Thailand Visas Explained
Do I need a visa for Thailand?
Most travellers and backpackers heading to Thailand and Southeast Asia won’t need to make any visa arrangements. There is a lot of confusion about visa requirements. The Thai embassy have changed a lot of their rules over the last few years and much of the information on the web is now outdated. The information on this page has been taken from the official Thai embassy guidelines and is valid as of August 2012.
Thai Visa Exemption
What is a visa exemption? If you’re entering Thailand for tourism purposes and you’re from one of the following 48 countries, you’re eligible for a free 30-day stay in Thailand – if you arrive by air.
If you arrive by an overland crossing you and you are one of the following nationalities, you will be granted 30 days exemption. There is no fee for a visa exemption. (This used to be only 15 days)
United States, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Italy
See this this thread for more details: 30 Day Overland Visa Exemption
If you are a citizen from one of the following countries, you will only receive a 15 day exemption by land border crossings.
Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Chile, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Korea, Kuwait, Laos, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Vietnam.
Thailand holds bilateral agreements on visa exemption for holders of diplomatic, official and ordinary passports for a visit of not exceeding 90 days with Brazil, the Republic of Korea and Peru. Therefore, nationals of these 3 countries are exempted from visa requirements and are permitted to enter and stay in Thailand for a period of not exceeding 90 days. Official source
This visa exemption is issued upon arrival, but do not confuse this with ‘visa upon arrival’. This is what gets stamped in the passport:
Thai visa upon arrival
If you are not eligible for a visa exemption or if you intend to stay in Thailand you may be eligible for a visa upon arrival. The visa cost is currently 1000 baht. These visas are for the purpose of tourism and for a period of up to 15 days. 28 Countries eligible to enter Thailand under the VISA ON ARRIVAL rule:
Andorra, Bhutan, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Czech, Estonia, Ethiopia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Romania, Russian Federation, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Taiwan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan
Visitors who enter the Kingdom with Visa on Arrival generally cannot file an application for extension of stay except in special cases such as illness which prevents them from travelling. Official Source
Thai Tourist Visa
For those who are not eligible for a visa exemption or visa upon arrival, you will have to obtain your visa with the Royal Thai Embassy prior to your visit.
Same goes for those who plan to stay in Thailand for a longer amount of time. A tourist visa is valid for 60 days and can be extended for a further 30 days once you are in-country, giving you up to a 90-day per entry. You may want to consider a border run if you want to stay in Thailand for up to 45 days. For more on this see question 3 below.
Single entry Tourist visa
Valid for 60 days and extendable by an additional 30 days (90 days max). This visa is valid from the time you enter Thailand to the time you exit. The visa is effectively cancelled when you leave Thailand; the days do not roll over to the next time you enter the country.
Double entry Tourist Visa
Valid for a 60 + (30) day stay in Thailand before you will have to leave the country and then return activating your second entry and entitling you to another 60 + (30) day stay. If you get this visa you could potentially stay in Thailand for 60+(30) + 60+(30) = 180 days before having to leave the country to make other arrangements. This type of visa is better suited for people who want to live in Thailand for longer periods of time, without having to do border runs.
Thai visa confusions. Frequently Asked Questions:
I will be backpacking around South East Asia for 5 weeks. I will be going to Cambodia and Laos and then returning back to Thailand at the end of my trip. Does this mean I will need a Thai Visa or re-entry visa?
No you will not need a Thai Visa unless you plan on staying in Thailand for more than 30 consecutive days. As long as you leave Thailand before this time is up, for example by crossing into Cambodia or Laos by land crossing you will be okay. Your passport gets stamped at the border crossing as you leave Thailand and then you will get stamped into the other country. When you return back to Thailand, you will be issued with an extra 15 day exemption from any land border crossing. Or if you fly back into Thailand you will receive an additional 30 day exemption from date of arrival.
I will be travelling around Southeast Asia for 2 months. I have booked a one way flight to Thailand. Will I need to show evidence of onward travel arrangements at the airport to receive the visa exemption? And do I need to have proof of adequate funds for my stay?
Although this is an official guideline, I have never seen or heard of anyone who has been asked for evidence. After looking around on forums I am certain that these rules are never enforced and if they were, the worst case scenario would be having to buy a tourist visa upon arrival.
I will be travelling to Thailand for 5 weeks, I don’t intend on going to any other countries. Which visa do I need?
There are 2 options here. You could either buy a 60 day tourist visa, or just go without a visa and do a border run. Before your 30 day exemption is up, take a bus or train to a border crossing with Cambodia, Laos or Malaysia; get your passport stamped as you leave Thailand and then get it stamped again as you enter back into Thailand. This stamp will give you an additional 15 days, enough to cover the rest of your trip.
Summary of Visa Requirements
Got a question? Let me know below.