South East Asian countries have lagged behind much of the world in softening tourist and expat entry rules for vaccinated travellers. However, effective July 1, there is wide discrepancy between countries. Here, we examine the specifics of what health insurance, if any, you absolutely must have to survive immigration checks.
The rule requiring US$10,000 worth of anti-Covid insurance for at least a month via Thailand Pass has gone. Most foreigners can enter the country and extend their visas without the need to show an insurance certificate. However, those applying in a Thai embassy for any visa specifying the word “retirement”, or for the 9-months Special Tourist Visa, are in a ring-fenced category for comprehensive hospital cover, as often debated on social media. Effective September 2022, applicants for the latest 10 years long-term visas (LTR), aimed at the wealthy of any age, will require comprehensive cover with an optional provision for self-insurance. The ballpark figure is an annual US$100,000, or 3 million baht plus.
The government website proclaims that insurance is no longer necessary for entry. The 30 days online tourist e-visa (from e-visa.gov.kh) does have a fill-in box for insurance but can be skipped without a problem. However, other kinds of visas (for business etc.) do require an international or local comprehensive policy. It is no longer necessary to book with Forte insurance company which lost its monopoly in November 2021.
There is no longer an automatic insistence on medical cover for entry as the former requirement of US$35,000 “to include Covid” for the duration of the stay vanished from government websites last May. However, if you are unvaccinated or in a semi-state, you will still need to purchase in advance a US$35,000 policy from “a reputable insurance provider”. Most current visitors to the Philippines are returning Filipinos or longstay expats rather than tourists.
Malaysia and Laos
Government websites have dropped the compulsory insurance requirements but may request evidence you have the financial resources for your stay. Some websites suggest otherwise, but they may be linked to insurance companies not actually sponsored officially by the government. Laos has a health declaration form stating you are responsible for sickness-related cover.
Vietnam and Myanmar
Vietnam is still requiring a minimum of US$10,000 cover “including Covid” for the duration of the stay. Myanmar, now technically open to tourists via on online portal, requires proof of insurance and directs enquirers to a choice of recommended companies. To date, the number of applications has not been overwhelming.