Grapevine – August 27, 2020- September 12, 2020


Air ticket not enough

A lot of confusion in Europe because flights to Thailand are easily available on the internet. That doesn’t mean you can fly just with a ticket. You have to apply for a hard-to-obtain certificate of entry from the local Thai embassy which involves a lot of paperwork and expense. There are no scheduled flights, just those designed to bring stranded Thais back to the homeland. A few favoured foreigners are allowed on them.

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Elite card mystery

The Thai government has approved the possession of an Elite privilege card for eligibility to apply to come or return to Thailand. But the Elite card is often marketed as long-term tourism and “tourism” is banned as a reason to gain entry to the Land of Smiles. When we last looked, the Thai embassy in London specifically says that wannabe tourists are excluded from consideration. Someone needs to sort out please.


Medical tourism defined

A medical tourist is not someone waving around a letter from a Thai dentist saying you need a new filling. We always thought it would be expensive surgery particularly of the cosmetic kind, including gender reassignment for which Thailand is quite famous. But the recent clarification is that you must have a letter from a home country hospital saying you have a life-threatening disease which can’t be sorted there. Something else to sort out.


Insurance for the over 75s

It’s often said that the advanced elderly here can’t get any kind of insurance. Sure, they may not be able to obtain comprehensive medical cover unless they joined the scheme several years ago. But those in the second half of their seventies and older still qualify for some kinds of insurance. Covid-19 and accident insurance are available from Thai companies until you are 99. It’s just a question of following up on the internet.

Rules for annual extensions of stay

Many holders of annual extensions of stay for retirees from immigration worry that the 400,000 baht insurance rule for original O/A visa holders will be extended to O visas. It could happen. On the other hand, the point about requiring all retiree visa holders to keep 800,000 baht in the bank for five months and 400,000 baht for the other seven months is presumably to act as a kind of insurance bond. It’s cash you can’t spend on booze and women, so to speak.

Defining a permanent resident

The problem lies in translating from Thai to English. A permanent resident is not somebody with any kind of visa which has an end date requiring him or her to apply for an extension or leave the country. It is not somebody who owns a condo here, has a family or can show a certificate of residence from immigration to renew a driving licence. However, it is someone who can show a police-issued red registration book. No book no residency.


Thai borders are closed

All Thai frontier posts with neighboring countries are closed to most foreigners and likely to remain so for months. The exceptions are solely authorized migrant workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia taking up jobs here, mostly in the construction and fishing industries. If you are not one of those, discount any possibility of creeping back to Thailand. Moreover, all visa runs are cancelled for the duration. Don’t even think about swimming rivers at night.

The post September 26 scenario

Those who took advantage of the Thai government’s amnesty policy must leave the country by late next month unless they can produce a letter from their embassy stating the impossibility of travel back home. Several embassies have already stated no-can-do as there are enough flights leaving every week. The problem might be for, let’s say, a Brit or an American who hasn’t been to his country of passport for many years and now lives in Beirut or China. Sounds difficult.

Mask wearing at breaking point

It’s excellent advice to wear a mask when outside your home. But the latest advice is always to carry a spare one (usually Chinese-made) with you as so many are breaking even before the day is out. Older readers will remember women’s complaints 50 years ago that nylon stockings were always laddering. They could be made ladder-proof but profits are higher if consumers need to replace more frequently. Carry on capitalism.