Thai embassies abroad update visa guidelines for foreigners

Visas, extensions and reports dominate the life of most visitors to Thailand.

Many Thai embassies, especially those based in the EU and UK, are revising their instructions to foreigners wishing to come to Thailand. The updates fall into two distinct periods this year: May 1 through September 30 and from October 1.

May 1 to September 30

The Special Tourist Visa (STV) is being fully withdrawn and the deadline for flyers is July 2. Extensions once here are possible until September 30 but not after. The STV was introduced last year to meet the needs of “snowbirds” and other tourists who want a Thai vacation of up to nine months. It was never digitally popular and was heavily bureaucratic, for example requiring general medical insurance in addition to Covid-19 coverage. It might have proved more popular if travel bubbles and charter flights had been introduced, but frequent coronavirus outbreaks in Thailand and other Pacific Rim countries have prevented it.

According to the Thai Embassy in Bern, visas for medical tourists have been suspended until further notice. Some other embassies, but not all, have quietly abandoned medical tourism as a valid reason for seeking entry into Thailand. Normally around a million tourists a year fall into this category, with the biggest pool being sex reassignment and plastic surgery. No official announcement has been made about this apparent visa cancellation, but it is likely linked to the latest clusters of Covid viruses that are rampant in particular in Bangkok.

Another cancellation is the visa on arrival which has been suspended until September 30. This visa covers 18 countries, with China and India being the main sources, which were entitled to a 14-day stay (plus 7 extension days) in pre-Covid times on payment of 2,000 baht on arrival in Thailand. Instead, they were told to apply for visas in their own country. Only four European countries were included in the visa on arrival agreement: Bulgaria, Cyprus, Malta and Romania.

Just another busy day at the Royal Thai Embassy in London.

The visa waiver category – 58 countries including the UK, US and most of Europe – traditionally allowed 30 days on arrival has survived the ax in this time zone. But their stay has been extended to 45 days due to the recent reintroduction of a mandatory two-week hotel quarantine on all arrivals (vaccinated or not) required by Thai authorities. The visa waiver category was once very popular with short-stay tourists, but is now expensive as the costs include pre-departure health checks, mandatory Covid-19 insurance, and a two-week isolated stay in a thai hotel.

All other visa categories remain more or less the same in the period leading up to the end of September. Tourists, students, retirees, foreigners with Thai families, permanent residents, businessmen, Elite visa holders, and condominium owners are all eligible to apply for an entry certificate from the Embassy. from Thailand to the country of departure. The documentation required varies depending on the specific visa required.

From October 1

It all depends on the virus, but Thai embassies describe possible developments.

Quarantine relaxation

The plan is to allow foreign tourists and fully vaccinated expats to enter Thailand to visit one of the many Sandbox destinations that include Pattaya and Chiang Mai. This assumes that 70 percent of the local host population in the receiving areas has been vaccinated by the end of September. The Pilot Sandbox is Phuket and is scheduled to open on July 1, again on condition that a mass vaccination program on the island has been completed by the end of June. Assuming sandboxes actually emerge, the documentation required for participants has yet to be specified.

The end of general medical insurance?

Termination of STV (see above) means that general medical insurance – as opposed to specific coronavirus coverage – will for the most part have disappeared from the embassy’s visa requirements. The only exception will be those applying for any type of retirement-based visa, whether it is type “O”, “OA” or “X”. Unless the issue is resolved, they will continue to need general medical coverage to the tune of 400,000 baht (inpatients) and 40,000 baht (outpatients) in addition to Covid-19 coverage. It remains to be seen whether this idiosyncratic logic is a deliberate attempt to crush applications from retirees (but not others), or a simple oversight.

Jomtien Immigration has removed the parking lot to provide more space for its clients.

90 day report

The unpopular three-month address declaration for expats and long-term visa holders is subject to revocation. It can be replaced by a computer application. which will record the relevant details and only need updating if the foreigner moves. Such a system seems to work well in Cambodia.

Encourage the rich

The government has established a first-rate committee to recommend changes to the immigration law starting in October. He is due to report in June. Leaks so far suggest there will be a new set of rules for the super-rich and those with special talents. There will likely be a four-year smart visa extension to include more digital nomads, additional bonuses for those with the more expensive Elite visa options, and the right to own land / property (not just condos) costing at least ten million baht in proposed and newly constructed housing estates in specific areas. The wealthiest investors could even one day obtain permanent residence. Provided, of course, that they continue to invest.

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