So, really how long can you stay as a digital nomad in Thailand or as a tourist?
And what options are there really when getting a Thailand Long Stay Visa or finding a way to lengthen your stay without breaking any rules and most importantly, without breaking the bank.
We all know worldwide travel has been disrupted by the pandemic, although things are probably better now. You’ve been wanting to visit Thailand (or get back here) for ages but have been overwhelmed and confused by all the new rules and bureaucracy.
The Thailand border restrictions further complicated the border runs, although they have slowly opened up.
Fear, not traveler!
The Land of Smiles is within reach. Here we will explain the complete process and entry requirements to travel to Thailand.
Before creating this guide, we have read a bunch of posts on Thai Visa. It’s full of contradicting information from people who went through visa experiences in the last decade.
Most blogs that have info about this are not updated with the latest developments or they don’t talk about the whole picture.
And even more importantly, we will explain how to stay in Thailand for months or even years.
Entering while Thailand Travel Restrictions are in Place
Certificate of vaccination for Covid is required for entering Thailand now.
Step 1: Obtain Insurance
Your travel insurance must have Covid-19 coverage for the entirety of your stay. I found the lowest prices with Safety Wing. Coverage starts at just $1.43 per day.
If you are under 39 years old, that works out to about $86 for the length of a 60-day Tourist Visa or about $520 for a year.
Check their rates here: SafetyWing Travel Insurance
Step 2: Decide Type of Entry
Depending on which passport you hold, you may have the choice to enter Visa Exempt or on a Visa.
Refer here for a list of Visa Exempt countries.
If your country is not on the list, you must apply for a visa with your local Thai Consulate.
Step 3: Request Hotel Booking
Approved hotels work in conjunction with Thailand’s government and medical system to comply with Covid-19 safety standards.
The length and rules of your quarantine depend on your first destination and your vaccine status.
Thailand has introduced two new programs in a bid to promote international travel to the famed island destinations of Phuket and Koh Samui, and others. You can make the reservation here
Let’s get to it!
Hotel packages are for 7 nights and start at about $450, but you need at least one night’s paid reservation.
Step 4: Register for Thailand pass
Register for Thailand Pass at https://tp.consular.go.th/
Requirements for Thailand Pass
1. Passport and Visa (if required)
2. Certificate of Vaccination
3. Insurance with minimum coverage of 20,000 USD for medical expenses (not required for Thai nationals / foreign residents in Thailand can use social security or certificate from their employer)
4. Paid Reservation Confirmation from SHA Extra+ / AQ Hotel for 1 night (Day 1). The price must include the fee for 1 RT-PCR test, 1 ATK self-test kit, and airport transfer.
Processing time is 3-7 days
Step 5: Install ThailandPlus App
From the Apple App Store or Google Play Store download and install the ThailandPlus app.
ThailandPlus is a mobile app to enhance contact tracing efforts. It uses GPS and Bluetooth combined with QR code check-in to record the traveler’s journey.
The user manual can be found here.
Step 6: Book a Flight
You must have a flight booking before finalizing your approved hotel.
There are surprisingly affordable deals from North America and Europe on the major Middle Eastern airlines such as Etihad, Emirates, and Qatar Airways.
Step 7: Provide a Negative PCR Test & Take More Tests in Thailand
A laboratory must issue you a medical certificate indicating that Covid-19 was not detected using the RT-PCR method.
This certificate must be issued within 72 hours of departure and is required whether you are vaccinated or not.
Undergo an RT-PCR test and wait for the test result at your hotel.
Take ATK self-test on Day 5-6 and report the test result as instructed by the Ministry of Public Health.
Step 8: Depart for Thailand
Let’s review everything you need to enter Thailand:
- Covid-19 Travel Insurance
- Thai Visa, If Necessary
- Thailand Pass
- Certificate of Vaccination
- ThailandPlus App
- Flight Reservation
- Hotel Reservation
- RT-PCR test
Welcome to Thailand!
How long Can I Stay in Thailand?
You fell in love with the food, people, and relaxed way of life. A vacation will simply not be enough, you want to stay here for months or even longer. Fortunately for you, several options are available to extend your stay.
1. Thailand Long Stay Visa using Special Tourist Visa
If you’re planning on staying 6 months or longer, the Thailand Special Tourist Visa or STV is awesome. It was introduced as a Thailand Long Stay Visa for tourists who would like to spend quite a bit of time in this country.
Applicants will pay US$80 for a 90-day entry. This visa may be extended twice, each for 90 days, for an additional fee at any immigration office. Altogether, 270 days to visit or get a taste of living locally here.
The STV is one of the economic measures introduced by the Thai government to help restore the tourism industry from the effects of Covid-19.
The program is valid until September 30, 2022, but as the deadline approaches, authorities may consider pushing this date back.
This visa can NOT be converted into any other visa. You must leave the country at its expiry. Please note that STV requires more documents than a regular Tourist Visa.
2. Using Thai Visa Exemptions for Long Stay
A visa exemption will grant people from 51 nations a stay of up to 30 days that is extendable to a total of 90 days.
And no, not everyone gets 30 days, although most.
The tricky part is to know how many days you get in Thailand as visa-exempt. The number of days that you can visit Thailand visa-free could be anywhere from 14 to 90 days depending on where you are from.
Check this list on the comprehensive Thai Visa Guide.
An exemption is NOT a visa. A Thailand visa exemption is permission to stay granted to you by the immigration officer when you arrive. Some travelers wrongly refer it to as Thailand visa on arrival or a tourist visa.
Newsflash : It’s not. You swoop in, get an entry stamp telling you how many days you could stay, and swoop out.
The initial stamp is issued free but they are extendable only once at an immigration office for a fee of 1,900 Thai Baht.
Entering by air or land or sea port ?
The number of visa-exempt days change depending on whether you enter by air or land. For example, US citizens get 30 days visa-free for each entry if they fly and 15 days if they enter through a land border/ sea port.
- Technically you can enter unlimited times, by air.
But, the definition of “unlimited” is defined by the immigration officer on duty. If you don’t get denied after 3 or 4 visa-exempt entries in a year, you should give the immigration officer a nice bear hug.
- Land/ Sea port entries can only be done twice in a calendar year. So, if you have done it twice, it’s high time you get an SETV or METV.
Thailand wants tourists to use proper visas and not start working on tourist visas. The rule of thumb here is if you keep on entering with visa waivers, it might not end well for you.
3. Thailand Single Entry Tourist Visa for Long Stay
So will I get a tourist visa for Thailand?
If you are a long-term backpacker frequenting Thailand, at some point you will.
The SETV for Thailand visa is ideal if you are coming to Thailand on a passport that does NOT have a visa exemption agreement with Thailand, and if you don’t want to do a lot of border runs.
This visa allows a stay of up to 60 days and is extendable for a further 30 days for a total of 90 days.
So it can be used in combination with visa exemptions as a Thailand long term visa.
The initial fee is around US$30 depending on which consulate you apply at. The Thai visa extension is done in Thailand at an immigration office for a fee of 1,900 Thai Baht.
With the help of an agency, your SETV may be converted into a visa that allows for additional time in Thailand.
While the Thai SETV is not really a Thailand Long Stay Visa, coupled with border runs, it can be stretched quite a bit.
Here are a few articles on The Visa Project that you could go through.
The requirements for getting a SETV and the processing time change a little bit from country to country.Some Thai embassies, like the ones in USA / UK, allow you to apply online. Visa processing can take 2 days in the UK, up to 7 days in India, and a day or two in the USA.
Visa fees : 40 USD approx.
Visa duration: 60 days
Visa validity : Single entry 3 months from the date of application.
You can apply for a SETV at any Thai embassy or consulate , be it in your home country or in a country outside of Thailand.
And, once you have the visa, you can enter Thailand within 3 months to activate it. Your 60 days start from the day you enter Thailand.
How many SETVs Can I Get?
Technically, you can get “unlimited” of them from the local Thai consulate, with the definition of “unlimited” being up to the discretion of immigration.Before COVID hit, there were people who successfully received 4 SETVs in one year, and people who have been getting those for years.
There are no official rules, only rumors and such. The immigration officer you deal with has a big say on this matter.
If they deny you a SETV in the Thai consulate in Vientiane, you could very well show up in the consulate in Savannakhet and end up getting one. And this depends a lot on your history as a tourist in Thailand as well.
It’s normal for any level-headed immigration officer to ask you a few questions, after a few consecutive SETVs. A lot of people go to Thailand to work illegally in bars or schools or whatever.
They simply want to know that you got funds to cover yourself and that you aren’t doing something illegal.
A lot of expats apply for a SETV at the Thai embassies in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar. The requirements to apply for a visa vary in different consulates.
Can anyone get an SETV in a Thai embassy outside of home country?
No. If you are from a visa-restricted country such as India, Nigeria, China, high chances are that a Thai embassy won’t grant you an SETV outside of your home country . That means you need to come back to your home country and apply it at a Thai consulate there.
Everything being said, the Single Entry Tourist Visa definitely is great for someone wanting to be a digital nomad in Thailand.
4. Changing Thai Visa Type
Thailand also issues Non-Immigrant visas that allow a stay of up to one year or longer depending on a set of rigid criteria.
Visas and their extension based on Marriage, Retirement, Education, or Volunteer are some of the most popular options.
If you are presently in Thailand on an Exemption or Tourist visa and looking to convert or change your visa into a Thai Non-Immigrant visa, you will need to enlist the help of an agency.
Written into the immigration laws of Thailand is a provision that agencies are able to use through their personal and business connections.The extension of stay as well as the change of a certain type of visa is solely at the discretion of the Immigration officer.
Think about that as little or as much as you want. The fee you pay the agency takes care of everything making it a seamless and stress-free process.
5. Thailand Multiple Entry Visa : Is It Worth It?
Popularly referred to as Thailand 6 month tourist visa, it might sound like pure gold for wannabe digital nomads in Thailand. However, it comes with many catches.
The part that’s important to get here is that you get 60 days maximum per entry. So you would need to leave after each entry and come back.
Or you can extend the visa for 30 days per entry, leave and come back and repeat the cycle. So in that sense, it’s not really a “6-month visa”, if you are thinking of a 6-months continuous stay.
Extension of Thailand Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
Same as the SETV, You can extend any METV entry stamp by 30 days by applying for a Thailand visa extension at a Thai immigration office.
Now, here are the catches that make this one not particularly appealing for a Thailand long stay visa.
Catch 1 : Apply METV only in Home Country
So that’s the first catch.You can apply for a Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa at Thai consulates/ embassies in your home country. If you are from US, get it in US. If you are from UK, do that in UK.
So the next time you are in Cambodia, filling yourself with that delicious Fish Amok, thinking to yourself that you could get an METV in Phnom Penh, sorry that’s not gonna happen. You can get a SETV there though.
Catch 2 : METV is Costly
The Thailand Multiple Entry Tourist Visa can be extended to 90 days, BUT after that you would need to leave the country. So someone would pay close to $260 for a single 90-day stay.
Visa fees : 200 USD approx.
Visa duration: 60 days max per entry
Visa validity : 6 months from the date of issuance.
Catch 3 : Too many Requirements
To get a Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa for Thailand you need to present a passport valid for at least six months, photos, visa fees, round-trip flight tickets, accommodation reservations in Thailand and proof of funds.
And depending on your country, you might need to show a letter from your employer, company registration, income tax returns etc.
Thai Tourist Visa : SETV vs METV
The main difference between an METV and a SETV is that with an METV, you have a full 6 months to leave and enter Thailand from the date of visa issue, the “Valid From”.
You can get a 60-day stamp, whenever you enter until you are in that 6 months time frame.
And you can’t get an METV in a Thai consulate outside your home country unless you are a permanent resident of that country. So, a US or UK citizen can get an METV in Laos, if he/she has permanent residency in Laos.
The METV is valid from the day you get it. Unlike the SETV, it doesn’t give you 3 months to activate it, which is why you should get it only when you are very sure about your travel dates. That’s the only way you can max it out.
Thailand Tourist Visa Hacks
Thailand Online Visa Application
Some Thai embassies have rolled out the online visa application system through which you can apply for any Thai visa online.
Right now, the citizens of China, UK, USA, Ireland can apply for any Thai visa online through the Thai embassies in their respective countries.
I am hoping that all the Thai embassies in different countries will get on the bandwagon sooner or later for a reason which I would interpret as “lesser headaches”.
Thai Immigration offices
You can apply for a visa extension or a re-entry permit in an immigration office in Thailand. There are immigration offices in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, Koh Samui.
Here is a nice map of all the immigration offices in Thailand.
Proof of Funds
- Visa-exempt/ visa on arrival: You should have 10000 THBs per person on you when entering Thailand. That too in cash. They don’t really care about your Chase Sapphire credit card or your Paypal balance.
- SETV: You would normally submit bank statements that say that you have 700 USDs per person.
- METV : Bank statements that say you got 6000-8000 USDs depending on your country.
Proof of Onward Travel
If you are traveling to Thailand, have an onward ticket on you. That’s the best way to put it.
It can be a bus or boat or train or flight, but you have to have something on you. The immigration officials in Thailand and airlines flying to Thailand are both known not to cut any slack on onward tickets.
If you have a SETV or METV, have an onward ticket within 60 days. If you are visa-exempt, they might not ask you the first time you enter, but better safe than sorry.
If you are using your visa waiver the first time in a calendar year, most probably you can breeze through immigration. But if you have used the waiver 3/4 times in a year, then they might question you.
And, when you board your flight, the airline employee may ask you to show an onward flight.
Wanna know more about that?
Head over to how to get proof of onward travel for cheap or free
and read it while having some Tom Yum Goong or your favorite Thai food.
Overstays in Thailand
If you overstay your visa, the fine is 500 THB per day. When it comes to overstays, Thailand isn’t as bad as some other countries like Vietnam. But don’t do it.
That being said, short periods of overstay are not a big deal. You can pay the fine at a border crossing or airport ( in cash only). But if you get caught by the police anywhere else, you never know how that will end. Probably in deportation.
And if you overstay for more than a few months, expect a long-term travel ban to Thailand.
Yellow Fever Vaccination
If you are from a Yellow Fever affected country, then you need to submit an International Health Certificate along with the visa application form if you are applying for a visa from your own country.
You might be asked to present it to an Immigration Officer upon arrival at the port of entry in the Kingdom.
Thailand 90 Day Report
The 90-day reporting in Thailand is required for foreigners staying in Thailand on a long-term visa is to report the current address every 90 days. Not doing it can result in fines and worse. You can do the Thailand 90-day report online, in person, or through the mail.
Do You Need a Thai Tourist Visa?
This is where we started. Here are some common scenarios where people have questions.
1. I want to stay in Thailand for 3 months at a stretch.
Get a 60-day SETV and a 30-day extension.
2. I am gonna visit Thailand for a month and half every year.
If you have a visa waiver, no need to get a visa in advance. Use the waiver to enter, then extend it for 30 days or do a border run and come back. If you don’t have a visa waiver, you need to get a SETV every time and extend it for 30 days.
3. I want to stay in Thailand the longest possible with one tourist visa.
Get an STV. If not, get a SETV and get an extension.
In case you have an METV, do a border run just before your METV runs out, or fly out and enter Thailand. If you can pull this off before midnight on the day your visa expires, you will get 60 days.
After those 60 days, you can get an extension for 30 more days. So if used correctly, one METV can get you 9 months in Thailand.
Is there anything you want to add? Do you have any questions?
I have tried to address all possible scenarios when it comes to Thailand long stay visas . If there is anything I should add, please let me know.
See Also in Thai Visa Experiences
- Thailand Non-immigrant visa
- Thailand Work Permit
- Thailand 60 Day Tourist Visa
- Thai Visa Extension
- Thailand Visa on Arrival
- Thailand Visa from Nepal
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