Thai Visas

Do I need a visa to visit Thailand? How long can I stay? What are the requirements?

These are questions I get asked a lot and I thought it was about time that I discussed the topic.

There are numerous categories of visas and each one is issued for a specific purpose. My summary won't include every type of visa, but will outline the most common visas that "Farangs" or Westerners generally apply for.

I hope to give my readers a clear and concise breakdown and help them navigate the complexities of the system.

1) Visa waiver programme

Travellers from over 40 countries, including the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Israel, Japan, most EU countries and many of the Gulf States, who hold a valid passport are issued a 30 day stamp on arrival, if they enter the country at an international airport and a 15 day stamp, when entering at a land border or port, if they haven't already applied for a visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate before entering the country.

The stamps are issued automatically, on completion of a landing card and you don't have to pay a fee, fill-in any other forms or provide a photo. Although, on rare occassions, you may be asked to show proof that you have access to living expenses of 20,000 baht (approximately £400) per person or 40,000 baht (approximately £800) per family. You must also be in possession of a confirmed flight ticket (e-tickets are accepted) to show you will be exiting Thailand within the 30 day or 15 day period. Train, boat or bus tickets are not accepted as proof that you will be leaving the country.

If you cannot prove you have an onward ticket and have enough money to to cover your living expenses you will be refused entry.

So, please be aware of this before you travel!!!!

I have been travelling regularly to Thailand since 2003 and I have never been asked to prove that I have sufficient funds or hold an onward ticket, but from time to time it does happen.

At the end of the 30 or 15 day period, you must exit leave Thailand. Nevertheless, it is easy for tourists to quickly return. You simply travel to a neighbouring country like Laos, Cambodia or Malaysia, get your passport stamped on exit and then re-enter Thailand under the visa waiver scheme for a further 30 or 15 days. However, in 2009, the Immigration Department introduced a new policy whereby you could only exit and re-enter the country on 4 x 15 day visa waivers or if you enter the country on a 30 day stamp you can only stay for a cumulative total of 90 days (3 x 30 days) in any given six-month period.

The visa waiver rules change regularly so it is important to keep track of any developments!!!

This entry stamp is not a visa per se, but rather an invitation to be in the country. For a full list of countries included in the visa waiver programme please click the following link....


2) Tourist Visas

Tourist Visas can only be issued by Royal Thai Embassies or Royal Thai Consulates and must be obtained before arriving in Thailand.

Tourist Visas are available with one, two or three entries. The one entry visa has a validity of three months from date of issue and the two and three entry visas have a validity of six months from date of issue, so they must be used within that time.

On arrival in Thailand, you will be granted either a 60 day or 30 day stay, according to your nationality. You will receive a stamp in your passport giving the date you enter and the date by which you must exit.

It is very important not to stay in Thailand beyond the exit date or you will be fined and may be detained.

You are not allowed to stay continuously in Thailand for more than the length of your visa. But, if you have a visa with more than one entry which has not been used, you can re-enter for further stay of 60 or 30 days until you have used up all entries. All you need to do is visit a Thai Immigration Border Office several days before your visa expires, then exit Thailand into neighbouring country and immediately re-enter to activate your next 60 or 30 days.

When applying for a visa you can either go in person or do eveything by post and you will need to provide the following information....

- An application form correctly completed and signed
- A passport which is valid for at least six months from date of travel
- A current passport sized photo
- The appropriate fee to cover any charges

Please be advised, that as each consulate or embassy is different, it is always wise to check with them, exactly what information and documentation you will need provide.

3) Non-immigrant visas

If the purpose of your visit to the Kingdom is anything other than tourism you must be in possession of a valid Non-Immigrant Visa before you enter Thailand.

A Non-Immigrant Visas can only be issued by a Royal Thai Embassy or a Royal Thai Consulate and it must be obtained before you arrive in Thailand.

Please be aware it is not possible to obtain this visa when you are in Thailand!!!

There are more categories of non-immigrant visa than you can shake a stick at, but the 3 main types you will encounter are as follows....

Category B - This visa allows you to work in Thailand for an International or Thai company and is considered by many as the holy grail of all non-immigrant visas!!!

Category ED - This is basically a visa which allows you to study. For example, language courses, thai boxing, scuba diving, but it also permits you to attend conferences, seminars and exhibitions. It does not allow paid employment.

Category O - This visa has many purposes and allows you to visit friends and family, to do voluntary work and attend training courses. If you're a pensioner and wish to stay in Thailand or you have a Thai wife and are looking to stay for an extended period then this is the visa you will need. This category does not allow paid or unpaid employment without a work permit. Even if you are volunteering you will need to obtain a work permit!!!!

Non-immigrant visas come in two forms, single and multiple entry. The single entry visa has a validity of three months from date of issue and the multiple entry visa has a validity of twelve months from date of issue so they must be used within that time.

On arrival you will be granted a 90-day stay and you will receive a stamp in your passport giving the date you enter and the date by which you must exit.

As with any visa, it is important to remember that if you over stay you will be fined and may be detained

If you have a Non-Immigrant Visa with a Multiple Entries you can re-enter for as many further stays as you wish, each allowing maximum 90 days, within the validity of the visa.

You are not allowed to stay continuously in Thailand for more than 90 days but if you have a multiple entry visa and wish to stay in Thailand for a further 90 days you must visit a Thai Immigration Border Office several days before your visa expires, then exit Thailand and immediately re-enter to activate your next 90-day stay.

When applying for a visa you can either go in person or do eveything by post and you will need to provide the following information....

- An application form correctly completed and signed
- A passport which is valid for at least six months from date of travel
- A current passport sized photo
- The appropriate fee to cover any charges
- Any supporting documentation, for example letter from your employer, sponsor letter from educational establishment, copy of marriage certificate, pension book etc

Please check exactly what you need, with the embassy or consulate, before applying!!!

I hope this information helps and if you have anything you would like to add, please send me an email.

The following weblinks also provide some useful information on this topic...............



Comments

Hello,

Nice piece about the visa. But here is something to add. Visa for free.

Jan and Hanneke van der Linde

Popular posts from this blog

Beginners Guide to Adult Nightlife in Thailand - Types of venues

Dangerous animals in Thailand

My first experience of driving in Thailand