Thailand has just announced through their diplomatic missions that the Visa Waiver Program has been reactivated and arriving passengers of 66 nationalities no longer have to apply for visa.
The arrivals still require the certificate of entry, a mandatory quarantine hotel booking for 15 days and travel insurance with a coverage of US$100,000 including Covid treatment as well as Covid Test/Fit2Fly prior to departure.
This information comes through the Royal Thai Embassy in Abu Dhabi (among others) which provided an official announcement on their Facebook page.
The Thai Cabinet will also decide this week whether an additional 15 days of entry stamp validity will be added to the time stipulated under the visa waiver rules in order to make up for the mandatory quarantine time.
With this development a gradual return to normal tourism is at least on the way and it eases the workload on Thai diplomatic missions abroad, many of which operate under Covid restrictions of their host country and scheduling in-person visits of applicants for visas is difficult to impossible.
While this makes traveling to Thailand as a tourist a lot easier again I wouldn’t read too much into it as all of the usual requirements are still in place:
- Certificate of Entry – Application through Website
- Mandatory quarantine hotel booking for 15 days
- Travel Health insurance with a coverage of at least US$100,000 including Covid treatment
- Covid Test max 72h prior to departure
- Fit2Fly issued max 72h prior to departure
It depends a lot on the purpose of your trip if traveling under the visa waiver program is suitable at this given time. You can extend the visa once while in country but then it expires.
For people who want to stay several months or even up to a year they might be better off applying for regular tourist visas or the (in)famous STV Special Tourist Visa that allows several multi month extensions but comes at a cost of 10,000 Baht + Visa Issuance Fee.
Applying for visas and extensions is annoying and costly, however if I’m willing to deal with a two week quarantine for spending some time in a country then I want at least the option of staying long term to make the effort worthwhile.
Some South American countries actually get a very long (90 days) entry stamp under the visa waiver agreement with Thailand. The standard however is just 30 days. Let’s see if the cabinet gives the green light for the automatic 15 day extension as well to mitigate the quarantine time period.
This might not have reached all embassies and consulates yet. Many websites are notoriously out of date, not updated regularly and as it’s often the case with Thai official business things take a while to be implemented. I’d wait a couple days before jumping on this in case your local Thai diplomatic post has no information about the change yet.
Thailand has reactivated the Visa Waiver program that has been paused since March, allowing travelers to arrive in Thailand without physical visas again. This is definitely helping both travelers and Thai Embassies abroad to better use the resources required in order to facilitate tourism arrivals in the Kingdom.
Those who seek to stay long term (2 months+) in Thailand should still avail themselves to multi-month tourist visas through a diplomatic mission or the STV via the Thailand Longstay Company.