When you’re deciding to come to Thailand, either on a holiday or to work here, you need to make sure you apply for the correct visa. Not getting the correct visa can mean many more complications once you’re in Thailand and, if you really mess up, you could end up having to travel out of the country, after your first 30 days, in order to get a new visa in a neighboring country. Before you come to Thailand, therefore, make sure you read the following information and choose the visa that’s appropriate for your situation.
On Arrival 30 Day Tourist Visas – These visas are the most popular visas to enter Thailand as, with these, you don’t have to apply for anything. An On Arrival 30 Day Tourist Visa is automatically given at the airport upon entry into Thailand for people who come from one of 41 countries (namely, the US, Canada, Europe, Australia, most neighboring countries to Thailand and several Arab countries). Check on a Thai embassy website before you leave to make sure you’re the citizen of a country that’s on this list, as the list has been known to change in the past. Also, be warned, it used to be that Thailand allowed an On Arrival 30 Day Tourist Visa at land entries into the Kingdom. Now, if you come to Thailand via land, you will only be given a 15 Day Tourist Visa, which means you’ll have to leave the country just two weeks after you arrive and cross back in again through another land border.
Two Month to Four Month Tourist Visas – Another option you have is to apply for a Tourist Visa at a Thai embassy or consulate before you leave for Thailand. You need to apply at least two weeks before your trip, to make sure you have enough time to get the visa processed. A single-entry visa is valid for 60 Days and then you can extend it for another 30 Days simply by going to any immigration office in Thailand and paying a fee of 1,900 baht. If you can get a Double-Entry Tourist Visa, that will give you 60 Days initially, then you will leave the country, come right back in again (easily doable at the Cambodian or Laos border), and the second 60 Day Visa will be activated. This gives you an initial 120 Days, plus this Tourist Visa is also extendable by 30 Days at any immigration office, giving you a total of 150 Days in Thailand on one Tourist Visa.
Non-Immigrant B Visa – If you plan on coming to Thailand to work, you will need to get a Non-Immigrant B Visa as you cannot get a work permit without one. You can either apply for one before you leave your home country (but you will need all the relevant employment contract information from a company who has already hired you) or, you can get a Tourist Visa converted into a Non-Immigrant B Visa in Thailand at an immigration office, once you’ve received a job offer. If you can get a Multiple-Entry Non-Immigrant B Visa though, this will give you 15 months in the Kingdom as, it’s valid for 1 year, but you will have to leave the country every 3 months and come back in to renew it for another 3 months, up to the year mark (your last exit and entrance into the country at the year mark will give you another 90 days, in effect giving you 15 months in total).
Non-Immigrant Ed Visa – Similar to the Non-Immigrant B Visa, the Non-Immigrant Ed Visa is issued only for educational purposes. If you’re studying in Thailand, your school can provide you with all the paperwork so that you can apply for this visa type, which also will be valid for 15 months.
Marriage/Spousal Visa – If you’re married to a Thai, you can get a Marriage or Spousal Visa and stay in the country for a year. If you are under age 50, you will have to prove that you make at least 50,000 baht a month and, over the age of 50, you have to have 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account (which you are not allowed to withdraw for the life of the visa). However, this only applies to men. For women, if you are married to a Thai, your husband is the one that has to show proof of income or 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account.
Retirement Visa – There are many expats who retire to Thailand, as the cost of living is quite cheap. In order to retire and get a Retirement Visa for Thailand, you have to be over 55 years of age, show that you have 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account and show a minimum monthly income. This monthly income seems to change quite regularly but, at the moment, is somewhere in the region of 45,000 baht.
Be warned, however, laws on immigration currently seem to be changing every month or two, sometimes for the better but most of the time for the worst. Figuring out a way to remain in Thailand long-term can be a real pain, so make sure you check out all the laws properly before you commit to moving here.
Also, when you deal with the immigration department in Thailand you must keep your cool. They work quite slowly and, as the rules change often, it can be incredibly frustrating getting what you went down there for. However, like almost anywhere in Thailand, if you are polite and ask them to help you, most of the time, you’ll get exactly what you need. It’s only when you create a fuss and cause trouble that you’re not likely to get any help from them and, in fact, they’ll probably make your life a lot worse.