Travelling to Thailand during Corona and current restrictions

By Jonas Lindholm

Below information is based on my personal experience from getting myself from Sweden to  Thailand august 2020. The process can be different in other countries and the Thai embassies  there. Rules and requirements can also change, so always consult the Royal Thai Embassy in  your country to get the proper and updated information.  

1) Pre-conditions 

First, understand that all commercial flights are banned from landing in Thailand at present.  If you search for flights on the internet, you will find available flights in the near future but  those will be cancelled as long as the flight ban remains. If you book your own flight you will  end up with a lot of hazzle to get your money back.  

So, the only way to get on a flight is to get a “Certificate of Entrance” issued by the Royal Thai  Embassy in the country where you are. In Sweden you can contact the Thai embassy in  Stockholm or the consular in Gothenburg.  

You must have some of the below mentioned visa and requirements to apply; A. Business visa & Work permit 

  1. O-Visa (family visa) 
  2. Permanent resident status 
  3. Elite Visa  

If you have any of above, you can apply for a “Certificate of Entrance” CoE to Thailand and a  seat on a repatriation flight.  

If you don’t, just forget it. You simply have to wait until Thailand opens up their borders again.  

2) How to apply 

Contact the embassy, they are often very busy on the phone and do not always reply through  email, so the best way is to visit the embassy and talk to them during their business hours.  They will check that you fulfill the pre-conditions mentioned above and let you fill in a  declaration form.  

Thereafter they will request more documentation as I will describe further on.  E. Keep a copy of the declaration form, you will need it onwards. 

3) Supplementary documents 

In my case, having Business Visa & Work permit, the embassy later requested more supporting  documents such as; 

  1. Employment contract  
  2. Company registration of the employer

4) Visa extension 

In my case my Visa was close to expire so I had to apply for a new Business Visa.  This required more documents such as; 

  1. Application form, can be downloaded from the embassy’s homepage  http://thaiembassy.se/en/visa/visa-application-form/
  2. Invitation letter from the employer 
  3. Copy of my work permit  
  4. Tax declarations and receipt  
  5. New taken photographs  
  6. Paid application fee to the embassy 
  7. My passport in original 
  8. Postage fee to return my passport  

In my case I was in the south of Sweden, 700 km away from the embassy but I did not have to  visit the embassy, even though it required some work to prepare all documents.  

The application form, Passport and photos had to be posted in original to the embassy. All  other documents were emailed to the embassy.  

5) Alternative State Quarantine Hotel, ASQ  

All people Thai or Non-Thai nationals are required to first stay 14 days in strict quarantine when arriving to Thailand and during the quarantine period pass two negative Corona tests and daily  temperature checks. These 14 days are counted only as full days which means you will stay 15  nights.  

Thai nationals can stay in state quarantine while Non-Thais have the only option to stay at on of  the roughly 40 licensed “Alternative State Quarantine hotels”, ASQ.  

You must book and pay for the ASQ yourself and present a booking confirmation to the  embassy.  

This was one of the trickiest part of the process, mainly because the embassy could not confirm  the flight date but anyhow required a booking confirmation. So, I did a booking based on my  own guessing and made sure that the hotel accepted to change date or refund if they didn’t  have available room at the new date.  

Most of the listed ASQs were fully occupied so that took days of phone calls, emailing and LINE  conversations before I finally could make a booking. In my case price was 35.000 baht for 2  weeks of quarantine including food, airport transportation and corona tests. This is in the lower  price range, there are more exclusive alternatives for 100.000 baht and more.  

Later when my flight date was confirmed I asked the ASQ to change my date but they didn’t  have any rooms available that date. So, I had to start searching again for another available ASQ  hotel. At this time, it was even more occupied and started to get stressed that I now had a flight  but not a room for quarantine. 

Below official Facebook page lists all available ASQ hotels and notifies when newly licensed  hotels are listed, this helped me a lot. I decided to monitor this FB page for basically 24h per  day and as soon as a new hotel popped up, I called them directly, so I was probably their first  guest booking with them.  

https://www.facebook.com/Alternative-State-Quarantine-105755234490444/ P. Send the ASQ booking confirmation to the embassy 

6) Insurance 

Another requirement to get the Certificate of Entrance is to have a Travel-/Health insurance  that covers Covid-19 up to at least 100.000 US dollars.  

This insurance shall be valid for at least the same periods as your visa.  

Depending on your situation there are different alternatives; 

– If you have an employment, ask your existing insurance company to issue a confirmation  letter saying that you are insured under a policy that covers Covid-19 up to 100.000  USD.  

– If you need to buy a separate insurance you may contact a Travel insurance broker in your home country. In sweden I was in contact with https://www.gouda-rf.se however  they could not help me because I do not have my registered residence in Sweden 

– If you cannot get a Covid-19 insurance in your home country your option is to get one  from an insurance broker in Thailand. In my case I found a suitable solution with Luma  health insurance represented by below supportive broker.

The price was 15.000 THB for 12 months.  Send the insurance certificate to the Embassy. 

7) Flight ticket 

In my case I was booked on a repatriation flight with Thai Airways departing from Kastrup  Airport Copenhagen/Denmark.  

The repatriation flights are all one-way-tickets, you cannot buy return ticket.  The cost was 7.400DKK, roughly 10.000 SEK.  

I received payment instructions from the embassy for how to do the transfer to Thai Airways  Denmark. A few days after I received a confirmation of the payment and the ticket was issued.  R. Print the flight ticket  

8) Covid-19 test & “Fit to fly certificate” 

There are two doctor’s certificate you need to prepare yourself without the embassy’s support  and involvement; 

  1. Fit to fly certificate  
  2. Covid-19 certificate  

Both above certificates must be maximum 72 hours old at departure. I was informed that those  72 hours are counted from the time stamp when the Covid-19 sample is taken (not time stamp  for the lab test or when the certificate is issued).  

This became an issue for me because I was flying out on a Sunday and the clinics normally don’t  work on weekends. And above that, the clinics in southern Sweden could not guarantee answer within 24 hours. So, I found out that there where two possible clinics I could use; 

– Medicinska intyg, Stockholm https://www.medicinskaintyg.se 24 hours answering time  after sample  

– Airport doctor, Copenhagen airport https://www.airportdoctor.dk 1 (one hour only) answering time after sample  

Of course, the Airport doctor was the most convenient for me who was flying from  Copenhagen, even though expensive, 4.000 SEK for the two certificates together.  

9) Certificate of Entrance – CoE 

When you have supplied the embassy with all documents (except the doctor’s certificates), the  embassy will issue your Certificate of Entrance and send to you by e-mail. Color print the CoE certificate 

10) Documents to prepare before flight  

Color print all documents you have received by e-mail 

Scan all documents you have in original 

I was recommended to have 3 sets of all documents prepared before flight (in case they  keep documents both at check-in and arrival) but that showed not to be needed. The  only document they kept was the CoE which the authorities kept at arrival in Bangkok.  

You shall have the following documents prepared as above before check-in;

I. Flight ticket, 9.N
II. Certificate of entry CoE, 11.P
III. Insurance certificate, 8.M
IV. Doctor’s Covid-19 certificate, 10.O
V. Doctor’s Fit to Fly certificate, 10.N
VI. Declaration form, 4.E
VII. ASQ Booking, 7.L

At the check-in counter at the airport you need to bring and present all the listed documents above, if not complete, they will not let you onboard.  

11) Conclusion  

All together I spent roughly 30.000 SEK/110.000 THB to get myself back to Thailand, and then I must spend 2 weeks here in strict quarantine. The two weeks before flight, I spend lots of time on investigation, information search, travels to Stockholm, phone calls, e-mails and frustration.  All documents I received had to be reviewed in detail and I found many errors that had to be corrected several times.  

The quarantine stay here means I spend 23 hours per day in my room. Luckily there is WiFi so Facebook and Netflix is heavily used. Phone calls with friends is also a common activity. I have  at present done half-time so starting to count down soon.  

In my case I had business reasons to go back, if not, and with the experience I have made today, I doubt, I had done it. 

12) Other useful links & tips  

Make sure you have; 

– a well working color printer available at home 

– a Skype phone number or similar so you can make cheap phone calls to Thailand  – or a Thai assistant who can support you with the ASQ booking or needed documents from Thailand.

 

Links 

Thai expats stranded overseas due to Covid-19 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/275821990252759/ 

Official ASQ website  

http://www.hsscovid.com/?fbclid=IwAR1zYO2M9bBIDNI19B1zHxSzNE3ueSLhDH_ncPCFyFe9Bg YYDIQSukUNU9w 

Click as below for listed hotels in English  

Author: 

Jonas Lindholm, Business in Siam 

Written in quarantine, Bangkok 2020-08-25

Jonas Lindholm froma trip last year to Kanchanaburi – in the carefree, pre-Covid times.

 

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