Editor’s Note: We’re in the process of updating and expanding our visa guides. If you scroll to a section and you don’t see any info about that visa, click on the link to the visa’s new article and you’ll be taken to a more in-depth guide to that visa.
Foreigners visit Thailand for different reasons. Certain visits require a Thai Visa, while some don’t. If you intend to stay long-term, this in-depth guide contains a comprehensive guideline, a list of useful resources, and up-to-date procedures for Thai Visa application services.
You can visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Thailand website for general visa information. If you are looking for detailed info, including which visa option is best for your intended stay, and processes like extending a visa, changing one visa type to another, and more, this guide can help.
The information in this guide is sourced from credible news sources, Thai agency websites, forums, Facebook groups, interviews from visa experts, fellow expats’ experiences, and my personal experience as a tourist, then as an expat.
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- 1 Before You Leave Home
- 2 Visa Options
- 2.1 Tourism
- 2.2 Employment
- 2.3 Education
- 2.4 Marriage
- 2.5 Retirement
- 2.6 Other Purposes
- 2.7 Diplomatic Visa
- 2.8 Business and Investment
- 3 Extensions, Overstaying, and Visa Runs
- 4 Useful Sources of Thai Visa Info
- 5 Final Words
- 6 Support Us
- 7 What to Read Next
Before You Leave Home
Different rules apply to different nationalities, but one requirement governs everyone who’s applying for a Thai visa: a passport with at least 6 months validity. Aside from that, each visa comes with its own set of requirements. So read each section of this article carefully to find out which requirements you need for your visa.
Proof of Funds
Visa on arrival and visa-exempt stamp holders must show proof of funds in order to enter the kingdom. To find our how much money you should have with you, and in what cases this rule applies, read our guide on Thailand tourist visas.
Proof of Onward Travel
Aside from proof of funds, visa on arrival holders are also required to show proof of onward travel. For a more detailed explanation of what it means to have proof of onward travel, check out our guide on Thailand tourist visas.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs requires certain nationalities to present an International Health Certificate as proof of Yellow Fever vaccination, which should be presented together with their visa application. You may also refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s in-depth guide.
Health certificates are often cited as a requirement for entering Thailand, but other than the aforementioned countries and barring any major disease outbreak similar to that of the H1N1 outbreak several years ago, foreigners are not required to present a health certificate to Thai Immigration.
Popular Thai Embassies Near Thailand
One of the most important things about visas in Thailand you should know is that each Thailand embassy has different standards. For example, one Thai embassy may require a proof of onward travel when applying for a tourist visa, but you won’t need it for other Thai embassies.
These are your Thai visa options whether you’re going to Thailand for tourism, employment, education, business or investment, marriage, or retirement. Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs’s Consular Services page lists all the required documents, visa fees, validity period, period of stay, extension of stay, and additional requirements to obtain a visa. For a more detailed guide on your visa options, we’ve gathered all the visa options here for easy reference.
One thing to remember is that acquiring a visa in Thailand requires a lot of processes and paperwork. And rules tend to get updated regularly. Sometimes you cannot find the exact information you need, even from official websites.
We’ve put together all our visa articles, reformatted them, added more details, and created the single-most comprehensive guide to Thailand visas you’ll ever need. It’s available offline in PDF format and will be with you whenever you need it.
When traveling to Thailand, you have many options when it comes to tourist visas. The length of your visa, the type of visa, and the requirements all depend on how long you’ll be staying in Thailand.
For information on traveling to Thailand as a tourist, check out Thailand Tourist Visas: Requirements, Extensions, Costs, and More!
Non-Immigrant Visa B (Work and Teaching), Non-Immigrant Visa IB (Investment and Business)
The Non-Immigrant Visa B, commonly referred to as a Work Visa, is for work and teaching work. Non-Immigrant Visa IB is for business and other investment-related purposes, although most embassies do not commonly issue this visa, issuing a non-immigrant B visa instead.
As of this writing, a single entry non-immigrant visa is 2,000 baht while a multiple entry visa is 5,000 baht, extendable to 1 year. The complete list of requirements and the application process can be found in the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
If you’re still searching for a job in Thailand or looking to change your current job into a better one, I recommend you read our Working in Thailand Kindle. It lists all the best job-seeking strategies that successful professionals from nineteen different fields in Thailand have used.
If you’re an established digital nomad, you can get a business visa through Iglu. Iglu, which is a BOI promoted business, helps you relocate and secure a visa. As their employee, your clients send payments to Iglu, and Iglu pays you a salary.
The non-immigrant visa B is provided by the Thailand-registered employer with the visa applicant being required to apply for a work permit immediately upon arrival in Thailand. Once issued, the holder of the Non-B visa is eligible to stay in Thailand for 90 days. It can be extended within the country and is usually done with the assistance of the employer. Expat employees of Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)-registered companies can extend their visa to 1-2 years at the One-Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits in Chamchuree Square Building in Bangkok. Employees in companies that are not BOI-registered need to apply for the 1-year visa extension at the immigration office.
A foreigner who has successfully obtained a non-immigrant B visa can start working after a work permit had been issued. A work permit is a legal document that states your position and your job description. Like Non-immigrant B Visa holders, Non-immigrant Visa O (Marriage Visa and Spousal Visa/Non-immigrant Visa O-Accompanying Spouse) holders are also allowed to work in Thailand and obtain a work permit.
Since applying for a Non-immigrant B Visa and work permit go hand-in-hand, the employer needs to have the applicant’s complete set of documents when applying for a work permit. For certain types of employers, a work permit has to be obtained first before the non-immigrant B visa. As a foreigner applying for a work visa, you need to have all the following educational and employment documents:
- University diploma or any similar educational certificate
- University transcript of records
- Certificate of Employment and Clearance – from the applicant’s previous employer clearing the applicant of any liability and/or showing proof of previous employment records; work permit application might require certificates from previous employers, depending on the applicant’s work history
- A CV outlining a clear timeline of the applicant’s employment history
When you’re looking for work in Thailand and applying for a work permit you must have these documents to satisfy all bases. I covered this and more in this in-depth guide for finding a job in Thailand.
The step-by-step process for getting a work visa, from having an employer to applying for a work permit and re-entry permit, is outlined in this online form.
If you’re unable to extend your single entry 90-day non-immigrant visa to 1 year, you can apply for a 7-day extension at the immigration office for a short-term fix. But once the initial 90-day period has expired, you will have to apply for a new visa from a Thai embassy. However, if you have a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa and you tried to extend it within the first 90-day period/stamp and failed, you can exit and re-enter, and try to extend it within the second 90-day period.
Non-Immigrant Visa B-A (Business Approved)
The Office of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok grants this visa to qualified applicants who will invest in or enter into a business partnership with a Thai-based company. The company involved has to apply on the foreigner’s behalf from the Office of the Immigration Bureau. Upon the Immigration’s initial approval, the bureau informs the concerned Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Consulate-General via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to grant the applicant the B-A visa. The applicant will be given a 1 year visa right away, as are applicants who have successfully applied for non-immigrant visas B-A, O-A, and ED-A.
This visa, however, is not commonly issued by Thai embassies or consulates (Thai consulates in Australia, eg, The Royal Thai Embassy in Canberra are one of the few embassies/consulates to issue this visa); applicants commonly opt for a Non-Immigrant B Visa.
Non-Immigrant Visa O for the purpose of doing Voluntary Services
This visa may be loosely referred to as a Volunteer Visa, which is for applicants rendering voluntary services in Thailand. This may include volunteer work for charities, foundations, or schools. Not all non-government organizations (NGOs) and social welfare and development organizations issue work permits, which is a requirement for this visa. For required documents, fees, validity period, and embassies where you can apply, go to this MFA page.
Non-Immigrant Visa M (Media Visa)
If you work in media, covering print, online, and television, apply for a single-entry Media Visa. Commonly referred to as journalism visa, it covers news reporters, film producers, and media correspondents of foreign news working for printed newspapers and magazines, TV, radio, or online agencies.
Some common concerns regarding the media visa:
- It applies only to those who are working for foreign news agencies. If you are a journalist working for a Thailand-based media company, a Non-Immigrant Visa B is the recommended visa.
- Applications and accreditation for a one-year Media Visa can be done online via the MFA Media Online Service website.
- Journalists who are working on short-term assignments should apply for a Non-Immigrant B visa, as well.
Requirements covering both long-term and short-term media assignments in Thailand, including frequently asked questions on accreditation, obtaining a press card and work permit, changing visa types from Tourist to Media–which can’t be done, visa for freelance journalists, visa renewal, obtaining a visa for media worker’s spouse or family, and other concerns, can be found in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ online guide. If that’s not enough guidance, this updated guideline on successfully obtaining a media visa might help.
Working Visa for Freelancers
Working in Thailand as a digital nomad on a tourist visa status puts you in a precarious situation with the Thai Government. Freelancers whose only requirements to work are a laptop, an internet connection, and ratty shirts legitimize their status by making deals with companies who offer work permits for a fee. This process falls in a gray areas; it’s not government-endorsed but it also isn’t illegal. Nevertheless, it’s possible to get a legitimate working visa as a freelancer in Thailand for your line of work.
If you want to work as a freelancer in Thailand, consider becoming an employee under a BOI promoted company. Getting hired by a BOI promoted company is legal. And the requirements are less stringent than starting your own business. Check out Iglu’s relocation service to explore this option.
The expat Facebook group, How to Thailand, hosts a live question-and-answer session called “Ask Me Anything” and recently held one on visas and work permits. In the session, visa expert Pongkarn “Aom” AomzFondue Khunphasee, who works at Anglo Thai Legal, offered expert advice on moving from a BOI employer to a non-BOI employer, setting up a foundation, and a few freelancer visa questions. Join the group and participate in future sessions, or add Karsten Aichholz as a Facebook friend, the group’s moderator and owner of this website, so he can alert you of future sessions and provide you with Bangkok expat informative links and witticisms.
According to Khun Aom, it’s possible for freelancers to get a work permit on a case-by-case basis. The successful application of a freelancer work permit is upon the discretion of the Labor Department officer and depends on the type of work. To apply for a work permit as a freelancer, you have to submit all relevant documents about your freelance work, including all applicable licenses, type of services, and any other documents pertaining to your practice. The officer at the Work Permit Division at the Labor Department will review and decide your fate. Renewal is subject to approval and the applicant’s practice will be subject to withholding tax.
If you want to come to Thailand to study, getting an education visa, or a non-immigrant visa ED, will let you do so. But where and what you want to study must be approved by Thailand’s Ministry of Education or the Thai Embassy at which you’re applying.
For a more detailed look at what you can study in Thailand, and the visa requirements and process, read our in-depth guide to education visas.
A foreigner married to a Thai spouse is eligible for a 1-Year Extension of Stay based on Marriage, commonly referred to as a Marriage Visa. Prior to obtaining this visa, you must have a Non-Immigrant Visa O based on marriage/for the purpose of accompanying a family member. This must be obtained from your home country, and once you’re in Thailand, you will then apply for an extension of stay based on marriage to a Thai national, which will be valid for 1 year.
Check out our step-by-step guide on Thai Marriage Visas for more information.
Non-Immigrant Visa O-A (Long-term Stay)
Looking to retire in Thailand?, this is a visa for you. Also called a Retirement Visa, the Non-Immigrant O-A-Long-term Visa lets you stay in Thailand for 1 year and can be renewed every year with the same requirements. You can apply for a retirement visa if you are 50 years old and above, have no criminal record in your country of residence and in Thailand, have no prohibitive disease, and have the following financial requirements:
- Copies of bank statements showing a deposit of the amount equal to and not less than 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account
- Notarized bank statement copies that show income of not less than 65,000 baht, plus an affidavit from the foreign embassy or consulate as proof of income
- A combination of a deposit account and a monthly income in totaling at least 800,000 baht
In some cases, additional documents such as an updated passbook, a bank letter confirming your funds were deposited from a foreign source not less than 2 months from the date of application, health certificate, and police clearance may be required.
Retirement visa holders are prohibited from engaging in any type of work.
The retirement visa can be single- or multiple-entry, costs US 200 dollars, and can be applied for in your home country or in Thailand. Retirement visa holders are also required to do 90-day reporting at the nearest immigration office in the area of residence and/or nearby police station. For details on eligibility, requirements, application, and fees, go to the MFA’s official page. Please note that requirements for each nationality can be different. If you have a difficulty getting the retirement visa, it’s better to ask a visa lawyer for help.
1-Year Stay and Extension Based on Retirement
You can apply for a 1-year stay and extension based on retirement in two ways:
Applying for a Non-Immigrant O-A Visa – This visa grants you a 1-year stay straightaway, but it should be applied for in your home country. It’s best to check if the Thai embassy in your home country issues this visa as not all Thai embassies or consulates grant a 1-year O-A visa.
Applying for an initial Non-Immigrant O Visa and extension – The initial non-immigrant O visa is valid only for 90 days and should be obtained in your home country, but the application for the 1-year extension can be done in Thailand, which should be done within the last 30 days of your 90-day stay. Suppose you have a non-immigrant O visa granted on January 1 valid until March 30. In this scenario, you can apply for a retirement visa anywhere from March 1-30. If you choose this option, you are required to present proof of address.
Multiple Entry O-A Visa
A Multiple Entry O-A Visa allows you to make multiple entries and exits in Thailand, and for every entry, you’re granted one calendar year to stay. If you enter before the visa’s expiry date or the ENTER BEFORE date, you will be granted one extra year. Don’t forget to apply for a re-entry permit, which is required only if the ENTER BEFORE date on your visa has lapsed and what remains is the ADMITTED UNTIL date which is valid for 1 year from date of arrival. With the ADMITTED UNTIL stamp, you can also get an extra 1 year. If you cannot leave and enter Thailand before the expiry date, you can extend it within Thailand for another year. It’s important, however, that you apply for a re-entry permit on your second year because by then, your visa would have already expired, and once you exit the country, you forfeit the validity of your stay as indicated in the ADMITTED UNTIL stamp.
More info on re-entry permits below.
This extra 1 year is not to be confused with, and should not be referred to as, an extension because a visa extension means a conversion of the Non-immigrant O single-entry visa, which is valid for 90 days, to a 1-year retirement visa, done at the immigration office.
You can apply as early as 45 days before the expiry of that extra 1 year stamp inside Thailand to extend your stay for 1 year. Your other option is to apply for another O-A visa from your home country.
10-year Thai Retirement Visa
The Thai Government is planning to implement a 10-year retirement visa, which should appeal to the retirees demographic. The 10-year visa would require similar qualifications of age and funds, and is supposed to be different from the 1-year retirement visa in that there is no need to renew every year. However, current discussions suggest that this longer long-term visa will still require some sort of renewal after the fifth year, and 90-day reporting will still be mandatory. Should it get implemented, it won’t be replacing the 1-year retirement visa and would most likely require applications to be made from a foreigner’s home country. Also, only citizens of 14 countries will be qualified to apply.
There hasn’t been any updates since the fourth quarter of 2016 about the proposal’s progress, although financial requirements are said to be pegged at 100,000 baht monthly income or a minimum of 3 million baht deposited in a Thai bank account, which must remain in the account for at least 12 months, and insurance coverage requirements of 1,000 US dollars for outpatient care and 10,000 US dollars and above for inpatient care per policy per year. As of this writing, the proposal is being studied by the Thailand Ministry of Interior, and is yet to be finalized. You can check blogger and expat Richard Barrow’s blog for updates on the 10-year visa.
What you need to know about this visa: the Cabinet of Thailand has approved it, but it hasn’t been finalized as of this writing.
Thailand Elite Visa Program (Privilege Entry Visa)
The Elite Thai Visa is a Thailand Government-issued visa program that caters to affluent foreigners who wish to enjoy a long-term stay in Thailand without having to leave the country for visa extensions. Depending on the applicant’s membership package, validity of stay ranges from 5-20 years.
The privilege entry visa is a multiple-entry visa granted to qualified Thailand Elite members who are given access to a wealth of privileges, such as a visa run-free 1-year extension of stay, priority treatment at the airport immigration, prestigious golf club memberships, first-class accommodations, healthcare benefits, airport services, and more.
To apply or to learn more about the privilege entry visa, go to the official Thailand Elite website or download this quick pdf reference guide. Also, bankerinthesun shared his detailed experience on how to get a 5-year elite visa. You can also contact Pongkarn Khunphasee for help.
Non-Immigrant Visa O
Other popular name: Spouse/Spousal Visa. This is for applicants who are accompanying a spouse or family members working, studying, or living in Thailand. The visa is granted with an initial 90 days, and can be extended at the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Thailand for up to 1 year. Holders of this visa are allowed to work in Thailand as long as their employer is able to secure a work permit for them, which is actually one of the requirements for a spousal visa application. For requirements, fees, validity period, and embassy where you can apply, go to this official MFA page.
If you have a Thai spouse or Thai family member in Thailand, Non-Immigrant Visa O is also the visa for you. For the list of documents, fees, validity period, go to this official MFA page.
Applicants can also apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa O for purposes other than what’s stated above, including staying after retirement, staying with a family member who holds an appropriate visa, performing duties for a state enterprise or social welfare organizations, receiving medical treatment, acting as a Thai Government-required sports coach, or visiting as a contestant or witness for judicial procedures.
Non-Immigrant Visa F (Official Duty Visa/Courtesy Visa)
This is for those who have to perform official duties in Thailand, including as an officer on a diplomatic mission, Laissez Passer Passport holders and their families who will perform official duties in Thailand, ordinary passport holders who have received an invitation from the Royal Thai Government to attend a meeting, and ordinary passport holders that are recipients of a Thailand International Development Cooperation Agency scholarship. For this visa, it’s best to check with the Royal Thai Embassy website based in your country as requirements vary for different nationalities. The Laissez Passer Passport is issued by a national government or an official international treaty organization such as the United Nations.
Non-Immigrant Visa R (Religious Visa)
This visa type is for ministers, priests, or missionaries who want to enter Thailand to perform missionary or religious work that is recognized by Thai Ministries or Government Departments. This visa is valid for 3 months but can be extended to 1 year. Check the MFA website for requirements and other info or Karl Dahlfred’s guide to visa options for missionaries.
Non-Immigrant Visa RS (Scientific Research)
The Scientific Research Visa is for those who are conducting scientific research or training or teaching in a research institute. Check the MFA website for requirements and other info. The Royal Thai Embassy, Helsinki website is also a good source of information although for a highly specialized visa such as this, it’s best to check with the Royal Thai Embassy in your own country.
Non-Immigrant Visa EX (Expert)
For short-term visit to Thailand for the purposes of doing skilled work, or to work as an expert or a specialist. Refer to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for requirements and application procedure.
A Thai Diplomatic Visa may be granted and be valid for 3 or 6 months or longer, depending on the terms of the eligible passport-holder’s diplomatic mission or consulate or international organization. The diplomatic visa holder’s family may also be granted the same validity. Diplomatic and official visas are granted at no cost.
Business and Investment
Not too keen on doing visa runs? If you’ve got a cool 10 million baht that you’re willing to invest in Thailand, that problem can be solved. Investing in a legally-defined condominium unit, a fixed deposit account at a Thai-majority owned bank, or in Thai government or Thai state enterprise bond amounting to no less than 10 million baht makes you eligible for an Investment Visa. Spreading out your investments in several baskets is allowed, with your qualifying investment to be renewed annually. This is a great option for the more well-off expats because eligible visa holder’s family members can also apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa. And, unlike the retirement visa, you don’t need to be 50 or older to apply and no need to show monthly proof of income.
For an official and complete set of requirements and other info, visit the Immigration Bureau website (Question #20).
Since putting away 10 million baht in any investment requires some careful thought, those interested in getting an investment visa would have a few considerations in mind, like which condominium properties should be purchased, or which banks one can make a fixed deposit in. For this and other concerns, it’s best to get legal advice. You can read up more about the Investment visa on this page.
One frequently asked question is whether investing on a re-sale condo is eligible for an investment visa. These clauses in the Bangkok Immigration website should shed some light:
6.1 Condominium title deed, which is in the Applicant’s name, and, in the particulars of registration, the Applicant must be the first purchaser.
6.2 A copy of the sale and purchase agreement of the condominium unit made by the Applicant and the project owner/company and a copy of the registration showing that the Applicant is the owner of the condominium unit, which is issued by the relevant agency or government authority.
That doesn’t mean re-sale condos do not qualify. When buying a re-sale condo, you should make sure that the terms of the purchase are stated before the sale is registered on the back of the deed. A helpful guide when considering this visa type is: investing on a second-hand condos is not eligible.
Extensions, Overstaying, and Visa Runs
Visa-exempt Stays/Visa Extension
Anyone who is inclined to stay in Thailand beyond 30 days would, more or less, know how to extend a visa, but is often unsure of certain details. Here are some of the frequently asked questions:
Can a visa exempt stamp or tourist visa that was already extended for 30 days be extended for a further 30 days (60-day tourist visa + 30 days extension + 30-day extension)?
No. But in case of an emergency you may be granted a 7-day extension for 1,900 baht.
Once my 30-day extension has expired can I fly out and fly in and not get into trouble at Immigration?
It depends on the number of exit-reentries you’ve made.
Can I apply for a back-to-back tourist visa after my tourist visa’s 30-day extension?
You may get away with it, provided you apply in different embassies. Certain embassies may allow 2 consecutive applications. But, again, this is not set in stone.
Have more questions?
You can find variations of these questions and concerns in Thailand expats communities, Thai expats forums, and Facebook groups. Knowing what others have experienced can be comforting, but remember that your passport and your travel records are different from others, and you’ll most certainly be dealing with officers of varying temperaments.
The general consensus is that only those who make questionable exits and entries–for example, applying for back-to-back tourist tourist visas or doing frequent visa runs–are the ones most likely to be interrogated.
Criteria, conditions, and documents for extension of temporary stays can be found in the links in the Thai Immigration Bureau website (Criteria and Condition of Temporary Stay button).
90-Day Reporting for Long-term Visas
Long-term Thai visa holders – such as non-immigrant visas, retirement visa – are required to report their current address to the Immigration Bureau every 90 days, without exception. It can be done by the passport holder and, under certain circumstances, by an authorized representative. It can be done 15 days before the due date or your 90th day in the country after your last entry, or 7 days after notification due date, but only in person. There’s a 2,000 baht fine for those who fail to do it within that given window.
The Thai Immigration website provides the details on procedure, requirements (the most critical ones being your passport and the TM. 6 form), and how to do it by mail. You can report by mail 15 days before the notification’s due date.
90-day online reporting is another option, but the online portal that processes this only works on an Internet Explorer browser. As of December 2016, all Thai Immigration Office Extranet sites were taken down as anti-hacking measure, so it’s not advisable to attempt this. If online is your preferred route, then this guide on 90-day online reporting might help.
Here are some locations where you can do your 90-day reporting:
- Main Immigration office – Building B, Government Complex, Chaeng Watthana Road, Bangkok
- Imperial World Mall at Big C Lad Prao Soi 83, 5th floor
- Big C Ratburana Road across the river in Thonburi
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What you need to know to land a job, stay long-term, and save $1000s on rent, money transfers, insurance, and utilites!
Cancellation of a Non-immigrant Visa
Something I’ve experienced several times is cancelling a Non-immigrant B Visa. When I changed jobs, I explored the possibility of keeping my current Non-immigrant B Visa and work permit, with non-encouraging results. The short story is that when an employer cancels a work permit, your visa will also have to be cancelled, per Thai Labor laws.
Workarounds are possible, however, and a legitimate way to do this is to ask your former employer to extend your work permit’s cancellation, which happens more often than you think. This is a temporary fix though.
Previously, holders of a Non-immigrant Visa B managed to keep their visa up until the expiry date even after the work permit had been canceled. This was due to the fact that the Thai Immigration and the Labor Department function separately. Needless to say, the legality of this workaround is questionable and is best avoided. Matters on work permit deserve its own guide, but in relation to keeping a visa the general rule is:
Terminated Employment = Cancelled Visa + Cancelled Work Permit
Cancelling only the work permit and keeping the visa will result in a standard 500 baht fine effective upon the work permit’s termination date. But the fine could be as high as 20,000 baht.
A word on overstaying in Thailand: don’t do it.
Other than paying the 500 – 20,000 baht-fine, overstaying for one day carries no severe consequences, especially if you’re flying out. But if you do get checked by the police on the streets or elsewhere, you will be arrested and fined. Based on reports, there is an ongoing crackdown on overstaying, which led to the arrest of overstayers found in entertainment complexes, hotels, condos, and other places.
On March 20, 2016, new rules on overstays of more than 90 days were imposed, which raised the penalty from merely being fined to being banned anywhere from 1 to 10 years.
For foreigners with children, note that children below 15 years old do need a visa. In case they don’t, they will not be persecuted in case of overstay. Children ages 15-18 with no proper visa will be charged for overstaying but won’t be blacklisted. Any foreigner 18 years and older will be charged for overstaying and will be blacklisted.
Overstaying for one day is often seen as a victim-less crime, but it is a violation of Thai Immigration laws. If you’re thinking of overstaying, some people who’ve got away with it in the past may advise you to overstay and pay the fee. They may say overstaying is not a big deal. But remember: overstaying is a violation, which could result to imprisonment, a year-long ban, or deportation.
Land Border Crossing
If you rely on visa-exempt entries and/or apply for tourist visas several times, then extend it for 30 days to prolong your stay in Thailand, although not illegal, then you will alert the Thai Immigration Office. If you’re staying long-term in Thailand without a visa, here’s a safe assumption to make: Thai Immigration officers are aware of border bounce because it’s not a recent trend.
Thai Immigration has cracked down on visa runs and multiple or back-to-back entries in the country, and in December 2016, they implemented a change in border entry policy, limiting the number of land border entries to two per calendar year. However, this doesn’t apply to visitors from countries with a bilateral agreement with Thailand. In the past, border runs were made an unlimited number of times. But this recent change could mean stricter measures with border bounces.
Border Bounce / Visa Runs
A border bounce basically means doing a land border exit from Thailand and re-entering under a new stamp in order to renew one’s validity of stay. This entails exiting to any of Thailand’s neighbor countries. Others opt to go by air and that’s a fairly legitimate way to do it, too. Border bounce and visa runs are often interchanged, but a visa run is more appropriately referred to as the process of exiting the country to apply for a proper visa, which is done either by land or by air.
Doing a border bounce is perceived as illegal in some quarters because, as I’ve mentioned above, it has become prone to abuse. However, determining its legitimacy is a pretty loaded discussion since, on the one hand, it is prone to abuse. On the other hand, people who do it are not exactly violating Thai Immigration laws. And border bounces are often necessary procedures for those who are about to apply for a legitimate visa and are merely extending their stay’s validity.
Visa Run Providers
Thai Visa Service – Offers reliable visa info and its owner is knowledgeable in Thai visa rules, changes, updates, and visa workarounds. Their site is updated with visa run and visa application schedules, and is responsive to queries via email and Line Application. The company’s border runs to Ban Laem in Cambodia and visa trips to Vientiane in Laos are hassle-free and are cheaper than similar services. The best reason to go with this company is the reliability of the info on visa queries.
Bangkok Buddy Travel Service – Has daily scheduled visa runs to the Aranyaprathet/Poipet border in Cambodia. They also provide Thai Visa application service at the Phnom Penh Thai Consulate, and arrange an elite visa package service. This Facebook thread offers useful insight as to why the company’s Thai visa application service in Phnom Penh is not as convenient as Laos visa applications.
Meesuk Travel – Caters mostly to Filipinos but is open to all foreigners.
Visa and Work Permit Services
Sorting out your Thai visa and work permit involves a lot of paperwork. If you need professional assistance, you can ask our legal adviser or check out legal firms below. They can help with both work permits and corresponding visa:
Siam Legal – One of the most reliable firms for visas and work permit concerns, Siam Legal has an extensive suite of Thai Visa application services. They specialize in Thai Immigration laws, with offices in Bangkok, Phuket, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai. Although I haven’t used their services, I’ve made several queries to them via their website’s chat and email and received accurate info on general visa questions.
Mazars Thailand – Although they specialize in tax and accounting services, Mazars’ expatriate services cover visa and work permit application and renewal. They are recommended by business owners who have concerns on both fronts.
M&S Law Office 2006 – Comprised of Thai and foreign lawyers, M&S Law Office 2006 specializes in permanent residency, working visa, marriage visa, retirement visa, and work permit applications. I’ve never used any of their services, but their firm often comes up for recommendation for visa and work permit services.
Anglo Thai Legal – With offices in the UK and Thailand, Anglo Thai Legal is one of the most recommended law firms for advice on expat and immigration issues, among others. I’ve never had to engage the services of a legal firm to sort out my visa and work permit because I was lucky to have been employed by companies that take care of all that. But firms like Anglo Thai legal comes with a handful of recommendations from expats I’ve talked to, as well as expat forums, including the Facebook group, How to Thailand.
Fees for these firms vary and largely depend on your needs, so it’s best to contact them for details. These are just a few of the many legal firms in Thailand that can help you with concerns on visas and work permits. If you want to expand your options, check out this list of recommended lawyers in Bangkok.
Useful Sources of Thai Visa Info
While you can rely on networking and friendly advice from the kindred souls at Bangkok Expats Group on Facebook, some situations call for professional assistance.
To get visa-related answers that you can rely on, speaking to visa experts at companies like Siam Legal, a law firm that specializes on visa-related matters, could be more accurate than a comment you’ve read on Facebook. If you prefer to get legal help for visas and other concerns, check out this in-depth guide on finding legal advice.
ThaiEmbassy.com provides guidelines on Thai Visas. And although the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs seems like a good source of info, it’s not always up-to-date and doesn’t have country-specific information.
Thai Embassy Websites
The Thai Embassy website has a directory of the Royal Thai Embassy Consulates, Royal Thai Consulate-General, Permanent Mission websites, as well as the Thailand Economic and Trade Office. As requirements, application procedures, and operating hours are different for each Royal Thai Embassy, check the country’s Thai Embassy website where you’ll be applying for a visa for details.
Note, however, that the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website is rarely updated and it’s not uncommon to find the info from their website in conflict with those found in various consulates’ sites.
For example, when applying for a tourist visa in Penang, it’s best to read up on that embassy’s website. There are differences in each Thai embassy’s requirements, procedures, and temperament. And that can affect the outcome of your application.
In this section you’ll discover how to prepare your visa application so you don’t waste valuable time or money during your next trip to immigration or the Thai Embassy. We’ve created it as a thank you to our Patreon supporters. To access this content, head over to our Patreon and support our mission of creating content that helps expats live, work, retire, or start a business in Thailand.
Thai Expat Communities
Extending a visa at Chaeng Wattana in Bangkok is a straightforward process, but application procedures, fees, and rules change frequently. In case you need some visa advice on extraordinary scenarios, Thai expat communities can give you firsthand accounts of other expats’ experiences. But be wary, some of the comments are based on individual experiences. The community, however, can point you to sources for expert and professional advice, or refer you to a knowledgeable consultant.
Thai Visa Forums
Thai Visa Forums such as ThaiVisa.com are reliable because people who’ve been living in Thailand post their experiences when applying for the visas mentioned in this article. Discussions are based on what has worked for many expats and foreigners, and participants usually provide reliable news and updates, too. One of the best ways to keep yourself informed is by bookmarking their site or following their Facebook page.
Post questions, read visa application experiences on the Thailand Expats Group, and even if you don’t get the answers you need, you’ll at least have a good idea of what usually happens in consulates, embassies, and airport immigration. Keep in mind, though, there will be conflicting information. In Thai Visa Advice, for instance, you can read about recent scenarios of denied extension of stays due to an unfortunate slip-up. You’ll never read stories like these on the Thai Immigration website.
You can expect a few helpful, knowledgeable members to answer some of your queries, but be cautious of trolls, too. For visa-related queries, the Bangkok Expats group has an active discussion on visa matters, and is a great forum to meet fellow foreigners with similar visa issues.
The Thailand thread in Reddit is a good place to get firsthand account of visa-related matters and encounters with Thai Immigration officers. Aside from Thai Visa info, comments on this VISA-Mega Reddit Thread can illuminate a few points on the frequently asked Thai Visa questions on Non-immigrant B Visas, getting a work permit with a Non-immigrant O Visa, and provide firsthand experiences of the METV application process in Australia.
When I applied for a tourist visa and a working visa (Non-immigrant Visa B), my experiences were different in Vientiane, Laos than they were in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Aside from arranging transportation and accommodations for your visa application, visa service agencies provide guidance on the application process. However, these trips can get chaotic, as you are applying with a large group of visa applicants. This is why applying for a visa in Vientiane is a crowded affair. But based off my experience, applying for a visa in Penang or Kuala Lumpur can be easier.
When you apply for a non-immigrant B visa, you will notice the differences in requirements, especially if you’re employed by different types of employers. If you’re applying for a non-immigrant B visa under a BOI-registered or multinational company, the application process can be smoother. The likelihood of being asked for a surprise requirement is rare. If you’re applying for a visa under smaller companies, it pays to double check the requirements of the embassy where you’re applying.
As detailed as this guide is, I have to reiterate that rules frequently change. Just recently, there were reports of extending the incentives on visa on arrival fees. This and similar policy tweaks are not uncommon and you can expect more of these changes the longer you stay in Thailand.
In writing this guide, I linked to the most up-to-date sources – official embassies and Thai Visa guides – for visa application matters. I sought the knowledge and insight of visa service providers and fellow expats, both Asian and Western, who’ve been living in Thailand for years, and who’ve gone through an assortment of visa application processes, changes, and crackdowns.
Do you have a visa application story you feel is worth covering in this guide? If you feel like this guide missed vital information in the visa application process and experience, sound off in the comment section below.
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