Visa requirements in a foreign destination like Thailand can be confusing, to say the least. Different travel websites on the matter offer slightly conflicting information that leaves some more confused than when they began their research. I have written this article within 24 hours of my most recent Thai visa experience and am happy to share my findings in a concise format for you.
What are the Visa Requirements for Thailand? While requirements rely on the type of visa you wish to acquire, they are similar no matter your purpose in Thailand. Travelers need a current passport, visa application, a recent 4×6 photograph, a return flight, and bank statements proving sufficient funds.
Many serial travelers who look up Thailand visa requirements read about ‘visa on arrival’ and assume they will be able to handle the process in person when they land. This is incorrect (you know the old saying about the word ‘assume’). Below is a comprehensive list of what you’ll need to receive your visa.
What are the necessary requirements to receive a Visa in Thailand?
Requirements vary depending on your home country and desired visa. Generally speaking, the necessary paperwork and documents are the same for citizens of Western English-speaking countries. The most obvious belonging you need to bring is a passport. Make sure that there are 6 months of validity remaining on your passport. You will also need to show your proof of funds.
Thailand makes visas readily available because tourism is a cash cow for the country. If you have less than 20,000 baht in your home bank account, your finances aren’t in order to actually help the tourism industry in the country. Bring a bank statement proving you have more than this amount. If you are traveling as a family, you need to have double this amount.
While certainly subject to change, ~31 Baht is equivalent to $1 USD. Thus, 30,000 Baht is equal to $950 USD. See here for currency exchange rates.
Most websites say the fee for tourist visas is 2,000 Baht. Others say it is only 1,000 Baht. The only consistent information regarding this visa fee is the stipulation that the amount is susceptible to change from year to year. Bring at least $30 to cover your fee and you will have more than enough money.
Thai government officials may also ask to see proof of onward travel. They need to ensure you actually plan to leave the country. Have a copy of your return flight available to show the immigration department, in case they ask.
It’s often reported that showing proof of onward travel is not necessary. However, it is better to be safe than sorry. You never know when you’ll encounter a stickler at the bureaucratic embassy. You don’t need to have a flight home, but a flight ticket to a neighboring country will work in these scenarios.
The final step for the Thai embassy is to fill out this visa application form and attach a 4×6 passport photograph of yourself.
Do I need a Visa to enter Thailand?
Citizens of Western English-speaking countries who will be in Thailand for less than 30 days do NOT need a visa. This is commonly referred to as a “30-day visa exemption”. However, the name is a little bit misleading. The arrival day counts as day one, so in actuality, you only get 29 days in the country.
To clarify, if you and your family are visiting Thailand for a few weeks, you do not need to get a visa ahead of time. You will be able to go straight through immigration when your plane lands. This applies equally to single travelers, couples and families. Your family will not need to pay a fee to receive this 30-day visa exemption.
If you received a 30-day stamp in your passport and wish to stay longer, you can extend your trip by an extra 30 days at any Thai immigration center (you can find these in most big cities in Thailand). In order to achieve this extension, bring a recent passport photograph and around 2000 Baht. You can find the necessary paperwork at these immigration centers.
While not always the case, some immigration centers ask to see bank statements and a copy of your flight to verify you will be leaving the country. Bank statements are necessary to show you have proof of funds to cover your expenses in the country (Minimum amount of ~$700).
You will often hear digital nomads in the country talk about ‘visa runs’. 30-day Visa-free travel to Thailand can be secured each time you fly into the country. You can receive your visa exemption up to twice a year if you enter Thailand by land or sea. If arriving by plane, this style of visa ‘extension’ can be repeated as much as needed.
What type of Visa do I need?
The duration and purpose of your experience in Thailand will vary by person. The most common Thai visa types are the tourist visa, non-immigrant visa, marriage visa, retirement visa, business visa, and the permanent resident visa. Read below to decide which suits your needs best.
A tourist visa is initially valid for 60 days but can be extended an extra 30 days if necessary. You can choose if you would like a single-entry visa or a multiple-entry visa. The difference lies in the number of times you would like to re-enter the country during your 2-3 month stay.
A non-immigrant visa is for those who need something longer than the tourist visa. It is valid for 90 days in Thailand. This single-entry visa allows one to obtain a work permit in the country. You can also open a bank account in the country this way. Extension of this visa can be prolonged through visa runs, also. A one-year non-immigrant visa is also an option. Those are valid for one year but will still require a visa run every 90 days.
If you wish to open a legal business in Thailand, you need a non-immigrant business visa. This will allow you to get a work permit and open a bank account, but unfortunately, you will still need to do a visa run every 3 months. While certainly inconvenient, on the plus side it is a great way to see neighboring countries like Malaysia, Laos, and Cambodia.
The marriage/retirement visas for Thailand is one of the most simple in the world. These can be renewed every year and do not require the visa holders to leave the country every X days. You can obtain a marriage visa simply by being married to a Thai national. The retirement visa requires you to be above 50 years old. Go to an immigration center and convert your non-immigrant visa into the appropriate visa of your choosing.
If you’ve lived in Thailand for a number of years, you can be eligible for a permanent resident visa. For those married to a Thai citizen (for over 5 years) who are making over $1000/month, you can bring your necessary tax documents to an immigrant center and apply for this permanent residency status. If you have used one-year visa-extensions for over three years, this is also available to you.
Thailand has made attempts to crack down on illegal immigration in the previous years. You need to be aware of which visa is appropriate for your intentions. Just ensure you follow all the necessary rules and can provide the correct paperwork. While confusing at first, it becomes straightforward after having any questions answered at a Thai immigration center. They’re extremely friendly and always happy to explain the process to you.
How much is a Thai visa on arrival?
A Thai visa on arrival costs 2,000 Baht. You also need to show proof of funds (10,000 Baht for a single traveler). It’s important to remember that a visa on arrival is only available to citizens of 21 specific countries. England, USA, Canada, and Ireland are not on the list of 21 countries.
How long does a Thailand Visa take?
After submitting the necessary documents and paperwork, a Thai visa can be expected to arrive in 5 business days. We recommend you begin this process a minimum of 2-3 weeks before you need a visa because Thai holidays or general bureaucracy may make the process take longer.