BANGKOK, 13 March 2019: Thailand opted to suspends visa-on-arrival and visa-free stays for 21 countries effective today, 13 March, after conflicting statements appeared in local media on Thursday.
*Update Saturday 14 March: The Thai embassy in Moscow issued a statement saying that according to the bilateral agreement, signed 13 December 2005, Russian passport holders can visit Thailand for 30 days without a visa. It said the suspension of the visa-on-arrival for 18 country does not include Russian passport holders.
The embassy statement illustrates the need for a single voice to provide clarity and reduce the risk of contradictory announcements. There have been calls for the establishment of a single emergency communications centre.
The temporary suspension is in effect from 13 March to 30 September. An official statement released publicly this morning by the Ministry of Interior confirmed visitors from 18 countries on the VoA list and three countries eligible for visa-free stays are now required to apply for visas at the nearest Thai embassy.
They will need to show a health certificate and evidence of travel insurance when applying for a tourist visa. The latest visa requirements were introduced to help contain the spread of Covid-19 virus. Thailand has 75 confirmed cases of the virus as of 13 March.
According to the government announcement reported on the Tourism Authority of Thailand website’s situation update, The visa on arrival is temporarily suspended for passport holders of 18 nations until 30 September. They are Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia*, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Vanuatu. Previously, nationals of these countries could apply for a visa upon arrival in Thailand for up to 15 days.
However, very few tourists are travelling from any of the 18 countries eligible for a visa-on-arrival with the exception of Russia that is still supplying some travellers for beach resorts such as Phuket.
China is in lockdown with very few flights serving Thailand and India has virtually halted travel by suspending visas for a month, which in turn will see airline services reduced. Visa-free status has also been suspended for South Korea and Hong Kong and Italy. There are no flights from Italy a country under lockdown and very few flights from Seoul and Hong Kong. Thai Smile suspended its service to Hong Kong today.
All-told 56 nations or territories enjoy visa-free status when entering Thailand for tourism purposes for up to 30 days.
Travellers to Thailand are advised to avoid transiting at an airport in the Disease Infected Zones ( China including Hong Kong and Macau, South Korea and Iran).
The Thai government has put in place a mandatory 14-day quarantine for travellers who visited the three countries in the last 14 days. Passengers boarding planes to Thailand must pass through a temperature health scan and present a health certificate to airline staff at the check-in counter to obtain their boarding pass.
On arrival at an airport in Thailand, they will need to pass a screening process including a thermal scan, complete a mandatory health form distributed by airlines during the flight, and provide necessary travel information to Department of Disease Control officers.
(Source: Tourism Authority of Thailand. Additional input; Thai embassy Moscow statement).