Departure to Bangkok


Passport, Visa & Permits to Bangkok


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Your passport, visas & permits are one of the most important elements to sort out in your stay abroad. This travel documents ensure your ability to travel, work, and stay in Thailand.

Though this information has been carefully researched and presented, this section is intended for reference only. Regulations and requirements change frequently and we strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.

Passport

You must have a valid passport to travel abroad. A passport is an official government document that certifies one's identity and citizenship. The process and cost associated with getting a passport can be high, so start the process at least six months before you plan to leave. Your passport must be valid 6 months beyond your intended stay. Minors are allowed to travel on their parents' passports up until aged 15 years. Entry to Thailand is normally refused if you have a passport which is damaged or has pages missing.

By law, you must carry your passport with you at all times in Thailand. Tourists and foreign residents unaware of this requirement have been arrested because they were unable to produce their passport on request. Make sure you complete the next of kin details section in the back of your passport. To save the risk of losing or having your passport stolen, many expats photocopy their passport information page and visa page and carry a laminated copy of this with them. This seems to be sufficient if you are stopped by the police.

Visas in Thailand

A visa is a stamp or endorsement placed by officials on a passport that allows the bearer to enter the country. This permission is called "entry clearance".

Who needs a visa for Thailand?

Unless you are a Thai national, everyone entering Thailand needs a visa of some form. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees immigration and visas issues.

Chaeng Wattana

(Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King)

B Building, Floor 2

Chaengwattana Road, Laksi

Thailand grants a 30 day "visa exemption" (waiver) to foreign nationals from certain counties if they enter by air, or 15 days by land:

  • Australia
  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Bahrain
  • Brunei
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • French
  • Germany
  • Great Britain
  • Greece
  • Hong Kong
  • Iceland
  • Indonesia
  • Ireland
  • Israel
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Korea
  • Kuwait
  • Luxembourg
  • Malaysia
  • Monaco
  • Netherlands
  • New Zealand
  • Norway
  • Oman
  • Peru
  • Philippines
  • Portugal
  • Qatar
  • Singapore
  • Spain
  • South Africa
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • Turkey
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United States of America
  • Vietnam
  • Czech Republic
  • Hungary
  • Liechtenstein
  • Poland
  • Slovak Republic
  • Slovenia

Any person looking to enter Thailand on a visa waiver or visa on application must hold a passport that has at least 6 months validity and must prove onward travel out of Thailand within 15/30 days. This can often be checked in the country of embarkation as they are responsible for your return flight if you are denied entry to Thailand.

To apply, complete application form TM7 which can be downloaded from Thai immigration's website. You will also need one passport photograph and photocopies of your departure card and passport information page. Presently, applications are only accepted in person and the office is open 8.30-12 and 1-4 and is closed on all public holidays. It pays to ensure you are there for the start of either the morning or afternoon session. Visa waivers can be extended at the Immigration office at their discretion for a further 7 days. The application fee is 1000 Baht.

Passport holders from the following 28 countries are allowed to apply for visas at the immigration checkpoints on arrival for the purpose of tourism: Andorra, Bhutan, China, Cyprus, Estonia, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, San Marino, Tawain, Ukraine and Uzbekistan. If you fall under this category, you will be permitted to stay in Thailand for no longer than 15 days and must establish living expenses of 10,000 Baht per person and 20,000 Baht per family accordingly.

Although there are legally no restrictions on how many times a concurrent visa exemption/arrival can be obtained, this is clearly not a suitable option if you are looking to stay in Thailand more permanently.

Tourist Visa in Thailand

There are three types of tourist visa: single, double, and triple entry. These are available for people who only wish to visit the country for tourism. Work and business are strictly forbidden for individuals holding this type of visa.

Tourist visas needs to be applied for outside of Thailand. Check the requirements of the embassy or consular you are applying at carefully. For example, Singapore currently requires evidence of a flight in and out of Thailand together with a bank statement showing a minimum amount of money.

Single Entry Visa

The single entry visa allows you to stay in Thailand for 60 days and it can then be extended at any Thai Immigration office at a cost of 1,900 baht. The extension is actually discretionary and can be from 7 days up to a maximum of 30. It is rare to hear of anyone who has been given less than the maximum 30 days. You will need to download and complete this application form, have one passport picture, and photocopies of your departure card, visa, and passport information page.

Double Entry Visa

The double entry tourist visa works in a similar manner to the single entry; except that after your visa extension has expired, you need to leave Thailand, cross the border to a neighbouring country (this can be done by land) and then immediately re-enter Thailand at which point you will trigger a new 60 days, which can then be extended one more time. When you next leave Thailand the visa will expire.

Triple Entry Visa

Similar to the double entry, with the addition one extra exit/re-entry.

Non Immigrant Education Visa

This visa is for those who wish to study in Thailand. This visa does not give you permission to work in Thailand.

People of every nationality can apply for a one year non-immigrant education visa, also known as a student visa. However, people from the following countries: Bangladesh, China, India, Iran, Sri-Lanka, and Middle Eastern countries must apply in their country of origin.

Any subject can be studied, but Thai is the most popular topic - no doubt believing (correctly) it will help them during their time in Thailand. You could also choose to study Muay Thai, Thai cooking, massage therapy, meditation, or any other university course. Most schools charge between 25,000-30,000 for a one year course.

Recipients must attend the course they are enrolled in. This is a legitimate education visa, and not just a means of legally staying in Thailand. If you stop attending school, you will find that many schools will report your absence to immigration and your education visa will be revoked. This can result in problems when you leave Thailand, or if the police ask to see your passport. Students who are learning Thai often report their level of Thai speaking ability is checked when they attend immigration to ensure they are attending classes.

Applying for a Thai Non Immigrant Education Visa

To apply for this visa, you will need a letter from the school and various other documents from the Ministry of Education, all of which they will provide for you. You should receive this documentation within a few weeks of applying to the school of your choice. If you are already in Thailand, you will need to leave and obtain a non immigration education visa at a Thai embassy or consul in a different country.

This visa gives recipients 90 days of stay upon entering Thailand. Every 90 days you can go to the immigration office and extend it for a further 90 days (at a cost of 1900 baht each time) for up to a year. There is no need to leave Thailand.

After the year is over, you can leave Thailand and apply for a new visa as long as you remain enrolled in the school. The same set of paperwork will need to be re-submitted. The amount of times you can renew is between three and five years according to immigration's discretion.

Non-immigrant B or Work Visa in Thailand

More commonly known as a work visa, if you wish to work, conduct business or undertake investment activities in Thailand you must apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa at the Royal Thai Embassies or Royal Thai Consulates-General.

Note that Thailand does not provide a work visa that also offers permission to stay. The visa process and work permit process are two separate endeavours. In order to apply for a work permit, an applicant must already be in possession of a valid Non-immigrant B visa or other applicable visa or residence permit.

Various categories of the Non-Immigrant Visa are currently provided to meet the needs and qualifications of individual business persons. These include:

  • Business visa Category "B"
  • Business-approved visa Category "B-A"
  • Investment and business visa Category "IB"

A work permit can be valid for up to 2 years.

An initial application costs 100 baht, and then the cost of the permit itself. The price depends on the length of stay and starts from 750 baht. The visa fee in 2013 is 2,000 Baht for single-entry with three-month validity and 5,000 Baht for multiple entries with one-year validity.

Required Documents for Work Visa in Thailand

A number of documents must be supplied by your company in support of your work permit application. Among the restrictions, the job must not be restricted to Thai nationals and you must not have been imprisoned for violating Immigration Law or the Working of the Foreign Act for at least a year prior to the date you make your application.

The documents required to accompany an application for a Non-Immigrant Visa vary depending upon which embassy or consulate the application is made. They usually include:

  • Passport or travel document with a validity of not less than 6 months
  • Completed application form
  • Recent passport-sized photograph (4 x 6 cm) photograph of the applicant taken within the past 6 months
  • Evidence of adequate finance (20,000 Baht per person and 40,000 Baht per family) for the duration of stay in Thailand and your salary must be in compliance with the Department of Labor's regulations OR Evidence of financial status in the case where the applicant is self-employed
  • Letter from the applicant's company indicating the applicant's position, length of employment, salary and purpose of visit(s) to Thailand.
  • Documents showing correspondence with business partners in Thailand.
  • Health certificate confirming that you do not suffer from leprosy, tuberculosis, drug addiction, alcoholism, elephantitis, stage 3 syphilis or HIV. The blood test and certificate can be obtained at all hospitals and clinics - time frame for obtaining the certificate ranges from 10 minutes to 3 days depending on where you go.
  • Letter of invitation from trading or associated partners/companies in Thailand.
  • Original copy of your highest education qualification i.e. university degree

Corporate documents of associated partners/companies in Thailand such as:
1) business registration and business license
2) list of shareholders
3) company profile
4) details of business operation
5) map indicating location of the company
6)balance sheet, statement of Income Tax and Business Tax (Por Ngor Dor 50 and Por Ngor Dor 30) of the latest year
7) value-added tax registration (Por Por 20)

It is a sensible idea to telephone the embassy you intend the make your application at ahead of visiting to check which documents they will require. For more information, go to the Ministry of Labour website or visit their office on the 2nd Floor, Department of Employment, Ministry of Labour, Mitr-maitri Road, Din Daeng, Bangkok and collect a booklet from them which sets out the precise process and all of the documents required.

Nationals of certain countries are required to apply for a visa only at the Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate-General in their home/residence country. Individuals are advised to contact the nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate-General to find out where they may apply for a visa to Thailand before departure.

Punishment for Failure to Secure a Work Visa in Thailand

"Work" according to Thai law is defined as follows:

"Work means any work involving physical strength or knowledge whether or not done for money or other remuneration." (Alien Working Act, B.E. 2551 Section5)

A common myth that circulates throughout the foreign community in Thailand is that an individual does not need a work permit to legally work in Thailand. This is not correct. Working without a work permit in Thailand is illegal and carries a maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.

In the case the alien accused committing an offense under paragraph 1 agrees to return their country within the period of the investigation, but not exceeding 30 days, the inquiry official may impose a fine and proceed with the return of such alien." (Alien Working Act, B.E. 2551 Section51)

Non-Immigrant O Visa

The "O" stands for other. This is the visa to apply for if you are retiring in Thailand or if you have a Thai spouse.

Visa for Retiring in Thailand

If you are retiring in Thailand, you must be 50 years of age or older and be able to show either an income of 65,000 Thai baht per month or a bank balance of 800,000 baht.

It used to be that this needed to be in a bank account held in Thailand, but now it seems that it is unnecessary and if you have the equivalent in funds in an overseas bank account along with a letter from your embassy verifying this information - that is sufficient. However, this is very much at the discretion of the Immigration officer. If you are retiring in Thailand, it will probably make more sense to have a Thai bank account in any event. The money should be in the bank account for at least three months prior to the visa application.

Visa for Settling in Thailand with a Thai Spouse

If you are applying for an O visa on the basis of being married to a Thai national, you will need to provide:

  • Original marriage certificate
  • Copies of your spouse's ID card
  • Their family's house registration papers
  • Photos of you and your spouse in the family home (to show this is a legitimate marriage)

Please note if your partner is working in Thailand, you can only apply for an O visa if you are married. Common law partnerships do not count.

An O visa is available either as a single entry, 90 day duration visa, or a multiple entry 12 month duration. This will allow you to leave and re-enter an unlimited number of times. Every time you re-enter Thailand, you will receive a stamp in your passport allowing you to stay a further 90 days, which can then be extended for a further 30 days at immigration. Once that period is over, you will need to leave Thailand again, although it is normal for people to go to the closest border and then re-enter Thailand a few minutes later with a fresh stamp. Although the visa is for 12 months, if you are able to enter Thailand a day before the visa expires, you will receive a new 90 day stamp, meaning the visa is actually valid for 15 months.

Other Visas for Thailand

There are various other visas available such as a specific visa for missionaries, visas for highly skilled workers, visas for journalists, diplomatic visa. As these visas are very specific, it is best to consult the closest Thai embassy as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for pertinent details.

Overstaying Your Thai Visa

It is common for foreign residents in Thailand to overstay their visa. Overstaying refers to remaining in Thailand beyond the date stamped in your passport or on your particular visa.

If you have remained in Thailand for a period past your visa expiration date, it is only a matter of time before this offense comes to light. Most contact with government officials in Thailand requires showing your passport and proving that you have a right to stay in the country. Thai visas are often examined upon leaving the country.

If you have overstayed your visa you may be subject to fines, arrest and detention. Fines range from 500 baht per day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. Deportation is at your own expense and also incurs being added to a black-list (meaning being barred from re-entering Thailand). The Thai authorities have stated that they will always enforce detention for overstays of more than 42 days.

The only legal way of getting a new visa, entry permit or extension of stay is from a Thai Embassy or Consulate, an Immigration Officer at a point of entry into Thailand or one of the Immigration Offices around the country. Visas issued by visa shops, travel agents or by any other means are likely to be illegal and lead to criminal proceedings.

Beware, visas are either single or multiple entry. If you are on a single entry visa, and you leave Thailand without a re-entry permit then your non-immigrant visa will be cancelled, and you will receive a 30 day visa waiver on your return.

Permanent Residence in Thailand

Permanent Residence offers long-term expats the right to stay in the country without having to continually re-apply, can apply for naturalization citizenship, increased ability to buy property, offers greater access to work permits and may be a necessity if you have a Thai family.

There are 5 categories, including Investment, Employment, Humanity, Expert, and Other circumstances. Each of these categories has different requirements regarding required documentation to be submitted and applicable application fees.

The process of application is lengthy, generally taking about a year. Applications can be made from October through December, although it may only be in December. Announcements are made in the Bangkok Post or The Nation newspapers. 100 persons per country are granted residence per year.

To qualify for this visa,

  • You must have stayed in Thailand for 3 consecutive years with the one-year-visa extensions OR
  • Be married to a Thai national for 5 years and earn 30,000 Baht per month OR
  • Have a monthly income of at least 80,000 Baht (if single)
  • You cannot have any criminal record either in Thailand or your country of origin.
  • Present your three years of personal tax statements proving the above-stated income requirements to qualify for a Permanent Resident Visa in Thailand.
  • Must be able to speak, read and write Thai at least a grade six level. You will be tested on this ability.

Applications are made at:

Chaeng Wattana
(Government Complex Commemorating His Majesty the King)
Address: B Building, Floor 2
Chaengwattana Road, Laksi
Hours: Monday through Friday; 8:30am to 4:30pm

The application fee is 7,600 baht, but if your application is accepted you will also be required an additional 191,400 baht.

If granted a residence certificate, you may apply for an alien book (red book) at the local police station within 7 days. The foreign resident must register the place of residence in Thailand at the local Amphur Office and obtain a house card. You must re-register every year for 200 Baht. However, to be able to leave the country and return you need to apply for a re-entry permit (endorsement). The Permit does not expire (unless revoked).

An alien with permanent residency status will be eligible to apply for Thai citizenship after 10 consecutive years under this classification.

Citizenship in Thailand

Persons born anywhere in the world to at least one parent with Thai citizenship themselves are entitled to Thai citizenship at birth.

Apply for Thai Citizenship By Naturalization

It is very difficult and rare for people to get Thai citizenship by naturalization. It is a very long and drawn out process, which is why so few even apply for it. The total time required for applying for citizenship in between 2-5 years.

Applicants must:

  • Already have Permanent Residency in Thailand
  • Have lived in Thailand for at least five years
  • Pay an application fee of 5,000 baht
  • Be fingerprinted
  • Be of good character
  • Be employed in Thailand
  • Be able to read, write, speak and understand the Thai language.

Applicants must complete forms at the police station, witnessed by two independent Thai witnesses. The police will then authorise your forms. To make your application, go to the Royal Thai Police Headquarters.

Royal Thai Police Headquarters
Rama I Road, Patumwan
Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Telephone: +66 (02) 205-2168
Fax: +66 (02) 205-2169
E-mail: pcsc@police.go.th

Required documents for Thai Citizenship:

  • Application
  • Work Permit (if you have one)
  • Passport
  • Four years of tax returns
  • Alien Registration Certificate
  • Certificate of Residence

You then need to take these forms to immigration and your district office to be stamped, and then return the completed forms to the police department. There may be a long wait between submitting your documents and being given an appointment at the Interior Ministry. They will then conduct a Thai language interview with you, there may be another long wait, and then you will invited back to the ministry to prove you have studied Thai culture and customs by singing the Thai National anthem and Phra Baramee (the King's song). This is usually done in a room with around 40 people. You will also be asked to submit to a Thai interview and asked basic questions about your circumstances. A group of three officials from the Interior Ministry will then visit your residence to see if it fits your application. You will be informed if your application has been approved by the Interior Minister and that the King had countersigned my application in the coming months.

Once you are approved, you will take an oath and then report to the police department in business attire, armed with a candle, a lotus flower and an incense stick. You will have to stand with these in your hands while clasped in a wai, in front of a Buddhist shrine, repeating an oath of allegiance to King and country, and promise to be an upright and law-abiding citizen.

This will allow you Thai nationality and you can obtain the paperwork and certificate from the Police HQ to take to the district office to get your ID card. Your work permit, alien residence certificate and certificate of residence must be returned to respective authorities as these are no longer needed.

Dual Citizenship in Thailand

In most developed countries, you can have dual-citizenship. Thai government does not ask you to renounce your original citizenship either. For example, if you have US, UK, Canadian, Australian, French citizenship you can hold Thai citizenship too.

Again, this section is intended for reference only. We strongly recommend that you contact the embassy directly for the most up-to-date information that pertains to your specific situation.

Update 15/09/2013



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