PhuketSpace customers are usually in Thailand for more than just a short holiday, so most will need to have obtained a visa before their arrival. There are a number of Thailand visas available to visitors.
Most nationalities are given 30 days on arrival in Thailand if they fly in. If your plan is to spend less than a month in Thailand, then that’s all you need. If you arrive at a land border, you will only get a 15-day stamp in your passport. A short extension to either of these is possible (for a 1,900 baht fee, as at November 2016): you can get a seven-day extension on your original 15 or 30 days, once only.
You can of course start again, and go to the nearest border and get a stamp for another 15 days. Malaysia is only 6 hours away from Phuket by road, and the nearest Burmese border is only 5 hours away; there are plenty of ‘visa run’ companies in Phuket who will make all the transportation arrangements for you. Alternatively you can leave the country and fly back in – this will get you another 30 days. Air Asia (www.airasia.com) usually have some good deals for flights – even better if you book well in advance.
Currently, you are limited to four consecutive 15-day stamps, but it seems that there is no limitation on the number of 30-day stamps at present.
There are a number of visa options available when visiting or deciding to live in Thailand depending on your purpose (whether you wanted to enter the Kingdom to study, to work under Thai company, retirement, marriage or simply by leisure).
Another alternative for Thailand visas is to apply for a 60-day tourist visa at a Thai embassy or consulate before you leave your home country, or in any country outside Thailand. All you need to show is proof of eventual departure from Thailand.
Once you’re in Thailand, towards the end of the 60 days, the tourist visa can be extended for another 30 days without leaving the country by paying 1,900 baht (as at Dec 2011) at Thai Immigration.
The non-immigrant “B” visa is what is known by some as a work visa, though that’s a bit of a misnomer as no foreign national is permitted to work in Thailand without a work permit. The non-immigrant “B” visa is just the first step of the work permit application process.
The non-immigrant “B” visa is intended for those who are going to be employed or start a business in Thailand, and is probably the most common of the Thailand visas. Some embassies may still issue multiple entry “B” visas however it has become the norm that they will only issue a single 3 month “B” visa in embassies and consulates Asia to those seeking employment.
If possible, apply for your non-immigrant “B” visa at a less prominent consulate that receives few applications per year. Hull in the UK and Brisbane in Australia, for example, are likely to give you a one-year, multiple entry non-immigrant “B” visa for Thailand without a problem.
You can apply for a non-immigrant “B” visa a maximum of two times in succession. In your passport the embassy will also stamp in red that the next “B” visa you apply for must show that you had applied for a Thai work permit on the last “B” visa that you had been issued
Should you arrive in Thailand on a one-year multiple entry visa, all is not as it seems! Although the visa is valid for 12 months, is valid for a year it’s essentially divided into four, as the stamp you receive on arrival will only be for 90 days., after which you have to leave Thailand and return to get an additional 90 days. This is commonly known as a visa run.
In order to start the application process for a non-immigrant “B” visa, you will need to obtain a job offer in writing from your future employer, along with copies of his business registration and various other documents. Assuming you’re already in Thailand, you then leave the country and go to the nearest Thai consulate. Many people go to Penang or Kuala Lumpur (in Malaysia) or to Singapore.
The next day you collect your non-immigrant B visa which you use to come back into Thailand. This visa is then used to apply for a work permit. This is all after reams of paperwork are completed, along with many mysterious documents in Thai. This is not an easy process. If your employer isn’t in a position to deal with the two-inch thick pile of application documentation, you may need to go through a Thai lawyer.
If you are married to a Thai national you may apply for a non-immigrant “O” visa, commonly known as a Marriage Visa. You have to be married officially as the government will not recognise a village-style wedding as ‘officially’ being married to a Thai national for the marriage visa. You are advised to register your Thai marriage at government offices, or perhaps get Thai lawyer to register it for you
The marriage application is far from a straightforward process, as there are different procedures to follow according to your nationality.
Thailand Retirement visa
To start with, you must meet the age requirements, so you must be over the age of 50. There might also be the requirement for a criminal record check, though this doesn’t seem to be applied consistently.
There are a couple of options for applying for a Thai retirement visa, officially known as the Thai “O-A” visa:
The first method which most people use is to apply for a non-immigrant “O” visa, which is valid for three months. Once in Thailand, they apply to have their “O” visa converted to an “O-A”. To do this, you will need to satisfy the financial requirements for the retirement visa, i.e. have 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account which has been verified by the bank as having been remitted from overseas. This money also has to be in the account for at least 3 months prior to applying for the O-A retirement visa.
Alternatively, you can prove that you have a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht a month, or a combination of the two, i.e. part income and part deposit. It is best to consult an immigration lawyer to do the calculations for you. If you are married to a Thai national you only need to have 400,000 Baht deposited into a Thai bank account or an income of at least 32,500 baht a month, or a combination of the two.
This involves a layer in Thailand processing the necessary application paperwork for you at a Thai embassy abroad, for an “O-A” visa directly. All you need is the funds in the Thai bank account. They will also be able to obtain the necessary documentation on your behalf. This is certainly not the cheapest option, but a lawyer will usually complete everything for you and eliminate much of the red tape involved.
For foreign nationals who wish to study in Thailand for a certain period of time, a Thai Educational Visa is required.
If the educational institution is a Thai University, the government will issue you a one-year education visa. However if the educational institution is a Thai language school the Thai immigration may only issue a three-month visa.
Usually the school or university will issue you will a letter which expresses your intention to study at the institution and their institution’s registration. A letter from a Thai university will carry far more weight with Thai immigration, hence for a Thai university they will probably issue you a one-year edu visa.
There have been cases recently concerning Thailand visas for education to attend courses in Thai language. Immigration are now starting to clamp down on these, as it’s come to light recently that visa holders are simply not attending classes and that the application was probably not valid. They are now likely to check school attendance records, and may even ask you a few questions in Thai to to see how your language skills have progressed!
Fundamental requirements for obtaining Thailand visas
- Passport (valid for at least 6 months from date of application)
- Completed application form
- Two recent passport-size photos
- Fee (cash or postal money order only)
- Proof of sufficient funds to cover your stay (Bt20,000 per person, Bt40,000 per family*)
- Confirmed onward or return ticket*( If applying for a transit visa, the ticket must indicate Thailand as a point of transit)
- Registered, stamped, self-addressed envelope for postal enquiries
- Valid international health certificate for yellow fever (certain nationals only
- Letter from the employer in country of origin and from the business partner in Thailand explaining the purpose of the visit required if requesting a non-immigrant visa for a business visit
*Tourist visa only