Visa and Immigration
For prospective and
current long-time residents of Thailand, getting visas and
renewing visas inevitably becomes a preoccupation. There are
many types of visas that foreigners can get. Depending on how
long you want to stay, how willing you are to make periodic
“visa runs” and ultimately how much money you have, you will
need to choose the visa that is best for you.
Of all the complaining
that Expats do in Thailand, visa complaints are often at the top
of the list. But when looked at objectively, living in Thailand
for the foreigner is often much easier than it is for a Thai to
live in America, countries in Europe, and other Asian countries.
Below is a Thai visa
overview. To learn the real facts check out the links below.
Simplified, there are three types of visas most foreigners are
This is the visa you will
get upon arrival in country (unless you already have another
kind) at the immigration checkpoint. It allows you a 30 day
visit to the country. This visa cannot generally be extended
more than a week or so. Many Expats who have this kind of visa
will make a “visa run” to cross a border and reenter for another
30 days. In the past Expats would cross a border every 30 days
for years and years but recently, laws have gone into effect
that limit how many times this can be done. It is best to check
what the current laws are, how they are being applied or
ignored, and which borders are easiest to navigate. Check on
the various sites below and with other Expats doing visa runs.
Issued to people who want
to stay in country for a longer time for the purposes of
tourism. You must apply for this visa while abroad. If will
not be issued upon arrival in the country. It is good for a 60
day visit and normally you will be allowed a 30 day extension.
Recently, people over 55 years of age will be issued a second
extension, of 21 days. A visa fee will be charged for each
extension. In total you can have 111 days with this visa before
having to leave the country.
You can get a multiple entry visa
which will allow you to exit and then reenter the country for
another 60 days.
There are many kinds of
non-immigrant visas but the one most retirees are interested in
is type “O”. Check with the Thai immigration sites to find out
all the documents you will need but you need two things in order
to get what is referred to as a “retirement visa”. You need to
be over 50 years old (easy for most of us) and you need to have
proof that you can support yourself in Thailand (not so easy for
some). That can be either ฿800,000
deposited in a Thai bank account for at least 3 months prior to
visa application or proof of an foreign currency income of
month, or a combination of the two. You will be given a 1 year
visa which can be extended for another year, and so on, if
you still meet the above requirements. Note: Once you receive
this visa you will lose it if you leave the country before the
one year is up unless you get a reentry visa. Also, you
must report to the immigration office once every 90 days.
Reentry visas and
extensions all cost money. The current government fee for an
extension of a transit, tourist, or non-immigrant visa is
Reporting every 90 days is free.
The sites below will help with up
to date information.
Ministry of Foreign
is info from the horse’s mouth but we noticed that some
of the information may be out of date. Some of the
consular sites might have more up to date information.
summary of visa, entry and exit and other
Expat Tips Thailand
info on Thai immigration
of basic immigration and visa question and answers
of up to date stories of what other Expats have
encountered in their visa quests.
Visas for Staying in
Thai Embassy List
This site contains a list of many of the Thai embassies
around the world along with their addresses, telephone
numbers and email addresses.
Foreign Embassies in Thailand
of foreign embassy websites and contacts in Thailand
The following are some Thai
Los Angeles, CA
New York, NY
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia