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Update on Mandatory COVID Testing for Foreigners in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing the notion of mandatory COVID testing for all foreigners here in the Kingdom of Thailand.

We did another video on this channel earlier in the week where this was being discussed. I urge those who are watching this video to go check that out; we will put a link to that in the description below. Long story short, there was a lot of discussion. It caused a lot of consternation at the beginning of this past week as to whether or not it was going to be a requirement that all foreigners show that they have been tested, presumably negative, for COVID and just some just some recent news clippings if you will on that topic.

The first one comes from the Pattaya Mail, that is and this is titled: Thailand Immigration Updates and Reminders: The Pattaya Mail. Quoting directly: "Recent publicity on the internet suggested that all foreigners will need a virus free certificate from a hospital to extend or renew their visa from late January 2021 onwards. The Immigration Bureau has clarified that there is at present no such requirement but that due notice", and this is kind of key here, "due notice will be given if Council of State were to introduce such a rule." I will get into that further here in a moment but understand, presently there is no rule on that. My personal opinion is there probably is unlikely to be one. That stated, I have been burned on that in the past trying to speculate but I think I would be remiss if I didn't throw in my opinion on what I think is probably going to happen based on all the facts before us. 

So quoting also from Khao Sod English, and that is, the article is titled: Immigration Backtracks on Plan to Require COVID-19 for Visa Extensions. Quoting directly: "A Spokesman for the Immigration Police on Tuesday walked back on his announcement that a negative COVID-19 test result will be mandatory for every foreigner who wishes to extend their stay in the Kingdom. Immigration Bureau Spokesman Archayon Kraithong previously said on Monday, the new measure will be applied to "every type of visa" regardless of how long the foreigner has stayed in the country. But less than an hour after his remark was reported on Khaosod English sparking an uproar among expats on social media - the Spokesman reached back to say he was misinformed about the new policy and offered an apology. Quoting: "I apologize for the misunderstanding Major General Archayon said. It will only apply to certain types of visas most likely the Permanent Resident Visa". He went on to say that the Immigration Bureau will have to wait for the Council of State", this is important to note, "an agency tasked with settling legislative disputes - to interpret the latest regulation concerning Coronavirus and arrivals from overseas." published on December 25th. So those regulations and again that regulation that was sparking a lot of issue was published December 25th and presumably it is supposed to come online January 25th. 

We have gone into this at length in another video on this channel. One of the main ones pertain to entrants. Well we have already had that under the Emergency Decree. They are just codifying that so that wasn't a big change. They also mentioned those who were seeking Residence and possibly issues pertaining to those earning a living in Thailand. As I noted in that video, Permanent Residents I guess we might see a COVID test requirement for those who are seeking to apply for Permanent Residence here in the Kingdom of Thailand. Also and I noted in that video that there may also be a requirement associated with those who are applying for a Work Permit and that seems to be a little more nebulous. Now as I said we would get to it. The mention of the Council of State, and they state that they sort of interpret the regulations as they come out, I would liken this if you are an American from an American context, it is akin to signing statements that Presidents will often attach to legislation when they sign that legislation into law in the United States. These signing statements provide nuance, clarification and also insight into how various regulations and laws are to be implemented. In a sense, the Council of State would be doing the same thing here in Thailand per what people are talking about; per the Government's announcements. That seems to be what they are waiting on is the Council of State to sort of issue what would be akin in the United States to something akin to a signing statement where they basically say "okay this is how this is going to be implemented." As of this time, it appears that "No, this is not going to be a broad-based rule."

I personally think and again I get burned speculating sometimes, but I personally think we are probably going to see a requirement of a COVID Certificate or a COVID clearance test certificate or something not unlike the documentation that is currently necessary to board an airline to the United States or to Thailand. Basically, you get a COVID test that says you are clear of COVID in order to apply for Permanent Residence here in the Kingdom of Thailand.

Again and we have done a video on this in detail. Maybe that may apply to Work Permit holders, I have yet to see that. Again, we will probably get more clarification down the Council of State when they decide to hand down any guidance on that. I don't honestly think they are going to end up doing this on a broad basis. First of all I don't know that they have the facilities as a practical matter to be able to do it.

We will keep you updated on this as the situation progresses but for now the thing to take away from this is it looks like as a broad-based rule, the notion of having a COVID test for foreigners in Thailand does not appear to be coming online anytime in the near future.