After writing in my last newsletter and on social media that I would be meeting with the director general to talk about the Thailand Pass, I was inundated with literally hundreds of emails and messages. My post on Facebook inviting people to send in questions and suggestions had 544 comments alone. Many of these questions are beyond the scope of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as anything to do with Covid-19 and health issues has to be answered by the Department of Disease Control under the Ministry of Public Health. But I think I managed to get many of the most frequent questions and problems answered. If not, I have added contact details down below.
I want to be quite clear here. Although the Thailand Pass is a project under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it is the Ministry of Public Health who are responsible for verifying the vaccine certificates. This can quite often be done automatically. Thailand is part of a 30-member group of countries that share a PKI (public key infrastructure) for vaccination certificates. This will allow them to instantly authenticate the certificate. I haven’t seen a list of countries, but I am told that most are in Europe. Other certificates with QR Codes are relatively easy for them to authenticate too. But there are some certificates that are challenging for them which is why it sometimes takes time. Particularly if someone uploaded an image that is not clear.
Many people asked about children. At this moment, for the Test & Go program, children must be under 12 to be exempt from being vaccinated and for the Sandbox program, they need to be under 18. Some people asked me about their child who only had one jab as per the rules in their country. Unfortunately, to be recognised as fully vaccinated, they need to have the full course of jabs as outlined by the manufacturer. However, there might be some good news soon. A senior TAT executive told me last week that the age of exemption for the Test & Go program might soon be changed to under 18, the same as for the Sandbox. There will be a CCSA meeting on Friday that will discuss possible changes. If it doesn’t happen for mid-November, then this change might happen on 1st December.
One of the reasons a vaccine certificate is rejected is because the vaccine is not approved by the Thai government. Also, to be considered fully vaccinated, your 2nd dose must be administered at least 14 days before your travel. Here is the list of approved vaccines:
- CoronaVac (Sinovac)
- COVILO (Sinopharm)
- Janssen (Johnson & Johnson)
- Sputnik V
You are allowed to mix vaccines on this list according to this guide:
- 1st dose (Sinovac) = 2nd dose after 2 weeks
- 1st dose (AstraZeneca) = 2nd dose after 4 weeks
- 1st dose (Pfizer-BioNTech = 2nd dose after 3 weeks
- 1st dose (Moderna) = 2nd dose after 4 weeks
- 1st dose (Sinopharm) = 2nd dose after 3 weeks
- 1st dose (Sputnik V) = 2nd dose after 3 weeks
For tourists coming to Thailand for a holiday, it is highly recommended anyway to take out medical insurance. Particularly if you choose to travel during a global pandemic. If by some slim chance you test positive on arrival, and the rate at the moment is 0.10% of arrivals, then you will need a good insurance. Also, one that covers you for a hospital stay even if you do not have any symptoms.
See my last newsletter, The Nightmare of Testing Positive on Arrival in Thailand
, for what may face you. You could be quarantined even if you test negative but sit next to someone, either on the plane or in the hotel transfer car, who later tests positive. However, in the latter scenario, I don’t think you will find an insurance policy which will cover you for a forced hotel quarantine of 14 days.
I think expatriates are finding it harder than tourists to find appropriate insurance for the $50,000 coverage. Particularly as they are supposed to be covered for the remaining length of the time left on their visa. I had ten months left on mine and was quoted 30,000 baht for a one-year insurance policy! Foreigners with Permanent Residence or people with long-term Thailand Elite visas, would face a much bigger bill. On this matter, I think I have some good news and some clarification about the rules.
For a start, it doesn’t seem to be written down anywhere that you need to have special insurance to cover you for the time you will be in Thailand if you are on a long-term visa. It was just implied by some embassies. I asked the director general about this, and he said a 30-day policy would be plenty. After all, if you test positive, you will only need to do 10 days in a hospital and a possible 14 day quarantine afterwards. So, a 30-day policy would cover you.
I also asked him about the option to have a certified letter from your employer. He said that as long as it is on official letterhead and clearly states that you are fully insured by the company and all costs can be covered up to $50,000, then you won’t need to take out a special insurance policy. He also confirmed that people like myself who have social security, can use this instead of taking out a special insurance. Another misunderstanding is that the insurance must have Covid-19 coverage up to $50,000. That is not true, and it can be general insurance up to that amount.
APPLICATION FORM QUESTIONS
I personally found the online Thailand Pass form easy to fill out and submit. That is if you ignore the server errors that I was getting last week. See my Summary of the Reopening of Thailand
for the full details of how I managed to fly into Thailand. But there were a few things that were puzzling at first.
The “length of stay” field was a problem for some people. Tourists could just estimate and say 30 days. But for expatriates like myself, we plan to be here indefinitely. In the end, I had to ask Siri how many days until my visa expired. But I was told today that I could have just entered 999. But they added that there will be a special field here soon for expatriates.
Another problem is the “date of arrival”. For many people, there should also be a date of departure as it might take them several days to reach Thailand. This then becomes a problem if their QR Code doesn’t arrive before their first flight. They recognise that as a problem and have noted it. The second problem is that some people might need to move their flight date for some reason. I think most of us thought that to do that we would have to apply again from the start. But that is not so. You can apparently still arrive as long as it is within 72 hours of that date. I think that is good to know.
Before I forget, many people asked how far in advance can you apply for a Thailand Pass. Well, the good news is that there is no time limit. If you want to, you can apply now for a holiday to Thailand in say January next year. If you do that now, then you don’t need to worry about the QR Code arriving on time.