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Thailand Reopens

Effective the 1st of November dropped it mandatory quarantine and now allows fully vaccinated travelers from 62 countries to enter under the Test & Go program. They have also reduced the paperwork and pre-travel forms to one simply Thailand Pass. Lets go through the process.

First you need to check on visa needs to enter the country. Thailand has for a long time offered a Visa Exempt entry for 30 day stays to citizens of 55 different countries, which includes most European nations, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Japan and more. You only need to show a return ticket to enter under this. Thailand also offers a 60 day Tourist Visa and a 90 day Special Tourist Visa. The later is more geared toward long stay visitor, not casual tourists. Visas are now applied for online through a central portal: https://www.thaievisa.go.th

Once you have checked that you are covered for entry under visa rules, time to plan your Test & Go entry. Fully vaccinated travelers entering under the Test & Go program are required to have an RT-PCR within 72 hours of their initial flight to Thailand AND are required to have an RT-PCR test upon arrival. They then must stay in their hotel room until the results of the on arrival test come back. It is a bit of a "quarantine" but after the very long flights to Thailand chances are all you want to do is relax and sleep anyway.

There are a number of Test & Go hotels available in gateway cities like Bangkok and Phuket. You can track down a list of hotels on https://asq.in.th/ (a private booking website, not government list). Just select the Test & Go option. Most of the hotels offer a package that includes room, three meals, airport pick up, on arrival RT-PCR test and a self administered Antigen test for day 6 of your visit. Some hotels in Phuket require you to book the tests separately. The hotels can also be booked through OTAs like Agoda.com or Booking.com, but be sure to get a confirmation for the hotel itself to show the government.

In addition travelers need to have medical insurance that covers them for Covid for at least US$50,000. While many of us have insurance already, you need a single page letter or certificate that specifically mentions you being covered for Covid while in Thailand for the amount. If your insurance provider can't provide such or you have no insurance, AXA in Thailand offers reasonably priced short term coverage with instant confirmation: https://www.axa.co.th/en/axa-sawasdee-thailand-travel-insurance

You will also need a digital copy ( photo ) or your vaccination card or print out of vaccination details ( depending on what your country offers ). And a photo of your visa in your passport or eVisa letter, if you needed one.

Thailand Pass

Now that you have your primary documents ready, time to fill out the Thailand Pass application. Go to https://tp.consular.go.th/ and select Non-Thai, your preferred language (English or English :) and then select Exemption from Quarantine (Test and Go). Work your way through the four pages of questions and document uploads then submit it. You will receive an email confirming that they received your application. Double check everything as you enter it, otherwise you have to go back and re-enter it, slowing down your approval.

Issues to be aware of. Apparently some folks with hotmail and yahoo free email accounts have been having issues. If you use a fee email best to stick with your gmail account. If you don't get an email confirmation within an hour or so, probably need to resubmit a new application.

Documents for uploading need to be either jpg or png. You can not upload pdf documents. There are several online services to convert pdf to jpg. Also each document needs to be less than 2 megabytes in size. this can be an issue when using your photo to copy documents, as modern photos use very high resolution cameras resulting in huge jpg files.

After your application is approved you will receive an email with your entry QR code attached. The waiting time for approval is 7 to 10 days, though some come through quicker.

Flying to Thailand

When the time comes to depart, you will need printed copies of most of the documents you submitted to show to the airline flying you to Thailand. This includes your QR code, RT-PCR test results, insurance document, Test & Go booking. These will be checked when you first check in for your flight and could be checked again before the final leg to Thailand. If you are changing airlines enroute, say to start on United and change to ANA in Tokyo, the second airline will want to re-verify your documents to enter Thailand, so it is a good idea to visit the transfer desk or get to the gate a bit early to allow time for a doc check before boarding.

During the flight, the cabin crew should hand out T8 and TM6 forms for you to complete before landing. Folks entering under Test & Go do not need to fill out the T8, but are required to fill out the TM6. And you need to fill in both the arrival and departure portion of the TM6, there is an optional tourism questionnaire on the back as well.

Upon arriving at the processing area in the airport, you will sit in the blue chairs and wait for a staff member to come check your documents.

If you have a Thailand Pass, they will want your passport, QR code ( on mobile device or printed ), PCR test and TM6 form. Once they check, then you proceed to a Thailand Pass counter, where they scan your QR and update your record with your data.

If you have a COE, they want to see your passport, printed COE, PCR test, vaccination card, hotel confirmation, TM6 and T8 forms. Again once the staff makes sure you have this, you proceed to the COE counter where they enter your data.

Once you are done with these, you proceed to the Immigration area and get stamped into the country. From there go claim your bags ( these two steps are basically the same as always have been ). But from here the paths vary a bit depending on airport.

At Suvarnabhumi, once you have your bags to exit into the international arrivals lobby where a number of hotel greeters await. They will get you to the correct shuttle vehicle for your trip to your Test & Go hotel. You could leave right away or wait for other passengers going to the same hotel. If you are staying at an AQ hotel, they likely have a nurse standing by to test you at check in. If at a SHA+ hotel you may get shuttled to a testing center.

At Phuket, you will have your PCR swab done at the airport before proceeding to your hotel shuttle. I believe Samui also does the PCR test at the airport before proceeding to your hotel.

Welcome to Thailand !