Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (April 9, 2020)
Event: Further Details on Automatic Extension of Tourist Visas; Phuket Travel Restrictions Growing
Automatic Extension of Tourist Visas
On April 8, the Royal Thai Government approved and implemented automatic visa extensions for foreign nationals (including U.S. citizens) whose visas expire between March 26 and April 20. Visas will be extended automatically until April 30, 2020. The measure applies to all immigration categories including visa exemption (i.e., tourists who entered Thailand and received a 30-day visa), the category typically received by U.S. citizen tourists. If you have a valid visa, you do not need to visit an immigration office in order to benefit from the automatic visa extension.
If the National Emergency Decree is extended, then visas may (pending Cabinet approval) be extended automatically again for 30 days. For U.S. citizens who are staying in Thailand for over 90 days and were required to submit a Notification of Residence anytime after March 26, the deadline has been extended to April 30. If your visa expired on March 25 (or earlier), you will need to visit the nearest local immigration office to request a visa. You may be subject to an overstay fine. You may also need an extension of stay request letter from the Embassy.
Please refer your specific visa questions directly to the Thai Immigration Bureau. More information can also be found here: https://immigration.go.th/content/visa_auto_extension.
Phuket Travel Restrictions
The Provincial Government of Phuket confirmed the closure of the Phuket International Airport from midnight tonight (April 9) until 11:59 p.m. on April 30, 2020. Today is the last day for flights out of Phuket.
In addition, the Provincial Government of Phuket closed all land and maritime borders. At this time, there is no way to depart the province. We are currently in discussions with Phuket provincial officials, as well as those in neighboring provinces, regarding the ability of U.S. citizens to transit via land borders to take advantage of remaining flights out of Bangkok. However, you should be prepared to remain in Phuket until transportation restrictions are lifted.
Further limitations on movement between Phuket’s 17 districts (Tambun) will go into effect from April 13 – 27.
Transportation Out of Thailand
We strongly advise temporary visitors in Thailand to arrange for immediate return to the United States while there is still an opportunity.
U.S. citizens who wish to return to the United States should make commercial arrangements as soon as possible unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. The U.S. government does not anticipate arranging repatriation flights from Thailand at this time. Such flights are a last resort, only considered after all commercial options are exhausted. U.S. citizens are charged the fair market value for seats (normally at least the cost of a full-fare economy ticket.)
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 email@example.com OR U.S. Consulate General Chiang Mai at firstname.lastname@example.org. Under some circumstances, government loans are available for the purchase of airline tickets to the U.S. if needed.
All flight routes are subject to cancellation without notice, and many flights are heavily booked. Hub countries with connections to the United States are also imposing increasingly strict requirements. 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.
U.S. citizens who are considering returning to the United States are urged to work with airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available. 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.
There are no longer international flights departing from Chiang Mai International Airport. This week there is an average of two flights per day from Chiang Mai International Airport to Bangkok.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has country-specific airport information available here.
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
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. U.S. citizens reported difficulty leaving Phuket province by road. Nan, Lamphun, and Phrae Provinces require all Thai and foreign national travelers to quarantine for 14 days. Chiang Mai province requires all foreign travelers entering the province to quarantine for 14 days. 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.
Options for forms of domestic travel (including airplanes, buses, public vans, and trains) are also decreasing throughout Thailand. 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 from Chiang Mai to Bangkok.
Hotels Suspend Operations
Many hotels in Thailand have announced that they are suspending operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many major hotels in Chiang Mai are closed. The provincial government in Nan Province and Lamphun Provinces have ordered the closure of all hotels. Hotels that suspend operations might allow current guests to complete their stay, ask guests to leave immediately, or guests will be transferred to government-sponsored accommodation at their own expense. Travelers should be prepared for further hotel closures throughout Thailand with little or no advance notice.
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
- Enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts.
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