So, I’m trying to get back into Thailand on a TR (Tourist) visa. As of November, all travelers to Thailand by air must enter Thailand using the Thailand Pass system. And there have been a lot of issues with the system since its launch on November 1st.
The issues begin with the necessity of the Thailand Pass itself. It is already difficult enough to get a RT-PCR (Reverse transcription reverse polymerase chain reaction) COVID-19 exam within the 72-hour window before one’s flight. On top of that, the traveler must book a valid COVID-19 quarantine hotel (or hospital quarantine or SHA+ scheme) before you can register for the Thailand Pass. So, if your flight is bumped, if your COVID test cannot be scheduled in a reasonable amount of time, or if the hotel takes a large amount of time to respond to your request to stay with them, the amount of time you have between receiving the Thailand Pass and your trip decreases.
To recap, a traveler must plan their trip in the following order:
Book a flight (need to show return or onward flight at the airport, if travelling with the TR visa)
Apply for TR visa online or at the nearest embassy/consulate
Have or buy health insurance worth at least $50,000 which is valid in Thailand (need estimated travel date to do this)
Book a hotel (need a flight booking and insurance to do so)
Register for the Thailand Pass (it is recommended to give 7 working days to receive the pass)
If I were to re-do everything I’ve done, I would do it in that order. I did not register for the Thai Visa or Thailand Pass until November 4th, which was a huge mistake on my part. I falsely assumed I would need the health insurance and hotel booking to obtain the Thai visa. That is false. All one needs for the Thai visa is the flight booking, passport scans, and either a hotel booking or a letter stating where you will live during your stay. I could have gotten all of those things weeks before November 1st and I regret not doing so. Thai visas usually have a validity period of two months, or so. So, I could have had the visa a month before my actual departure and it would still be valid.
The Thailand Pass, on the other hand, was only available from 1 November and its results may vary. Thaiger has posted stats regarding the registration and approval rates for the Thailand Pass. It appears that as of the 7th of November, there were 92,240 registered users with 67,029 of them being approved that day. That’s an approval rate of about 72.6%.
I have yet to receive an approval message after submitting on the 4th of November.
Now, it doesn’t really matter, as I had to change flights and thus re-apply. But it discouraging that the wait time was supposedly reduced from 7 days to 3 days and yet, I and other friends of mine were still not approved in time.
Despite certain glitches which caused a lot of issues in filling out the forms, the government’s official response is that the delay in receiving the passes or the flat-out cancellation is due to user error. To quote:
As for not receiving a QR code after registering for a Thailand Pass, Foreign Ministry spokesman Tanee Sangrat said this may be because:
* The user did not upload a Covid-19 vaccination passport or the document was not clear
* The information and attached documents do not meet requirements, such as bookings at a hotel that is not linked to hospitals listed for an RT-PCR test
* Re-entering the information several times
* Incorrect email address or accounts whose storage is full
Officials have also detected that Hotmail accounts are not able to receive replies from the Foreign Ministry. Microsoft Corp is working to solve the problem.
The only errors I believe I committed were accidentally leaving a space in my passport number and uploading an insurance document which did not state the amount of coverage (which had to be at least $50,000 USD. Mine was $100,000 USD)
So, all that’s left to do now is wait and hope for the best, regarding both my visa and my Thailand Pass.