No fast return to Thailand says Australian ambassador (video)

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Australian citizens married to Thais have been told to expect to spend weeks or even months gathering the permissions, documents and flight tickets needed to return to Thailand.

In a video message posted to the Australian Embassy, Bangkok Facebook page, Ambassador Allan McKinnon describes the process required to return to Thailand as “involved” and “requiring some planning.

“Be prepared to jump through hoops and [over] hurdles and above all, be patient; this can’t be done easily or quickly. It could take weeks, if not months, the senior career public servant says in the six-minute long video.

He then goes on to list the steps required, which would similarly apply to people of other nationalities in their home countries also, with the exception of the first step:

  • Gain Australian government approval to leave Australia
  • Confirm that you are eligible under the current list of exemptions published by the Royal Thai Government (see full list below)
  • Book a place in an Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) facility (a hotel)
  • Obtain a health insurance policy with a minimum of $100,000 coverage, including for COVID-19 coverage for the entire duration you will be in Thailand
  • Arrange a flight (watch the video to find out about the “blockage” in this part of the process)
  • Apply for a Certificate of Entry from the Royal Thai government
  • Obtain a medical certificate stating that you are ‘fit to fly’ and a COVID-19 RT-PCR test no more than 72-hours prior to departure showing that you have tested negative.
  • Pass a series of pre-departure checks at the airport
  • Pass pre-departure temperature and breathing checks.

Thai nationals have priority for return flights

On arrival in Bangkok those who have managed to successfully run the gauntlet above will be subjected to preliminary health screening before being taken to their ASQ, where over the following 14-days, they will be required to take two COVID-19 tests of the swab up your nose kind.

It may take weeks or months to gather the necessary documents and approvals for foreign spouses to return to Thailand says Australian ambassador Allan McKinnon
It may take weeks or months to gather the necessary documents and approvals for foreign spouses to return to Thailand says Australian ambassador Allan McKinnon (File) Photo: John Le Fevre

Explaining that “the procedures I have laid out are designed to control the risk of COVID-19 transmission, they are not designed to facilitate easy access to Thailand, Mr McKinnon reiterates that the prime concern of the Thai government is “prioritising the return of its own nationals”.

With the current flourishing COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne, Australia affecting inbound flights and no commercial flights allowed into Thailand, Mr McKinnon explains that the only option for return is on special repatriation flights organised by the Thai government.

Describing this part of the process as a “blockage”, he says the Australian embassy is not involved in these flights and has no knowledge of when they are occurring. Further, he says that the embassy is unable to intervene in the process, or assist people to side-step them or speed them up.

Additionally, Mr McKinnon says that due to the changes in arrival regulations in Australia, airlines often don’t know whether their scheduled flights will operate until the last minute. The embassy, he says, has no advance information on commercial flights and is unable to assist.

Promising to keep Australian citizens informed of any future changes, Mr McKinnon says “it’s a tough situation we all face”.

Travellers cleared for entry to Thailand

The current list of travellers who can apply for exemption are:

  • Thai nationals.
  • Persons with exemption or persons being considered, permitted, or invited by the Prime Minister, or the head of responsible persons accountable for resolving state of emergency issues to enter the Kingdom, pertaining to necessity. Such consideration, permission or invitation may be subject to specific conditions and time limits.
  • Persons on diplomatic or consular missions or under international organisations, or representatives of foreign governments performing their duties in the Kingdom, or persons of other international agencies as permitted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs pertaining to necessity, including their spouse, parents, or children.
  • Carriers of necessary goods, subject to immediate return after completion.
  • Crew members who are required to travel into the Kingdom on a mission and have a specified date and time for return.
  • Non-Thai nationals who are a spouse, parents, or children of a Thai national.
  • Non-Thai nationals who hold a valid certificate of permanent residency in the Kingdom, or permission to take up residence in the Kingdom.
  • Non-Thai nationals who have a work permit or have been granted permission from government agencies to work in the Kingdom, including their spouse or children.
  • Non-Thai nationals who are students of educational institutions approved by Thai authorities, including the parents or guardians of the students, except for students of non-formal educational institutions under the law on private schools and of other similar private educational institutions.
  • Non-Thai nationals who are in need of medical treatment in Thailand, and their attendants. However, this shall not include medical treatment for COVID-19.
  • Non-Thai nationals who are permitted to enter the Kingdom under a special arrangement with a foreign country.



Update: This story was last updated at 20:13 local time July 9 to include these details: Information on the costs of Thailand ASQ hotels can be found here: List of 14 Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) Hotels in Thailand




Feature video & photo Australia in Thailand




  • CAAT’s recommendations for 11 exempt types of travellers planning a trip to Thailand (TAT News)
  • Only 2,000 foreigners have yet registered to be reunited with love ones as tourism to also reopen (Thai Examiner)
  • Certificate of entry from Thai embassy or consulate required for foreigners to enter Thailand (Phuket News)



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John Le Fevre

Thailand editor at AEC News Today

John is an Australian national with more than 40 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer, and copy editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.

He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Prior to AEC News Today he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.

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2 Responses to "No fast return to Thailand says Australian ambassador (video)"

  1. Steve Gomersall   July 17, 2020 at 2:32 pm

    How can you book insurance or ASQ before knowing the date of your relief flight?

  2. Tressa   July 29, 2020 at 1:02 pm

    So true, even visas require flight details, so no flights you are basically stuck, unless I am missing something? A fake sort of process whereby, there is a process but it does not make sense and is contradictory.


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