Confirmed: Thailand to abolish pre-flight PCR testing from April 1, 2022, while on-arrival testing remains in place

The weekly situation meeting of Thai government officials resulted in the decision to discontinue mandatory PCR testing for travelers to Thailand from April 1, 2022.

However, the requirement to perform a PCR test at a hospital on arrival will remain in place and will make this servitude quite pointless as it would be rather risky for anyone to travel to Thailand without a test, even on a voluntary basis.

Visitors to Thailand had to present a PCR test in order to be eligible to board a flight to the Kingdom, which often created a lot of hassle, expense and proved difficult depending on where the traveler resided.

It is often quite difficult to complete a test like this in a short time when it comes to a long distance trip to the airport.

The Bangkok Post just reported that this measure is no longer on the table:

The Covid-19 Situation Administration Center decided on Friday to remove the requirement for visitors to take a Covid-19 test before travel, from April 1, but testing on arrival will continue.

The change in procedure was announced by CCSA spokesperson Taweesilp Visanuyothin.

He said the pre-travel testing requirement would end for all visitors, whether arriving through Test & Go, Sandbox or quarantine channels.

People entering the country through the Test & Go or Sandbox programs would receive an RT-PCR test upon arrival and would be required to perform an antigen self-test on the 5th day after arrival, monitored at their hotel.

Visitors to the sandbox would remain in their reception areas for five days. Visitors to the quarantine program, including those caught sneaking out, would be kept in isolation for five days and given an RT-PCR test on day 4 or 5 after arrival.

The CCSA would continue to require visitors to have Covid-19 insurance coverage of at least US$20,000, but would likely reduce it later, Dr Taweesilp said. …

The prospect of a reduction in the insurance requirement in the future is really of no consequence as it will have very little (if any) impact on the insurance premium.

Eliminating the mandatory PCR test before departure makes things cheaper and easier, but it will also increase the risk of testing positive on arrival in Thailand and then being forced into an expensive quarantine that your insurer could whether or not to cover depending on whether you develop symptoms or not.

I would feel much safer if I tested before departure to at least know I was negative rather than finding out to my detriment once I arrived in Thailand.

John had this experience recently when he was about to fly to Thailand and all of a sudden his tests in two different countries came back positive.

Travel plans affected by the Omicron variant

Even though he felt perfectly fine, he obviously had to cancel his trip. Now imagine this happening when you arrived in Thailand. Game over!

I have documented my experience of entering Thailand under the above conditions:

And the follow-up PCR test in a designated hospital without any quarantine requirement:

When I went through this process I was positively surprised at the efficiency and ease of the steps required from arrival to eventual exit from the program after the second test which has since also been removed and replaced with a test rapid unsupervised.

It would have made much more sense to keep the PCR pre-flight test in place and remove the on-arrival test as Vietnam has done. This new system also exponentially increases the risk of you being seated next to someone on the plane who tests positive and later being dragged in with that person as a “close contact”. I’m really not a fan of this solution. At all!

Another proposal for may (assuming things go well until then) was that the current PCT arrival test would be replaced with a self-administered ATK test likely done at the hotel. It will be decided in April and a lot can happen in six weeks as we all know by now.

Travelers who are not fully vaccinated by what Thailand considers to be (no booster required at this time) will still be required to undergo quarantine, but this has now been reduced to five days.

As always, these changes must be published in the Official Register (Royal Gazette) before they become law.

Conclusion

As of April 1, 2022, there will no longer be a PCR test required for flights to or via Thailand. Travelers entering the kingdom under the Sandbox or Test&Go program will still be subject to the mandatory and costly testing on arrival which could go either way with this new situation.

Personally, I will do at least one rapid antigen test, either self-administered or through a lab before flying to Thailand to cover all the bases. I don’t feel comfortable going into the unknown considering they are still forcing you to self isolate if you test positive when you arrive.

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