Thailand visa - how to get the right visa

How do you get the right visa for Thailand

The topic of Thailand visas concerns many visitors before a trip to the land of smiles. Be it the entry requirements, the duration of a visa or the application for a visa for Thailand. Here we will give you all the information about the Thailand visa, which comes from our own experience and the official information from the Thai embassy and consulates.

Entry into Thailand without a visa

If you are flying to Thailand for the first time or you are only on vacation in Thailand for a few weeks, then you basically don't need to worry about a visa. A Visa on Arrival is often used here, but this is wrong and confusing. You don’t get a visa in your passport with this type of entry, just an entry stamp telling you when you need to leave.

If you are from the UK, USA, or from one of the 55 countries that get a free visa exemption on arrival (see list below), you will receive a so-called exempt stamp (Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver), which basically means that you do not need a visa. You simply get a stamp in your passport that allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 30 days. You can get this at the passport control counters upon arrival at the airport or at the border crossings in neighboring countries.

The full list of countries that can use Visa Exemption / Visa Waiver entry is as follows, and includes the UK and USA:

Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Vietnam.

Thailand visa exemption stamp

When entering the country without a visa, as well as with the other types of visas, you have to fill out a so-called arrival and departure card and show it at the border control. You will receive the departure card back. Make sure to keep them safe during your stay in Thailand, otherwise you will have to report a loss to the Immigration Office!

If you are traveling through Southeast Asia and not just on vacation in Thailand, then it is advisable to apply for a tourist visa. Since some people have overused the entry procedure with the stamp for 30 days (see also section Visa Run), you may be denied frequent re-entries without a real visa. By land, only 2 entries per calendar year are possible without a visa, and more via airports!

Thailand tourist visa

If you want to stay longer than 30 or 60 days in Thailand or you travel to Thailand more than once on a long-term trip (so normal entry is no longer sufficient for you), then we recommend that you apply for a tourist visa.

The tourist visa is available in 2 different versions

1 entry with a stay of 60 days (visa is valid for 90 days) - costs around €35 - $50 Multiple entry with stays of 60 days each (visa is valid for 180 days) - costs around €150 - $175.

You have to apply for this visa in advance at the Thai embassy in your country or in a country outside Thailand.

The period of validity, also indicated as "enter before" on the visa, shows you until when you can use your visa. If you enter Thailand after this date, the visa is no longer valid and will expire.

The tourist visa with multiple entries can only be applied for in your home country. In a neighboring country from Thailand is only one entry possible.

Non-Immigrant Visa for Thailand

The third option for entering Thailand is the non-immigrant visa. However, you can only apply for this under certain conditions. We summarize the three most famous species for you here:

Non-Immigrant ED - This visa is valid for pupils and students with a stay of up to 1 year. Students are also considered to be people who e.g. attend a language school to learn the national language. So if you want to study or learn Thai in Thailand, this would be the right visa for you. With this visa, however, you have to report to immigration every 90 days to extend it - but without having to leave the country.

Non-Immigrant B - This visa is for people who want to start a business or do a job in Thailand. It is valid for up to 1 year and several departures are possible.

Non-Immigrant O - often referred to as a “retirement visa”. To get the "O" visa, you must be over 50 years old, and be able to show the financial requirements – a bank account showing THB 800,000 or monthly income of at least THB 65,000 (approx €1,600 / $2,000), or a combination of some money in the bank plus the last 12 months monthly income (equalling 800K). The visa is valid for up to 1 year, whereby you have to report to immigration every 90 days.

If this is too much work for you, get in touch and see what we can do for you. Our Nationally available service takes all the worry out of renewing or acquiring your Thai Retirement Visa.

Applying for a visa for Thailand

If simple entry is not enough for you because you want to stay longer in Thailand, then you have to apply for the visa you want at the Thai embassy in your country.

If you are already in Southeast Asia, you can of course also apply for a visa in a neighboring country of Thailand, e.g. Apply for Laos or Malaysia. There, however, the tourist visa is only available with one entry and the application for a visa with multiple entries is only possible in your home country!

You can apply for your Thailand visa at least 90 days before entering Thailand!

Documents to be submitted when applying for the visa:

  • Visa application with the address of an accommodation.
  • Passport (for one entry it must be valid for 6 months on the day of entry, for multiple entries at least 18 months).
  • Copy of the first page of the passport (where your picture, date of birth etc. is shown).
  • 3 passport/visa photos.
  • Flight ticket (outward and return journey or onward journey).
  • Fee in cash.

This applies to applications for all types of visas.

For the tourist visa with multiple entry you also need proof of an interim departure (flight, train or bus ticket or hotel reservation in the neighboring country), at least one hotel stay in Thailand and a proof of assets of 5000 € (a bank statement is sufficient here) and an employer certificate, Certificate of enrollment or financial guarantee from a third person (if the applicant is not employed).

For the non-immigrant B visa, you also need a letter of invitation from a Thai company with activity, period and trade register, as well as a cost assumption declaration from a company with information on the length of stay.

For the Non-Immigrant O visa you also need a bank account showing THB 800,000 or monthly income of at least THB 65,000 (approx €1,600 / $2,000), or a combination of some money in the bank plus the last 12 months monthly income (equalling 800K). - of course only if you are over 50 years old. If you are married to a Thai, you will need a copy of your spouse's passport, a copy of the marriage certificate or an extract from the marriage register.

Note: It is not possible to apply for a Thailand visa in Thailand itself! You can only apply for a visa in your home country or in a neighboring country of Thailand.

Extend Thailand Visa

With an entry without a visa or a tourist visa, it is possible to extend your residence permit for a further 30 days. That means: with an entry without a visa you can stay in Thailand for 60 days and with a tourist visa you can stay for 90 days at a time.

The tourist visa with multiple entry can also be extended for a further 30 days per entry for a fee of 1900 baht. You could also leave the country and get a 60 day stamp on re-entry without extending the visa, as long as the multiple tourist visa (see Enter Before date) is still valid.

The extension is really easy and can be applied for in one of the many immigration offices. This can take a few hours, depending on how busy the immigration office is.

Here you will find a map of all locations of immigration offices in Thailand.

For the extension you need the following:

  • Your passport (valid for at least 6 months).
  • A copy of the first page of your passport.
  • A copy of your departure card (will be given to you on arrival and stamped with your departure date).
  • A copy of your tourist visa (only if you have one, of course).
  • 2 passport photos.
  • A completed application form TM30 (available in the Immigration Office).
  • The address of your accommodation for the form.
  • Extension costs: 1900 baht

When you have everything together, you can drive to the Immigration Office and fill out the application form. After you have handed in your passport, it can take 30 minutes or 2 hours or even more to get your passport back. This is different for every immigration office. All offices have photos and photocopying available if you forget.

When you get your passport back be sure to check the new departure date in your passport. It has happened before that a mistake was made there and it is easier to fix it on site than if you only notice it later.

Visa Run / Border Run

In many places in Thailand you will be offered a so-called Visa Run. Before August 2014, it was a matter of course for many people not to have a proper visa for Thailand, but to quickly cross the border to the neighboring country and back every 30 days. But since this was a loophole to drag his stay forever and many have used it excessively, a stop was put in place.

A border run, however, is possible and sometimes necessary. If you have a tourist visa with multiple entry or a non-immigrant visa with which you have to leave the country after 90 days, then you can do a so-called border run. That means you cross the border into a neighboring country and then travel back to Thailand to activate another entry for your visa.