How to avoid Visa Runs and Stay in Thailand Long-Term, Legally ?
Foreigners visit Thailand for different reasons. Certain visits require a Thai Visa, while some don’t. If you intend to stay long-term, this visa guide contains each visa application process, 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’re 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.
II. VISA PROCEDURE
1. Summary of Visa Options
Visas in Thailand can be separated into two types: short-term visas and long-term visas.
Short-term visas let you stay in Thailand anywhere from one week to two hundred and seventy days. These visas aren’t renewable. But they’re your best bet if you want to come to Thailand but you can’t get a long-term visa. They’re good if you want to come to Thailand for tourism.
- Visa Exemption status lets people of certain nationalities stay in Thailand for up to thirty days without having to get a visa
- A Visa on Arrival lets people of certain nationalities stay in Thailand for up to fifteen days–you can apply for it at Thailand airports or immigrant checkpoints
- A Tourist Visa that lets you stay in Thailand from thirty days to two hundred and seventy days
Long-term visas let you stay in Thailand for over a year. They are renewable. Each long-term visa has its own requirements. You’ll read about them in their respective sections in this guide.
Long-term visas are separated into two types: non-immigrant visas and special purpose visas.
Here are the non-immigrant visas you can get if you qualify:
- Non-immigrant visa B or business visa for those who want to work, run a business, or invest in Thailand.
- Non-immigrant visa ED or education visa if you want to study in Thailand’s schools and universities or you want take language programs or other courses.
- Non-immigrant visa O or other activities visa for other purposes of visiting Thailand such as marriage, guardian, spouse, retiree, and volunteer
Here are the special purpose visas you can get if you qualify:
- Non-immigrant visa IB or Investment visa if you want to invest in Thailand under the Board of Investment approval
- Non-immigrant visa EX or Expert visa if you’re an expert in an approved field
- Non-immigrant visa F or Official Duty visa if you were sent from government agencies, embassies, and consulates from another country to work in Thailand
- Non-immigrant visa M or Media visa if you’re a journalist, news reporter, or film producer
- Non-immigrant visa R or Religious visa if you want to perform missionary or religious activities in Thailand
- Non-immigrant visa RS or Scientific Research visa if you want to do scientific research or training or teaching in a research institute
There are also three other special long-term visas if you want to visit Thailand for specific reasons:
- Diplomatic visa if you are in Thailand for diplomatic reasons
- Elite visa if you join the elite member program in Thailand by paying a hefty membership fee
- Investment visa if you bring 10,000,000 baht to invest in Thailand
2. Preparing Visa Documents
If you follow the three rules below to prepare your visa documents you may save yourself a few extra trips to the immigration office. Keep in mind that different visas call for different documents. And different immigration offices in Thailand have different standards and policies. But these three rules will help you with any visa.
Rule 1: Ask people who’ve recently visited the same immigration office or embassy that you’re going to visit, and who’ve applied for the same visa that you’re applying for, what documents they needed to bring.
Rule 2: Bring more than what is needed. For example, make copies of all the pages in your passport, even the blank pages. Sometimes immigration officers ask for things that aren’t listed as a requirement.
Rule 3: Get your immigration forms at the immigration office instead of downloading them online. Online forms might be outdated. This will also let you fill in the forms at immigration using their instructions.
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 more requirements for visa types.
Although nothing is guaranteed, if you have the right documents you’ll have fewer chances of running into problems with immigration officers in Thailand.
3. Where to Get Your Visa
Immigration Offices can be found in most of the provinces in Thailand. You can find all locations on Thailand’s official immigration website.
In theory, an immigration office can convert a tourist visa to other long-term visas such as the Business visa or the Retirement visa. But in practice, it requires a lot of paperwork, making it far easier to get your visa at a Thai embassy instead.
However, once you get your visa, you still need to regularly visit the immigration office for:
- visa extensions
- ninety-day notifications
- visa renewals
- applying for re-entry permits
- transferring the visa stamp from your old to your new passport
Most immigration offices in Thailand open on weekdays from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM. But most offices stop handing out queue numbers after 3:00 PM. Get there before 2:00 PM if you want to get your visa in one day.
The best time to go to the immigration office is early in the morning. Although the office opens at 8:30 AM, you should be there around 7:30 AM. Don’t be surprised if there’s already a long line.
If you go around 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM there will be a lot of people from the morning rush. And the immigration officers have a lunch break for an hour at noon. So you may not get to see an immigration officer until after lunch.
During lunch time, no one is allowed to wait inside the office. If you don’t want to waste an hour of your time standing around, you can grab some lunch. There’s usually food available inside or nearby the popular immigration offices listed below.
If you can’t make it for the early morning, going there in the afternoon around 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM is an option. Don’t go after 4:00 PM since the immigration office stops accepting new queue numbers at this time.
Here’s a list of popular immigration offices in Thailand.
English Address: Government Complex, Building B, 2nd floor, South Zone, Chang Watthana 7 Alley, Khwaeng Thung Song Hong, Khet Lak Si, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10210
Thai Address: กองบังคับการตรวจคนเข้าเมืองอาคารศูนย์ราชการเฉลิมพระเกียรติฯอาคารบีถ.แจ้ง วัฒนะแขวงทุ่งสองห้องเขตหลักสี่กรุงเทพฯ10210
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/4SQVD1vcUiq
The easiest way to get to the immigration office is Bangkok is to take the BTS to Mo Chit station, exit 3, or MRT to Chatuchak station, exit 2.
From here you can choose between taking a taxi or bus to the immigration office. The taxi ride will take thirty minutes, on average. It should cost you 120 to 150 baht for the trip.
Or you can take a bus number 52. A bus ride will take around an hour. The bus will drop you off at the Government Complex Building A. You’ll need take the free shuttle bus to Building B. Here’s a video of how to do it.
You can also get to the immigration office in Bangkok by taking the BTS to Victory Monument, walking until the end of skywalk on the right side to Koh Phaholyotin, and taking a bus number 166. This bus will take you to Government Complex Building B.
English Address: Sutthi Phirom Alley, Tambon Paknam, Amphoe Mueang Samut Prakan, Chang Wat Samut Prakan 10270
Thai Address: ซอย สุทธิภิรมย์ตาบลปากน อา าเภอเมืองสมุทรปราการสมุทรปราการ10270
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/ef5FkDfXMYq
Take BTS to Samrong station. When you get off at Samrong you can then take a taxi down the road for about 45 baht. Show your taxi driver the address above in Thai and they will know where to go.
At the time of the this writing, Samrong is the closest BTS station to Samut Prakan Immigration. But if you’re reading this and BTS Pak Nam has been opened, then you can take the BTS to Pak Nam, which will drop you off right in front of the immigration office.
English Address: Promenada Center, G Floor, Building, Tumbon Tasala, Amphur Muang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50000
Thai Address: ชั นG อาคาร A ศูนย์การค้าพรอมเมนาดารีสอร์ทมอลล์เชียงใหม่ต าบลท่าศาลา อ าเภอเมืองเชียงใหม่จังหวัดเชียงใหม่
Google Map: https://goo.gl/maps/jtfWM3Shbio
The Promenada center is located on the outskirts of Chiang Mai. The easiest way to get there is to take a red songthaew, tuk-tuk, or Grab Taxi/Car from Chiang Mai. It should take you twenty-five minutes and cost 100 baht, one-way.
English Address: Phuket Immigration 482 Phuket Rd, Talad Yai, Amphoe Mueang Phuket, Chang Wat Phuket 83000
Thai Address: ตรวจคนเข้าเมืองจังหวัดภูเก็ต482ถนน ภูเก็ตตลาดใหญ่อ าเภอเมืองภูเก็ต83000
Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/7AKdSSbXuN92
It may sound like no-brainer advice, but the easiest way to get there is to rent a motorcycle.
It’s cheaper and more convenient than the limited and costly public transportation.
You can get most of the visas mentioned in this guide at any Thai embassy in the world. However, there are certain visa types, like multi-entry tourist visas and marriage visas, that can only be done in your home country. Also, people of certain nationalities, like those from African countries, need to fly back and get their visa in their home countries.
If your country doesn’t have a Thai embassy, you’ll need to go to the embassy nearest to your country. But it’s best to check with the Thai Consulate for the exact place.
Another thing you should know is that each Thai embassy has different standards. For example, one Thai embassy may require proof of onward travel when applying for a tourist visa, but you won’t need it for other Thai embassies.
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.
It’s also a good idea to make a quick call to them. Because of the regular change in visa regulations, information found on a Thai embassy’s website might be outdated.
Here’s a list of popular embassies near Thailand. They might be your go-to embassy for your visa application.
Vientiane is a popular choice for foreigners applying for a visa as the Thai embassy in Vientiane is quite accommodating. There are six border crossings between Thailand and Laos, with the Nong Khai-Vientiane border being the most popular. Thai visa service companies have scheduled trips to the Nong Khai-Vientiane border, which is an eight- to nine-hour van ride.
Not as popular as the Vientiane Thai embassy, the Savannakhet Thai Consulate is another choice for visa applicants. Visa applicants have reported experiencing being asked to show proof of funds and onward travel when applying from this consulate. On Migrationology, Mark Wiens explanation of the application process is spot on.
Although most expats in Thailand prefer to go to Vientiane in Laos, the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh is an alternative. Note that you have to stay in the country for at least three days and two nights while your Thai visa is being processed. In addition, the Thai embassy in Phnom Penh often asks for proof of funds, proof of onward travel, and proof of a hotel booking.
When applying for a Non-immigrant B visa at the Kuala Lumpur Thai Embassy, it’s usually painless. Application processes are finished in twenty minutes.
There are long lines snaking through the narrow gate of the embassy compound. But it’s not as crowded as the Vientiane embassy. The consulate is easy to locate; most taxi cabs know how to get there.
But make sure you have all the requirements with you before you go because there are no photo or copy centers nearby. If you forget a copy of a document you’d have to search far and wide to find a place to make a copy.
Applying for a visa in Penang is a pain-free experience, provided you have all the documents, including proof of onward travel, and proof of a hotel booking. Chris and Angela’s experience with applying for a visa in Penang was easy. There are agencies in Georgetown that organize visa applications for a fee.
Unlike the aforementioned embassies, the Royal Thai Embassy in Manila is crowd free. But it’s a three-hour flight from Bangkok and isn’t an ideal place to apply for a Thai visa unless you’re already there.
Some of the less popular destinations for doing Thai visa runs include Singapore; Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam; Yangon, Myanmar; Hong Kong; and Bali, Indonesia. The Thai consulates in these countries have more or less the same general requirements and are worth considering if money isn’t an issue. This list of Thai visa run choices provides a rough estimate on visa run costs for the aforementioned destinations.
One-Stop Service Center
It’s noteworthy to mention the One-Stop Service Center. It works similarly to the immigration office: you can change visa types, do 90-day check ins, and so on.
The One-Stop Service Center is only available for expats who are working with a company promoted by Board of Investment Thailand, or BOI.
In addition to providing non-b visa related services, they also offer work permit services. This saves you a trip to the Ministry of Labour.
The One-Stop Service Center is located on the 18th Floor of Chamchuri Square Building, Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330. The telephone number is 662-209-1100.
You can get through most visa-related procedures, including applications, renewals, extensions, notifications, by following these general guidelines. Keep in mind that every immigration office in Thailand is different, as is every Thai embassy.
Once you arrive at immigration or a Thai embassy, you need to find the help desk or person in charge of checking your documents. This person makes sure you have all the required documents and, if you do, gives you a queue number. If you don’t, they tell you to get the right documents and come back.
Help desks are often at the front of immigration offices and embassies, but not always. In Bangkok, for example, the help desk is inside the immigration office, which is inside a larger building.
After you get your queue number, wait in the designated area that is usually sorted by letters. You might have a queue number of L092. L is the section of the immigration office; 092 is your number in line.
Your number will be called either on the digital display or by mouth, depending on which immigration office or embassy you’re in. When you approach the immigration officer politely “wai,” even if the immigration officer looks unfriendly. Wai-ing will show that you’re courteous and respectful.
The officer will check your documents. If you lack any documents, the officer will point out which ones you need and ask you to come back. The immigration officer may also ask you some questions about your visa. One thing immigration officers like to know are your reasons for staying or coming to Thailand, in which you can give any number of valid reasons. Although “I love Thailand” always works best.
Be polite, patient, and personable, and everything should go well. Depending on the purpose of your visit, you might need to wait up to an hour to get your new visa stamp. Or you may need to come back and hear your results on another day.
Normally, the processing time for a non-immigrant visa B, non-immigrant visa ED, and non-immigrant visa O for voluntary services takes a few days.
On the other hand, the non-immigrant visa for marriage or retirement takes longer than that— around two weeks.
If you have a tourist visa, the start date goes into effect the day you arrive in Thailand. For all other visas, the start date begins the day the immigration officer approved your application.For many types of long-term non-immigrant visas, once issued, you will be given a single-entry visa allowing you to stay in Thailand for only ninety days. After entering into the country, you need to extend it at your local immigration office.
III. SHORT-TERM VISA OPTIONS
1. Tourist Visas
A Thailand tourist visa lets you come to Thailand for the purpose of traveling, visiting friends and family, getting medical treatment, attending meetings, conferences, seminars, or similar events, finding work, or opening a bank account.
The amount of time you can stay in Thailand on a tourist visa depends on which type of visa you have, but typically you’ll get thirty, sixty, or ninety days before extensions.
Thailand tourist visas are one of the easiest visas to apply for in Thailand. And if you’re looking to stay in Thailand for under a year, they’re also your best choice.
But depending on which country you come from, your application process and requirements may or may not be similar to other applicants.
In general, you have four different options with Thailand tourist visas: visa-exempt stamps, visas on arrival, single-entry tourist visas, and multiple-entry tourist visas. Visa-exempt stamps and visas on arrival are only available for residents of certain countries.
A caveat: You’re not allowed to work in Thailand on a tourist visa. Not offline. Not online. If you want to work in Thailand you’ll need a work permit, which you can get only when you have a non-immigrant B or non-immigrant O visa. You’ll find out more about these later.
When applying for a tourist visa, different requirements apply to different nationalities. But one requirement governs everyone: a passport with at least six months validity. This is a simple requirement, but you shouldn’t overlook it.
You may not be stopped and questioned by immigration. But do you really want to run the risk? You’re better off being safe than sorry.
Other than a passport with six-months validity, you don’t need to bring any other documents when traveling to Thailand as long as you meet the requirements of the Immigration Act of Thailand and arrive as a national from countries exempted from visa requirements.
Expats and foreigners who have had to re-enter the country several times in various intervals often ask whether other requirements are necessary. You might be asked to provide some of the following under certain circumstances and for certain types of visas.
Proof of Funds
You might need to show 20,000 baht or any equivalent currencies to the immigration officer when coming to Thailand with a visa-exempt stamp or visa on arrival. It’s based on one of the Immigration Act of Thailand’s rules regarding “Having no appropriate means of living following entry into the Kingdom.”
Proof of Onward Travel
In certain cases you might be asked for proof of onward travel. Proof of travel can be a plane ticket or overland travel tickets by bus, train, or van, and tickets with fixed return dates. If you come to Thailand by air, you might need to show proof of onward travel to an airline officer upon checking in.
Again, you’ll rarely be asked to show a return ticket when traveling in and out of the country. However, if you’ve made several entries–regardless of the number of days in between each entry–there’s a good chance you’ll be asked to show proof.
Here’s one traveler’s personal experience and advice on having proof of onward travel while traveling in and around Thailand.
A visa-exempt stamp, or tourist visa waiver, will let you stay in Thailand without a visa for fourteen to ninety days depending on your nationality (it’s thirty days for Europeans, Americans, Canadians, and Australians). The visa-exempt stamp can be extended to another thirty days at any immigration office in Thailand.
To qualify for this option, you must come from one of the fifty-seven countries on the list.
Because border-bouncing foreigners have been taking advantage of the visa-exempt stamp, Thai Immigration officers have become privy to their abuse. On December 31, 2016, Thai Immigration changed the rules on visa-exempt stamps for all countries.
At present you can only exit and enter Thailand twice a year, from January 1st to December 31st.
If you come from Laos, Macau, Mongolia Russia, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Korea, or Malaysia then you’re excluded from this rule.
While you’re not exactly violating any immigration laws, abusing this privilege will eventually raise a red flag. You’re not going to find an official list of rules that says the number of times you can get away with constantly getting a visa-exempt stamp. But suspicious travel patterns will have immigration officials taking a closer look at your visas.
If you’re worried about the amount of times you exit and enter Thailand on a visa-exempt stamp every year, this advice from Amornrat Mattioli, owner of Thai Visa Service, which helps foreigners with visas and border trips to Laos and Cambodia, might help.
Mattioli says that Thai Immigration counts the number of entries on a passport under a visa-exempt stamp. While they don’t count back-to-back entries, they do count the total number of visa-exempt stamps you’ve had.
This means if you’re from Singapore and come to Thailand once a month over the course of a year, your coming and going will raise a red-flag with Thai Immigration on your sixth entry, even if you stay in Thailand for only a day.
This doesn’t mean, however, that you will be banned from entering Thailand on your sixth entry. It just means Thai Immigration is likely to question your motives for wanting to enter Thailand.
If this happens, you can show proof of onward travel or proof of financial support. This might help. But ultimately, whether or not you’re allowed in Thailand lies in the hands of the immigration officer who will assess your entry based on your passport’s history and decide from there.
But if you travel to Thailand on a visa-exempt stamp frequently and leave when you’re supposed to, you shouldn’t run into any problems with Thai Immigration. They may question you. But if you’re following the rules, you’ll be okay.
Visa on Arrival
If you’re from one of the twenty-one countries on the left in the above link then you’re eligible for a fifteen-day visa on arrival when you travel to Thailand.
You can apply at any immigration checkpoint in Thailand for a 1,000 baht fee. To qualify for a visa on arrival, you must show proof of onward travel dated no later than fifteen days from the date you enter Thailand.
Similar to the visa-exempt stamp, visa on arrival can be extended in Thailand. But the extension will give you only seven days.
Single-entry Tourist Visa
If you want to stay in Thailand for up to ninety days, you can get a single-entry tourist visa (SETV). With this visa, you’ll be given an initial sixty days in the kingdom, starting on the day you enter Thailand.
After which you can extend for another thirty days. But you must enter Thailand before the ENTER BEFORE DATE on your visa. If you don’t, your visa will expire. If you leave Thailand while on a single-entry tourist visa, it will also expire–unless you get a re-entry permit.
The application process for single-entry tourist visa will depend on which country you’re in.
Below is a list of Thai embassies in popular locations outside of Thailand.
Each link points to the respective embassy’s website, where you’ll find applications and instructions on how to apply for a Thailand tourist visa.
You can apply for a single-entry tourist visa in any country with a Thai embassy. But if you’re applying for a multiple-entry tourist visa, you’ll need to do so in your home country.
Here’s what you usually need for applying the single-entry tourist visa:
- two color photos (3.5 cm x 4.5 cm), taken within the last six months
- a passport that is still valid for at least six months
- proof of onward travel
- proof of funds
- visa application form
- 1,800 baht (or equivalent) in cash
As mentioned previously, each Thai embassy requires different documents. It’s best to check what you need with the embassy before you go.
If you apply for back-to-back single entry tourist visas you will raise red flags with Thai Immigration officers. According to Amornrat Mattioli of Thai Visa Service you shouldn’t have more than three to five tourist visas in your passport at any given time.
But even if you get a new passport, immigration officers can verify the number of times you’ve applied for a tourist visa. And if you try to beat the system by extending your tourist visa for thirty days by doing a border run, and then repeat the process, expect immigration officers to question you.
Again, you may not be violating any immigration laws, but by not getting the right visa for your long-term stay in Thailand could make immigration officers wonder whether you’re in Thailand for tourism, or work.
Which leads to my next point. If you’re looking for a job in Thailand while on a tourist visa, and you get a job, you’ll have to leave Thailand and return with the right visa.
Multiple-entry Tourist Visa
If you want to stay in Thailand for more than ninety days, getting a multiple-entry tourist visa (METV) is the way to go. With this visa, you can enter and exit Thailand as many times as you’d like during the visa’s six-month validity.
Every time you enter Thailand you’ll get an entry stamp allowing you to stay in Thailand for sixty days, which can be extended for thirty days. This give you ninety days in total. Since you’re allowed to come and go as many times as you’d like, you can get a total of two hundred and seventy days on the visa.
Here’s how to do it: After your first ninety days, exit Thailand by either land or air. When you re-enter, you’ll get another sixty days on your visa, which can be extended for another thirty days.
After your second ninety-day stay, you can do the same thing again as long as you exit and enter Thailand before your multiple-entry tourist visa expires. This will give you a total of two hundred and seventy days in Thailand.
Unlike with single-entry tourist visas, you don’t have to get a re-entry permit when leaving Thailand.
You have to apply for the multiple-entry tourist visa at a Thai embassy in your country.
The Royal Thai Consulate General in Melbourne is the only exception. They let non-Australians apply for multiple-entry tourist visas.
Here’s what you need to apply for the multiple-entry tourist visa:
- two color photos (3.5 x 4.5 cm), taken within the last six months
- a passport that is still valid for at least six months
- proof of onward travel
- proof of funds
- visa application form
- 5,000 baht or the equivalent
As mentioned previously, each Thai embassy requires different documents. It’s best to check what you need with the embassy before you go.
Tourist Visa for Medical Treatment
The tourist visa for medical treatment allows you to stay in Thailand for sixty to ninety days depending on the duration of treatment listed on the confirmation letter from the medical institution in Thailand.
The tourist visa for medical treatment is rarely available or even mentioned on Thai embassies’ websites. It’s mainly for citizens from the Persian Gulf countries who travel to Thailand for medical treatment.
To apply for the visa, you are required to present the following documents:
- two color photos (3.5 x 4.5 cm), taken within the last six months
- a passport that is still valid for at least six months
- a confirmation letter from the hospital in Thailand stating your sickness and duration of treatment
It might not be worthwhile to get this type of visa since it gives you the same duration as a single-entry tourist visa but requires additional documents from the hospital in Thailand.
Extending Tourist Visa
You can extend your visa-exempt stamp or tourist visa for thirty days at most Thai Immigration offices. If you’re from India, keep in mind you’ll get a seven-day extension
The application process, requirements, and fees for extending your visa-exempt stamp and single-entry tourist visa are the same.
If you have a visa on arrival, you can only apply for a seven-day extension.
To extend your visa-exempt stamp or tourist visa, you’ll need the following:
- 1,900 baht seven- or thirty-day visa extension fee
- passport valid for at least six more months
- 4cm x 6cm photo, taken in the last six months
- copy of your passport, departure card (form TM.6), and entry stamp
- application form, which you can download on the Immigration Bureau’s website
- your contact details: address and cell phone number
Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to tourist visas:
Can a visa-exempt stamp or tourist visa that was already extended for thirty days be extended for a further thirty days (sixty-day tourist visa + thirty-day extension + thirty-day extension)?
No. But in case of an emergency you may be granted a seven-day extension for 1,900 baht.
Once my thirty-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 and reentries you’ve made.
Can I apply for a back-to-back tourist visa after my tourist visa’s thirty-day extension?
You may get away with it, provided you apply in different Thai embassies. Certain embassies may allow two consecutive applications. But, again, this is not set in stone.
What happens if I have an accident and need to get admitted to the hospital but my visa is about to expire?
Thailand has an extension based on medical treatment allowing you to stay in Thailand for another sixty days.
In this case, contact the hospital and ask for a confirmation letter addressing your sickness and duration of treatment. You need this document to get this special visa extension.
If case you can’t do it by yourself, there’s a chance that the hospital might handle the extension for you.
Note that the visa extension based on medical treatment is only available to those who are required to get admitted to the hospital.
If you just have a cold and still can move around, or you get dental treatment, chances are your visa extension application will not get approved. Or you won’t get the letter from the hospital.
IV. LONG-TERM VISA OPTIONS
Long-term visas are mainly separated into two types: non-immigrant visas and special visas given for a specific purposes.
1. Important Information
Before taking a deeper look at long-term visas, here are a few things you should know.
If you have a long-term visa you must report your address to your local immigration office every ninety days, without exception. You can do the ninety-day reporting or someone is authorized can do it for you (the power of attorney might be required depending on each immigration office).
It can be done fifteen days before the due date or your ninetieth day in the country after your last entry, or seven 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.
If you have to leave Thailand, your ninety-day reporting date starts from the date you return to Thailand. So that means you’ll have to check in ninety days from your return to Thailand.
And if you have to leave Thailand and your ninety-day check in is approaching, go check in first. If you stay past your ninety days and then leave Thailand, you will be fined 2,000 baht.
Here’s what you usually need for ninety-day reporting:
- completed TM.47 form
- 6 departure card
- last receipt of ninety-day notification
- copy of your passport photo page*
- copy of your visa*
- copy of your TM.6 departure card*
*At some immigration office such as Samut Prakan, immigration officers want both originals and copies of your documents.
It can take you at least half a day to do the notification with traveling and waiting time combined.
You can do the ninety-day notification by mail fifteen days before the notification due date. However, some immigration centers like the One-Stop Service Center need your passport. If in this case, it’s not recommended to check in by mail since there’s a chance your passport might get lost.
Ninety-day online reporting is another option, but the online portal that processes this only works on Internet Explorer— that’s if it works at all. You must reporting in person at least once prior to reporting online.
As of December 2016, all Thai Immigration Office Extranet sites were taken down as an anti-hacking measure, so it’s not advisable to report online. If online is your preferred route, then this guide on ninety-day online reporting might help.
Single-Entry and Multi-Entry Visa
When applying for or extending long-term visas, you can choose between a single-entry or multiple-entry visa.
The main difference is that if you hold a single-entry visa and need to leave Thailand, you must apply for a re-entry permit. Otherwise, your visa will be voided as soon as you exit the country.
A multiple-entry visa allows you to leave and enter Thailand as you wish. So if you know that you’re going to come and go quite often while living in Thailand, your best bet is to get a multiple-entry visa from the start.
The usual cost of a single-entry visa is $60 while the multiple-entry visa is $200.
If you’ re holding a valid single-entry visa and want to leave and return to Thailand, you’ll need to apply for a re-entry permit before you leave.
A re-entry permit let’s you leave the country without forfeiting your visa. But this doesn’t “pause” your visa.
Whether you’re in Thailand or not, the amount of time given to you on your visa still winds down.
When you apply for your re-entry permit in Thailand, you’ll have two choices: a single re-entry permit and a multiple-entry permit.
With a single re-entry permit, you can leave and enter Thailand just one time with your current valid visa. If you need to leave Thailand after that, you’ll have to apply for a new re-entry permit.
The cost for a single re-entry permit is 1,000 baht.
With a multiple re-entry permit, you can leave and enter Thailand as many times as you like with your valid visa.
The cost for a multiple re-entry permit is 3,800 baht.
If you’re leaving Thailand in an emergency, or for a yearly vacation, then getting a single re-entry permit makes the most sense. But if you plan on leaving Thailand more than four times with your valid visa then you should get a multiple re-entry permit to save you money.
To apply for a Thailand re-entry permit, just go to your nearest immigration office or re-entry permit counter at any of the international airports in Thailand.
No matter which immigration office or airport you at, getting your re-entry permit is the same unless noted below.
Here’s the step-by-step process, with costs and required documents.
- go to the re-entry permit counter
- give the immigration officers your boarding pass, 4cm × 6cm photo, filled in TM.8 form, photocopies of your passport picture page and valid visa page, and TM.6 departure card
- pay 1,000 baht for a single re-entry permit or
- pay 3,800 baht for a multiple re-entry permit
- get your re-entry permit stamped into your passport
If you’re planning to get a re-entry permit at the airport on the same date as your flight, make sure to be there three hours before your flight.
And not all re-entry permit counters in all airports open twenty-four hours. If your flight is leaving late at night or early in the morning, you should get you re-entry permit in advance at your local immigration office instead.
It’s better to play it safe.
Keep in mind that if you have a connecting flight in Thailand from another airport in Thailand, and you plan on getting your re-entry permit after your connecting flight– at the second airport, you’re really testing your luck if you have a short layover.
Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, and Chiang Mai are the only known airports with the re-entry permit counter.
If you need to travel out of Thailand from other provinces, even Phuket, you should get your re-entry permit at a local immigration office before going to the airport.
If you’re leaving Thailand from Suvarnabhumi Airport you might want to get there at least three hours before your flight, as the process could take you up to forty-five minutes. The re-entry permit counter is located all the way your left in the immigration departure halls. It’s open twenty-four hours a day.
Note: If you apply for a re-entry permit at Suvarnabhumi Airport, officials considered it an emergency. So you may have to pay a 200 baht admin charge, bringing your cost up to 1,200 baht for a single entry re-entry permit and 4,000 baht for a multiple entry re-entry permit.
Don Mueang Airport
If you’re leaving Thailand from Don Mueang Airport, getting a re-entry permit is quite easy. The process shouldn’t take longer than ten minutes if there’s no one else waiting. The re-entry permit counter is located after passport control but before security. It’s open twenty-four hours a day.
Chiang Mai Airport
If you’re leaving Thailand from Chiang Mai, you can get your re-entry permit at Chiang Mai Airport after you check in for your flight. In the international departures area, you’ll find podiums where immigration officers can help you apply for your re-entry permit.
Transfer Visa Stamp to a New Passport
If you need to get a new passport, you’re able to move the valid visa from your old passport to the new one without having to pay any fees. You need to following documents:
- visa transfer application
- your new passport and a copy of the passport data page
- your old passport and a copy of data page, visa page, arrival stamp, and TM.6 departure card
- new passport certificate from the embassy of your country*
*The embassy should give you the certificate once you pick a new passport. If not, then you’ll have to ask for the certificate.
Depending on the type of non-immigrant visa you have, it can be renewed anywhere from fifteen to forty-five days before it expires. The renewal process is the same process you go through when you apply for the visa, except you can renew it in Thailand. You’ll be given a one-year visa.
Keeping Your Visa Active
After you get your visa there are a few things you need do to keep your visa active.
The most important thing is to stay legal under the main requirements of your visa type.
Otherwise, your visa can be cancelled immediately.
For example, if you’re holding a non-immigrant visa B, your visa will be cancelled immediately after you quit or get fired from a job.
For a student visa, your visa will be voided after you finish the program or get expelled from school from not paying tuition fees or failing.
For other types of visas, while your visa won’t be cancelled immediately, you can’t renew it when it is expires.
In addition to the above reasons, all non-immigrant visa holders need to do the following:
- get a re-entry permit before leaving Thailand (for single-entry visa holders)
- do ninety-day check-ins at immigration
- renew your visa before it expires
- comply with Thai laws and regulations
2. Non-Immigrant Visa B (Business and Employment)
The non-Immigrant visa B, commonly referred to as a work visa, is for working, teaching, and doing a business in Thailand. It allows you to stay in Thailand for one to two years and can be renewed every year.
Non-Immigrant Visa B can be issued based on two scenarios:
- you are hired by a company in Thailand
- you create a company in Thailand and hire yourself
The most common scenario is to be hired by a company in Thailand. Once you get a job, the company should assist you with getting both a non-immigrant visa B and a work permit.
On your side, you’ll need to show your education qualifications, resume, photo, and employment certificates.
You can also create your own company and get a visa during the process. But a majority of industries require you to found a company with Thai nationals unless your company is being promoted by Thailand Board of Investment.
On paper, there are also other ways to get a non-immigrant visa B. If your company is overseas but sending you to work in Thailand, or you invest ten million baht here, you can get a visa. But it’s pretty complicated to do and only a few people qualify for it.
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.
You can apply for the non-immigrant visa B in Thailand at the immigration office. However, because of the complication of the paperwork, a majority of employers usually send their new employees to do it at a Thai embassy outside of Thailand. Popular locations are Cambodia, Malaysia, Laos, and Singapore.
If you are from an African country, you need to fly back home and apply for the visa at a Thai embassy there.
Here’s a list of documents you’ll need when applying for the visa and work permit.
- visa application
- passport with at least six months validity
- three 4cm x 6cm photos taken in the last six months
- university diploma or any similar educational certificate
- university transcripts
- 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 resume outlining a clear timeline of the applicant’s employment history Remaining documents must be prepared and provided by the employer.
You should hear the results of your application after a few days of submitting the application.
Once issued, you are eligible to stay in Thailand for ninety days. Your visa can then be extended to one or two years in the country and is usually done with the assistance of the employer.
Expat employees of Thailand Board of Investment-registered companies can extend their visa to one or two 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 a visa extension at the immigration office.
The required documents for visa extensions are similar to visa applications. A majority of them are provided by the employer. The only additional document you must have is a work permit.
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.
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 ninety-day non-immigrant visa to one year, you can apply for a seven-day extension at the immigration office for a short-term fix. But once the initial ninety-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 ninety-day period/stamp and failed, you can exit and re-enter, and try to extend it within the second ninety-day period.
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 one year. The complete list of requirements and the application process can be found in the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs website.
The non-immigrant B visa can be renewed in Thailand forty-five days before it expires. And you will be given a one- to two-year extension right away.
When your employer cancels your work permit, your visa will also be cancelled immediately, per Thai Labor laws. But you can extend your visa for another seven days at the immigration office to give you time to get a new visa. Or you could pack your things and leave the country.
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 permits 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.
If you get a new job, you need to fly out of Thailand and repeat the application process again.
However, if both your former employer and new employer are a company promoted by Thailand Board of Investment, you are able to get a visa in Thailand. You’ll be given one to two years visa straight away.
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.
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.
Alternatively, 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.
3. 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 one 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.
4. Non-Immigrant Visa IB and IM
This is another visa for business and other investment-related purposes. IB visas are for investing through the Thailand Board of Investment while IM is through the Ministry of Thailand.
However, most embassies do not commonly issue this visa anymore. They issue a non-immigrant B visa instead.
5. 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 a 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.
The Non-Immigrant visa M applies applies only to those who are working for registered news agencies in Thailand or overseas. If you are a journalist working for a Thailand-based media company, a Non-Immigrant Visa B is the recommended visa.
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.
The key document for applying for the Media visa is a news agency’s registration documents with the government in Thailand or in overseas.
Once your profile is verified, you need to have an interview with the Thai Embassy or Consulate in the country that your news agency is located.
Once approved, you will be obtained a ninety-day media visa, which can be extended upto one year in Thailand.
6. Non-Immigrant Visa ED (Education)
The non-immigrant visa ED, or education visa as it’s commonly called, lets non-Thais study in a Thai university or similar educational setting, intern at corporations, take observation tours, participate in official projects or seminars, attend conferences or training courses, or study as a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
Despite popular belief, you can come to Thailand to study a wide array of subjects at many different places throughout the country.
But the place and subject must be recognized by Thailand’s Ministry of Education.
So if you have your sights set on studying languages, martial arts, cooking, or other specialties in Thailand, here’s how you can apply for an education visa.
The education visa allows you to stay in Thailand for the duration of your course, which can last months or even years. But the school you study at or the subject you study have to be approved by Thai Immigration. And you may need to attend a certain amount of classes each week.
Here’s what you can study to get a non-immigrant visa ED:
You can apply to study at a university in Thailand with an international program.
It’s the easiest way to get a long-term visa but requires the most effort and resources.
In general, the master’s degree program in Thailand takes one-and-a-half to two years to complete with the average tuition costing 400,000 baht for the whole program.
Most language schools in Thailand require you to enroll before they process your visa. Once you pay for course fees, they’ll send a letter of admission and/or a letter of introduction to the Ministry of Education on your behalf. This could take up to three weeks.
In my experience with applying for an education visa, I was advised by the language school to get a tourist visa to “refresh my visa status” so that I would have at least sixty days while waiting for the Ministry of Education’s approval.
Some Thai language schools provide guidelines on an education visa’s length of stay based on an applicant’s study program, which can provide you a visa from three months up to one year, in three month increments.
I tried applying for an education visa through The Knowledge Language School, a language and exam preparation school based in Bangkok, and they helped me apply for my visa.
There may be instances when immigration officers visit the school to check if you’re attending classes, but these are rare occurrences.
And not all language schools are recognized by the Ministry of Education. Many schools were caught giving foreigners visas without requiring them to attend class. If your school offers you this option, they’re not a school. They’re a visa mill. I’d find another school asap.
You can check the legitimacy of a language school based on the following factors:
- Teacher’s qualifications: A teacher who has a relevant language degree is a giveaway that he or she can teach; legitimate schools often provide this information.
- Learning premises: One way to check the legitimacy of the school is to drop by and see if they conduct classes; those without a classroom might be a visa mill registered as a school.
- Learning methodology and curriculum: In the Thai language school that I studied at, learning materials such as books and some visual aids were provided, with a clear course scope— listening, speaking, reading, writing– all outlined with a corresponding number of study hours. A visa mill school may also provide such materials, but some may not.
Other signs to watch out for are the school’s attendance records and its admin’s knowledge of the Thai Education Visa process.
Also keep in mind that you can study other languages in Thailand as well, such as Chinese, Russian, or English. But in some cases, you might need to meet a minimum number of study hours or classes per week. For example, you might have to take two lessons per day at four to five days per week.
For those looking to study in Chiang Mai, the education for hand-to-hand combat beats getting a language education visa— no pun intended. Training for these courses is held by the Thai Military Police, which makes it more legitimate as well.
You can apply for this visa from your home country. But if you need help, Chiang Mai Locals offers hand-to-hand combat visa helps.
Chiang Mai Buddy also offers a similar program.
Another great option for those looking for a more physically demanding visa is to study Muay Thai in Thailand. Chacrit Muay Thai offers a one-year education visa.
Many other Muay Thai gyms offering similar visas have been popping up with the rise in popularity of Muay Thai in Thailand.
Another option for getting an education visa is to enroll in a culinary institute. Thai culinary schools provide instructions for education visa application, whether it’s an international school like Le Cordon Bleu or a smaller cooking company such as Bangkok Thai Cooking Academy.
You can get an education visa through other less-popular options as well, such as for studying the art of Thai massage or for scuba diving.
You can also study Thai Traditional Yoga massage at this Chiang Mai school, which offers a helpful guideline on applying for your visa.
Taking these courses, however, comes with a set of guidelines different from those of enrolling in a Thai university versus enrolling in short-term courses such as language or cooking lessons or martial arts. So be sure to ask your school what their requirements are.
If you want to apply for an education visa, you can do so from either your home country, or if already in Thailand with a tourist visa, from a Thai Embassy in a neighboring country.
If you come from Bangladesh, China, India, Sri-Lanka or the Middle Eastern or African countries then you’ll have to apply for a visa only at the Thai Embassy or Consulate-General in your home country or at the Thai Embassy assigned to your country.
Some Chinese nationals can get an education visa from the Vientiane embassy. But if you want to be certain, it’s best to contact the embassy you’re planning to get a visa from.
Here are the documents you’ll need, where to apply, how much it’llcost, and how long you’ll have to wait for your visa. It was taken from the Thai Embassy’s website.
But like with so many visa application processes in Thailand, the list of required documents changes depending on the immigration officer you see and which program you study.
- passport or travel document with validity not less than six months
- visa application form completely filled out
- 4cm x 6cm photo taken in the last six months
- recommendation letter addressed to the Thai Embassy or Consulate
- letter of acceptance from the academic institute or organization
- for those wishing to study in a private institution, an official letter from the Ministry of Education of Thailand, or other sub-authorities concerned, approving the enrollment of foreign students, and a copy of registration certificate of the academic institute
- academic record and the student ID, if currently studying
- for those wishing to attend seminar, or training session, or internship, a recommendation letter from the institution addressed to the Consulate is also required
The fee for an education visa is 1,900 baht, and you’ll have to pay that amount every three months when you extend your visa.
When you’re ready to extent your education visa, you’ll have to go through the same process that you did when you first applied. If you’re from one of the countries that requires you to leave Thailand to initially apply for an education visa, but you’re already in Thailand with your first three-month education visa, you won’t have to leave the country to re-apply.
The only difference this time around is that during your interview with the immigration officer, they may give you an oral or written exam to assess your progress if your visa is for learning Thai.
Basically, it helps them determine whether you’re attending your classes or not, and whether you’re using your education visa to study and not just as a means to stay longer in the country.
Your answers to the test may make the difference between getting a sixty-day extension, a thirty-day extension, or no extension at all–meaning you’ll have seven days to leave Thailand.
7. Non-Immigrant Visa O for Guardian
If you send your son or daughter to study in Thailand, chances are you might be able to get a guardian visa based on your child’s student visa. This visa lets you to stay in Thailand for one year at a time and can be renewed until your kid(s) graduate.
There are three main requirements for this visa.
- Your child needs to be under twenty years old
- Your child needs to study in a school in Thailand
- You must have at least 500,000 baht in your Thai bank account
You can apply for the non-immigrant visa O for guardian at the Thai embassy in your home country. Here’s a list of documents that’s commonly needed to apply for the non-immigrant visa O for guardian.
- visa application
- one passport size photo (4cm by 6cm)
- your passport with copies of passport photo page and all pages that have Thailand visas including the TM.6 form, if applicable
- copies of your child’s passport and all pages that have Thailand visas including TM.6 form, if applicable
- a letter from school confirming the student status of your child
- your children’s birth certificates in English or Thai
- a letter from a Thai Bank showing 500,000 baht in deposit— the money should be in the account one month before the application and three months before the renewal
- a copy of your bank book for the last three months— the financial amount in the bank book must be the same as in the letter from the bank
You might be able to get a multiple entry visa allowing you to stay in Thailand for up to one year right away after the visa approval.
If not, you will be given a single entry visa for ninety days which can be extended to one year in Thailand.
Note that one guardian visa is given to one parent for one child only. If both mother and father want to come to Thailand with this visa, you need to send two children to study here. A marriage certificate is also required.
Once your son or daughter is successfully enrolled, the school should help you through the process of getting the visa.
A foreigner married to a Thai spouse is eligible for a one-year extension of stay based on marriage, commonly referred to as a marriage visa. Before getting this visa, you must have a non-immigrant visa O based on marriage/for the purpose of accompanying a family member.
In addition to be married to a Thai, you’ll have to show 400,000 baht in a Thai bank account deposited two months before applying.
Or you’ll have to show a letter from your country’s embassy that you have a monthly income of at least 40,000 baht from abroad. Showing either statement would also let you renew your visa annually.
Non-Thai women married to Thai men don’t have to show the same financial documents to get a one-year marriage visa. The Expat Women with Thai Partners Facebook group is a good place to ask for help if you need it.
The non-immigrant visa O based on marriage 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 one year.
With this visa, you’re also allowed to work legally in Thailand and apply for a work permit under a Thai-registered company. You don’t have to apply for a working visa, but the employer must give you a work permit.
Non-Thai women married to Thai men don’t have to show the same financial documents to get a one-year Marriage Visa. is a good place to ask for help if you need it.
You must apply for a non-immigrant visa O based on marriage outside of Thailand. It can be at the Thai Embassy in your country, in a country near Thailand, or in the country you currently live in.
If you apply for the visa from your country, it’s possible to get a one-year visa right away. However, instead of doing ninety-day check-ins, you’ll need to leave Thailand every ninety days by land or by air. A drive to the Aranyaprathet/Poi Pet border does the job.
For other cases, when you apply for a non-immigrant visa O based on marriage, you will be first given a ninety-day non-O visa, which can be extended to a one-year visa once you are in Thailand.
Different embassies ask for different documents, and because different countries have different agreements with Thailand, contact your local Thai Embassy for their list of required documents. In New York City, here’s a list of documents the Thai Embassy asked.
- airline ticket
- Thai spouse’s passport
- three 2in x 2in passport photos
- passport with six months validity
- marriage certificate translated to Thai*
- bank statement showing sufficient funds**
*If you got married inside of Thailand, you can get your Thai marriage certificate at the district office in the city you got married in.
If you got married outside of Thailand, you must get your marriage certificate translated into Thai. You then have to bring the translated certificate to the Department of Consular Affairs in Chaengwattana to have it approved and stamped.
Once the DCA approves your translated marriage certificate, you can take it to the district office in the city you live in, and they will print for you a certified Thai marriage certificate.
**It can be either 400,000 baht in a Thai bank account deposited two months before applying or a letter from your country’s embassy showing a monthly income of at least 40,000 baht from abroad.
KrungThai Bank was the only bank willing to let our editor open an account in his name on a marriage visa.
Depending on where you get your visa, it could take anywhere from two days to two weeks. Applying for the visa in New York City took about two weeks for the embassy to approve paperwork.
You can renew your visa inside of Thailand fifteen days before it expires by going to the Government Complex in Chaengwattana or immigration office in your area.
Enter the office and go to the counter so they can check your paperwork. If you’ve done this before, and are sure you have everything, go straight inside and get your queue number.
For the most recent list, check the Immigration Bureau’s website. Keep in mind that the website’s in need of an update and some sections may not work.
- bank book
- 2×2 inch photos
- marriage certificate
- form tm7
- Thai marriage certificate*
- copy of spouse’s Thai ID card
- form ค.ร. 22 (if married overseas)
- copies of your TM.6 departure card
- copies of every page of your passport
- forms ค.ร. 2 and 3 (if married in Thailand)
- children’s birth certificates translated to Thai
- photos of you and your spouse at your house
- photos with you and your kids at school, if applicable
- copy of Blue Book Thai address page with spouse’s name
- printed Google map showing how to get to your Thai residence
- for men, a letter from a Thai Bank showing 400,000 baht in savings**
- or 40,000 baht a month income from home country
If you can read Thai, or your Thai spouse is willing to put in some leg work for you, MFA also has a detailed explanation of all the documents needed. Their website is more up-to-date than the Immigration Bureau’s.
It costed 1,900 baht for the visa renewal. But when include the traveling cost. The missed days at work. The photos. The total cost adds up. The real cost is closer to 5,000 baht.
It takes roughly ten days to get the results back from your visa application.
If you don’t have 400,000 baht to show in a Thai bank account or 40,000 baht a month income, you can renew your visa at a Thai Embassy in a neighboring country.
We know people who go this route. And they’ve told us if you go to the Thai Embassy and drop off your paperwork in the morning, they’ll give it back to you by the next evening. But if you’re booking a round-trip flight, I’d leave a few days for some breathing room.
Two popular places to renew your Thai Marriage Visa are Phnom Phen, Cambodia and Savannakhet, Laos. Each city is only a short plane ride away from Thailand and each has a Thai Embassy. The embassies in both places ask for the same documents, which are listed in the section above.
9. Non-Immigrant Visa O (For Take Care of Thai Kids)
You can get This visa when you can’t renew your marriage visa either from divorce or the death of your spouse. Or you can get this visa if you’ve given up or lost your marriage visa and need another long-term visa.
But if you have children you can switch your visa to an อุปการะบุตรไทย, or Ubogarabut Thai Visa.
There’s no official name for the visa. But we like to call it the “Take Care of Thai Kids Visa.”
The limitation of this visa is that your kid must be single and under twenty years old.
The required documents are very similar to the marriage visa. Apparently, you still need the same financial requirements.
Here’s what you need to apply for the “Take Care of Thai Kids Visa”
- visa extension form (TM.7)
- passport or travel documents
- non-immigrant visa
- marriage certificate.(If from abroad have to certified by The Embassy or Consulate in Thailand) and certificate of family, certificate of marriage.
- Thai wife ‘s I.D. Card
- house registry of Thai wife
- child‘s birth certificate
- letter from Thai bank in your name stating you have 400,000 baht two months before your application, bank book, and ATM slip on date of application OR
- an affidavit from the embassy of your home country showing 40,000 baht or more of monthly income
- map to Home
- family Photos
In addition to your own kids, the visa also applies to adopted children or spouse’s children.
10. Non-Immigrant Visa O-A for Retirement
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 one year and can be renewed every year with the same requirements.
You can apply for a retirement visa if you are fifty 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 your bank statements showing a deposit of the amount equal to and not less than 800,000 baht in your Thai bank account or
- notarized bank statement copies showing income of not less than 65,000 baht per month, plus an affidavit from your embassy or consulate as proof of income or
- a combination of a deposit account and a monthly income 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 two 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.
You can apply for a one-year stay and extension based on retirement in two ways:
The first option is to apply for a non-immigrant O-A visa. It grants you a one-year stay straight away. But you should apply for it at Thai embassy in your home country or one near Thailand.
It’s best to re-check with the Thai embassy you’re planning to go to since not all of them can give you a one-year visa, but will give you ninety-day Non-O visa instead.
The second option would be to apply for the visa in Thailand. You will be given the non-immigrant O visa that is valid only for ninety days. Then, you need to apply for the one-year extension in Thailand, which should be done within the last thirty days of your ninety-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 to 30. If you choose this option, you are required to present proof of address.
Both methods require a similar set of documents:
- passport with at least eighteen months validity
- 4 cm x 6 cm photos taken in the last six months
- an updated bank passbook
- a bank letter confirming your funds were deposited from a foreign source not less than two months from the date of application*
- a health certificate (you may not need this if you’re in Thailand)
- a police/background check certificate
*To get a bank letter visit the bank branch where you opened your account. Tell them you need an official bank letter stating that you had the funds in your account on the date two months out from your application date. The letter usually costs a few hundred baht, depending on your bank. And it can be done on the same day, usually within an hour.
Please note that requirements for each nationality can be different. For details on eligibility, requirements, application, and fees, go to the MFA’s official page or contact the Immigration Office or Thai Embassy you are planning to go directly.
When your visa is about to expire, you’ll need to renew it at any of the immigration offices in Thailand. The process is the same as when you first applied.
But you should start your renewal process about fifteen days before your visa expires. This will give you plenty of time for adjustments if Thai Immigration asks for more documents.
If you want to renew your visa outside of Thailand, you can re-apply at the nearest Thai Embassy.
11. Non-Immigrant Visa O-X (Long Stay/Retirement)
In 2016, Thailand introduced a new long-term visa letting affluent retirees from fourteen countries stay in Thailand for up to ten years. Here are those countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States.
The requirements for this visa are a little different from the non-immigrant visa O-A for retirement. You’ll need the following to qualify for non-immigrant OX ten-year visa:
- a bank statement from a bank in Thailand showing at least 3 million baht dated more than twelve months before your application date or
- a bank statement from a bank in Thailand showing at least 1.8 million baht dated more than twelve months before your application date and a proof of annual income over 1.2 million baht.
- health insurance that provides you with at least 40,000 baht coverage for OPD and 400,000 coverage for IPD (non-optional)
The application process is the same as applying for a non-immigrant O visa. The only difference is that at the end of this process, you must get a re-entry permit.
The cost of getting this visa is $400.
Another benefit of the non-immigrant visa O-X is that instead of having to get a non-immigrant visa O for spouse, you can get the same ten-years visa for you as a legal couple and your child who is under twenty years old.
Required documents are the same as when applying your own visa, in addition to a copy of your marriage certificate or the birth certificate of your child.
The holder of non-immigrant visa O-X must report in person at the immigration office in Thailand annually with the proof of financial statement and insurance coverage.
The visa can be revoked if:
- the amount of money in the bank account is lower than 3 million baht in the first year of 1.5 million baht on the second year
- you do not hold the insurance plan as required by visa regulation.
- you work without permission
- you become a threat to Thailand
While holding the non-immigrant visa O-X, you’re also required to leave Thailand at least once in every five years.
12. Non-Immigrant Visa O for Spouse and Family Members
This visa is for applicants who are accompanying a spouse or family members who are working (non-immigrant B), studying (non-immigrant ED), retiring in Thailand (non-immigrant O-A for retirement), or living in Thailand (Thai national such as your kids).
With this visa, you can work in Thailand as long as your employer can give you a work permit. The visa can be applied at any Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand with following documents:
- visa application
- passport with at least eighteen months validity
- 4 cm x 6 cm photo taken in the last six months
Additional document if your spouse or family member is working in Thailand:
- a copy of all passport pages of your spouse/family member
- a copy of all work permit pages of your spouse/family member
- a letter from the company addressed to the Thai embassy confirming the relationship between your spouse or family member
Additional document if your spouse or family member is studying in Thailand:
- a copy of all passport pages of your spouse/family member
- a copy of a student ID card
- a copy of all work permit pages of your spouse/family member
- a letter from the school addressed to Thai embassy confirming the relationship between your spouse or family member
Additional document if your family member is a Thai national:
- a copy your child’s birth certificate or ID card
- a copy of your child’s house registration
Depending purely on the immigration officer’s individual decision, you might be required to show additional documents such as a photo of you and your spouse or family member.
The visa is granted with an initial ninety days, and can be extended at the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Thailand for up to one year.
13. Non-Immigrant Visa O for 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 NGOs, charities, foundations, or schools.
You can apply for this visa at the Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand with the supporting documents from your organization. On your part, you are required to provide the following documents:
- visa application
- passport with at least six months validity
- 4 cm x 6 cm photo taken in the last six months
There’s a good chance that the embassy will request these documents as well. It’s best to always have it with you.
- university diploma or any similar educational certificate
- university transcript of records
- a resume outlining a clear timeline of the applicant’s employment history
Once issued, you will be give a ninety-day single-entry visa which can be extended up to one year in Thailand.
Although you can’t get a salary from your volunteer work, a work permit is still needed for a visa extension. Note that not all non-government organizations, social welfare, and development organizations can issue work permits.
However, depending on your voluntary project, your non-government organization background, and the interview with the immigration officer, your visa might be extended to only a month or three months, in which case you’ll need to come back and extend it again before it’s expired.
14. Non-Immigrant Visa F (Official Duty Visa/Courtesy Visa)
This is for those who have to perform official duties in Thailand as an officer on a diplomatic mission, or who hold a Laissez Passer Passport and their families will perform official duties in Thailand, or 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.
15. 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 three months but can be extended to one year.
Here’s a list of documents that are normally required for getting the non-immigrant visa R:
- visa application
- passport with at least six months validity
- 4 cm x 6 cm photo taken in the last six months
For Buddhism activities, you’re required to provide:
- an original confirmation letter issued by the RAD of Thailand or the Prime Minister’s Office or Mahachulalongkorn University
- an original confirmation letter from the temple you are planning to study or perform religious activities at
For other religious activities, you’re required to provide:
- an original confirmation letter issued by the Religion Affairs Department of Thailand
- an original confirmation letter from your religious organization
Once issued, you will be granted a single-entry ninety-day visa that can be extended to one year in Thailand.
16. 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. The applicant must have an original letter of approval from National Research Council of Thailand. (NRCT)
Once issued, you will be granted a single-entry ninety-day visa which can be extended in Thailand. But the length of extension is based on your scientific research activity project and the decision of the immigrant officer.
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.
17. Non-Immigrant Visa EX (Expert)
Although Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs state it as a visa for skilled workers or experts, we can’t find any information about it nor any embassy that can grant this type of visa.
18. Diplomatic Visa
A Thai Diplomatic Visa may be granted and be valid for three or six 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.
19. Investment Visa
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 bonds amounting to no less than 10 million baht makes you eligible for an Investment Visa allowing you to stay in Thailand for up to one year.
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.
You’re also required to have the proof investment by putting over 10 million baht in a bank in Thailand that has over fifty percent of shares held by Thai citizens, such as Krung Thai Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Bangkok Bank, SCB, and Aomsin Bank,
You’re unable to work with the investment visa. And, unlike the retirement visa, you don’t need to be fifty or older to apply and no need to show monthly proof of income.
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. 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.
This doesn’t mean used condos do not qualify. When buying a used 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.
20. Thailand Elite Visa Program (Privilege Entry Visa)
The Elite Thai Visa is a Thailand Government-issued visa program that caters to affluent foreigners who are members of Thailand Elite.
It is a multiple-entry visa granted to qualified foreigners where you can freely move in and out of country without having to get a re-entry permit.
In addition to the visa privileges, Thailand Elite members are given access to a wealth of benefits, such as priority treatment at the airport immigration, prestigious golf club memberships, first-class accommodations, healthcare benefits, airport services, and more.
Depending on the applicant’s membership package, validity of stay ranges from five to twenty years. The package price starts at 500,000 baht for a five-year visa.
Even with the Thailand Elite Visa, it’s still necessary to do a ninety-day reporting, which can be done at an office from Thailand Elite Program. And you’re required to leave and come back to Thailand at least once within a year.
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 five-year elite visa.
A word on overstaying in Thailand: don’t do it.
If you overstay in Thailand, you’ll have to pay 500 baht per day you stay in the kingdom past your visa’s expiration date. Usually, the fine won’t be more than 20,000 baht even if you overstay for forty or more days.
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.
If you slip up and forget to extend your visa or apply for a new one, and you overstayed your visa’s expiration date, head to one of the immigration offices in Thailand to sort things out immediately.
If they come looking for you, or find that you’ve overstayed your visa during a random check, it could lead to to you being detained or blacklisted from Thailand.
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 one to ten years.
For foreigners with children, note that children below fifteen years old do need a visa. In case they don’t, they will not be persecuted in case of overstay. Children ages fifteen to eighteen with no proper visa will be charged for overstaying but won’t be blacklisted. Any foreigner eighteen years and older will be charged for overstaying and will be blacklisted.
Overstaying for one day is often seen as a victimless 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.
If you overstay while holding a long-term non-immigrant visa of any type, you can re-apply for the same visa again. Although you might not have to leave the country, the decision is mainly based on the immigrant officer.
The reapplication process is the same as when you apply for or renew your visa.
But you’ll have to pay the fine for overstaying your visa. They’ll give you separate paperwork to fill out. And you’ll have to sign and agree to their terms. And you’ll only know those terms if you can read Thai.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. Useful Sources of Thai Visa Info
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.
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.
4. 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.
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.
At the time of writing this guide, we linked to the most up-to-date sources–official embassies and Thai Visa guides–for visa application matters. We 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.
However, as mentioned earlier many times, visa regulations in Thailand change regularly. The information provided in this guide might not be one hundred percent accurate. But we will update it regularly and send you a head-ups once we do.
If you have more questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.