Pattaya Legal Corner: Selection of immigration questions


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These are some of the issues raised with my staff over the past week.

Q: Will Test and Go survive as it is?
The current situation is that international visitors need to apply online for entry to Thailand. At the moment a PCR test is required shortly before departure and another with a pre-arranged hotel upon arrival. The only other health check is a self-administered ATK test on the fifth day with the result notified by email to the authorities. If the numbers of Covid cases drop significantly, we may see the test on arrival changed from PCR to ATK. This is the situation in Cambodia with the ATK test administered at Phnom Penh airport and no further requirements for those testing negative. Many people ask if all testing procedures will be dropped with a reversion to the situation in pre-Covid 2019. I can only say there is no prospect of that for the foreseeable future.

Q: I have a re-entry permit so I can use that, right?
The re-entry permit protects your current visa for as long as it lasts, but all foreigners wishing to enter Thailand need to apply online under the Test and Go or Sandbox regulations. In other words, a re-entry permit alone is not sufficient to board a flight to Thailand. Some people are confused that the Elite visa is multiple-entry by definition, but that does not mean at the moment that holders are excused from the Test and Go or Sandbox bureaucracies. Everybody, even permanent residents, need prior approval in the country where they are.

Q: Why has the mandatory health insurance been reduced from US$50,000 to US$20,000?
The government says that the reduction in required insurance, which can be Covid only or more general, is mainly because the Omicron variant is much milder in most patients who catch the disease. Another reason is that neighboring countries have also reduced their insurance requirements, or even got rid altogether.

Q: So what’s all this I hear about US$100,000 insurance?
This is not required for most visas. But a Ministry of Health announcement stated that it would begin in October 2022 for all those applying abroad for the one year O/A retirement visa. It will replace the current 400,000 baht limit currently in force. It also appears that self-insurance will become an option whilst foreign-based insurance companies will be available as well as Thai when the extension of stay at immigration offices comes round. At this stage we do not know the precise detail, such as whether or not accident insurance can be included, so it’s best to wait and see. My staff are well aware that the insurance issues are of concern to elderly expats and personal advice will be given nearer the introduction date.

Q: If I arrive with a 30 days visa exempt, do I need to show an onward air ticket?
One or two airlines may still require you to show an onward ticket, but most travellers now arriving with the 30 days visa exempt say there was no scrutiny when they arrived to take their flight to Thailand. Rarely does immigration control at Thai airports require to see an onward ticket, whilst the situation does not arise at land borders as they are still closed. You can check with your airline before travelling to Thailand if the matter is of concern to you. Incidentally, those arriving with this stamp can extend for one further month at Thai immigration offices for 1,900 baht. You must copy your passport, fill in a TM7 form, provide a passport size photo and provide proof of your accommodation for the TM30 residence form which is required for extensions of stay for new arrivals.