The Quick and Dirty Thai Visa Application Guide

If you’re visiting Thailand as a tourist, you have a handful of visa options. The main differences are how long they allow you to stay and where you apply for the visa. Depending on where you’re from, you may not even need a visa to visit the land of smiles!

30-Day Visa Exemption

Over fifty nationalities are allowed to enter Thailand without a visa for up to thirty-days. When you arrive, immigration simply stamps your passport with the required exit date. When you hear western backpackers talk about a “visa on arrival”, this free option is often what they mean. Here are the countries that can enter Thailand visa-free. And if you’re looking to stay longer than thirty-days, you can extend thirty more days after you’ve arrived!

30-Day Thai Visa on Arrival

Not every nationality is lucky enough to enter Thailand without a visa. However, some nationalities that require visas can get them on arrival. You’ll get a visa placed into your passport alongside an entry stamp stating when you need to leave. Here are the countries that can get a visa on arrival. The cost is 2,000 THB, and the visa can be extended thirty more days after arrival.

60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

You will have to apply for this visa outside of Thailand. Many businesses in neighboring countries such as Malaysia offer visa services. Typically, you apply one day, it processes on the second, and you pick up your visa on the third. It’s important to note that this is a single-entry visa, meaning you lose your remaining days if you exit Thailand. The cost is 1,900 THB, and this visa can also be extended thirty more days after arrival.

General Visa Warnings

While it’s not common for first-time visitors to Thailand, immigration reserves the right to question you about your stay. They may require you to provide proof of an exit flight as well as a bank balance of at least 20,000 THB. These rules have been designed to limit “beg-packing” and tourists overstaying their visas. This is not common, but be prepared to handle the situation if it arises.

30-Day Visa Exemption

Like we said above, a thirty-day visa exemption is available to fifty-five nationalities. The list includes the United States, the United Kingdom, and the vast majority of Europe. It is a single-entry exemption, meaning you forfeit your remaining days if you leave Thailand early. As the only free option, it is the most popular among backpackers.

Entering at a Land Border

Thai immigration has been cracking down on “U-Turn Trips”, where tourists run across the Thai border and return each time their visa expires. As a result, visa exemptions via land borders are limited to two times per calendar year. After two visa exemptions, you will be required to obtain a tourist visa outside of the country.

Entering at an Airport

Visa exemptions are much simpler at airports. In fact, we recommend flying into Thailand to avoid the hassle of land borders. Unlike entering the country via land, there are no set limits to the number of visa exemptions. The rule of thumb is that back-to-back visa exemptions raise red flags, as do over three entries in a year.

30-Day Thai Visa on Arrival

If you are not from one of the visa-exempt countries, you may be able to obtain a visa on arrival. It’s valid for thirty-days after entry (fifteen-days for some nationalities), and available to nineteen countries. The cost is 2,000 THB. This option is popular with tourists from both India and China. This visa on arrival is available at these immigration checkpoints.

It’s important to note that visa-exempt nationalities are not eligible for a visa on arrival. If you have exhausted your visa-exempt entries, you must obtain a tourist visa. The

60-Day Thai Tourist Visa

If you’re looking to travel Thailand longer than a month, this is your best option. The visa fee is 1,900 THB and allows you to stay sixty-days with the option to extend thirty more days. On the other hand, visa exemptions and visas on arrival are valid for thirty days with the option to extend thirty more days for the same fee of 1,900 THB.

You will have to apply for the sixty-day tourist visa outside of Thailand. You can use the Thai Embassy’s website to find the nearest location to apply. The base cost is 1,900 THB, and you’ll incur additional cost if you use a visa service. You must enter Thailand within three months of obtaining the visa. When you arrive, you will receive a passport stamp listing your required exit date (without extension). The visa is single entry, meaning you forfeit your remaining days if you leave the country early.

The requirements differ depending on the embassy, but this is generally what you’ll need to get the visa:

  • Completed application form
  • Three passport photos
  • Current passport with 6 months validity
  • Photocopies of your passport
  • Copy of bookings for flights out of Thailand
  • Accommodation details for your trip
  • Exact cash to pay visa fees

How Many Can I Get?

There are no set rules on how many single-entry tourist visas a person can have. However, a large number of visas will raise red flags. It indicates that you may be working or living in Thailand, meaning you would require a separate visa. Generally, having a handful of sixty-day visas over the period of one to two years is not a problem. But if you are staying in the country long-term, look into alternatives.

Thai Visa Extensions

Unlike many other countries, extending your stay in Thailand is a breeze. Any entry stamp—regardless of visa status—can be extended by thirty-days for 1,900 THB. Nationalities with visas on arrival, however, may only be able to extend between seven and fourteen days.

You simply visit the nearest immigration to apply for the extension. The process can take anywhere from minutes to hours, depending on how busy the officials are. When applying to extend your visa, you’ll need:

  • Completed application form
  • Thai departure card
  • Current passport with 6 months validity
  • Two recent passport photos
  • Photocopies of your passport
  • Copy of bookings for flights out of Thailand
  • Exact cash to pay visa fees

If you’ve forgotten any of these things, most visa offices will provide photocopying and photo services for a small fee (usually 100 THB). In addition, some offices do not require a paper application. Instead, they complete the form for you.

You can find immigration offices in every corner of Thailand. They’re most common in the major tourist areas, such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui. Many of the smaller towns and islands will not have immigration offices. As a result, you need to plan your schedule around your visa extension. This map lists the major Thai immigration offices.

Overstaying Your Visa

With all this visa talk, you may be wondering what happens when you stay in Thailand too long. Some tourists even take the risk of overstaying, often when they have a flight booked a few days after their required exit date. However, we strongly advise against overstaying.

For each day you overstay, you will be charged 500 THB. And depending on the severity of your overstay, you can actually be banned from the country of Thailand. As of right now, the punishments for overstaying are:

  • One Year Ban for 90+ days overstay
  • Three Year Ban for 365+ days overstay
  • Five Year Ban for 3+ years overstay
  • Ten Year Ban for 5+ years overstay

If you’ve overstayed, the best option is to visit immigration immediately. You will be fined severely, but it is much better than facing arrest. When you turn yourself in, you may be granted a seven-day emergency extension, giving you one week to exit the country.

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