Thailand Travel Restrictions Updates

As the world gradually opens up post-pandemic, the landscape of travel has evolved, presenting diverse challenges for travelers navigating ever-changing regulations and restrictions. Thailand, a popular destination, has implemented various travel programs and requirements to ensure safe entry and stay for visitors. From the Test and Go program to the Thailand Pass system, and recent updates to quarantine periods, understanding the latest travel restrictions and updates is crucial for anyone planning a trip to the kingdom. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of the updated travel rules, visa extensions, Covid testing requirements, and the necessity of health insurance, offering valuable insights for those considering travel to Thailand in the near future.

Traveling to Thailand in the Post-Covid Era

As the world reopens after more than two years of restrictions and travel bans meant to stem the spread of Covid-19, travelers are finding it more challenging to get around as many travel rules have changed and new ones imposed.

Tourist standing at a Thai temple.
Tourist standing at a Thai temple.

Changes in Entry Requirements

Travel to Thailand has also become a tad more complex for those that last visited the kingdom before the pandemic. Passage into the country is now dependent on whether a traveler is vaccinated and their country of departure.

Programs for Entry

The entry into Thailand is facilitated by different programs based on the traveler’s vaccination status:

  • Test and Go: For fully vaccinated travelers (more than 14 days) from any country, requiring a stay at a SHA+ hotel for Day 1 while awaiting the results of their RT-PCR Covid test.
  • Sandbox Program: For vaccinated travelers entering through Phuket and Samui, mandating a stay at a designated SHA+ hotel for the first 7 nights, now reduced to 5 nights from 1 April 2022, allowing for 2 Covid tests before further travel.
  • Alternative Quarantine Program: For partially or non-vaccinated travelers, involving mandatory quarantine of up to 10 days at designated hotels in specific areas, now reduced to 5 nights from 1 April 2022.

Attention Points for Travellers

Travelers are advised to take note of the following key highlights before planning their trip to Thailand:

Thailand Pass

All travelers to Thailand are required to have a valid Thailand Pass, which can be obtained through the online registration system. The pass is essential for all programs and should be acquired at least a week before the expected date of departure.

Covid-19 Visa Extension

Travelers have the option to extend their stay by 60 days using the Covid Visa extension. However, not all visa types are eligible, and approval is at the discretion of the immigration officer. The extension has been extended to 24 May 2022, from its previous expiration date of 25 March.

Pre-Departure Covid Test

As of 1 April 2022, the requirement for a pre-departure RT-PCR test for international arrivals under the Test and Go, Sandbox, and Alternative Quarantine programs has been lifted. However, other testing requirements upon arrival and during the stay still apply.

Flight Requirements

It is important to be mindful that different airlines may have varying requirements for travelers, including the need for RT-PCR tests. Travelers are advised to check with their respective airlines to ensure they meet the specific flight requirements.

Health Insurance

Thailand’s growing popularity as a medical tourism destination is supported by its state-of-the-art hospitals, trained medical personnel, and affordable medical care, making health insurance an essential consideration for travelers.

In our experience, navigating the entry requirements and travel regulations of Thailand has been crucial for a smooth and hassle-free trip. At Thai Visa Experts, we understand the importance of staying updated with the evolving guidelines and have assisted numerous travelers in meeting the necessary entry criteria, ensuring a seamless travel experience.

Health Insurance Requirements for Travellers

The kingdom has however had to grapple with many foreigners traveling here for expensive medical treatment and absconding before making full payment. This compelled the government to eventually require even those on retirement visas to have health insurance as a requirement for their yearly extensions.

Impact of Covid-19

Since the outbreak of Covid-19, travelers of all ages are required to have a valid health insurance policy to cover the duration of their stay.

Insurance Switch for Visa Renewal

Travelers are typically allowed to take health insurance from providers in their country, but if having taken a visa that is subject to later renewal, are required to switch to an insurer that is headquartered in Thailand.

Reasons for Local Insurance

This switch to an approved Thai insurance company is due to some reports that those with out-of-country policies are facing difficulties getting their treatments paid for by the overseas insurer and becoming at risk of being subjected to a lawsuit by the hospitals they sought treatment. A local policy is less likely to have complications and there will be easier communication between the policy provider and hospital.

Key Considerations for Insurance

  • The policies cover both inpatient and outpatient treatment, including for Covid-19
  • The health insurance policy they take states adequate coverage of up to USD$20,000 in medical expenses, including Covid-19 while in Thailand
  • The certificate should state that it is issued for the purpose of the Thailand Pass application
  • The policies cover unexpected eventualities like motor accidents and illnesses like food poisoning
  • The policies accommodate telemedicine and teleconsultation which may be needed if quarantined
  • The certificate indicates the policy number and start date of coverage

Health Insurance Limits

When it comes to the limits for health insurance, the amount will vary depending on the type of visa. For instance, those that are retirement visa holders should have an annual policy with a minimum cover of THB 40,000 for outpatient care and THB 400,000 for inpatient care.

Short-Stay Visa Insurance Cost

Those on short-stay visas like the tourist visa can expect to spend about THB 8,000 to THB 14,000 on travel insurance from a Thailand based insurance provider.

Procedures under The Sandbox Program

Travelers under the Sandbox program were required to travel to and remain in Phuket for at least 7 nights before being allowed to travel to other parts of Thailand. These travelers are now only required to stay in Phuket for 5 nights before being allowed the freedom to travel to other parts of Thailand. They will still need to undertake the RT-PCR test on arrival (Day 0-1) and an antigen self-test on Day 5.

Amendment to The Alternative Quarantine Program

The quarantine program for travelers that are partly or not vaccinated has now reduced the mandatory quarantine period at designated SHA hotels to just 5 nights from its earlier requirement of 10 nights. Travelers under this program will now be required to take the RT-PCR test on Day 1 and Day 5 of their stay at the SHA hotel. If cleared, they will thereafter be free to travel to other parts of Thailand. This change takes effect on 1 April 2022.

Conclusion: As Thailand adjusts its travel restrictions to navigate the ongoing challenges of the pandemic, it’s crucial for travelers to stay informed and prepared. The evolving Test and Go, Sandbox, and Alternative Quarantine programs, as well as the requirements for the Thailand Pass, Covid-19 Visa Extension, and Health Insurance, demand careful attention and compliance. Prioritizing thorough research and adherence to the latest travel regulations will ensure a smoother and more enjoyable journey to the beautiful kingdom of Thailand.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Entry requirements vary based on the vaccination status of the traveler. Fully vaccinated travelers can participate in the Test and Go or Sandbox programs, while those partly or not vaccinated can enter through the Alternative Quarantine program. Each program has its own specific requirements and limitations.

The Thailand Pass is a mandatory requirement for all travelers to Thailand. The application process is done online, and it is advisable to apply at least a week before the expected departure date. The Thailand Pass registration website is currently open for applications for Test and Go, Sandbox, and Alternative Quarantine programs.

The Covid Visa extension, which permits a 60-day extension, has been extended from its original expiry date of 25 March to 24 May 2022. Travelers should be aware of the eligibility criteria and that approval of the extension is at the discretion of the immigration officer.

As of 1 April 2022, the requirement for a pre-departure RT-PCR test for international arrivals has been lifted for those traveling under the Test and Go, Sandbox, and Alternative Quarantine programs. However, other requirements, such as tests upon arrival and during the stay, still apply.

All travelers, including those on retirement visas, are required to have valid health insurance covering inpatient and outpatient treatment, including Covid-19, with a specified minimum coverage amount. It is important to ensure the insurance policy meets the specified criteria and is issued for the purpose of the Thailand Pass application.

The Sandbox program now requires travelers to stay in Phuket for 5 nights before being allowed to travel to other parts of Thailand, instead of the previous 7-night requirement. Similarly, the quarantine period for the Alternative Quarantine program has been reduced to 5 nights from the earlier requirement of 10 nights, with specific testing protocols during the stay.

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