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Thailand Visa Policy

Unless you are visiting from a visa-exempt country or can obtain a visa on arrival, you’ll need to plan ahead for your upcoming trip to Thailand and apply for a visa. Thailand offers visa-free travel to 64 countries currently, and a further 18 countries can obtain a visa on arrival. Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about planning your next trip to Thailand and preparing for your visa application in advance of your visit.

The History of the Thailand Visa Policy

Thailand has always been a popular country for travelers around the world, and due to its comparatively low cost of living, it has seen many tourists relocate here for extended periods of time. In May 2014, the country started to crack down on the visa runs that tourists often took part in, forcing them to spend at least one night outside of the country or obtain a visa in advance of their trip. However, this gained some backlash from schools that relied on the tourism industry and teachers working in their schools to teach English. In October 2018, it was stated that in the next 30 days, no overstay visas would be allowed, and the country would not allow any overstayers by that date.

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many changes to the visa policies around the world, and Thailand is no exception. If you are coming from a visa-exempt country, instead of the usual 30-day entry, this has been extended to 45 days for the current time. This is due to the requirement for a 15-day quarantine so that visitors can still enjoy 30 days traveling within the country once they are free. Since 1997, the country has also worked to simplify visa issuance for those investing in the country. The One Stop Service Centre for Visas and Work Permits opened in July 1997 and aimed to help individuals investing in the country with their visas and work permits. 

Who Needs a Visa to Enter Thailand?

Many visitors to Thailand will be exempt from needing a visa if they are entering for tourism purposes. However, the length of time you can remain in the country does vary slightly. Most visitors are granted a 30-day waiver or exemption, but if you are traveling from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, South Korea, or Peru, these countries can remain in Thailand for up to 90 days without a visa. Other countries who can enter are allowed to remain in the country for up to 30 days up to twice a year when entering by sea or land, but there are no limits when it comes to entering by air. 

Another small group of countries can apply for a visa on arrival, but they are only allowed to remain in the country for 15 days when they arrive by land or air, and this visa can’t be extended during the stay. If you need to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time or study and work in the country, you’ll need to contact your local embassy to discuss your various options. This can often be a much easier solution than doing constant visa runs while you are in Thailand. Of course, if you are not allowed to apply for a visa on arrival or aren’t traveling from a visa-exempt country, you’ll need to complete the visa application process before your trip.

Popular Visa Types in Thailand

Thailand has a large list of non-immigrant visa types, which all can be used for various purposes. Type B visas are commonly used for business, teaching in schools, and to attend courses for scuba diving, massage, or Muay Thai, which are very popular in the country. Type ED visas allow you to study in the country, either in a school, as a foreign Buddhist monk, or on a work study tour. On top of these visas, there are various options available for tourists, those investing in the country, visiting family members, and conducting scientific research.

On top of these visas, there’s also the option to apply to be a permanent resident, where you’ll need to have remained in the country for three consecutive one-year visa extensions already. There are also minimum requirements for your salary to support this application. Tourists who wish to spend more than 30 days in the country will need to apply for a tourist visa with their local embassy before their arrival, which will allow them to stay for up to 60 days at a time but can be extended for an additional 30 days when in the country. There’s also a transit visa option, which allows you to pass through the country in an airport or port on your way to your final destination. 

Applying for a Thailand Visa

If you are planning a trip to Thailand, we encourage you to contact your local embassy ahead of your trip to apply for your visa. You’ll need to tell them the visa you are applying for and complete the required application form. Applicants will be required to have a valid passport and pay the fee that’s associated with their application. The supporting documentation you will need will vary from visa to visa but could include proof of your trip, a supporting letter, proof of funds for your trip, and a return ticket to your home country. Ensure you apply for your visa well in advance of your trip to Thailand to avoid any issues upon entry to the country. 

When traveling to Thailand this year, we encourage you to also look at the current health and quarantine requirements, as the country has been using a 15 day quarantine period recently. You’ll need to factor this into your trip to ensure you have time to complete the activities you planned to in the country. As you can see, there are many different visa options for Thailand, all of which offer different benefits and lengths of stay. Make sure you research your options carefully before your trip to cover the length of time you are planning to remain in Thailand on your next trip.

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