If you’re thinking about moving to Thailand, or even just visiting, you’ll have to navigate the process of obtaining a Thailand Visa. While the process isn’t overly difficult for a basic visa, it can be tricky to navigate if you’ve never had to apply for a visa before. There are several steps that you’ll need to follow, starting with figuring out what kind of visa you need.
Choosing the Correct Thailand Visa
There are more many different kinds of Thailand visa, and it’s important to figure out which one is right for your situation. Below are the general categories that most of the visa options fall under. Which visa you’ll need depends on how long you’ll be staying in Thailand and what the purpose of your visit is.
If you’re visiting the country as a tourist and planning to stay for less than thirty days, you actually won’t need a visa at all. You’ll receive what is called a visa waiver. The waiver is a stamp that it put directly on your passport, which is obtained upon entry to Thailand at a land port or an airport. Residents of fifty-two nations are eligible for visa waivers. A list of those countries is available here.
If you are entering Thailand by air, the visa waiver is valid for thirty days. If you are entering by the land, the waiver is only valid for fifteen days. Residents from the UK, USA, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Macau, Hong Kong, Laos, and Vietnam will receive 30 days in both airport or land border. Residents from Korea, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Chile will get 90 days in both airport and land border. In certain circumstances, the waiver may be extended, although you’ll have to contact the Thai embassy to do so. You cannot work or conduct business while visiting Thailand on a tourist waiver.
You must show a return ticket in order to be eligible for the waiver. You may be refused entry without one. You also have to prove that you have at least 10,000 THB for use during your stay. If multiple people are in your party, each person will need at least that amount. UK Travel Documents, UK Certificates of Identity, and British National Overseas Passports are not considered valid forms of identification for obtaining a waiver.
If you are not a resident of one of the fifty-two countries eligible for the waiver, or if you plan to stay in Thailand for longer than thirty days, you’ll need a Thailand tourist visa. Tourist visas last for anywhere from three to six months, depending on how many times you cross the Thai border by land or by air. However, that period refers only to how long the visa lasts before expiring. Tourists may only stay in Thailand for up to sixty days at a time. The Tourist Visa can be granted at a Thai Embassy or the embassy of your home country.
To be eligible for a tourist visa, you’ll need a Passport or travel document that will not expire in the next six months, a completed visa application form, a 4×6 centimeter photo, a round-trip printed or e-ticket, and at 20,000baht per person, or 40,000baht for a family. You may also need to have proof of certain vaccinations. Depending upon what country you are a citizen of, you may need additional documents such as a bank statement, proof of employment, or copies of your hotel reservations. There is a fee for obtaining a Tourist Visa.
Like the Tourist Visa, the Thailand Business Visa is designed for short visits to Thailand. A Business Visa may last six months or one year, and individual visits to Thailand may last up to ninety days at a time. To obtain a Business Visa, you’ll need all the same documents that you need for the Tourist Visa. Two letters, one from your employer stating the purpose of your trip, and one from the business that you will be visiting in Thailand, stating that they have invited you to visit. You may also need to provide an itinerary for your trip.
If you are planning to visit Thailand to work for a short period, you’ll need a Work Visa. A Thailand Work Visa grants entry into the country for up to ninety days at a time, and may last up to six months or up to one year. As with a Business Visa, you’ll need a letter from the employer that is inviting you to come to Thailand to work and a letter from the employer in your home country that is sending you to Thailand to work. The company that you will be working for in Thailand is also required to submit a form to the Office of Foreign Workers. The Office will then provide a letter of approval from the Ministry of Labor.
You’ll still need a passport with photos, a bank statement proving that you have sufficient funds for your trip, and either an itinerary for your trip or proof that you’ve purchased a round-trip ticket.
If you are fifty years old or older, you can apply for a Thailand Retirement Visa, which allows you to live in Thailand full time or part time. The requirements for this visa are largely the same as the Tourist Visa, though you will need further proof of financial stability and greater funds than are needed for a tourist visa.
Obtaining Permanent Resident Status in Thailand
To obtain Permanent Resident Status in Thailand, you must have lived in the country with yearly visa extensions for at least three years. Those three years must have been continuous; the three years cannot come from multiple visas over a period of many years. Most applicants for Permanent Resident status must fall under one of the following categories, though exceptions are made on a case by case basis: Investment category (minimum 3 – 10 Mil. Baht investment in Thailand), working/business category, support a family or humanity reasons category, or expert/academic category. You’ll have to fill out an application, and provide proof of financial stability, employment, visa continuity, and other forms depending on your country of origin. It has to be said that obtaining permanent resident status in Thailand is not easy. We have heard stories of people who have been here for more than ten years, speak the language and fulfil other criteria but are yet to be successful.
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