Thailand is a lovely nation. Its warm climate and rich culture serve as natural magnets for folks who live on the other side of the globe. Every year, an increasing number of visitors visit Thailand, the Land of Smiles.
There’s indeed too much to do in this tropical paradise for travelers, from white sandy beaches and fantastic hotels to historic temples and delectable cuisine.
What if you reside in another nation and wish to visit Thailand?
It won’t be as easy as getting for a stroll in the park, wandering about, and then leaving.
There is one thing you will need before boarding the plane bound for the “land of smiles,” and that is a Thailand visa.
What is a Thailand Visa?
Most foreign nationals require a Thailand visa to travel to and remain in Thailand for tourism, commerce, investment, research, medical treatment, mass media, religion, work, visiting family, and other activities.
The foreigner must apply for the necessary visa at a Thai embassy or consulate.
There are 57 countries that have bilateral treaties with Thailand, and its nationals are free from visa requirements.
Under the Visa Exemption Program and Bilateral Agreements, five countries are allowed a 90-day stay permit, 50 countries are granted a 30-day stay permit, and two countries are granted 14-day stay permission in Thailand.
Types of Thai Visa
The following visas are available through the Thai embassy or consulate, depending on the reason for your trip:
Thailand Transit Visa
Thailand Transit Visa is granted to foreigners who will enter the Kingdom of Thailand’s territory on their route to a third country of destination.
Thailand Tourist Visa
Thailand Tourist Visa is granted to visa-required foreigners who enter Thailand for tourist or leisure purposes.
It is a temporary visa that can be given for a single or many entries.
Thailand SMART Visa
Thailand SMART Visa encourages highly trained foreigners to work or invest in one of Thailand’s ten prioritized areas, such as medical, robotics, aviation, agriculture, biotechnology, and so on.
Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa
Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa is provided to foreigners who enter Thailand for purposes apart from tourism or recreation.
The Non-Immigrant Visa for Thailand is further classified based on the reason for travel:
- Thailand Work Visa, for immigrants seeking paid employment in Thailand.
- Thailand Student Visa, for foreigners wishing to pursue studies at a Thai academic institution.
- Thailand Business Visa, for foreigners coming to Thailand for business objectives such as negotiating, attending a meeting, and so on.
- Thailand Marriage Visa, for foreigners who marry a Thai citizen.
- Thailand Retirement Visa, often known as the “Ten Year Visa,” is provided to foreigners over the age of 50 who desire to retire in Thailand and have personal financial means to maintain themselves without work.
How to apply?
Anyone who is not exempt from visa requirements or not entitled to a visa on arrival must apply for a Thai visa at one of Thailand’s diplomatic missions overseas, such as an embassy or consulate.
The following is the procedure for obtaining a Thai visa:
- Contact a Thai embassy or consulate
- Gather the necessary documents.
- Fill out and submit the Thai visa application.
- Wait for the application to be processed.
- Collect passport and visa.
1. Contact a Thai embassy or consulate
When you begin the process of applying for a Thai visa, the first step is to contact a Thai Embassy or Consulate.
Commonly, you should apply to your country’s embassy or consulate. If your nation does not have a Thai representation, you may have to apply to a Thai embassy/consulate in a nearby nation or through a visa application service.
You must call them or go to their website to find out how to book an appointment (if necessary), their opening hours, working days, and the recommended manner of paying the visa cost.
Apparently, there is no standardized procedure for submitting Thailand visa applications for all countries, since it depends on the particular embassy or consulate in each country.
2. Gather the necessary documents
The documents you must submit while applying for a Thailand visa are determined by the reason for your trip. All candidates, however, must have:
- Your passport, valid for at least six months more and contains at least two blank pages for visa and entrance stamps.
- A return flight ticket showing your intention to depart the country once your visa expires
- signed and completed visa application form for Thailand
- Evidence of sufficient financial resources to finance your stay in Thailand Paid Thailand Visa fee.
- If you’re seeking a one-year visa, be sure your passport is valid for at least another 18 months.
- A completed and signed Thailand visa application form.
- Depending on where and how you apply, you may either download the form from the embassy/website consulates or acquire it there if you apply in person.
- Two recent passport-sized photos of yourself with the following dimensions:
- Size: 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm*
- White background
- taken during the last six months
- You must maintain a neutral facial expression while looking straight ahead.
- Your complete face should be visible.
- Only religious headgear is permitted, and even then, only if it does not hide the face.
- Glasses are permitted only provided they do not conceal your eyes and have light frames.
Additional documentation may be required depending on the purpose of your trip.
Many Thai embassies or consulates may request you to submit a different-sized photograph.
If you are changing the category of your visa while in Thailand, the Immigration Department may have its own Thailand photo size requirements, so it is important to ask ahead of time.
3. Fill out and submit the Thai visa application.
You can submit your visa application in one of two methods, depending on the embassy or consulate where you’re applying:
- On the scheduled date, in person
- By mail, in which case you must also send a prepaid and self-addressed envelope so that the embassy may return your passport and visa to you.
4. Wait for the application to be processed.
Once again, the processing time for a Thai visa is determined by the diplomatic representative office where you apply.
Some guarantee to process it in two business days, while others may take longer.
However, from the time the embassy/consulate receives your entire application, you should anticipate waiting between 5 -10 working days for your Thai visa to be processed.
As a result, be sure you apply far ahead of your intended trip date.
5. Collect passport and visa.
Once your Thai visa application has been approved, you must return to the embassy/consulate to pick up your passport and paperwork.
If you applied by mail, they will be returned back to you.
If your application was granted, the visa will be attached to your passport.
Thai Online Visa
Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated in late 2018 that the Thailand eVisa will be implemented the following year.
Chinese people were the first foreign nationals to be eligible for the Thai eVisa in February 2019, followed by British and French nationals in April.
Citizens of all foreign countries with whom Thailand has diplomatic ties are projected to be eligible for a Thailand visa online over the next three years.
Those who are qualified to submit their Thailand visa applications online must still go to a Thai embassy or consulate to get their passport stamped, but the Thai government plans to put the full procedure online in the coming years.
Thailand Visa validity
Thailand visas can be obtained for the following periods:
Thai Transit Visa: Single-entry visas are valid for up to three months; multiple-entry visas are valid for up to six months (you cannot stay in the country for longer than 30 days, on either visa)
Thai Tourist Visa: Single-entry visas are valid for up to three months; multiple-entry visas are valid for up to six months (you cannot stay in the country for longer than 60 days, on either visa)
Thai non-immigrant visas are valid for up to three months and can be used for single or multiple entries.
Multiple-entry visas are also available for up to a year.
If you meet the requirements, you can acquire a one-year stay permit.
Thailand Visa for US Citizens
US citizens do not require a visa to enter Thailand for a stay of up to 30 days.
To enter Thailand for up to 30 days as a US citizen, you must have a passport that is valid for at least another six months and contains at least one passport page for the entrance stamp.
In addition, for a price of 1,900 baht, you can petition for a 30-day extension via the Thai Immigration Bureau headquarters in Bangkok (about USD 60).
If you want to stay for more than 30 days, you must apply for a Thai visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in the United States.
To work in Thailand, you must first get a Thai Work Visa and a Work Permit, which your employer must secure on your behalf.
Thailand Visa for Indians
If you are an Indian citizen, you may acquire a Thai Visa On Arrival for a period of up to 15 days from one of the recognized points of entry.
A valid passport, a return ticket, the Visa on Arrival application form and Thailand Arrival Card, two passport-sized photographs, proof of lodging, and evidence of adequate finances are all required.
However, the Thailand Visa on Arrival cannot be extended, so if you want to remain for more than 15 days, you must apply for a standard Thai visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in your country.
Visa on arrival
You must apply for a Thailand Visa On Arrival after arriving at one of Thailand’s official entry ports, as the name implies.
You must go to the Visa On Arrival section at the airport or another border crossing and wait in a queue to submit your application to an Immigration Officer.
Citizens of a few countries are eligible to apply for a Thailand Visa On Arrival, albeit they are not exempt (VOA).
This means they won’t have to travel to one of Thailand’s diplomatic posts to get their visas.
If you are from one of the following countries, you are eligible for a Thai Visa On Arrival:
- People’s Republic of China
- Papua New Guinea
- Saudi Arabia
Thailand Visa Fees
The Thai visa fees vary based on a number of criteria, one of which is the nation from which you apply.
However, depending on the local currency, you could anticipate spending between $30 and $50 for a Tourist Visa and $150 to $250 for a Non-Immigrant Visa.
Furthermore, depending on the preferences of the Thai embassy or consulate through which you apply, you may be required to pay in cash at the time of application or by bank transfer.
To become a Thai resident, you must have spent at least three years in Thailand with a Non-Immigrant Visa.
At that stage, you are eligible for a Thai residence permit. You must fall into one of the categories listed:
- You hold a Thai Work Visa.
- You are a foreign investor.
- You are related to a Thai national.
- You are a highly competent foreigner (Expert/Academic).
To gain Thai citizenship, you must meet the following requirements:
- To take part, you should be at least 18 years of age.
- Before applying, you must have resided in Thailand for at least five years in a row.
- You must have a permanent address in Thailand.
- You must have a clear criminal record.
- You must be able to communicate in Thai and understand it.
- Thai Immigration may grant you an extension of your stay.
A Tourist Visa or Non-Immigrant Visa often allows for a 30-day extension of stay.
Most visitors to Thailand desire to remain for an extended period of time. They may seek a one-year extension of stay, but only for one of the following reasons: business, education, marriage, or retirement.
If you are in the country on a tourist visa, you must first convert to a non-immigrant status before applying for a long-term extension of stay. If you want to extend or amend the category of your Thai visa, you can apply at the Thailand Immigration Bureau’s Bangkok office.
Thai Visas On Arrival are only valid for 15 days and cannot be extended.