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  1. #1
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    I'm home! My repatriation to Thailand from Dubai during the COVID-19 restrictions

    I have been quiet on the forum for good reason…since 25th June I had been trying to get all those ‘ducks in a row’ in order to board the repat flight organised the Royal Thai Consulate-General in Dubai. I had actually been pushing to return since mid-April

    I retired at the end of March, and had a flight booked for April 2nd. Fate played its part though – Suvarnabhumi was closed to international flights in the last week of March, rendering my flight useless. My Company graciously re-employed me for April because at the time we had no idea of what this COVID19 disaster was to become. After that, they could not employ me so I sat in Dubai, with no pay for May, June and most of July. The cost was one thing but…the boredom was a killer – nothing open remember? Beaches, bars, even Malls, restaurants, etc etc etc etc… all closed.

    The path has been trodden many times by returnees in the initial groups before me but, to summarise… each non-Thai repatriate needed: the Certificate of Entry, valid Insurance covering 100,000 USD and stating cover for COVID-19, the T8 form, in paper, the valid covid-19 swab test showing a negative result and the associated Fit to Fly certificate, and the confirmed 15 night ASQ booking. I know different Embassies around the World are asking for different things and some are wanting money spent up front – we were lucky in UAE.

  2. #2
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    So.. to the tale - I started liaising with the Royal Thai Consulate-General (and the Royal Thai Embassy, in Abu Dhabi), and PJ spoke directly to the relevant government departments in Bangkok to try to get me home.
    At that time, my group, legitimately married foreigner with Thai spouse, was not permitted. There was no other way. Finally however, that group was announced and I could start to make a case for repatriation. One of the biggest hurdles, even if I got that permission, was that there were no commercial flights. All repatriation was organised through the embassy / consulate and of course…limited numbers and Thai nationals first.

    It of course took time to assemble it all, show the Consulate and get confirmation that all was good. In the process, I did a total of FOUR COVID-19 tests and with 2 Fit to Fly certificates to make sure there would be no last-minute issues (and there nearly was – more later).

  3. #3
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    I want to shout out appreciation for the Facebook groupThai Expats Stranded Overseas due to COVID-19 Restrictions’ (https://www.facebook.com/groups/275821990252759) forum and the excellent information being circulated to us all, plus the support on our journeys to the ASQ. Additionally, my own sub groups and links – Mike Snyder, Isabella Dove, and Martin Wenzel – Mike, Martin and Myself all made the jump and arrived in the LoS together, Isabella made her journey early August, plus great support from Rab and Woonzen, who will start their journey around October-time – thanks guys.

    And also, a big shout out to the Thai Consul and his amazing team of hard-working officers at the Thai Consulate-General who worked tirelessly WITH us to make it all happen – thanks to Kung, Wan and all the rest working diligently behind the scenes to help our repatriation go smoothly. So many stories of other Embassies at almost stand-off with people trying to get back to Thailand, phones not getting answered, emails ignored etc.

  4. #4
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    For me, the first thing sorted was insurance with Pacific Cross – the Maxima Plus policy covers the requirements and was confirmed by the Consulate. It is an annual policy as I am retiring so need ongoing cover. It is on the Thai Immigration preferred list of Companies

  5. #5
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    I researched ASQ’s that were available at the time – I looked at the Richmond, the Two-Three, the Royal Benja - all seemed good and in the right price range , but I wanted something closer to my wife’s family – fate helped in the form of the Siam Mandarina, a hotel I know well from its days as the Grand Inncome. It is within 2 miles of my wife’s family and only 10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi.

    I booked it, with the proviso that the dates could be changed if the flight was delayed or postponed – no problem from them

  6. #6
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    We all knew there can be issues getting the Fit to Fly, so I made a point of finding somewhere to do it early, then putting it to the test to check it worked. It did, initially.

    I went to the DHA (Dubai Health Authority) Al Barsha Health centre, and as I am over 50, the test was free. It was negative, results within 24-hour, I paid for the printout and sat with a doctor who issued the FTF.

    Armed with this, back to the Consulate who confirmed that was acceptable. By now, I was assembling my folder of documents to cover anything that might be requested. Remember, you cannot get the flight until the consulate is ready to issue the Certificate of Entry, so you need to gather everything, and wait for the ‘secret’ phone number to call the airline.

  7. #7
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    We (my small group of returnees) got to that point – the ‘secret’ phone number was given (we had already been told we were on the flight – just needed to buy the ticket) which we did. As economy was full, we had a choice of business or… business. I would have chosen it anyway, and s my ex-employer was obliged to get me home at the end of the contract I was not worrying too much about the cost

    So now: insurance purchased, ASQ purchased and date confirmed, Flight purchased, and T8 form filled in and in the folder. Back to the consulate to get that all-important CoE. That just left the Negative COVID19 test and the Fit to Fly certificate, within the 72 hours of issue (not test).

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...exciting stuff! Congratulations on getting through all of it...welcome home...

  9. #9
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    I had done a second COVID test between this point and my first one, just to confirm I was still COVID free. Again, I did not pay for that one, though I should have (!). Again – negative. I had made up my mind to go to DHA – after all they provided everything and it was acceptable to the Consulate, but… to cover all bases I also hid another test with Occupational Health International in Dubai – an excellent service, at 550 AED where they come to the home and test you, then courier the test to the lab and you get the results in 24 hours.
    Thank goodness we did.

    My test number 3, with DHA also came back negative so we went to collect the printouts and FTF, only to be told that ‘we no longer issuing FTF’! They would issue a certificate saying everything APART from the fords ‘fit to fly’ which of course was useless without that key sentence. Let’s just say that from a promising start, DHA did NOT bathe themselves in glory.

    So now, we were waiting for OHI. All turned out good though – negative test result number 4 and they issued the required lab report and FTF which once again was accepted by the Consulate.

    We were ready!!!

  10. #10
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    So, to summarise…in my folder was –

    The Certificate of Entry (note it is now journey specific, not open ended),
    The negative COVID lab report,
    The Fit to fly cert which needs to say 1. You have tested negative for COVID19 and 2. That you are ‘fit to fly / fit to travel, and with all the doctors’ details and signature
    The insurance policy specifically stating COVID19 (no ambiguity or vagueness, or ‘it’s not stated it’s not covered so therefore, it is) cover to $100K
    The declaration form
    Copy of the valid visa from your passport (Consulate issued me a new via once it was confirmed I was going back)
    ASQ certificate / confirmation (note… booking confirmation, not a general enquiry)
    T8 form. Like many before, I loaded the AOT app on my phone and registered the T8 information. When in the airport, they asked for the paper copy, not the digital one.
    Marriage certificate, the whole thing not just the colourful square certificate (that was the basis of me being allowed back) plus the letter of invite from PJ. This was mainly for the visa renewal.

    Notes: did I need it all? Well, not all was taken or coped but it was ALL looked at.

    It was a good idea to keep the receipts for the testing, certification, hotel booking, visa, etc. to show you have not just ‘created ‘something on the computer (!)

    No need to panic if the visa expired – a new one would be issued once it was definite you are returning. I initially had a 3 month visa which expired in early June, but this time I changed it to a 12 month multi entry visa (cost 700 AED).
    It was advisable to make more than 1 copy of those key documents, like the CoE. They are taken and sometimes not returned leaving you without. You are asked for some documents more than once, including at the ASQ when you arrive.

  11. #11
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    On flight day, 28th, we all went to the Dubai airport early, and all the consulate staff, including the Consul were there to meet and assist the repatriates, including handing out some delicious food bags. Airport check-in required to see the CoE, the covid test and fit to fly certificate plus of course, the ticket.

    The plane left on time, and the journey was uneventful…we arrived about 10 minutes behind the schedule. It was good to be in business class, for the comfort (fully reclining seat, creature comforts, better menu, distancing etc.) but no alcohol available and we all had to wear a mask for the flight duration. One could only access the rest room after seeking permission and being escorted.

    I was especially glad of the distancing – the economy class was rammed and there were three cases identified in the subsequent ASQ, who were on my flight.

  12. #12
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    At Suvarnabhumi, the organisation was fantastic. Firstly of course, and not surprisingly…it was deserted. No commercial flights, remember and limited repat flights. We were ushered from the plane, accompanied at all times and led to a holding area, where we sat on rows of socially distanced seating. Airport staff, nurses, airport security and police were…everywhere.
    The nurses processed the document checking quickly – check the COVID19 testing date/time, check the CoE, check the ASQ arrangements, check the passport / visa – all was recorded and a copy of the CoE was retained.

    All the other docs were checked. This whole process was like a conveyor belt with 3 different seating zones but it was very well organised.

    Next we were led to the carousel where our luggage was already being unloaded. I was one of the first few people to reach the baggage hall (again, totally deserted) and got my trolley and waited for my suitcases.

    Thankfully, my cases were some of the first up, so I grabbed them and was directed to the exit and the waiting representatives from the ASQ hotels.

    Just as I was exiting the hall, I realised I had left my expensive 4k MSi laptop in the hall. I immediately assumed that it would be gone, ‘borrowed’ by someone else, as I hurried back, but no…there it was, all on its own by the carousel with no one anywhere near it!.

    Computer recovered, I exited and made contact with the Siam Manarina rep.

  13. #13
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    I was led immediately to a waiting mini bus and my cases were loaded in by personnel in Tyvek jumpsuits. I waited in the bus for about 35 minutes for another family also staying at the hotel. They finally arrived (apparently they DID have trouble with paperwork) and we set off to the Hotel.

    In reception, we booked in and the 24 hour nurse allocated to the hotel took BP, temp, weight etc. She told us the first COVID19 test would be in 3 days’ time, and until then we were confined to the room 24-hours a day. we would be keeping contact via the LINE app and someone was always available

    OK... more to follow about the hotel itself

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...exciting stuff! Congratulations on getting through all of it...welcome home...
    Thanks TC... its good to be back!

    Yeah - I was excited once I came out of Suvarnabhumi - a realisation that I had actually made it back.

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat TheRealKW's Avatar
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    Congrats on getting home, sounds like a mission.

  16. #16
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    Welcome home TD! doubtless been an utter hassle, but given the choices! Good you had the wherewithal to wade through the BS put in your way, many wouldn't have managed.

  17. #17
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    Congrats, TD. Welcome home.

  18. #18
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    Congrats TD, and welcome home. And enjoy that retirement!


    What an utter clusterfok Covid has caused globally eh.

  19. #19
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    How did you pass the time ? Porn is blocked at the airport WiFi eh ?

  20. #20
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    Well done!

    Quote Originally Posted by Thai Dhupp View Post
    fate helped in the form of the Siam Mandarina, a hotel I know well from its days as the Grand Inncome. It is within 2 miles of my wife’s family and only 10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi.
    That's where I stayed.

    2 Things of note. First, the rooms have no balcony. so you have to go all the way to the lobby and exit for a ciggie. Second, my daughter was gutted that the Crystal restaurant was not actually made of of crystal.

    I think she had visions that the restaurant looked a bit like Superman's home.

    We cut our holiday short and was lucky to get on the last flight back before Thailand closed their borders in March.
    Last edited by Bogon; 02-10-2020 at 08:00 PM.
    Black diamonds? I shit 'em.

  21. #21
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    Welcome back. Simple fact is, for many of us Thailand is home.

  22. #22
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    Cheers, TD!
    Welcome home....


  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheRealKW View Post
    Congrats on getting home, sounds like a mission.
    It was only wen i was about to leave the ASQ that the enormity of the effort to get to that point hit me, and i did break down a bit.

    I was not the only one.

    The stress of it all just came out right there.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Airportwo View Post
    Welcome home TD! doubtless been an utter hassle, but given the choices! Good you had the wherewithal to wade through the BS put in your way, many wouldn't have managed.
    It was stressful but i made it. I look now at that FaceBook forum i mentioned earlier - there are guys stuck in Australia, or UK or wherever who as yet do not have permission to return - some have been away from family for upwards of 8, 9 and 10 months. I really feel for them. the retirement visa is not worth anything in the current situation, and not is the Elite visa, apparently.

    Some Chinese tourists are being let in though, on the 8th October, according to Bangkok Post, so all is well....

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Neverna View Post
    Congrats, TD. Welcome home.
    Thanks Nev... really highlights what 'home' means when you are stuck outside the country

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