MFA launches passport kiosk

Less Covid risk for contactless renewals

An officer demonstrates a digital information kiosk to visitors seeking consular services at the temporary passport office in Bangkok's MBK Centre. (Photo: Varuth Hirunyatheb)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will roll out the first automatic kiosk for passport renewal to reduce the risk of coronavirus being transmitted through human contact by the end of next month.

Chatri Archjananun, director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs, said the first kiosk for passport extension will be launched on Jan 29 at MBK Centre.

"After a trial, we will increase the number of machines to 15 by May. Ten will be available inside while the rest will be outside for off-hour services. It normally takes 12 minutes with staff, but it will be shortened to no more than eight minutes. Users must have their passport history and be at least 20 years old," he told a press briefing at the Office of Passport Division at the MBK Centre on Wednesday.

Mr Chatri said the process will be paperless and will reduce human contact, making it safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, Tanee Sangrat, the MFA spokesman, said that almost 148,000 Thais had returned from abroad from April 4-Dec 29.

"Some 115,096 returned by air, 30,373 by land, and 2,163 by sea. Of these, 1,115 are found to be infected, accounting for 0.76%. They were subject to 14-day quarantines and medical treatment. Almost all have recovered," he said.

Mr Tanee said the Department of Consular Affairs has been working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT) to allow 48 airlines to operate semi-commercial flights to enable entry by Thai and foreign nationals since Nov 1.

"The Foreign Ministry has found that 13,241 Thais would like to return home in January (220 by land and 13,021 by air).

"Some 38,611 Thais and 26,395 foreigners have registered online for a certificate of entry (COE). As of Dec 28, we have issued a COE to 58,371 foreigners," he said.

Mr Tanee said the cabinet's approval for the online registration of illegal migrant workers from three countries to stay in Thailand for two years has received support from Thai businesses.

The cabinet on Tuesday approved the registration of illegal migrant workers, allowing them to stay in the country for two years, to contain the novel coronavirus.

Online registration would take place from Jan 25-Feb 13 and would allow Cambodian, Lao and Myanmar migrants to work in the country for two years, or until Feb 16, 2023, according to Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul.

When asked by the Bangkok Post whether vaccination will be provided to them, he said the Foreign Ministry is discussing the matter with Myanmar authorities.

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