All visa processes are somewhat of a pain. And with all the different types of Thai visa available, at times it may seem as if figuring out how to fly to the moon would be an easier task than finding out which you need to travel.
It isn't straight-forward, that's for sure; I've been here 13 years now and Thai immigration are always moving the goalposts.
There are a number of different visas to consider, depending on your situation, so I have compiled up-to-date visa information for the 5 most common types of Thai visa.
Why Do You Need a Visa?
Let's start with this simple but common question.
A passport is needed when traveling to other countries as a form of ID, primarily to show that you are a legal citizen of your own country. So then, why do we need to go the extra mile and obtain a visa?
A visa shows why it is you are visiting the country, as well as how long you plan on staying there.
Visas are usually granted to those who are working or studying abroad for a certain amount of time. However, there are other types of visas, including marriage and retirement visas.
All you have to do is apply for the correct one, which you'll be able to after reading this post.
Remember, if you are coming to Thailand for a holiday of less than 30 days then you won't need one of the visa options below.
Depending on your country of origin, you will be issued with a visa on arrival, also referred to as an exemption stamp. For most nationalities, this provides a stay of up to 30 days. However, there are a number of countries who need to apply for a visa prior to arrival.
So let’s get started with the different types of Thai visa, their requirements and the application process.
1. The Tourist Visa
Are you looking for a long spring break destination? Are you taking a gap year to blow all of your money in exchange for fond memories and a boatload of “candid” selfies?
Then you may need a tourist visa, if you're staying for more than 30 days. See this link to find out if your country requires visa on arrival.
In order to apply for a tourist visa you will need the following:
- A passport with at least six months of validity.
- Two passport photos.
- You must have already purchased your flights, as a copy of your round trip tickets or confirmed itinerary is required.
- You must also have proof that you have sufficient funds to be traveling in the first place (20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family).
There are two types of tourist visa:
1. Single Entry Tourist Visa
This is a single entry visa that gives you up to 60 days in Thailand.
2. Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
This option gives you a 6-month visa, allowing you to stay 60 days at a time, but with multiple entries. So after 60 days you must leave, but can then re-enter and activate a further 60 days.
Obtaining a tourist visa is the least difficult visa to obtain as there are few requirements.
You apply for a tourist visa in your home country from the Thai Embassy or a Thai consulate.
If you need extra time in Thailand, you can extend your tourist visa by 30 days at a local immigration office (before it expires). There is a 1,900 Baht fee for each extension.
The extension of stay, as well as the change of a certain type of visa, is solely at the discretion of the Immigration officer.
I have detailed the requirements for obtaining a tourist visa from the Thai embassy in the UK.
You should check the Thai embassy website of your home country to see if these requirements differ at all. In my experience, the only difference is usually the balance required to be shown on your bank statement
Also note that single entry tourist visa are easy to obtain from countries neighboring Thailand such as Laos or Cambodia.
It is quite common for people to arrive in Thailand on a 30-day exemption and then decide they want to stay longer. They then do a visa run to one of the neighboring countries and visit the Thai embassy there to obtain a tourist visa.
Single Entry Requirements (maximum stay of up to 60 days)
- A current passport with validity of over 6 months beyond the date of application.
- Visa application form completely filled out.
- Two recent passport photos
Multiple Entry Requirements (maximum stay of up to 60 days each entry):
- A current passport with validity of over 6 months beyond the date of application.
- Visa application form completely filled out.
- Two recent passport photos.
- Original bank statement of the applicant showing a balance of least £5,000 (for 6 months) or a print out with official stamp of the bank*
- A letter from the applicant's employer in the UK or Ireland, and addressed to the Royal Thai Embassy.
– If you are self-employed, your self-assessment and a company registration document are required.
- A photocopy of the confirmed return air ticket to Thailand.
- A photocopy of the confirmed hotel reservation in Thailand.
In most cases, the single entry visa will be enough. But for those who want to spend 6-months at a time here (leaving every 60-days) the 6-month visa is a bonus option.
The advantage of entering the country with this visa is that you'll have 60 days instead of the standard 30 on arrival.
This means that should you want to attend an extra full moon party, or spend longer with your Thai girl/boyfriend, you won't have to to do a visa run to buy some time.
I have a full tourist visa guide with further information at the link below.
+ Read the full tourist visa guide
2. The Work/Business Visa (Non-Immigrant “B” Visa)
Many people come to Thailand to teach English as a second language, while others relocate here for work, to invest, or conduct international business.
The B visa process is fairly simple and, if done correctly, can be just another simple check off your to-do list before coming to source that next big import product from Thailand.
This is a bit tricky to stipulate because there is no set business visa, rather a category (B) for which you have to submit documents depending on the business-related reason you require this type of visa.
For most work-related type visas you need the following:
- 2 passport photos
- A medical certificate
- A valid passport (6 months validity for a single entry, and 18 months for a multiple entry)
- A letter of employment
- A certificate of your degree
- Proof of funds of 20,000 Baht (per person)
Note that this visa isn't a work permit. A work permit is obtained separately inside Thailand, and usually by your employer.
If you want to work in Thailand, you should apply for an initial 90-Day Non-Immigrant B Visa from your home country under the employment category.
The work permit application then takes place during the initial 90 days of your visa.
Once you have a work permit, 90-day reporting to any Thai Immigration Office is required. You'll also need a re-entry permit if you wish to travel outside of the country. The good news is that renewal of this visa can be done inside Thailand.
As with all types of visa, the B visa must be obtained in your home country or a country other than Thailand.
A single-entry is valid for three months, and the multiple-entry is valid for 1 year – but you must leave every 90 days. You also have the option to extend at a local immigration office, if you can't leave.
On a multiple-entry B visa you are allowed to stay in Thailand for 90 days at a time. You are also able to open a bank account, as well as obtain a work permit, if needed.
The B visa covers the following types of work-related activity:
- To conduct business
- To work
- To attend a business conference
- To attend a scuba diving course
- To teach
- To take a kick boxing course (Muay Thai)
- To take a massage course
The B visa will suit those prospecting for business in Thailand and having meetings with Thai companies, or attending seminars and trade shows.
3. The Retirement Visa – ‘O-A' & ‘O' Routes
What better way to retire than on the shores of Thailand’s world famous beaches, or in the quiet hills of Nakhon Nowhere?
Thailand’s yearlong tropical climate makes it a great place to put your feet up and truly enjoy retirement at a slower pace, or not, as the case may be.
The retirement visa is also referred to as the Non-Immigrant “O-A” visa, and is applied for in your home country.
This visa enables you to enter Thailand and be stamped in for a year. Once that year is up, you have the option of a visa extension to continue your stay, which is done inside Thailand.
However, there is a way to obtain a retirement visa (or extension as it is officially known) inside of Thailand, for which the requirements are less laborious. I will cover both, first starting with the O-A visa.
You must be at least 50-years-old and provide a clean criminal background check.
You will need the equivalent of 800k Baht in your bank account to prove financial stability.
You will also need a medical checkup showing that you are free of specific diseases and not on drugs.
Lastly, you are required to have a general health insurance policy that covers ฿40,000 out-patient and ฿400,000 in-patient treatment.
At the time of writing, every person visiting Thailand must also have an insurance policy that covers COVID-19 treatment up to 100k USD.
Once inside Thailand, you will be subject to 90-day reporting at a local immigration office. In short, this means visiting your local immigration office every 3 months with some paperwork, or reporting online.
I have a specific O-A visa post that goes into more detail. You can find that here.
O-A Application Process:
The application for the O-A visa is made in your home country at the local Thai embassy. This can currently be done online.
Non-Immigrant O Requirements:
You can avoid having to get the medical check and police check required for an O-A visa by applying for a single entry Non Immigrant O Visa in your home country.
You will need the following:
- Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months and at least 2 blank pages, as well as the photocopy of passport. The actual passport must be submitted with the visa application form.
- 2 recent photos (taken within the past 6 months)
- Supporting documents for the purpose of your visit to Thailand.
- A copy of your pension statement, if you are a pensioner, or a copy of monthly bank statement showing your income from pension, or a 3-month bank statement of at least £10,000 (UK).
Upon entering Thailand with a Non Immigrant O visa, you will be given a 90-day stay.
Once you are on the last 30 days of this visa, you can file for your 1-year extension of stay based on retirement.
However, before that you will need to open a Thai bank account, because there is a financial requirement. You need to prove that, prior to your application, you have had 800k Baht in a Thai bank account for the period of 60 days.
To prove this, you will need an updated bank book, and a letter from your bank stating that the 800k Baht has been deposited in the account from an overseas source for a period of not less than 60 days.
Or, another option to meet the financial requirement is to show a monthly income of 65,000 Baht. To do this, you will need a letter from your embassy in Thailand verifying your monthly income.
If your embassy does not issue income letters ( this applies to the UK, US, and Australian embassies), you will need to provide a 12-month bank statement history showing a regular deposit of 65,000 Baht into a Thai bank account.
This will be problematic if you have only been in Thailand for a couple of months, so if your embassy does not issue income letters then you'll have to go down the route of showing a lump sum of 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank account.
Also note that you must keep the 800,000 Baht in your Thai bank account for 3 months after you apply for your extension. And, after those 3 months, you must keep a minimum of 400,000 Baht in the same account.
Non-Immigrant O Application Process:
Apply for the visa in your home country, from you local Thai embassy. Then, once in Thailand, apply for your 1-year extension of stay, based on retirement, after 60 days.
The large majority of people obtain a retirement extension in Thailand rather than applying for an 0-A visa in their home country, quite simply because it's easier. I have a comprehensive step-by-step retirement visa guide (see link below).
+ Read the Retirement Visa Guide
You can stay up to one year with this visa, as well as renew (extend,) the visa, every year, from inside of Thailand. That means you don't need to leave and do those horrible visa runs!
4. The Marriage Visa (Based On Having a Non Immigrant O Visa)
Online, on vacation, at a bar on Khao San Road, it doesn’t matter where you fell in love, it just matters that you did.
If you have found yourself lucky enough to have found the one and tied the knot, you may be thinking about moving to Thailand on a marriage visa.
The marriage visa is technically known as a 1-Year Extension of Stay Based on Marriage, because, like the Non O retirement route, you do the extension of stay inside Thailand.
In a nutshell, you apply for a Non Immigrant O Visa in your home country, then go to Thailand and extend the visa for one year so that you don't need to leave the country.
There are two possibilities here:
- Apply for a 90-day Non Immigrant O Visa (single entry). This can be applied for in your home country, or a neighboring country to Thailand such as Laos.
- Apply for a 1-Year Non-Immigrant O visa (multiple entry). This can only be obtained from your home country / country of residence.
The difference between these two visas is that the first option is single entry and the second option is multiple entry.
The second option is valid for 1-year but in sections of 90 days, so you must leave before 90-days is up, and then re-enter to activate a further 90 days.
When you apply for a visa, you will be doing so on the basis of being married to a Thai national. You will therefore need to submit your marriage certificate and a copy of your wife’s ID with your application.
Either option will enable you to extend your visa and stay in the country without having to leave. This is called an ‘extension of stay based on marriage', often referred to as a ‘marriage visa'.
Once inside Thailand, in order to get the 1-year extension of stay, you must meet the following requirements:
- Be married to a Thai national.
- Have a clean criminal record.
- Demonstrate a monthly income of at least 40,000 Baht, or 400,000 Baht in a Thai bank account for 60+ days prior to applying.
- You will need to provide evidence of your income by way of a letter from your embassy, or evidence of your 400,000 Baht deposit by way of an up to date bank book and a letter from the bank.
The marriage visa is renewable (extendable) on a yearly basis and the process can be completed inside Thailand.
The requirements to renew (extend) are the same. You must also report every 90 days to the nearest immigration office with your current address.
Remember that if you want to travel outside of Thailand after having obtained your retirement visa, you will need a re-entry permit to do so. If you don’t get one, your visa will be cancelled when you exit the country.
You can apply for a re-entry permit at an immigration office, or at the international airport before leaving the country.
Note that the re-entry permit does not apply to a 1-year multiple entry visa, but rather a visa which was extended in Thailand for the period of 12 months.
+ Read more about re-entry permits here
*Please note: The UK, US and Australian embassies are no longer issuing income letters to their citizens. This means that nationals of these two countries will need to go down the lump sum money route of having 400,000 Baht in a Thai bank account for 60+ days prior to applying.
For the second year renewal, you could use the income route, if you can show statements proving that 40,000 Baht has been paid into your Thai bank account, each month, for 12 months consecutively.
Obtaining a Non Immigrant O Visa based on marriage is fairly straight forward. Simply apply at a Thai embassy or consulate inside your home country and provide the following:
- A copy and translation of your marriage certificate
- A copy of your wife's passport or ID card.
- 3 months bank statements showing a monthly income of more than £1,500 Baht (amount based on requirements of London Thai Embassy).*
*Requirements may differ slightly between countries.
Once you have a Non-Immigrant O Multiple Entry Visa, or a 90-day Non Immigrant visa, you can travel to Thailand and activate the visa upon entry.
The 1-year extension can be applied for during the last 30 days of your 90-day permit to stay and, providing you meet the financial requirements, the processing time usually takes about one month.
Note: if you have the Multiple Entry Non Immigrant O Visa, you don't need to do the 1-year extension, if you don't want to. You could just leave the country every 90 days and re-enter to activate a further 90 days.
Once you have a marriage visa (extended Non Immigrant O Visa based on marriage), you can stay in Thailand for a full year without needing to leave the country.
You are also allowed to work, if you are able to obtain a valid Thai work permit to go along with the marriage visa.
Lastly, if you don't apply to extend for a year by following the financial requirements listed above, you can always extend your visa for a further 60 days at a local immigration office, making it last 5 months. I wrote a post on how to do this here.
For further information on obtaining a marriage visa, please see the link below.
+ Read the marriage visa guide here
5. The Education Visa (1-year Non-Immigrant ED Visa)
Believe it or not, this has been the most illegally exploited visa over the years.
The ED visa, as it's known, became a popular way to long-stay in Thailand with minimal financial commitment: Simply sign up to learn Thai for a year with a language school and voila! you get an education visa.
Of course, people weren't really learning Thai and, after a number of years, the Thai government began asking immigration officers to conduct random basic Thai tests on those who'd supposedly been learning the language for a few years.
Needless to say, those who couldn't answer very basic questions had their visas cancelled.
If you do apply for an Ed visa, make sure you go to at least one lesson a week!.
You can apply for the Education Visa in your home country, though most people come in on a tourist visa and then decide they want to stay and find a school to study at. The school then duly sorts out the paperwork with the Ministry of Education so that you can get your visa.
If you are accepted, which you most likely will be, you will then have to leave Thailand and apply for the Non-Immigrant ED Visa at any Thai embassy or consulate outside of Thailand. Most people hop over to Laos to do this.
People of every nationality can apply for a 1-year Non-Immigrant Education Visa. Though nationals of the following countries must apply in their own country: Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Sri-Lanka and Middle Eastern countries – don't ask me why!
From inside your own country, you'll need the usual documentation:
- Passport, with a validity of not less than 6 months.
- Recent 4 x 6 cm photograph.
- Letter from the school you're going to study at confirming your place.
- For those who intend to study in a private institution, you may require an official letter from the Ministry of Education of Thailand or other sub-authorities concerned, which is basically an approval of your enrollment and a copy of your registration certificate.
Note that there are slightly different documents required for internships and other more specific areas of study.
It's actually much easier to apply for an education visa inside of Thailand. This is because the language schools are crying out for students and are therefore willing to do all the legwork required to sign you up.
The only hassle is having to go to Laos or any other country in the surrounding region to get your ED Visa. But as I'm sure you can tell, this is why the ED Visa became such a popular route for the “Oh my God, I don't want to go home. How can I stay here for longer?” traveler.
On arrival back in Thailand you will be permitted to stay for 90 days. Once you have the school paperwork, you can extend your stay every 90 days at the Bangkok Immigration Office for the duration of the course (up to a maximum of 3 years). The fee is 1,900 Baht for an extension.
Note that if you have a single entry ED Visa, when you want to travel abroad, you have to get a re-entry permit to leave and come back in. This can be conveniently done at Suvarnabhumi Airport before you leave.
You get to stay Thailand long-term and don't have to leave every 90 days, as you would on some of the other Non Immigrant O visas (where the financial requirement hasn't been met to extend).
However you do have to report to immigration every 90 days to let them know your address. You can do this up to 7 days before the due date.
Single entry ED Visa holders also have to get a re-entry permit if they want to travel abroad, so it's best to get a multiple entry from the outset.
All in all, this visa is a good choice if you want to stay long term, and learn Thai, of course!
6. The Thailand Elite Visa
The Thailand Elite Visa is a multiple entry visa, valid for five years, and renewable as long as the membership is still valid. It's the easiest way to stay in Thailand long-term, with a bunch of fringe benefits, but my gosh, you will pay through the teeth for it.
With the basic package starting at a cool 500,000 Baht, you will be granted a 1-year stay, with an extension possible at the end of the year.
The only requirement is that you have the cash. Oh, and that you aren't a known criminal or banned from the country for violating your visa conditions, or committing any other crime..
Despite the prestige of this visa, you still have to do 90-day address reporting like the rest of the commoners. No stress though, your Thailand Elite personal liaison office will handle this for you, apparently.
Other benefits include: a concierge service at the airport (they greet you and get you a limo to your hotel)
- Spa treatments
- A health checkup
- Discount shopping
- Cheaper banking with Bangkok Bank
- And a bunch of other stuff you might not use.
+ Read more about the Elite Visa here
Visa Overstay Rules!
Once you have your visa you will need to abide by the conditions of that visa, the main one being that you don't overstay. This means you must leave or extend your visa before the date given on your most recent entry stamp.
Make a note of when your entry stamp expires and set a reminder in your phone. Once your stamp has expired, you are on overstay, which costs your 500 Baht per day. This is paid in full as your try to leave the country, or before then if you get caught.
This daily accruing fine is now accompanied by an entry ban for severe offenders, for which you could receive a ban for as long as 10 years.
If you overstay and turn yourself in, you will get banned for one year for staying more than 90 days, banned three years for staying more than one year, banned five years for staying more than three years, and last but not least, banned for 10 years for staying more than five years.
If you need to extend a visa, you can do so by applying for permission at the Office of Immigration Bureau, located at:
Government Center B
Chaengwattana Soi 7
Be aware of your expiration date and don’t overstay your welcome, or you may not ever be able to come back to paradise!
Don't see the type of visa you want listed in this post? Confused and need some advice? Have I made a mistake? Leave a comment below and let me know!
More Tips for a Better Life in Thailand
Send Money to Thailand:
Use Transferwise. It is fast, cheap, and gives you the market exchange rate. Me and the majority of my readers are using it.
Get Good Health Insurance:
Start with a quick quote from Cigna. Then compare my other recommendations here.
Improve Your Thai Skills:
Learning Thai makes life here easier and more fun. I use Thaipod101. It is free to get started & easy to use.
Protect Your Online Privacy:
A VPN protects you against hackers and government snooping. I always use one. You should too. Read why here.