Thailand is one of the ten most visited countries in the world. Digital nomads from all over the world often form their base in Thailand. Many people from western countries choose to retire in Thailand as well. If you belong to any of these categories, you must accustom yourself with the process of Thai visa application.
Although there are a lot of confusions and frequent changes related to Thai visa requirements, we will cover the types of Thai visa, extension and re-entry, up-to-date procedures, guidelines and everything under the sun.
Who Needs a Thailand Visa?
Thailand allows the citizens of a bunch of countries a visa waiver, such as USA, Canada, UK and most of Europe. And no, not everyone gets 30 days, although most. There is no fee or payment required.
Some travelers wrongly refer to it as visa on arrival or a tourist visa.
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. You can check about that information on Thailand foreign ministry website.
If you are not from one of the countries listed below and if you are not eligible for Thai visa on arrival either, you need to submit a Thai visa application at a Thai consulate.
14 days: 2 Countries
30 days: 57 countries
|Czech Republic||Luxembourg||South Africa|
|Greece||Mongolia||United Arab Emirates|
|Hong Kong||Netherlands||United Kingdom|
|Hungary||New Zealand||United States|
90 days: 5 countries
|Argentina||Republic of Korea|
Thai Visa on Arrival for 15 Days: 18 countries
|Bhutan||Bhutan||China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau)|
|Papua New Guinea||Romania||Saudi Arabia|
What Does a Thai Visa Look like? Sample Thailand Visa.
Thai Visa Types
Thai visas can be divided into 2 main categories: Short-term visas and Non-Immigrant visas.
Short-term Tourist Visas
Thailand issues various types of visas for different purposes such as:
- Medical treatment
- Recreational learning or training of different activities such as boxing, scuba diving etc.
- Short visit to see family
- Participating in MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).
A Thai tourist visa can be any one of these
1.Thai visa on arrival
Thailand allows visa on arrival for 15 days to the citizens of 18 countries as of now if they arrive in any of 48 designated immigration check points listed on the official website of Thai embassy.
2.Thai eVisa on arrival
All the countries which are eligible for a Thailand tourist visa on arrival, can apply for an tourist e-visa on arrival. So how is it different from a normal visa on arrival? Using this option, you can receive a travel authorization from the Immigration Bureau of Thailand prior to their departure. Then when you get to the airport, you present your passport and approved eVOA code at the immigration counter for eVOA and Visa on Arrival will be issued in just one minute. So you will not be standing in a queue for long.
And, you can only use the EVoA for air entry in these airports. No land entries are allowed.
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (BKK)
- Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK)
- Phuket International Airport (HKT)
- Chiang Mai International Airport (CNX)
- Krabi International Airport (KBV)
3. Thai SETV or 60-day visa
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.
4. Thai METV or 6-months visa
A Thai multiple entry tourist visa or METV gives you 60 days maximum per entry and is valid for 6 months from the day of issuance. So you would need to leave after each entry and come back. You can put in the Thai visa application for this once in your home country.
Long-term Non-Immigrant Visas
There are various types of Thailand non-immigrant visas that allow the holder to live in Thailand for different purposes for long.
1. Work and Business Visas
Thai work visas allow foreigners to legally work and earn money in Thailand. Depending on the nature of your work, two types of employment visas can be issued.
- Non-Immigrant B visa
A non-immigrant B visa can be issued for teaching English, working as a sports coach, work in a company or conduct business.
- M visa
This type of visa is issued to who wish to work as a film-producer, journalist or reporters. Also known as Thai journalism visa, it is available to media correspondents of foreign news working for printed newspapers and magazines, TV, radio, or online agencies. Film producers can avail this visa too.
- IB Visa
This visa is for business and investment-related purposes, although most embassies do not commonly issue this visa. They issue a non-immigrant B visa instead.
- BA Visa (Business Approved)
A BA visa can be issued by the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok to foreigners who can invest in a Thai company or become a business partner in the company. It is not commonly issued by Thai embassies or consulates.
For Australians, now there is an option called Thai Working Holiday Visa, which is also a BA visa. It allows them to live in Thailand for upto one year and work legally.
2. Student Visa
A student visa or non-immigrant ED visa is issued to foreigners who want to study or do internships in Thailand. You can learn Thai, participate in projects or seminars, attend a training course, study as a Buddhist monk, and even learn Thai cooking. But the institute or organization where you study must be approved by the Thailand’s Ministry of Education or the Thai consulate where you’re applying.
3. Volunteer Visa
Thai volunteer visa or non-immigrant O visa is issued to foreigners who wish for volunteering work with the state enterprises, charities, foundations, schools or social welfare organizations in Thailand.
4. Retirement Visa
Foreigners who are older than 50 years, can apply for Thai retirement visa to live in Thailand. The applicant for this visa must be able to show a regular proof of income and deposit money in a Thai bank account, and have health insurance. Employment of any kind is strictly prohibited if you possess this visa.
There are two kinds of retirement visas.
- Thai non-immigrant OA visa
Holder of this type of visa is allowed to stay in Thailand for one year. You can apply for it only in your home country, and extend it later by various means.
- Thai non-immigrant OX visa
Also known as the 10 year retirement visa, it’s available to nationals of 14 countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States of America.
It allows the visa holder to stay in Thailand for 10 years, although you need to renew it every 5 years. The financial proof for this visa is way higher than the other one.
5. Marriage/Spouse Visa
A foreigner married to a Thai national can apply for a Thai non-immigrant O visa or marriage visa, from his/her home country. Once you’re in Thailand, you can then apply for an extension of stay.
With this visa, you’re allowed to work legally in Thailand and apply for a work permit under a Thai-registered company.
6. Elite Visa
By taking advantage of the Thai Elite Visa Program or Privilege Entry Visa, affluent foreigners can stay in Thailand for five to 20 years. It’s a government-run program that grants you various privileges like
- airport service
- prestigious golf club memberships
- first-class accommodations
- healthcare benefits
- priority treatment at Thai immigration
7. Smart Visa
A Thai smart visa is a new type of visa specially designed to encourage highly-skilled professionals, investors, startup founder and top talents to work or invest in the 10 targeted S-Curve industries, such as
- next-generation automotive
- smart electronics
- affluent, medical and wellness tourism
- agriculture and biotechnology
- food for the future
- aviation and logistics
- biofuels and biochemicals
- medical hub.
A smart visa holder can live and work in Thailand for four years continuously, and bring in his/her dependants.
8. Religious Visa
Thai religious visa is for priests, or missionaries who want to stay in Thailand to perform missionary or religious work, recognized by Thai Government. This visa is valid for 3 months but can be extended to 1 year.
9. Expert Visa
A foreigner can apply for a Thai Expert visa or non-immigrant EX visa to undertake skilled work or to work as an expert or specialist on a short-term basis.
10. Diplomatic /Official Visas
These visas are of type F , and are issued to
- Foreign diplomats who will be staying in Thailand on official missions.
- Ordinary passport holders who have received an invitation from the Royal Thai Government to attend meetings.
11. Scientific Research Visa
The Thai Scientific Research Visa, also known as the non-immigrant RS visa, is a highly specialized visa is for foreigners who are conducting scientific research or training or teaching in a research institute.
Thai Visa Application Process
1.Choose the Right Visa
Choosing the right Thai visa is very important before you put in the Thai visa application. At times, it can be confusing which visa is good for you based on your purpose. Reach out to the Thai embassy in your country if you have any doubts.
2. Prepare the Documents as per the Requirements
Thai visa requirements vary depending on the kind of visa and the country you are applying from. Especially if you are applying from a country that you are not a citizen of, you would certainly need to come up with extra documents.
3. Book an Appointment
Some Thai consulates like the one in Vientiane, Laos need you to get an appointment before submitting the documents. If applicable, you must show up on the day of your appointment in the slot provided to you.
4. Submit Thai Visa Application Form and Other Documents
The majority of Thai consulates ask you to submit the Thai visa application form and other documents in person only.
However some Thai embassies, like the ones in USA / UK allow you to mail in your application.
And citizens of UK and Ireland need to submit the application online and upload the documents in the online portal only.
5. Pay the Thai Visa Fees
You need to pay the visa fees at the time of submitting the documents. The fees can vary a little depending on the country where the Thai consulate, and depending on currency exchange rates. After you make the payment, you will be issued a receipt. Make sure not to lose it.
The mode of payment can vary as well.
|Country||Mode of payment|
|United States||Money order|
|Australia||Cash or money order|
|Canada||Cash, Money Order |
or Certified Cheque
6. Receive the Thai Visa
If your visa is approved, you can receive it from the consulate where you applied in person by showing the receipt for your application. You can receive it by mail as well, in case the facility is available in your country.
Thai Visa Fees
Here are the Thai visa fees for different kinds of visas. The fees can vary a little depending on currency exchange rates in different countries.
|Thai visa on arrival||2000 THB|
|Employment visa category B,|
Spouse visa category O,
Diplomat visa category F,
|Employment visa category B,|
Spouse visa category O,
Diplomat visa category F,
|Retirement O-A visa||$200|
|Retirement O-X visa||$400|
|Visa extension||1900 THB|
Citizens of the following countries are exempted from paying the Thai visa fees, as per their bilateral agreements with Thailand.
- The Philippines (visa fee exemption for stay of not exceeding 59 days)
- Republic of Korea and
Thai Visa Processing Time
The Thai visa processing time can vary based on the kind of visa you are applying for and the country where you are submitting the Thai visa application. In general, Thai visa processing time is shorter than other visas. Some Thai consulates issue a tourist visa in one or two days.
Here is compilation of average visa processing time(in business days) in various countries.
|United States||United Kingdom||Australia||India|
|In person||5 days||5 days||3-5 days||4 days|
|By mail||15 days||15 days||3-5 days||N/A|
Thai Visa-Free Entry: Airport or Land or Sea port?
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.
“Those who enter by air can only enter 3 times over a 6 month period visa-free”
The Royal Thai Consulate in Cardiff, UK.
- 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.
How to Extend Thai Visa
So whether you entered as visa-exempt or with a SETV or an METV, the extension works the same way. Check out the step-by-step guide on extending Thai visa, and tips on doing it.
After the 30 day extension, if you want, you can apply for an additional “emergency” 7 day extension. This also costs 1,900 baht as well.
The Thailand visa on arrival can be extended for 7 days only in special situations such as if you are ill.
Thai Re-Entry Permit
Re-entry permit is a real good thing if you are on an SETV and want to leave for a bit and come back. In that case, rather than getting a new visa or using a visa-waiver, you can apply for a re-entry permit before you leave. That way you can re-enter even though your original SETV allows only one entry.
You can apply for a Re-Entry permit at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok or at any Immigration office located in the provinces.
To get a Thai Re-Entry permit, you will need to submit passport with Thailand departure card, one passport photo, photocopies of passport pages (main page and latest entry stamp). You will need to fill in the re-entry permit form and pay 1,000 THB, and you are all set.
Online Thai Visa Application
Some Thai embassies have rolled out the online Thai visa application system through which you can apply for any Thai visa online. Right now, the citizens of China, UK, Ireland and France can apply for any Thai visa online through the Thai embassies in their respective countries. Going forward, 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 for Thai Visa
- Thailand Visa-exemption / 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.
- Thailand Tourist Visa
If applying for a Thai SETV, You would normally submit bank statements that say that you have 700 USDs per person. If it’s an METV, you need to submit bank statements that say you got 6000-8000 USDs depending on your country.
Proof of Onward Travel for Thailand
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 an 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 free.
Thai Visa Overstay Fine
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 is 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.
Thailand Visa for Indians
Indian citizens are eligible to get a Thailand Visa on Arrival valid for 15 days if they enter through one of the designated entry points. For this, you need to have proof of sufficient funds, return ticket from Thailand, proof of accommodation. You must fill in the Thailand Visa on Arrival form and pay the fees as well.
If you are planning to stay in Thailand for more than 15 days, you need to apply for a Thai tourist visa from India.
RELATED FURTHER READING
Personal experience of getting the Thailand Visa on Arrival and tips.
Yellow Fever Vaccination for Thai Visa
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.