Thailand Immigration

2012 Thai Immigration brochure .pdf

Thai Visa for visitors, business, retirement in Thailand

Many visiting tourists don't need a visa to enter Thailand; others can apply for a visa on arrival. Laos visa information. Other SE Asian country visa requirements

 Read what other travelers have to say about Thai Visas at TripAdvisor

Citizens or holders of passports for the following countries do not require a visa to enter Thailand as a visitor; those arriving without visas are given an entry stamp for 15-days (arrival by land) or 30 days (arrival at an airport):

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America and Vietnam. Here is the complete list of visa-on-arrival or no visa requirements for visitors to Thailand.


REVISED THAI ENTRY/VISA REGULATIONS 2009-2012

Only Four Consecutive Entries or "Border Runs" to and from Thailand
From June 1, 2009, Thai Immigration at land border crossings (e.g. Friendship Bridge at Nongkhai/Vientiane) will only allow 15-day visa-free entries. Only at airports will a 30 day stamp continue to be given.

A foreigner who has entered the Kingdom four consecutive times on 15-day entry stamps will not be allowed to re-enter Thailand by land without a tourist visa.

Options are to re-enter Thailand via an international airport, which will allow a further 30-day extension of stay in the country, or apply for a Tourist Visa from a Thai Consulate. It is also unknown whether this is for single or multiple entry with/without a re-entry stamp.

These changes are apparently a bid to prevent foreigners "abusing" the visa exemption rule allowing 15-day extensions at land border checkpoints.

The new regulations should not affect foreign residents of a neighbouring country like Laos who make short visits trips to Thailand e.g. shopping in Nongkhai and Udonthani. Thai Immigration should see evidence of residence outside Thailand in the passport.

The thirty day entry stamp may be extended for two weeks, once only, for 1900 baht (over $55); it may be cheaper to visit a neighbouring territory and return.

If you intend spending more time in Thailand, then you should apply for a tourist visa at a Royal Thai Embassy before you go to Thailand. This may be valid for 30 or 60 days. If you want to visit a neighbouring country during this time, you can purchase a re-entry stamp from Immigration before you leave.

Faster, better service may be possible using an authorised agency such as PassportVisasExpress, where visas for several countries can be applied for simultaneously.

Longer periods for business (see below) and multiple entry visas may also be applied for at Thai Embassies. If you have a single-entry visa, you can purchase a re-entry stamp before you leave, and return during the validity of the visa.

Visas for Thailand can be obtained from any convenient Royal Thai Embassy or consular office. For example, a British Passport holder can get a Thai visa in London, Los Angeles, Penang, Vientiane or any other Thai Visa Office.

Visa for Thailand from the Royal Thai Embassy, Vientiane

A 60 day visitor visa for Thailand costs 1000 Baht ($30). Applications are accepted before midday only (get there early, preferably by 8.30 a.m.) and will be available for collection the next afternoon. Apply on Friday for Monday collection. This type of visa can be extended at any Immigration Office for a further thirty days for 1900 baht ($55). The Thai Visa Office is located several kilometres from the Morning Market on the road leading to Wat That Luang (opposite Kolao Building).

There is also a Royal Thai Consulate in Savannakhet in southern Laos.

Passport holders of these countries are given a 15 day Thai visa on arrival:
Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Ukraine. 10,000 baht for living expenses while in Thailand and a fully paid onward airline ticket are required. The fee is 1000 baht and one photograph is needed.

Visitors may not work either voluntarily or for reward. Foreigners can invest in a Thai business and receive dividends, but the likelihood of profit from a Thai business venture without direct involvement is likely to be low! See our Foreign Business page if you are considering coming to Thailand and going into business.

'VISA RUNS' FOR FOREIGNERS (see also above)

It is no longer possible to stay in Thailand indefinitely by doing 'visa runs' cross-border visits before the entry stamp expires. Depending on where you are living, these can be done in one day, alone or with a tour operator. The border crossing may be a 1 minute walk across a bridge into Burma (Myanmar) and back, paying $5 for temporary entry, or crossing the Mekong River into the Lao PDR.

Thai Immigration law changed recently and aimed specifically at foreigners who stay indefinitely in Thailand on entry stamps only (not a visa). Passports were checked for consecutive tourist stamps during the past six months. If a total of 90 days has been spent in Thailand, re-entry will be permitted only with a visa from an Embassy outside Thailand, or by waiting for another ninety days.

If this applies to you, be prepared before you set off on an old-style Thai "border run". You might consider packing a suitcase and tying up your local affairs first! The solution is to get a proper tourist visa in a nearby country such as  Malaysia or Singapore for which a visa is not required to enter, or Laos which requires a Lao visa on arrival costing $30-$42 for 30 days. See Visas for the Lao PDR.

ASEAN VISA EXEMPTION
ASEAN nationals travelling within between some member countries are given 2 weeks visa-free entry. Not all members are complying with this agreement and are charging for entry. Asean Member countries include Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam plus East Timor.

Thai Citizens should receive a visa on arrival or entry stamp when visiting other ASEAN countries.

Recent stricter enforcement of Thai immigration laws, substantially increased fees and criteria have been phased in over the past few years; it is now unwise to try to circumvent the visa and work permit regulations. There was a time when for a small fee you could have your passport stamped out and back into Thailand while you stayed in the country. Beware. Thai Immigration (part of the Royal Thai Police) now proudly proclaims it is 'corruption-free' (a sick joke), and has outlawed these practices. There is a high risk of fines, prison or deportation (or all three).

One Year Investment (Condo) Visa Discontinued or Changed

The one year visa that was given to foreigners under 50 years of age who invested 3 million baht (US$75,000 or 40,000) in Thailand for 3 years is no longer available for new applications. There are rumours it may be increased to 10 million ($250,000), which, under the present political uncertainty, would be a rash investment indeed. Those already approved will apparently be able to continue renewal up to the three year limit, but holders are advised to check with their local immigration office. This visa was popular with condo owners, business investors or bank depositors, but tax is payable on income derived from such investments. There are far safer places to 'invest' $250,000.

Visas for Work or Employment

Providing one is discreet, there are ways to earn money without the Thai authorities being aware. Although recent legislation states that foreigners operating internet businesses should register this fact, it is difficult to enforce. An internet-based business or online forex trading are popular. Part or full time English teachers may get visa assistance through their employers but a genuine teaching degree or qualification is more or less obligatory now (see our Teaching pages). Bangkok's Khao San Road, once famous for fake certificates and driving licences etc. has been cleaned up in recent years, as part of Thailand's attempted 'no corruption' new image. All that went out the window when the machinations of the recent government finally came to light. But of course, in true Thai style, no one has yet been brought to account. See our Corruption in Asia page for more background.

Learn how to care of your finances while travelling or settling in another country by visiting our Banking and Finance page.

Foreign Retirement Visa for Thailand

For long term residence in Thailand there are different visa options available including 'elite' or 'privilege' cards and even permanent residence as an immigrant but the prices are beyond what most people will be willing to pay. Most choose 'non-Immigrant' status and there are several categories of this visa available.

Non-Immigrant Visas are issued for one year but need to be validated every three months by a brief personal visit to an Immigration Office. Note that if you want to leave Thailand during this time, to maintain the visa's validity a re-entry permit (stamp) must be purchased from an Immigration office beforehand (also at Bangkok Airport). Cost for single re-entry is 1000 baht ($25) or multiple re-entry 3800 baht ($100).

For retirement above the age of 50, an annually extendable visa is available, with proof required (letter from Embassy) of a minimum of 65,000 baht (c. 1000, $1800) per month from an overseas pension or 800,000 baht ($20,000) deposited in a Thai bank account when applying for or renewing this visa. New requirements mean that this money must now be and remain in the account for 90 days before application or renewal; therefore extra money for living expenses will be needed while waiting for approval. Monthly interim visits must be made to immigration too. A medical certificate is needed from a local hospital (50100 baht).

A person married to a Thai is eligible for a three month Non-Immigrant Category B visa, extendible up to one year. Proof of 400,000 baht ($10,000) in a Thai bank, or foreign income or pension to the value of 40,000 baht per month is required. The above changes will probably apply too better to show a higher bank balance.

Visas for Business and Other Activities

Thailand has many categories of visa for 'Non-Immigrants' or 'Aliens' which is the official term used to describe foreigners. It is is a complex subject and generally needs legal assistance. Other sites including Thai Government ones provide more comprehensive information. As we are primarily concerned with simple retirement or staying discreetly away from mainstream business activities, we will merely list some of the categories of Non Immigrant Visa here.

'B': work or business *
'M': media personnel - journalist for publications or television work
'F': performing official duties
'IM': investor in Thailand with Thai Government approval
'IB': for those with Investment Promotion privileges
'ED': educational - includes studying to become a Buddhist monk
'R': religious - includes Government-authorised missionary organisations
'RS': scientific research, teaching or training
'EX': Government-designated expert or specialist
'OA' retirement - retirees over the age of 50 living in Thailand
'O': all other activities.

Apply here for a Thai Visa Online.

Read what other travelers have to say about Thai Visas at TripAdvisor.

* See our page on Foreign Business Ownership in Thailand for information about business visa and work permit requirements.

Making a Living in South East Asia

Here is an extremely useful guide which provides valuable insight for anyone thinking of settling and working or earning an income in a Southeast Asian country. There are many issues to be aware of when attempting to run businesses in the Philippines, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore or Indonesia.

Read our review of Making a Living in the Philippines here, or visit the author's site by clicking on the book cover for this title as well as many others by the author Perry Gamsby.

 

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