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Visa Information - Updated April 22, 2009

This information is current as of the date above. Visa laws change frequently in Thailand.

Undoubtedly, questions about visas come up far more than anything else. In recent times, Thailand has an increasing number of restrictions which serves as the cause of so many inquiries. The details are not always clear to travelers, so this section will serve to help clarify some of the information.

The Visa Exemption

This is technically not a visa. It is often mistakenly called a visa when it is something different. If you hold a passport from a large number of countries, you will be entitled to a 30 day visa exemption on arrival in Thailand. There is no charge for the visa exemption.

Warning: The rules regarding visa exemptions are slightly more complicated because of new regulations. The rules have recently changed. They now state that you will be granted a period of 30 days only if you arrive by air. If you are crossing by land, you will only get 15 days to remain in the Kingdom. This will make visa runs much more frequent for those relying on this method. The only positive side of this is that there is no longer a restriction in the amount of time you can stay in Thailand. Perpetual visa runs are not a problem.

Warning II: Airlines can be a bit of a pain sometimes. They are required to ensure that you meet all of the entry requirements of the country you are going to, or they face a substantial fine. For our purposes, it means that the worst case scenario can happen: you can be denied bording to your plane. It may or may not happen to you. It will depend on a host of factors including but not limited to the check-in agent, the airline's policies, or where you are flying from. For peace of mind, you can ensure that you are in compliance with the laws in one of two ways:

  1. Ensure that you have proof of onward travel within 30 days. Generally, this means that you will need a flight out of the country in that timeframe. So, you can book a cheap flight out of the country on a carrier like Air Asia, or you can try to get some sort of refundable ticket. Once in Thailand, refund it. It can take quite some time to get a refund, so maybe this is a great opportunity for a quick trip to Phnom Penh!
  2. The easier way to go about it is to get a proper visa. Having a Tourist Visa means that Thailand has already granted you permission to enter the country. The airlines view this as a guaruntee that they will not have to bear the responsibility if you are denied entry for some reason.
  3. There is some talk about creating fake onward tickets. This method is not recommended because the airlies will not be very happy if you are caught. Nonetheless, information about it can be found on another website by clicking here. Be warned that this is old information.

 

Tourist Visa On Arrival

People often confuse this type of visa with the visa exemption. It is not difficult to understand why, but the main difference is that this an actual visa. It is available to a far fewer number of countries. It is important to note that this option is not available at all points of entry. Click the link below to see a list of border crossings where the visa on arrival is available. This will allow entry for 15 days.

Tourist Visa

For those wishing to stay longer than 30 days in Thailand and not deal with visa runs, this visa should meet your requirements. The tourist visa will entitle you to 60 days in Thailand. You will need to apply for this embassy outside of Thailand at an Embassy or Consulate. The application is very simple.

Tourist visas are currently free! This applies to Visa on Arrival too.

Multiple Entry Tourist Visas

You can indicate how many entries you would like to have when applying for a tourist visa. For example, you could apply for a double entry tourist visa if you wanted to stay for 120 days in Thailand. The first time you enter Thailand, the visa will be marked. You will be given 60 days in the same way you would if you were entering on a single entry tourist visa. The difference is that when your 60 days are over, you are free to do a visa run to a nearby border. When you decide to re-enter Thailand, you will be granted another 60 days. The concept is the same as having two tourist visas in one. The same logic can be applied to triple entry tourist visas which would give 180 days.

Different places will yield different results in obtaining these longer term visas. Quite simply, some places tend to act more favorably than other places. Generally, countries in the west are quite friendly. I can attest to the fact that Washington DC has always handled my requests promptly in a hassle-free manner. However, there are many reports claiming that certain places are terrible for applying for visas. The most notable that comes to mind is Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Manilla also frequently gets criticism. These things change from time to time. As of now, there are some favorable places to go which are quite close for those already in Thailand. Penang, Malaysia and Vientiane are often used by many. Companies specializing in making visa runs easy and effortless have introduced services that take travelers to Vientiene and back in order for them to obtain a new tourist visa. This provides a loophole to the new restrictions placed on the visa exemption scheme.

Overstay

While it is not a good idea to overstay your visa in any country you visit, it does happen from time to time. If you find yourself in this situation in Thailand, you should rectify the situation as soon as possible. If you are caught by the police, you could potentially face a large number of problems including imprisonment. The current fine for overstaying your visa is 500 Baht per day. The maximum amount is 20,000 Baht.

Extension

As opposed to overstaying your visa, it would be a much better idea to extend it. Extensions can easily be applied for in Thailand. The fee is 1900 baht. If you enter under the visa exemtion program, you will be granted an additional 7 days. However, those on a Tourst Visa will get an additional 30 days to stay in Thailand.

Validity

A single entry tourist visa is valid for 3 months. Multiple entry tourist visas range in their validity. For example, a double entry tourist visa will be valid for 6 months.

Other Visas

Information about the other types of visas will be forthcoming; however, they are not nearly as important to the average traveler as the aforementioned types of visas and the visa exemption.

 
 

 

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