Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 30, 2020)

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 30, 2020)
Location:  Thailand
Event: Phuket Airport to Remain Closed Until May 15

 Phuket Airport to Remain Closed
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced the Phuket International Airport will remain closed until May 15.

If you are a U.S. citizen currently in Phuket, please fill out this voluntary survey.  This will help the U.S. Embassy determine how many citizens are still in need of help in Phuket.

Domestic Flights to Resume Under Strict Guidelines
The CAAT has announced new guidelines for the operation of domestic flights within Thailand.  The key measures include: 1) passengers must wear face masks and gloves at all times; 2) passengers must adhere to airlines’ social distancing requirements from check-in and boarding through landing and there must be empty seats between passengers; 3) flight crews will wear masks and gloves at all times; and 4) flight crews will not serve food or beverages on the plane and passengers are prohibited from bringing outside food on the plane.

National State of Emergency/Nation-wide Curfew Extended to May 31
The Royal Thai Government has extended to May 31 the national state of emergency and related measures, which includes maintaining border closures and the present 10:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. nation-wide curfew. 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.

Automatic Visa Extensions
On April 24, automatic, additional visa extensions for all types of temporary stay visas went into effect.  Temporary stay visas of all types are extended automatically until July 31.  If you have a valid visa (i.e. your visa would have expired after March 26, the date of the first “amnesty”) you do not need to visit an immigration office in order to benefit from the automatic visa extension. If your visa expired on March 26 (the date of the initial “amnesty”) or earlier and you do not have a valid visa, you should visit the nearest local immigration office to request a visa – which is then eligible for any future automatic extensions.  You may be subject to an overstay fine.

For those foreign nationals who are staying in Thailand for over 90 days and must submit a 90-Day Notification of Residence and the deadline is between May 1 and July 31, the deadline has been extended to July 31, 2020.

The U.S. Embassy will no longer provide extension of stay request letters.  U.S. Citizens in Thailand temporarily have between now and July 31 to either return to the United States (or your country of permanent residence) or to obtain the appropriate visa type for your long-term stay in Thailand.

Please refer your specific visa questions directly to the Thai Immigration Bureau.  More information can also be found here:

CAAT Extends Ban on Incoming International Flights Until May 31
The CAAT announced the extension until 31 May 2020 of the ban on incoming international flights.

We strongly urge U.S. citizens temporarily in Thailand to depart now while there are still outbound flights available.   

Airlines/Airport Operations and Alternate Routes
The following airlines are currently offering outbound flights from Bangkok with connections to the United States: Korean AirQatar AirwaysEthiopian AirlinesJapan AirlinesAir Asiana and Lufthansa.  Japan Airlines announced further reductions in service from Bangkok to Tokyo effective immediately.  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 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.

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:

Southern Thailand: Surat Thani Airport announced NokAirAirAsia and Thai Lion Air will resume domestic flights starting May 1. Nok Air and Thai AirAsia will operate daily flights while Thai Lion Air will operate one flight a week.  More information is available through the airlines or with the Tourism Authority of Thailand.  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.

Bangkok Airways will resume twice daily domestic flight operations between the Samui Airport and Bangkok beginning May 15.  More information is available here.

For those in Phuket, the airport is closed until May 15, 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 by local officials.  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.

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

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 OR U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai at  Government loans are available for the purchase of airline tickets to the United States if needed.  The U.S. Embassy and U.S. Consulate General have helped more than a hundred people return to the United States since the COVID-19 crisis began and we are aware of many more who were able to return to the United States on their own.

Thai Domestic Travel Restrictions
Some provinces have established checkpoints where authorities many conduct health inspections or require travelers have a valid reason to enter or pass through the province.  Provincial travel restrictions vary from province to province. 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.

Chiang Mai: Options for forms of domestic travel (including airplanes, buses, public vans, and trains) have decreased throughout Thailand.  In Chiang Mai, all inter-provincial bus and train services are cancelled until further notice.  Some private car services are still offering transportation between provinces of including from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. 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.

Phuket: As noted above, the airport, land and maritime borders are closed. Phuket province is currently in “lock down.”  You should be prepared to remain in Phuket until transportation restrictions are lifted.

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: