Thailand “relaxes” visa criteria to draw in more tourists

November 10, 2020

In an effort to revive the tourism industry after a quiet 7 months without foreign tourists, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs says they’ve “relaxed” the criteria for issuing tourist visas and are now allowing foreigners from countries considered a “medium risk” for spreading Covid-19 to apply for a tourist visa.

Thailand will start allowing some foreigners to enter on a 60 day tourist visa which can be extended to a 90 day stay, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand executive director for tourism products, Thapanee Kitaphaibool.

First, travellers need money. Applicants need a bank account balance of at least $17,000 USD (500,000 baht) each month for the last 6 months. Applicants also need a medical certificate issued 72 hours before departure and health insurance coverage of at least $100,000 USD. The traveller must still go through a 14 day quarantine upon entering Thailand and must arrange and pay for the alternative state quarantine (ASQ) hotel at their own expense.

Thailand initially launched the new Special Tourist Visa for travellers from countries considered at “low risk” for spreading the coronavirus. The visa allows a 90 day stay that can be renewed twice, adding up to about 9 months. Since target countries like Europe and Scandinavia are categorized as “medium risk” countries, Thai consulates have relaxed regulations for applicants from those countries.

The requirements for the Special Tourist Visa are also expensive. Applicants need at least 500,000 baht in savings, health insurance coverage of at least $100,000 USD and out-patient coverage of at least 40,000 baht. Applicants must also take a Covid-19 test 72 hours before they travel and be in possession of a medical certificate.

Opening up Thailand back up to tourists has been a slow process. Before the pandemic, the country had millions of tourists entering the country each month. Since travel restrictions eased up, only a few flights of foreigners on the Special Tourist Visa have entered the country. As of November 5, the ministry issued certificates of entry to 1,465 foreigners with most people approved to enter on retirement visas, Special Tourist Visa and privileged entry visas.

Visas and visa requirements vary from country to country. Check, check, check with your local Thai Embassy before booking any flights or making any travel arrangements.