Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (May 15, 2020)

Health Alert – U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand (May 15, 2020)
Location: Thailand
Event: Phuket International Airport Resumes Operations May 16; Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Phuket International Airport Resumes Operations
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) announced the Phuket International Airport will resume operations at 00:01 on May 16, 2020. The ban on incoming international flights into Thailand remains in place until 23:59 on May 31, 2020. The Phuket International Airport will implement preventative measures for passengers, employees, and other personnel.  These measures include the requirement to wear a face mask at all times.  In addition, only passengers with a valid boarding pass or travel document will be allowed into airport facilities and everyone accessing the airport is subject to temperature screening.  Travelers can contact CAAT at +66 02 572 8442 and Phuket International Airport at +66 (0) 76 327 2307.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. When will the American Citizen Services (ACS) unit reopen for non-emergency passport, Consular Report of Birth Abroad, and notarial services?
A. The ACS units in Bangkok and Chiang Mai have suspended routine services until further notice. We are available to assist with emergency requests. The Embassy and Consulate General are adhering to guidance from the Department of State and the Royal Thai Government regarding the resumption of operations. When routine services are re-established, there will be limitations on the number of appointments available as we try to ensure our customers practice social distancing in our waiting rooms.

For those seeking to notarize documents for use in the United States, you may wish to consider using alternative options, to include utilizing a remote notarial service provider. A growing number of states accept documents notarized through online services; these services are not universally accepted. You will need to research whether they can be used in the state where your document will be filed. Remote notarization could fulfill your need for notary services more quickly.

If you have an urgent emergency request, please email acsbkk@state.gov (Bangkok) or acschn@state.gov (Chiang Mai).

Q. Should I/my family leave Thailand?
A. Travelers who choose to remain in Thailand should be prepared to remain abroad for an indefinite period. International travel is unpredictable, and travel restrictions can be put into effect with little or no advance notice. We urge U.S. citizens to work with their airlines to make travel arrangements while flights are still available.

On April 24, automatic visa extensions for foreign nationals went into effect. Temporary visas (of all types) are extended automatically until July 31, 2020. 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. Further extensions are not guaranteed.

The U.S. Embassy will no longer provide extension of stay requests. U.S. Citizens in Thailand temporarily have between now and July 31, 2020, to either return to the United States or their 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: https://immigration.go.th/content/extend_alien?click=1

Q. Are there still flights out of Thailand even though there is a ban on incoming international flights?
A. 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 United States requires you to change airports in Japan, which is not allowed under Japan’s current travel restrictions. There are currently no international flights departing from Chiang Mai International Airport or Phuket International Airport. U.S. citizens should also consider the need to travel from their current location in Thailand to Bangkok to catch an international flight.

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.

Q. What do I do if I need assistance to depart Thailand?
A. If you are a U.S. citizen who does not have access to funding, you may be eligible for a repatriation loan. A repatriation loan is only for immediate travel to the United States and cannot be used to remain in Thailand. The Embassy can use the repatriation loan to purchase a ticket to the United States on the next available flight. The loan can also be used to pay for lodging and food associated with the impending travel. This is a U.S. Government loan program that you will have to pay back to be eligible for another U.S. passport. If you need financial assistance to return immediately to the United States, please fill out the form here so that we can begin the process: https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=dFDPZv5a0UimkaErISH0S7gxJUk_XcZEjLnOzUyz0UFUM0U5RTBVNlE3Nk9GWUNXQTdBRVlTQzFDVSQlQCN0PWcu

Q. Will I be allowed into the United States?
A. U.S. citizens are allowed entry into the United States. The presidential proclamations restricting entry to the United States for certain foreign nationals do not apply to U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents. U.S. passengers that have been in certain countries, not including Thailand, must travel through select airports where the U.S. Government has implemented enhanced screening procedures. See the DHS website for further details: https://www.dhs.gov/.

You may be screened when you arrive in the United States. Please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest health recommendations for travelers returning to the United States. For more information, please see the following websites:

Q. How do I get my medications into Thailand?
A. We are unable to assist you with obtaining medications in Thailand or arranging for the importation of medications only available in the United States. Due to the unreliability of flights, we recommend you purchase your medication locally, if possible. Many drugs are available through reputable pharmacies such as Boots or Watsons. Some may need to change to a reliable alternative medication available in Thailand as recommended by their physician.

If the medication you need is not available locally and is critical to your health and well-being, then we recommend you return to the United States immediately as we have no way of determining when this crisis will be over, or normal flight schedules will resume. There are currently outbound commercial flights available with connections to U.S. cities.

Q. Thailand seems to be reopening, is there still a state of emergency?
A. Yes, Thailand is still under a national state of emergency, and a nation-wide curfew between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. remains in place until May 31, 2020. Thai law controlling emergency situations gives the Prime Minister’s Office broad authorities, and more emergency measures that further restrict movements and activities in Thailand could 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.  

Q. Where do I find the latest information on COVID-19?
A. U.S. citizens in Thailand should refer to the Ministry of Public Health and the U.S. CDC for the most up-to-date information on COVID-19 response. U.S. citizens can contact the Department of Disease Control directly at 1422 for information on COVID-19 testing facilities and treatment locations. They have English-language staff. All public hospitals will take COVID-19 patients.

Private hospitals have been asked to treat COVID-19 patients as well, but it is up to the hospital. In both cases, payment must be made before treatment. The U.S. Embassy is unable to pay for medical treatment.

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:

Assistance: