Thailand is continuing to simplify its testing requirements for those arriving in the country on its quarantine-free arrival programmes, with an agreement today that on-arrival PCR testing, arrival isolation and a Day 5 rapid antigen test will all be removed for those touching down on or after 1st May 2022.
Fully vaccinated visitors will only be recommended to take an antigen test during their stay if they suffer COVID-19 symptoms.
The news also means that there will be no requirement to have a one-night SHA Extra+ hotel booking, since no compulsory testing will apply, meaning you can proceed with with your journey and explore the country immediately on arrival, with no isolation period.
Minimum travel insurance requirements for visitors will also be reduced from US$20,000 to US$10,000.
The Thailand Pass will unfortunately remain for now, to ensure your vaccination status and insurance requirements are met prior to travel, but the form will obviously be simplified and hopefully removed completely in the coming months.
Thanks go, as always, for Richard Barrow’s timely updates from Thailand!
The news comes after Thailand scrapped pre-departure PCR testing from 1st April 2022, allowing fully vaccinated travellers to arrive without needing to take a swab in their home country, becoming only the second ASEAN member to remove this requirement after Cambodia.
The new process for travel to Thailand
Here’s a summary of how the existing Test & Go process will evolve into a completely test-free process for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from 1st May 2022.
Quarantine-free arrival changes
|Test & Go / Vaccinated
30 Apr 22
1 May 22
|In hotel room||None
|Day 5 test
|Day 5 test
This represents an almost completely pre-COVID quarantine-free and test-free travel experience for those heading to Thailand, with the final likely concession of removing the Thailand Pass application system set to be the only remaining obstacle for visitors and returning residents.
Do note that the change in process is not 100% official until it is included in Thailand’s Royal Gazette, a formal legal process which could be completed in the coming days, or at the latest just a few days before the new rules officially go into effect.
New process (Singapore – Thailand)
Here’s how the new process for quarantine-free and test-free travel from Singapore to Thailand will look for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from 1st May 2022 onwards.
- Thai citizens and foreign travellers arriving from all countries.
- Fully vaccinated with an approved vaccine at least 14 days before departure, if aged 18 or over.
- Children aged under 18 can travel with fully vaccinated parents even if they are not fully vaccinated.
- Children aged 12-17 travelling to Thailand unaccompanied (without parents) must have received at least 1 dose of an approved vaccine.
- Apply for a Thailand Pass, allowing at least seven days notice prior to your trip to allow for processing.
Have an insurance policy with a coverage of no less than US$20,000 (not required for Thai citizens).
- Have an insurance policy with a coverage of no less than US$10,000 (not required for Thai citizens).
- An ART test is recommended only if you have COVID-19 symptoms during your trip.
What if you already paid for the on-arrival PCR test?
If you are arriving in Thailand on or after 1st May 2022 and you have already pre-paid for the on-arrival PCR test, there will likely be a full refund offered once the simplified arrival process is confirmed in the Royal Gazette.
This was the case for us when we made a recent trip to Phuket, and had pre-paid for the on-arrival and Day 5 PCR tests, but the latter was downgraded to a self-swab ART by the time we arrived. We applied for the refund of the Day 5 test online and it took around a month to come through, so we assume a similar process will apply in this case.
Total testing costs
Here are the estimated testing costs per fully vaccinated traveller for a Singapore – Thailand – Singapore trip, under the latest regime effective for arrivals from 1st May 2022.
|TH pre-departure (clinic ART)||~S$20|
Thanks to the new Vaccinated Travel Framework (VTF) process for fully vaccinated travellers arriving in Singapore, additional costs for a Thailand trip have already fallen, and this removal of all testing in the Singapore – Thailand direction should mean a total testing bill of only around S$20 per traveller, for a single ART test before returning home.
Singapore is also set to drop this pre-departure test requirement for inbound travellers (i.e. those returning from Thailand in this case) in the coming weeks, which would completely remove all testing requirements in both directions for a trip like this.
For those making a trip to Phuket, our recent experience was that there are ample testing locations offering pre-departure ART testing for THB200 (~S$8), including a certificate for travel, so the S$20 rate quoted in the table above relates more to those testing in Bangkok, where rates are higher.
There’s also now the option of taking a self-swab Video ART in Thailand with a provider based in Singapore to satisfy the pre-departure test requirement within two days of heading back to Changi, starting from just S$9 plus the cost of an approved test kit, if you are a returning Singapore Citizen / PR or Pass Holder.
Thailand trips will therefore be test-free in both directions for Singapore travellers from May.
No testing for recently recovered travellers
If you recovered from COVID-19, with a positive test at least 7 days and at most 90 days before departure to Singapore, you may be exempted from the pre-departure test requirement, which would make a round-trip to Thailand completely test-free and quarantine-free for you, from 1st May 2022.
You can use the ICA’s self-check tool to determine whether the pre-departure test requirement can be waived. It also outlines the full documentation requirements you will need to comply with, if you are eligible.
How to apply (Thailand Pass)
To use the Test & Go scheme, you’ll still have to apply for a Thailand Pass. While it won’t be called “Test & Go” after 1st May 2022 (there will just be “Vaccinated” and “Unvaccinated” entry protocols), the application will unfortunately still need to be made.
This new more relaxed testing regime will only come into force for those arriving in Thailand from 1st May 2022 onwards, however you can apply up to 60 days prior to your trip.
Applications for the Thailand Pass are free of charge. You can apply up to 60 days in advance of your trip and, in a recent change, approval will be valid across a 15-day entry window (your intended date of entry +/- 7 days either side), without the need to upload new supporting documents.
The process is a little quirky, forcing you to upload everything as a JPG image file, while almost every document you need to show is probably a PDF, but you’ll get there in the end!
A 3-7 working days timescale is quoted for receiving a Thailand Pass approval. Our personal experience was being approved in 17 hours, though some report waits of ~4 days, while others have been approved even faster.
Once your Thailand Pass is approved, you’ll receive a QR code.
It’s not clear at this stage when the Thailand Pass form will be simplified to take account of these new entry requirements (i.e. only vaccination cert. + insurance cert.), so we suggest holding off making your application for now if your trip starts on 1st May 2022 or later.
If you already have an approval to enter on or after 1st May 2022, you will not need to reapply for a new Thailand Pass, but you may need to apply for a refund of accommodation and testing directly with those providers in due course.
Full details are available here.
The latest process for entering Thailand as a tourist or short-term visitor is set to be almost a completely pre-COVID experience, with welcome news that the on-arrival PCR test and Day 5 ART test will be scrapped for fully vaccinated travellers arriving from 1st May 2022.
No SHA Extra+ hotel booking or isolation period will apply, so you’ll be free to explore the country as soon as you leave the airport.
This news follows a recent complete removal of pre-departure testing requirements for those travelling to Thailand since 1st April 2022, but is a far bolder step for the country, which relies heavily on tourism.
Overall testing costs for a Thailand trip for most of our readers now come in at around S$20 per person for the single pre-departure test when returning to Singapore, a far cry from some of the costs we’ve seen to date on these trips!
Does Thailand’s latest quarantine-free process from 1st May entice you to plan a trip there? Let us know in the comments section below.
(Cover Photo: Shutterstock)