have at least $100,000 Coronavirus coverage and 400,000 Baht (around $130,000) coverage for non Coronavirus related issues.
After the 90-day period elapses you will be able to request a visa extension up to 2 times, each for 90 days. The fee for that is again (2,000 Baht, around $65).
How Long is the Mandatory Quarantine in Thailand?
When you arrive in Thailand you will have to spend 14 days under self-quarantine at your own expense. The Center for the COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) is planning to reduce the period to 7 days for people vaccinated within a period of 3 months. However, this new program is not yet in force.
But there is more. You can’t self isolate anywhere you want. It has to be in a qualified facility under the Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ). You are solely responsible for making your own arrangements and paying the price for your 14-day mandatory stay.
If you are not sure where to start your search you can visit the website of your local Thai Embassy.
Once there you can usually see a full list of all ASQ hotels. They are approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Public Health and can fit various budgets. With over 100 approved facilities there is a good chance you can rack up additional points with hotel award credit cards.
There are also hotels in the Alternative Local Quarantine (ALQ) list which are located outside Bangkok. A relatively new addition is the Golf Quarantine (GQ). It’s a list of golf resorts where you can spend your 14-day quarantine playing golf or doing other outdoor sports activities while still complying with all COVID-19 requirements. Another luxury ASQ alternative is the yacht quarantine scheme that was recently launched.
Apart from restrictions around your quarantine stay, there are some issues with flights that still persist. The Thai government currently only allows “semi-commercial” or “repatriation” flights to Thailand operated by approved airlines. Meaning you won’t have as much choice as usual for your flight and the airplane seat capacity will be limited.
Despite this, you might still be able to take advantage of some opportunities to collect mileage points with certain credit card providers.
Also, all travelers entering Thailand must bring a sufficient amount of cash with them, which according to the current requirements is 20,000 Baht (around $667) per person or 40,000 Baht (around $1,334) per family.
However, before you hurry to book your ASQ hotel and flight reservations bear in mind that the visa, 14-day quarantine, and having around a thousand bucks is not the only thing you should consider. There are other important requirements you should comply with before entering Thailand.
How do I get into Thailand in 2021 – Required Documentation
Heading off to Thailand without doing the proper research and obtaining the required documentation won’t be a smart move. Furthermore, you actually can’t do that before you are approved to enter the country.
After you receive official approval, which we will show you how to do below, you’ll still need to present some documentation both at the departure airport and upon entering Thailand.
Next, we will provide a list of all required documents and examine them closely one by one to ensure you have all information to complete the process successfully.
1. Certificate of Entry (COE)
The Certificate of Entry (COE) is a document that allows foreigners to enter Thailand by air through the allowed special semi-commercial flights, repatriation flights, or chartered flights. Everyone despite their country of residence should obtain the COE. Bear in mind that despite your country might be part of the Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme you still need the document to enter the Kingdom.
You can obtain a COE from your local Thai Embassy. The process could be quite confusing and includes multiple steps so pay close attention.
How to obtain a Certificate of Entry?
The most important document you need to enter Thailand by air right now is the COE. You can access the COE online registration page here. You choose the option “For non-Thai nationals” and “English language” to begin your registration process. The steps to obtaining it are the following:
You choose your nationality, your Embassy or Consulate, and the type of entering permission you are requesting, in most cases that would be “Medium-Term Visitor – Visa Exemption”.
You need to fill in some personal info, as well as agency information if you are making your travel arrangements through an agency. You also have to provide contact details in and outside Thailand and a contact person which the officials could reach out in case of emergency.
Next, you will need to attach a photo of your passport. Once again make sure it’s valid for at least six months ahead as of your entry in Thailand. In this step, you will also need to attach a photo of a medical insurance policy in English, with a minimum coverage of $100,000.
To ensure you get an insurance policy that would be accepted, scroll down to point 2 of our requirements list.
You also consent to follow some standard disease prevention measures like keeping a distance of 1 meter, wearing a mask, and disposing of trash daily. Then you submit your application and wait for pre-approval which usually takes between 1-3 business days.
You should receive a confirmation email that you have been pre-approved and you can also check the application status directly on the registration page. If the Embassy requires any additional information they will reach out.
Only after you receive confirmation you can proceed to book your flight and ASQ hotel. That is very important because the visa application (if you need one) is very similar. So your best move is to apply for a Visa and COE simultaneously and wait for pre-approval before you book your flight and ASQ hotel.
Once you are ready with your bookings you go on the website and upload a copy of your flight ticket and a confirmation of your ASQ hotel booking (pretty much the same with visa applications). Please note you need to do that within 15 days of receiving confirmation.
After you are done with this step it takes once again between 1-3 business days for the Embassy or Consulate to approve.
Keep track of your application status online. When you receive the final confirmation that means your COE has been issued. You can download it and print it out to show it upon departure and entry into Thailand.
So there you have it. Note that the COE doesn’t affect how long you can stay in the country and it is intended for the sole purpose of entry.
2. Travel Insurance
Probably the first document you want to get hold of is your travel health insurance. That’s because you will need it for the COE registration process before you actually book your flight and ASQ hotel room.
The coverage should be a minimum of 100,000 USD or an equivalent amount in another currency. The medical insurance should explicitly guarantee that the insurance company will cover any COVID-19 related costs, as well as other types of medical costs should you incur them during your stay in Thailand.
It’s important that the duration period of the health insurance policy covers your entire stay in Thailand. Otherwise, your application could be denied.
So before you buy your travel insurance make sure it covers COVID-19 and can cover your entire stay. We recommend checking out WorldNomads.
Read More: Do I need Health Insurance to Enter Brazil
3. “Fit to Fly” Health Certificate
Another document that is currently required from all passengers who are entering Thailand is the so-called “Fit to Fly” Certificate also know as a Fit to Travel Letter. This document should be written by a doctor who confirms your ability and physical fitness to fly.
The form you are presenting must include the wording “Fit to Fly” or “Fit to Travel”. Despite there is no official form some passengers have been unable to board because their letter didn’t contain that wording. Here is the form currently available on the Thailand Department of Disease Control website.
The “Fit to Fly” certificate should be issued no more than 72 hours before departure. However, don’t confuse this document with a Covid-19 medical certificate which is our next point. Those are 2 entirely separate documents.
4. COVID-19 Medical Test and Certificate
Like most countries, Thailand currently requires a valid Covid-19 medical certificate that shows you haven’t contracted the Coronavirus. The certificate is accompanied by a laboratory result indicating you are Covid-19 free.
Home-made tests are very likely to be rejected by most airlines. This document should also be issued a maximum of 72 hours prior to departure.
5. Declaration Form
Despite you’ve already filled some of this information while applying for the COE, it’s advisable you fill out and bring this declaration form with you.
6. T8 Form
Yet another document you will have to fill out is the T8 form in accordance with the Thailand Communicable Diseases Act. It is a health questionnaire that should be presented at the airport upon landing.
7. ThailandPlus Application
A recent announcement of the officials stated that from 14 January 2021 onwards, all travelers to Thailand who have already received their COEs are required to download the ThailandPlus Application and register.
The purpose of that is to generate a QR code from the application upon registration that will be scanned by a Thai authority when you arrive in Thailand. You can watch a video that explains the process in detail here.
One of the ideas behind the ThailandPlus Application is to make the entry process more convenient for travelers. Ironically, there are indications that it had the opposite effect. Currently, the application has 1.8 stars on google play with prevailing 1-star reviews.
Many are complaining the app just doesn’t work and the instructions are unclear. Here is a comment by James Flint that received 19 likes. Apparently many other users are experiencing the same.
“I would give this 0 stars if I could. The application doesn’t even work properly. If it wasn’t enough with all the things I needed to do to come to Thailand already this is one extra thing. I tried several times to enter my COE reference number, but it kept saying incorrect code and locked me out. It doesn’t even tell you what the first item is……….So poorly done.”
Hopefully, Thailand’s officials pay close attention and fix this soon as many people seem to be extremely irritated by the app that’s supposed to streamline the process of entering the country.
Paperwork required – Summary of COE process
In the end, let’s take an overview of all things you need to enter Thailand once again. You can use it as a final check-list before you head off to your Thai vacation.
- Passport valid for at least six months after your planned arrival date in Thailand
- Covid-19 Travel insurance with coverage of at least $100,000 or equivalent in another currency
- Tourist Visa if you are coming from a country outside the Visa Exception Scheme
- Certificate of Entry (COE) issued by the Thai Embassy or Consulates
- “Fit to Fly” Health certificate issued by a doctor no later than 72 hours prior to departure
- Covid-19 medical test issued no later than 72 hours prior to departure
- Filled in Declaration Form and T8 Health Questionnaire
- Thailand Plus Application QR code
- At least $667 (or another currency equivalent) in cash for single-travelers, or $1334 for families
Last but not least, stay safe and have fun!