Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 22, 2020)
Event: Thai Government Extends Temporary Visas Until July 31, 2020
Thai Government Extends Temporary Visas Until July 31
On April 21, the Royal Thai Government approved automatic visa extensions for foreign nationals whose visas expire between 30 April 2020 and 31 July 2020. Visas will be extended automatically until 31 July 2020. The measure will be implemented officially when the decree is published in the Royal Gazette. We anticipate this will occur in the next few days. The measure applies to all “non-O” visa types including visa exemption (i.e. tourists who entered and received a 30-day visa) and visas-on-arrival. If you have a valid visa, you do not need to visit an immigration office in order to benefit from the automatic visa extension.
For those foreign nationals who are staying in Thailand for over 90 days and must submit a Notification of Residence and the deadline is between 30 April 2020 and 31 July 2020, the deadline has been extended to 31 July 2020.
If your visa expired on March 26 (the date of the initial “amnesty”) or earlier and you do not have a valid visa, you will need to visit the nearest local immigration office to request a visa – which is then eligible for future automatic extensions – and you may be subject to an overstay fine.
Airlines/Airport Closures and Alternate Routes
On April 21, KLM announced it will cease operations of flights with connections to the United States until April 30. JAL plans to reduce daily flights from Bangkok to twice per week.
VietJet Air announced it is halting flights between Krabi Airport and Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport (BKK) until May 1, 2020. There are no flights out of Krabi Airport until after April 30.
The following major airports are closed: Phuket International Airport (April 10-30), Koh Samui Airport (April 7-30).
We strongly urge U.S. citizens to depart Thailand now while there are still outbound flights available. The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights from Thailand.
There are available routes from southern Thailand to Bangkok.
For those in Phuket, the airport is closed until April 30, and the land and maritime borders are also closed. The Provincial Government of Phuket has approved movements between Phuket and the Surat Thani Airport. The U.S. Embassy must provide the provincial government your information at least three days before your flight in order to receive clearance. See below for details. We will provide you a travel letter in order to cross the provincial border. You must carry the letter along with your boarding pass. Travelers should discuss options for getting to Surat Thani with their hotel or they can choose to rent a car.
For those in Surat Thani, the airport is open and there is a daily Nok Air flight to Don Mueang International Airport (Bangkok). There are speedboat transfers between Koh Phangan, Koh Tao, and Koh Samui to Surat Thani. Please check at the pier directly to determine which lines are running and when. We understand the Lomprayah company has regular transfers. There is bus service from the Donsak Pier in Surat Thani to the Surat Thani Airport.
We are ready to assist you with the provision of a travel letter in order to facilitate your travel to Bangkok. In order to receive a travel letter from the Embassy, you must provide a confirmed itinerary. You must also provide your name, as written in your passport, date of birth, and passport number. Please write these out. Do not send us a scan of your passport page. Please send the requested information to email@example.com.
If you are having difficulty booking a flight back to the United States for any reason, including financial, please contact U.S. Embassy Bangkok immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org OR U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai at email@example.com. Government loans are available for the purchase of airline tickets to the United States if needed.
Transportation Out of Thailand
We strongly urge U.S. citizens to depart Thailand now while there are still outbound flights available.
The following airlines are currently offering outbound flights from Bangkok with connections to the United States: Korean Air, Qatar Airways, Ethiopian Airlines, Japan Airlines, Air Asiana and Lufthansa. Japan Airlines announced further reductions in service from Bangkok to Tokyo effective immediately. Korean Air is expected to reduce its service to Seoul in the near future. All Nippon Airways (ANA) offers flights from Bangkok to Tokyo, but connecting flights to the U.S. require you to change airports in Japan, which is not allowed under Japan’s current travel restrictions. There are no longer international flights departing from Chiang Mai International Airport or Phuket International Airport. U.S. citizens should consider booking flights to major points of entry into the United States and then arrange for further domestic travel upon arrival. U.S. citizens should also take into account the need to travel from their current location in Thailand to Bangkok in order to catch an international flight (please see “Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions” below).
U.S. citizens should prepare for the strong possibility that in the near future there will no longer be commercial flights departing Thailand with connections to the United States. We strongly advise temporary visitors in Thailand to make commercial arrangements for immediate return to the United States while there is still an opportunity.
When booking a flight out of Thailand we urge you to do so at the earliest opportunity, ideally within the next several days. If you have booked a flight after this time period, you should consider rebooking for an earlier date or make plans to stay in Thailand indefinitely.
The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights from Thailand at this time. Such flights are a last resort, arranged in situations where U.S. citizens did not have an opportunity to depart via commercial options. In addition, U.S. citizens are charged the fair market value for seats (normally the cost of a full-fare, round-trip economy ticket).
The few remaining flight routes are subject to cancellation without notice, and many flights are heavily booked. For verified information about the COVID-19 situation in other countries, please visit: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/traveladvisories/COVID-19-Country-Specific-Information.html.
There are currently no government restrictions or requirements for U.S. citizens departing Thailand or entering the United States.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has country-specific airport information available here.
National State of Emergency and Nation-wide Curfew
On March 25th, the Royal Thai Government declared a national state of emergency, effective March 26th, in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Thailand. Most restaurants, stores, and entertainment venues are closed except for food delivery, supermarkets, restaurants’ delivery service providers and food markets, drug stores, convenience stores, banks, and other stores selling necessary items. Alcohol sales are banned nation-wide. Several provinces have closed their borders, requested most hotels to close, and have instituted additional restrictions on movement within the province. Thai law controlling emergency situations gives the Prime Minister’s Office broad authorities, and more emergency measures further restricting movements and activities in Thailand may be announced at any time. Under the state of emergency, provincial governments are also empowered to institute any legal measure they determine necessary to combat the spread of the virus.
A nation-wide curfew is currently in effect from 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m.. Except for emergency medical care and travel to and from the airport, U.S. citizens should remain in their residences and hotel rooms during those hours. U.S. citizens who must travel during curfew hours for emergency medical care or to and from the airport may be stopped by the police and should be prepared to show identification and demonstrate their reason for travel.
Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions
Options for forms of domestic travel (including airplanes, buses, public vans, and trains) are also decreasing throughout Thailand. This week there is an average of two flights per day from Chiang Mai International Airport to Bangkok. In Chiang Mai, all inter-provincial bus and train services are cancelled until April 30. Some private car services are still offering transportation between provinces of including from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Travelers should be prepared for domestic travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice that may make travel to the airport in Thailand difficult. Some provinces have established checkpoints where authorities many conduct health inspections or require travelers to have a valid reason to enter or pass through the province. Phuket province is currently in “lock down.” You should be prepared to remain in Phuket until transportation restrictions are lifted. Limitations on movement between Phuket’s 17 sub-districts (Tambon) are in effect until April 27th.
Chiang Mai province requires all foreign travelers entering the province to quarantine for 14 days. Lamphun, Nan, Phitsanulok, and Phrae provinces require all Thai and foreign national travelers to quarantine for 14 days. Mae Hong Son province has barred all foreigners from entering the province.
Authorities may implement additional provincial travel restrictions which may vary from province to province. Therefore, U.S. citizens planning to cross provincial lines in order to obtain emergency medical care, to visit the Embassy or Consulate for emergency services, or to travel to an airport should check the latest restrictions first. If you must travel across provincial lines be prepared to show identification and demonstrate your reason for travel if stopped by the authorities, including providing proof of travel arrangements or medical or consular appointment.
Royal Thai Government COVID Information
Please visit the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s website for updated information. Additional information about restrictions across Thailand can be found at the Ministry of Public Health’s Department of Disease Control COVID-19 website.
Key Points on COVID-19:
- Widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) is occurring globally.
- The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential international travel.
- Older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at increased risk for severe disease.
- There may be limited access to adequate medical care in affected areas of Thailand.
- In the future, U.S. residents may have difficulty returning to the United States.
- Travelers should avoid contact with sick people and wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Thai regulations now require the wearing of face masks in public.
- All international travelers should stay home for 14 days after returning from travel, monitor their health, and practice social distancing.
For more the most up-to-date information visit the CDC page on Novel Coronavirus and the CDC Travelers Health Page for travelers to Thailand. Information is also available through the World Health Organization.
Actions to Take:
- Consult the CDC website for the most up-to-date information.
- For the most recent information on what you can do to reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19, please see the CDC’s latest recommendations.
- Visit the COVID-19 crisis page on travel.state.gov for the latest information.
- Check with your airlines, cruise lines, or travel operators regarding any updated information about your travel plans and/or restrictions.
- Visit our Embassy webpage on COVID-19 for information on conditions in Thailand.
- Visit the Department of Homeland Security’s website on the latest travel restrictions to the United States.
- Visit the Kingdom of Thailand’s Ministry of Public’s Health English-language COVID-19 page for updates on the situation in Thailand.
- U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand
Telephone: +66 2 205 4049
+66 2 205 4000 (after hours)
American Citizens Services
- U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai, Thailand (serving U.S. citizens in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaengphet, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Petchabun, Phayao, Phichit, Phitsanulok, Phrae, Sukhothai, Tak, and Uttaradit provinces)
Telephone: +66 053 107 700
+66 2 205 4000 (after hours)
- State Department – Consular Affairs
888-407-4747 or 202-501-4444
- Thailand Country Information
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