Foreigners wishing to visit Thailand may find that they have to apply for a Thailand visa beforehand.
Thailand is a Southeast Asian country known for its countless temples, ancient ruins, canals and floating water markets, sandy tropical beaches, and modern cityscapes. In 2018, it welcomed a record of 38.27 million tourists from around the world, many of which likely entered by way of a Thai Tourist Visa.
This article will detail the process for a Thailand visa application, as well as the types of Thailand visas, requirements, and other frequently asked questions.
Who Needs a Thailand Visa?
Everyone who is not exempt and who is not eligible to obtain a Visa On Arrival has to apply for a Thailand visa before they travel.
Thailand offers nationals of several countries visa-free entrance for a varying number of days (up to 14, 30, or 90 days). Additionally, certain others are eligible to receive a Visa On Arrival, with prior electronic authorization.
Who Can Get a Thai Visa on Arrival?
Nationals of the following countries are eligible to receive a Thai Visa On Arrival with a duration of up to 15 days:
- People’s Republic of China
- Papua New Guinea
- Saudi Arabia
What Are the Types of Thai Visas?
The Thai government offers the following types of visas to foreign nationals:
- Thailand Tourist Visa, which is issued to visa-required foreigners entering Thailand for tourism or leisure activities. This is a short-term visa, which can be issued for single or multiple entries.
- Thailand Transit Visa, which is issued to foreigners who will enter the territory of the Kingdom of Thailand in order to make their way to a third country of destination.
- Thailand SMART Visa, which is aimed at highly-skilled foreigners, encouraging them to work or invest in one of Thailand’s ten targeted industries, including medicine, robotics, aviation, agriculture, biotechnology, etc.
- Thailand Non-Immigrant Visa, which is issued to foreigners entering Thailand for reasons other than tourism or leisure. The Non-Immigrant Visa for Thailand is further categorized depending on the purpose of travel:
- Thailand Work Visa, for foreigners who will take up paid employment in Thailand.
- Thailand Student Visa, for foreigners who want to pursue their academic studies in a Thai educational institution.
- Thailand Business Visa, for foreigners who are traveling to Thailand for business-related purposes, such as negotiations, attending a meeting, etc.
- Thailand Marriage Visa, for foreigners who are married to a Thai citizen.
- Thailand Retirement Visa, also known as the “Ten Year Visa” which is issued to foreigners over the age of 50 who want to retire in Thailand and have independent financial means to sustain themselves without working.
How to Apply for a Thai Visa?
Everyone who is not exempt visa requirements or eligible to get one on arrival has to apply for a Thai visa from one of the diplomatic missions of Thailand abroad, such as an embassy or consulate. The application process for a Thai visa is as follows:
- Contact the Thailand diplomatic mission in your country.
- Collect the required documents.
- Submit the Thai visa application.
- Wait for the application to be processed.
- Collect the passport and visa.
Contact the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in your country
When you start the process of applying for a Thai visa, the first step to take is to get in touch with a Thai Embassy or Consulate. Normally, you should apply to the embassy or consulate in your country. However, if there is no Thai representation in your country, you may have to apply to the Thai embassy/consulate that’s in a neighboring country or through a visa application agency.
You must contact them or visit their website in order to learn how to make an appointment (if one is required), about their opening hours, working days, and the preferred method of paying for the visa fee.
Unfortunately, there is no uniform process for Thailand visa application submissions for all nationals, since it is dependent on the specific embassy or consulate in each country.
You can find a list of Thai diplomatic representations here.
Collect the required documents for a Thailand visa
The documents you must submit when applying for a Thailand visa depend on the purpose of your travel. However, all applicants must have:
- A passport, which is valid for at least another six months and has at least two blank visa pages
- A return travel ticket, proving you intend to leave the country after your visa ends
- Completed and signed Thailand Visa Application Form
- Two recent passport-size pictures
- Proof of sufficient financial funds to cover the duration of your stay
- Paid Thailand Visa fee
Submitting the Thai visa application
Depending on the embassy or consulate through which you’re applying, you can submit the visa application through one of the following two ways:
- In-person, on the date of your appointment
- Through the post, in which case you also have to include a prepaid and self-addressed envelope so the embassy can return your passport with the visa to you
Thailand visa processing time
Again, the processing time for a Thai visa depends on which diplomatic representative office you apply in. Some promise to have it processed within 2 working days, while others may take longer. However, you should expect to wait for about 5 -10 working days for your Thai visa to be processed, starting from the time that the embassy/consulate receives your complete application. So, make sure you apply in advance of the time you intend to travel.
Receiving your Thailand visa
Once your Thailand visa application is processed, you have to go back to the embassy/consulate and pick up your passport and documents. If you applied by mail, they will be mailed back to you.
If the application was approved, the visa will be affixed to your passport.
Can You Apply for a Thailand Visa Online?
In late 2018, the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced they would begin implementing the Thailand eVisa the following year. In February 2019, Chinese nationals became the first foreign nationals to be eligible for the Thai eVisa and were joined by British and French nationals in April. It is expected that in the following three years, citizens of all foreign countries with which Thailand has diplomatic relations will become eligible to receive a Thailand visa online.
As of now, those who are eligible to submit their Thailand visa applications online still have to go and get their passport stamped at a Thai embassy or consulate, but the Thai government to make the entire process online in the following years.
Applications for Thai eVisas can be submitted here.
How long is a Thailand Visa valid?
Thailand visas can be issued for the following durations:
- Thai Transit Visa: Up to three months for a single-entry visa; up to six months for a multiple-entry visa (you cannot stay in the country for longer than 30 days, on either visa)
- Thai Tourist Visa: Up to three months for a single-entry visa; up to six months for a multiple-entry visa (you cannot stay in the country for longer than 60 days, on either visa)
- Thai Non-Immigrant Visa: Up to three months, for single or multiple entries. Multiple-entry visas can also be issued for up to one year. If you are eligible, you can obtain a one-year stay permit.
Can You Extend a Thai Visa?
Yes, if you wish to extend or change the category of your Thai visa, you can submit an application at the Office of the Thailand Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.
Thai Visas On Arrival, which are issued for up to 15 days, cannot be extended.
What Are the Thailand Visa Fees?
The Thai visa fees change depending on several factors, one of which is the country you are applying from. However, on an estimate, you should expect to pay between $30 to $50 for a Tourist Visa, and between $150 to $250 for a Non-Immigrant Visa, depending on the local currency.
Additionally, you may have to pay in cash at the time of application or through bank transfer, as per the preferences of the Thai embassy or consulate through which you apply.
Thailand Visa for US Citizens
Citizens of the United States do not need a visa for Thailand if they intend to stay for a maximum of 30 days.
If you are a US citizen, to enter Thailand for up to 30 days, you must be in possession of a passport which is valid for at least another six months and has at least one passport page for the entry stamp. Additionally, if you want to extend your stay, you can apply for a 30-day extension from the Thai Immigration Bureau office in Bangkok for a fee of 1,900 baht (about USD 60).
If you want to stay longer than 30 days, you can apply for a Thai visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in the United States. If you want to work in Thailand, you need a Thai Work Visa and a Work Permit, which your employer has to obtain on your behalf.
Thailand Visa for Indians
If you are an Indian national, then you are eligible to obtain a Thai Visa On Arrival for a maximum of 15 days from one of the approved points of entry. You must have a valid passport, a return ticket, the Visa on Arrival application form and Thailand Arrival Card, two passport-sized pictures, proof of accommodation, and proof of sufficient funds.
If however, the Thailand Visa on Arrival cannot be extended, so if you know you need to stay longer than 15 days, you have to apply for a regular Thai visa from a Thai embassy or consulate in your country.
Becoming a Thai Resident
To become a Thai resident, you must have lived in Thailand with a Non-Immigrant Visa for at least three years. At that point, you become eligible for a Thai Residence Permit.
You must fall under one of the following categories:
- You have a Thai Work Visa
- You are a foreign investor
- You have family relations to a Thai national
- You are a highly-skilled foreigner (Expert/Academic)
Getting Thai Citizenship
To obtain Thai citizenship, you must be able to fulfill the following conditions:
- You must be at least 18 years of age
- You must have lived in Thailand for at least five consecutive years before applying
- You must have permanent residence in Thailand
- You must have a clean criminal background
- You must be able to speak and understand the Thai language