If I understand your post correctly, you are not currently in Thailand, you have the Elite visa, and are going to try to obtain the certificate of entry and return to Thailand.
If I am correct I, and I think many others, would be very grateful if you keep us informed about your experiences going through this, including how you will even get to Thailand from wherever you are, what takes place upon arrival, how they transport you to your quarantine hotel, how much it all costs, where you will be quarantined, how closely they watch your movements, what going through the quarantine is really like, what takes place when the quarantine is completed, and anything else you can think of.
Again, if I am correct about your intentions, you will be the first board member to do this. Good luck and I hope you will be glad you did this rather than ending up regretting it.
If I understand your post correctly, you are not currently in Thailand, you have the Elite visa, and are going to try to obtain the certificate of entry and return to Thailand.
If I am correct I, and I think many others, would be very grateful if you keep us informed about your experiences going through this,
you are correct and happy to keep y'all informed.
Yes I am a holder of an "Elite Visa" currently in the USA. Have approval from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to return (application submitted 19 August - approved about 7 weeks later). Now have applied for Certificate of Entry from the Embassy here in Washington. Already have health insurance that meets the current requirements for Certificate of Entry -- health insurance with minimum coverage of at least $100K and specifically includes COVID-19. For the USA, the Embassy has a list of approved repatriation flights, one of which I have booked. Outside the US more and more embassies are permitting people with a COE to fly on the "semi-commercial" flights into BKK on an ever-growing list of airlines, including Qatar, Emirates, Thai, Cathay, Swiss, KLM, EVA and more. These are specific flights per week on those airlines, To apply for a COE you need a flight booked and an ASQ confirmation. 50-50 that I don't get my COE in the next few days, which means likely re-booking the flight and ASQ, so details on that can follow in another update.
PS - Without a doubt, "Elite Visa" is the worst name ever.
If you don't mind a personal question - and I understand if you do not wish to answer - Why? Considering all you have to go through and the amount of money you're spending to do it, why are you doing this? Why do you want to return to Thailand so badly that you are willing to do this rather than just wait?
By the way - all those Chinese tourists Thailand was expecting to arrive this week on the Special Tourist Visa - you know how many booked a ticket to go to Thailand? None. Zero. Not even one. So much for Thailand's predictions that the Chinese are going to quickly return.
Why do you want to return to Thailand so badly that you are willing to do this rather than just wait?
I would normally be returning to Thailand from this US this time of year anyway, so this is my normal routine. I have a place and a life and friends in BKK that I'm anxious to get back to. For a lot of people who used Elite Visa for long stay purposes but are trapped outside Thailand, the costs of renting wherever they may be outside Thailand now are extra costs. Ans, personally, I have no desire to be in the US during the winter when the second wave rages.
For me, the only "extra" cost of going back now is the ASQ. I am treating that as a "staycation." Beyond that, the costs of the COVID-19 tests and a fit-to-fly certificate are negligible. It's also cheaper for me to live in BKK than stay in the US.
One note about the infamous Short Term Visa situation. We are seeing in-fighting and some spinning of the press. The MFA has been taking a lot of heat for not letting people into the country. The MFA reported that no one applied for a Certificate of Entry at Guangzhou. I am sure that's true, but in the cumbersome procedure for the STV, first names get submitted to TAT which then forwards them to MFA and the CCSA for preliminary approval, and only after that initial MFA approval would people apply for a Certificate of Entry. There's an infographic somewhere that shows the insanely complicated procedure. It's effectively the same as the Elite Visa holders procedure was - initial application for MFA/CCSA review, then once approval is obtained, apply for COE. So, the fact that no one applied for a COE in Guangzhou doesn't necessarily mean that the whole thing is farce. It may just be that the Chinese tourists were following the procedures outlined for the STV and were still in the limbo of "waiting-for-inital-MFA-approval" (as I was for 7 weeks).
[I think the STV is of limited appeal, but I just wanted to observe that there is internal bickering between the MFA and TAT and of course the English-language press is all over the place, so we don't always know what to believe.]
The appeal of the STV in China is going to be limited, as they have 2 weeks full quarantine in Thailand and 2 weeks full quarantine when returning to China. Total 4 weeks, none of it is quarantine at home.
That's in a country where anyone in a normal job doesn't get a particularly generous holiday allowance. The Chinese seem quite keen on seeing a lot on their holiday, for instance I knew some who did an 8-day trip covering Paris, Barcelona, Rome and Zurich. 28 days quarantine, going nowhere will not appeal.
If Thailand actually wants to get some tourists in, then they need to cast the net wider.
They should also slim down the rules so they concentrate only on what's needed to prevent the spread of covid & have no other restrictions. Quarantine seems to be effective, since some Thais returning home have covid and it's not spreading in the community.
So just have a quarantine rule and make everything else as easy as possible.
The communication also seems to be idiotic. If they didn't get any applications from China, which seems quite likely, then it would be better to admit this than say they cancelled the visa and worse still, say there is no need to refund passengers.
I have a place and a life and friends in BKK that I'm anxious to get back to.
Your reasons certainly make perfect sense, especially wanting to escape winter and a second Covid outbreak. Thailand has its problems and some may not agree with their methods, but no one can say they have not done an excellent job of controlling Covid-19. One thing nobody can deny - what they are doing to control Covid-19 works.
The appeal of the STV in China is going to be limited
I agree with everything you wrote.
As for the Chinese tourists, while I certainly understand why Thailand wants them back, especially the businesses and venues in Pattaya that were, in my opinion, stupid enough to cater virtually exclusively to the Chinese, I can't say I'm personally sorry they won't be coming so soon after all. I have nothing against the Chinese themselves. I hardly ever see them and have never been interested in going to wherever the tour buses take them, but I admit I am very happy with the absence of the tour buses and the terrible traffic jams they cause.
Once they do come back in droves I hope the powers-that-be have a plan in place to deal with the traffic jams, but I'm not holding my breath. I'm expecting they will do what they usually do about problems - nothing. I'll enjoy the normal traffic while I can.
I like this part of the article: "If successful, the applicants will be called in to collect their visa at a Thai diplomatic mission in their respective countries."
That's great. They are assuming everybody (if anybody) who applies and is approved, now they have to go to a Thai diplomatic mission - just as if everybody in China who would apply lives anywhere near a Thai diplomatic mission. Don't they have mail delivery, fax machines, and Email in China, all of which could make it much easier for people to receive whatever paperwork they need to show?
I'll give the Thai powers-that-be credit for one thing - they sure know how to make everything that should be easy to instead be very complicated and difficult - even for the people they want coming to Thailand. And how many Chinese tourists would be interested in staying in Thailand longer than a few days, let alone up to 270 days? But whether they stay 1 day or all 270 days, the requirements and fees are the same.
I know this is selfish of me, but as far as I'm concerned the fewer the Chinese tourists in Pattaya, the better I like it.
BANGKOK — Confusion over a special visa program that would allow tourists to visit Thailand during the global coronavirus outbreak continued unabated Monday, with heads of two government departments contradicting each other on even the most fundamental question: has anyone actually applied for it at all?
Tourism officials previously told the media a group of Chinese tourists and businessmen from China’s Guangzhou province were due to arrive in Phuket under the Special Tourist Visas, or STV, but was postponed due to insufficient preparations. But the spokesman of the foreign affairs ministry dropped a bombshell revelation on Sunday that no one applied for the visa in the first place.
“The consulate in Guangzhou received the list of tourists from the Tourism Authority of Thailand on Oct. 5, but no one came to apply for the visa to date,” Natapanu Nopakun told the media.
“We have been notified that the tourists may fly to Thailand on a repatriation flight on Oct. 26, which the ministry is currently coordinating with Chinese authorities,” he was quoted as saying.
The Tourism Authority of Thailand governor Yuthasak Supasorn on Monday insisted that was not the case. He said multiple foreign tourists have applied for the STV program and they will certainly arrive in Thailand by the end of this month.
Yuthasak said all the preparations for the arriving tourists are now ready, and the holdup was just only a minor paperwork issue.
“They will definitely come within this month,” Yuthasak said by phone. “We have already received the applications and they have just to go through the process. Once the documents are submitted, they can fly into Thailand.”
According to the guidelines published by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, or TAT, foreign tourists need to apply for the Special Tourist Visa via TAT-owned Thailand Longstay Company, who will then process their application with relevant authorities.
If their application is approved, they will be asked to select their quarantine accommodation, post-quarantine accommodation, flight to Thailand, and declare medical insurance to the foreign ministry. If successful, the applicants will be called in to collect their visa at a Thai diplomatic mission in their respective countries.
They are also required to produce more documents at this process such as the proof of payment for the bookings, a fit-to-fly certificate, and a medical certificate clearing them of COVID-19 infection. Tourists can only fly to Thailand after having the visa stamped on their passport.
The special visa allows foreigners to visit Thailand for up to 270 days upon completion of a 14-day quarantine period.
Natapanu said every Thai embassy and consulate around the world can issue the Special Tourist Visa beginning Oct. 2. The ministry has issued entry certificates for more than 22,000 foreign work permit holders, experts, and students so far, he added.
Confusingly enough, Thapanee Kiatphaibool, deputy governor of the TAT, suggested it’s the Ministry of Foreign Affairs who’s causing the delays in the implementation of the STV policy.
“The TAT acknowledges the delay caused by the foreign ministry,” Thapanee said. “There’s increasing demands for tourists entering Thailand, which add more burden to their routine responsibilities and capability. I believe the ministry will muster the strength to provide convenience for the tourists.”
Visitor entry rules to Thailand now depend on local embassy guidelines
By Barry Kenyon
October 20, 2020
Lately, Thai authorities have made many changes to the overall regulations regarding foreigner-entry by air. Elite card holders appear at last to have got the green light, actual and wannabe retirees can apply for an O/A annual visa and property owners are now sort-of included on the list. Not to mention the possibility in some countries of applying for the 90-270 days Special Tourist Visa (STV) or even a 60 day traditional tourist visa. Of course, every single foreigner seeking a mandatory Certificate of Entry must show voluminous documentation including health checks, medical insurance, air ticket on a repatriation or semi-commercial flight and prior payment for quarantine on arrival.
The precise situation can vary from country to country. The Thai embassy in London categorically states that the STV and 60 day tourist visas are not available as the UK is not considered a low-risk coronavirus zone. The Washington DC embassy doesn’t state whether the US is regarded as low or high risk, but anyone can guess that. The embassy in South Korea has a detailed description of the paperwork needed for the 60 day tourist visa, although no one is yet known to have entered by this route. The Norwegian, Finnish and Danish embassies all carry positive information about the STV but no mention of the 60 day tourist visa. It all depends where you are.
In other words, any wannabe traveller must peruse carefully the embassy website where he or she is based. The Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) appears to be notifying its worldwide embassies individually about its presumably confidential list of safe and unsafe countries. The Norwegian embassy does tantalizingly state it is currently regarded as low-risk whereas Iceland is medium-risk. Presumably the MFA does not want to publish a definitive list, only to be forced to amend it as the worldwide pandemic news changes day by day.
Compulsory insurance is another topic where unanimity is by no means the order of the day. Some embassies, including London, seem to be requiring a minimum level of US$100,000 (three million baht) for all categories of entry. But Washington at one point in its website mentions hospital inpatient treatment of 400,000 baht and outpatient 40,000 for the ten year “O/X” visa. The Danish embassy also mentions a floor limit of 400,000 baht for the new STV visa. The Thailand Longstay Company website claims that the STV requires both insurances for different illnesses. It’s confusing.
There is an interesting section on the Norway embassy website which states that the US$100,000 insurance is specifically for cover for coronavirus infection and not for other illnesses. It is available for all up to the age of 99 and is said to be acceptable for Bangkok entry purposes. The host company is Thai General Insurance Association and the cost on the website varies from 14,400 to 43,200 baht, subject to the usual exclusions. This claim that the mandatory insurance is for Covid-19 alone runs counter to some other announcements that the policy must be comprehensive but include coronavirus infection. That’s different.
Given the world pandemic, it is probably unavoidable that confusion about immigration matters in any country is inevitable. Thus the UK is publicly changing details in its policy on an almost daily basis as the Foreign and Commonwealth Office freely admits. The best advice for entry to Thailand at the moment is to trust only the appropriate embassy website. Trying to generalize about the situation in all countries is frankly a fool’s errand.
Thailand seems to have more filters than necessary here.
1 Only low risk countries
2 Testing before going
3 14 day quarantine and testing during quarantine
4 Superfluous paperwork
A test plus robust quarantine regime ought to be sufficient. If the quarantine is organized properly, I don't see what can go wrong. Perhaps they worried about people using tea money as a way out of quarantine ?
IF this STV scheme ever gets up and running & we see cases of people using it, without being unreasonably screwed by conditions, then it might just be time for a closer look at the details.
For instance, how long do we have to spend in a "low risk" country to be able to apply ?
For certain other countries, it's possible to spend 2 weeks in a "low risk" country, then be exempt from quarantine rules upon arrival in that country. Somehow, I don't envisage this happening in Thailand any time soon.
Meanwhile, so many tourist-dependent venues and businesses are going broke and closing and who knows how many will eventually reopen? Not only that, but even if a large number of people do manage to go to Thailand as tourists, how long would it be before any of these venues risk trying to reopen? And who knows how many of these tourists would be interested in going to these venues even if they do reopen?
As for Pattaya, I truly believe the only way to save the tourist industry would be, once it is safe to do so, for the powers-that-be to back off on trying to prudishly over-regulate everything and let Pattaya be the way it used to be. I don't see what else will attract large numbers of tourists to Pattaya. They need to drop this "family oriented" nonsense. How long will it take them to finally figure out that it's not going to work? Hardly anyone is interested, certainly not numbers enough to rescue the tourist industry. They need to understand a "G-Rated" holiday is not what people go to Pattaya for. And if Pattaya is the place to go for people looking for the kind of holiday Pattaya is known for, so what? What is the bad part? Adults are not supposed to be adults? I'm still waiting for someone to explain to me what the bad part about sex is.
Those who want a "family oriented" holiday - go to Disneyland.