Thailand – Covid-19 – Immigration update

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Update: May 21st, 2020

Extension of temporary ban on all international flights to Thailand until 30 June 2020

What is the change?

The ban on international passenger flights to Thailand will be extended from 1 June 2020, 5 p.m. (UTC) to 30 June 2020, 5 p.m. (UTC). All flight permits granted for this period will be cancelled.

The ban does not apply to state or military aircraft, emergency landing, technical landing without disembarkation, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, repatriation flights, and cargo flights. Nevertheless, passengers on board will still be subjected to the measures outlined under the communicable disease law, such as a 14-day state quarantine, and other regulations under the Emergency Decree on State of Emergency.

Update: April 30th, 2020

Extension of temporary ban on all international flights to Thailand until 31 May 2020

What is the change?

The ban on international passenger flights to Thailand will be extended from 1 May 2020, 5.00 p.m. (UTC) to 31 May 2020, 5.00 p.m. (UTC). All flight permits granted for this period will be cancelled.

The ban does not apply to state or military aircraft, emergency landing, technical landing without disembarkation, humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights, repatriation flights, and cargo flights. Nevertheless, persons on board these aircraft will be subjected to the measures defined under the communicable disease law, such as a 14-day state quarantine, and regulations under the Emergency Decree on State of Emergency.

Safety measures to be implemented when domestic flights resume on 1 May 2020

What is the change

The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand had a meeting with representatives from 20 airlines on 23 April 2020 to discuss the safety measures that need to be implemented when domestic flights resume on 1 May 2020.

All airlines will be required to implement strict measures during the check-in, boarding, and de-boarding processes. Passengers will be required to bring their own face masks, and must wear it for the duration of the flight. Flights with a duration of 90 minutes and over will also have a special zone set aside for passengers who show symptoms.

Passengers should contact their airlines directly to determine available routes. To view the full list of safety measures, please click here.

Permission for certain groups of foreigners to remain in the Kingdom

What is the change?

The announcement by the Ministry of Interior dated 24 April 2020 brings an amendment to their previous announcement on 7 April 2020, which provided relief measures to foreigners whose 90-day reports and visas were due to expire between 26 March 2020 and 30 April 2020.

Under the latest announcement, both temporary (tourist, transit, national waiver visa, visa on arrival), and long-term Non-Immigrant visa holders (permitted under the Immigration Act, Petroleum Act, Investment Promotion Act, and the Industrial Estate Authority Act) can hold off their 90-day reporting and visa extension applications until 31 July 2020 without penalty. Applications will not be required, and overstayers will be exempted.

Nevertheless, long-term Non-Immigrant visa holders whose visas are due to expire between 1 May 2020 and 31 July 2020 may want to consider applying for their visa extensions as usual in order to avoid delays when the volume of applications increase after 31 July 2020. They should also take into consideration their work permit renewal timelines, as a valid Non-Immigrant visa may be needed to support work permit renewal applications under the purview of the Ministry of Labour’s Employment Department.

All visas or 90-day reports which expire or are due on or after 31 July 2020 must be promptly extended or reported within a time period to be announced by the Thai Immigration Bureau. Failure to do so may result in penalties under the Immigration Act.

Foreigners who are Permanent Residents and those holding Border Passes are no longer exempted under this latest announcement. Therefore, foreigners who are Permanent Residents and currently outside Thailand must return to Thailand before the expiry of their re-entry permits, or as soon after 30 April 2020 as possible (under the exemption provided in the previous 7 April 2020 announcement). However, given the temporary ban on all international flights until 31 May 2020, a set of mitigation measures is expected to be announced by the Ministry of Interior to address this issue. Foreigners holding Border Passes must also leave the country within 7 days from 30 April 2020 when borders re-open. Failure to do so may result in penalties under the Immigration Act.

Update: April 21st, 2020

Automatic validity period extension for pre-work permit approval letters (WP.3) and postponement of work permit issuance

What is the change?

With effect from 26 March 2020, Thailand has banned entry to all foreigners, with the exception of work permit holders, those on diplomatic missions, or those working with the transport of goods or aircraft. The aforementioned groups may enter Thailand, provided they obtain a Fit-to-Fly certificate issued within 72 hours prior to their departure.

Foreigners without work permits, even those with a valid Non-Immigrant B visa, are therefore denied entry. To address this issue, the Employment Department has issued a memorandum dated 2 April 2020 with the following two directives:

  • There will be no new issuances of pre-work permit approval letters (WP.3), which is a requirement to obtain the Non-Immigrant B visa and enter Thailand to finalise the work permit issuance. The decision for applicants who have already filed the WP.3 approval application will be put on hold until the travel ban has been lifted.
  • Employers who have received the WP.3 approval letters with a 30-day validity period that expires from 26 March onwards are to postpone the prospective employee’s arrival in Thailand until the travel ban has been lifted. In these cases, the validity period will be automatically extended, and employers do not need to file an application for extension or cancellation to the Employment Department.

Permission for certain groups of foreigners to remain in Thailand

What is the change?

The Ministry of Interior has announced measures to accommodate certain groups of foreigners who will need to remain in Thailand as a result of travel restrictions:

  1. Automatic extension of re-entry permits for Permanent Residents (PR) (no application is required): Foreigners who are Permanent Residents in Thailand holding one-year re-entry permits will have these permits automatically extended. This serves to benefit those who are currently unable to enter Thailand. When the COVID-19 situation has been resolved, these foreigners will then be allowed to return to Thailand within a stipulated timeframe to be determined by the Immigration Bureau.
  2. Automatic extension of temporary visas and Long Term Visas (no application is required and overstayers will be exempted): Foreigners who are permitted to stay in Thailand on temporary visas (including Visa on Arrival) and Long Term Visas under the Immigration Act, Petroleum Act, Investment Promotion Act, or Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act, which are due to expire between 26 March 2020 and 30 April 2020, will have their visas automatically extended until 30 April 2020. In addition, 90-day reports due between 26 March 2020 and 30 April 2020 will be temporarily extended. However, any visa or 90-day report that will expire or are due after 30 April 2020 must be promptly extended or reported within the stipulated timeframe to be announced by the Immigration Bureau. Failure to do so may result in penalty under the Immigration Act.
  3. Foreigners holding Border Passes will be permitted to remain in Thailand: Foreigners holding Border Passes will be permitted to remain in Thailand from 23 March 2020 onwards, for the duration that the borders between Thailand and neighbouring countries remain closed. When the borders re-open, these foreigners must leave Thailand within seven days from the date of re-opening. Failure to do so may result in penalty under the Immigration Act.

Update: April 20th, 2020

Personal Income Tax Return (P.N.D.91 form) for visa and work permit renewal

What is the change?

In view of the COVID-19 situation, the Revenue Department has announced that it will extend the personal income tax (P.N.D.91 form) filing deadline for the tax year 2019 from 31 March 2020 to 31 August 2020. More details can be found here.

As of 16 April 2020, the Employment Department at the One-Stop Service Centre (OSSC) is not accepting 2018 PND.91 forms to support work permit renewal applications. The 2019 PND.91 form is normally required from 1 April 2020.

The Immigration Bureau (Chaengwattana) is also not accepting 2018 PND.91 forms for visa extension applications submitted after 31 March 2020. However, the 2018 PND.91 form is accepted for visa extensions and renewals at the Immigration Department at the OSSC when submitted with an explanation letter.

This change is expected to affect work permit renewal applications under Non-BOI/IEAT/DMF schemes from 1 April 2020 onwards. A copy of the form and receipt of the 2019 PND.91 must be available before the submission of a renewal application. From a practical perspective, it may be necessary to take into account an individual’s work permit renewal timeframe when considering when to file the 2019 PND 91.

Extension of temporary ban on all international flights to 30 April 2020

What is the change?

The existing ban on international passenger flights to Thailand will be extended from 18 April 2020 (17.00 UTC) to 30 April 2020 (17.00 UTC). All flight permits granted during this period will be cancelled.

The ban does not apply to state or military aircraft, emergency landing, technical landing without disembarkation, humanitarian, medical or relief flights, repatriation flights, and cargo flights. However, passengers on board aircraft in these categories will still be subjected to measures outlined in the communicable disease law, such as a 14-day state quarantine.

Update: April 09th, 2020

Temporary ban on all international flights to Thailand

What is the change?

All international passenger flights to Thailand will be banned from 6 April 2020, 5.00 p.m. UTC to 18 April 2020, 5.00 p.m. UTC. All flight permits granted to international passenger flights for this period will be cancelled.

However, the ban does not apply to the following: state or military aircraft; emergency landing; technical landing without disembarkation; humanitarian aid, medical and relief flights; repatriation flights; and cargo flights.

Update: March 31th, 2020

Advisory for foreigners entering Thailand

What is the change?

Under the Emergency Decree effective from 26 March to 30 April, foreigners are banned from entering the Kingdom of Thailand at all points, with the following exceptions: carriers of essential goods, vehicle operators, and crew members of vehicles, persons on diplomatic/consular missions or who are representatives of international organisations/governments (including their families), non-Thai nationals who have a work permit or have been granted permission from government agencies to work in the Kingdom, Thai nationals or exempted persons deemed essential by the Prime Minister or Chief Official responsible for remedying the emergency situation.

Accordingly, foreigners without a work permit—that is, foreigners holding dependent visas (family members of the foreigner holding a work permit) or retirement visas; who are permanent residents; or covered under the visa on arrival or national waiver visa schemes—can no longer enter Thailand from 26 March to 30 April, unless otherwise provided by other regulations.

This regulation affects travellers holding long-term visas but no work permits, such as dependant family members of foreigners, and foreigners with long-term visas or Non-Immigrant B visas with no work permit. These travellers will not be permitted to enter Thailand before 30 April, or until further orders have been issued.

Foreigners holding valid work permits must present their original work permits, Fit to Fly certificate, and evidence of health insurance to immigration officials at the point of entry to Thailand. More information on the Fit to Fly certificate and health insurance requirements can be found on this website.

Update: March 30th, 2020

Travel advisory for travellers to Thailand

What is the change?

Following the declaration of state of emergency in Thailand on 25 March 2020, the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand has issued the following travel advisory for travellers to Thailand:

Passengers or persons shall be permitted to enter Thailand through international airport only if they fall under one of the following categories:

  1. Persons in a situation or persons exempted by the Prime Minister or Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, under certain conditions and prescribed time periods
  2. Carriers of necessary cargoes, but prompt exit is required after the mission is completed
  3. Pilots-in-command, and crew members of the flight entering Thailand with clear schedule to depart
  4. Persons on diplomatic or consular mission, or under International Organisations, representatives of the government performing their duties in Thailand or other persons or international agencies with the permission of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and their families. In this case, a certificate of entry to the Kingdom issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is required.
  5. Non-Thai nationals with work permit or who have been granted permission from Thai government agencies to work in Thailand
  6. Thai nationals with certificate of entry to the Kingdom issued by the Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate in their country of residence certifying that they are Thais returning to Thailand, and a Fit to Fly Health Certificate.

Persons in (d) and (e) must have a Fit to Fly Health Certificate issued no more than 72 hours before travelling.

Passengers or persons permitted to enter Thailand shall strictly comply with disease prevention measures imposed by the government. The immigration officers have the power to deny the entry of Non-Thai nationals who have tested positive for COVID-19, are under suspicion of being infected, or refuse to undergo such a test.

Transit travellers

From now till midnight on 31 March 2020, Thailand local time, an exemption is given to Non-Thai passengers transiting through Thailand to a third country with a transit time of no more than 24 hours. Such transit passengers are required to present a Fit to Fly Health Certificate upon check in at the airport of departure to Thailand and during transit formalities in Thailand. To view the full list of special exemptions for transit travellers, please click here

Update: March 27th, 2020

Immigration Bureau to grant Temporary Tourist Visas

What is the change?

Due to flight cancellations, tourists in Thailand may face difficulty in returning home. From 18 March, the Immigration Bureau will accept visa extension applications, and grant an extension not exceeding 30 days to applicants who fulfil the following conditions to enable them to legally remain in Thailand:

  • Foreigner who has entered Thailand on a Tourist Visa, and has applied for a one-time visa extension; or
  • Foreigner who has entered Thailand with other types of visa, but is unable to present a certifying letter issued by their national embassy in Thailand required to support their visa extension.

Update: March 26th, 2020

Announcements from the One Stop Service Centre (OSSC)

What is the change?

The following measures may affect the timeline for in-country processing of on-going visa extensions and/or re-entry permit applications:

Employment Department at OSSC

The Employment Department at OSSC has announced that foreigners who have travelled to or transited at any of the 20 locations below should refrain from attending to immigration matters at the OSSC until 14 days after their arrival: Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Iran, Italy, Japan, Macao, Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom and United States.

Foreigners who need to obtain their work permit booklet at the OSSC, but have not fulfilled the 14-day requirement may appoint a representative to obtain the booklet on their behalf so that they need not be physically present at the OSSC. The representative must arrange for the work permit holder to sign the work permit and cover the signature with a clear sticker provided by the Employment Department.

Foreigners arriving from areas not on the above mentioned list are still required to visit the OSSC to obtain the work permit booklet in person as usual.

Immigration Department at OSSC

The Immigration Department at OSSC has announced that all foreigners should refrain from attending to immigration matters at the OSSC until 14 days after their arrival in Thailand. They should postpone their applications for visa extension and/or re-entry permits until 14 days after their arrival if their physical presence is required, except for emergencies.

This announcement does not apply to immigration applications where the foreigner’s physical presence is not required, such as 90-day report submission, visa cancellation, and transfer of visa endorsements to a new passport.

Board of Investment (BOI)

For digital work permits and visas applied under BOI, applications to fill the employees in the approved position (last step of the new work permit and visa extension approval process), work permits, and visa renewals can be submitted to BOI through the Single Window from 14 days after the foreigner’s date of arrival.

Announcements on the postponement of the Songkran holidays

What is the change?

To control the spread of COVID-19, the Songkran holidays will be postponed to limit public gathering and movement. Accordingly, 13 April to 15 April will no longer be public holidays, and will be designated as normal working days for government agencies including the Immigration Bureau, and Employment Department. The government will set replacement holidays to compensate for the loss of these holidays when the situation returns to normal.

Immigration Bureau to grant Temporary Tourist Visas

What is the change?

Due to flight cancellations, tourists in Thailand may face difficulty in returning home. From 18 March, the Immigration Bureau will accept visa extension applications, and grant an extension not exceeding 30 times to applicants who fulfil the following conditions to enable them to legally remain in Thailand:

Foreigner who has entered Thailand on a Tourist Visa, and has applied for a one-time visa extension; or

Foreigner who has entered Thailand with other types of visa, but is unable to present a certifying letter issued by their national embassy in Thailand required to support their visa extension.

Health certificate and health insurance required for all foreigners travelling to Thailand

What is the change?

With effect from 22 March, all foreigners travelling to Thailand are required to present the following documents:

  • Health certificate issued no more than 72 hours prior to the date of travel certifying that the person shows no evidence of COVID-19; and
  • Health insurance policy covering COVID-19, with a minimum medical coverage of US$100,000 in Thailand.

Update : March 17th, 2020

Cancellation of visa on arrival for 18 countries and visa exemption for 3 countries

What is the change?

Thailand has cancelled the granting of visas on arrival for the following 18 countries or territories: Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu.

Furthermore, visa exemption has been cancelled for South Korea, Italy and Hong Kong. Arrivals from these countries will need to apply for visas at a Thai embassy or consulate and travel with a medical certificate to prove that they are not infected with the virus.

 

 

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Diane Artis

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Fatia Bouteiller

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