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A visa is fundamentally a document affixed into the passport issued to a foreigner by the Thai government allowing a foreigner to travel to the Kingdom and a granted permission to stay for a certain period of time. Visas can only be obtained outside of the Kingdom from a Royal Thai Embassy/Consulate. A visa has a validity period which denotes the period within which the visa may be used to apply for entry. The validity period is NOT the length of time you will be permitted to stay in the Kingdom.
A ‘permission to stay’ stamp is entered into your passport upon arrival into the Kingdom. Whatever visa you hold, you will always receive this stamp. It will include the date of entry and date when you MUST leave the Kingdom or make alternative arrangements. The ‘length of stay’ will be dependent on what type of visa you hold.
The majority of Foreigners that enter the Kingdom through the airport, without a visa will be granted a 'permission to stay 30 day' stamp only, which is free of charge. At the discretion of the immigration officer this ‘permission to stay 30 day’ stamp may be extended for up to 7-15 days (THB 1900) at an immigration office after which time the holder must leave the Kingdom. This stamp is NOT a visa. Foreigners that enter the Kingdom through a land border, without a visa will be granted a 'permission to stay 15 day' stamp only,
Different Types of visas
Single entry tourist visa will permit the holder a 60 day 'permission to stay' stamp upon entry. If required, this type of visa may be extended by 30 days (THB 1900) at an immigration office, but after that time the holder must leave the country. After one entry, the visa is “used”.
Multiple entry tourist visas will permit the holder a 60 day 'permission to stay' stamp upon entry. If required, this type of visa may normally be extended by 30 days at an immigration office, but after that time the holder must leave the country. The holder may then return to the Kingdom and will obtain a second 60 day 'permission to stay' stamp which can also be extended as previous and then the holder must leave. After the stipulated number of entries the visa is “used”.
Single entry non-immigrant visa will permit the holder a 90 day 'permission to stay' stamp. This visa can be extended up to one year for specific reasons and with the required documentation.
Multi entry non-immigrant visa: will permit the holder a 90 day 'permission to stay' stamp upon entry. Each time the holder enters the Kingdom whilst the visa is valid, he/she will obtain a further 90 day 'permission to stay stamp'. Such visas can be issued for students/work/family etc. but normally require supporting documentation. This visa can also be extended up to one year for specific reasons and with the required documentation.
Although most are multi entry non-immigrant visas are obtained in your home country they may also be obtained from some Royal Thai embassies outside your home country if you can provide evidence of your marriage to a Thai citizen (marriage certificate) or support of a Thai citizen.
12 month extension to a non-immigrant visa: If you are holding a non-immigrant visa, you have the option of extending this by 12 months based on either retirement (50 years old or over) or support to a Thai citizen, work, education and such. This may only be accomplished at an immigration office inside the Kingdom and certain criteria have to be met. If you are residing in the Kingdom under an extension to a non-immigrant visa and wish to leave the Kingdom at any time, then you will need to obtain a “re-entry permit” to avoid losing the extension and having to re-apply.
If you are residing in the Kingdom under an extension to a non-immigrant visa it is a legal requirement that the holder reports current address to an immigration office using form TM.47 (in person or by registered mail) every 90 days. Re-entering the Kingdom is the equivalent of a 90 day report.
If you are in possession of a valid tourist visa or a 30 day visa exempt entry stamp and qualify for extension of stay and plan on doing so, you may be permitted to change to a non-immigrant visa at an immigration office inside Thailand. This change of 'status' has certain restrictions depending on your particular circumstances therefore you should check with an immigration officer first.
List of visa exempt countries (September 2009):
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Brunei, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, United Kingdom.
- Always check the stamp that the Immigration officer gives you. If the officer gets your stamp wrong you may have to return to your port of entry to get the right one.
- Check your passport and make sure you know when you need to leave Thailand. You can contact 5 Star Visa Runs and we will log you into our computer and remind you 7 days before your visa expires as part of our service.
- Never work in Thailand without a work permit. Even if you are not getting paid, you still need a work permit because you are taking a job from a Thai national.
- You can convert your 30-day visa exempt stamp to a Non-Immigrant Visa by going to the Immigration with the proper documents and 21 day stay remaining, meaning you have up to 9 days after your entry. Application fee THB 2000.-.
Please note that your passport needs to remain valid for at least another six months for any visa applications.
- Overstay charges are currently THB 500 per day to a maximum of THB 20,000.
The information given above is for guideline purposes only. Each individual’s circumstances may differ greatly depending on your age, financial position, what port of entry you use, what country you are from, what embassy you are visiting, what you are doing here and of course how long you have been here . And, remember the final decision on visa application/issue or entry into the Kingdom will always be at the discretion of the immigration officer so be calm and patient.
5 Star Visa Runs will always endeavor to give factual information but as the visa rules and regulations often change without prior notice we will not be held responsible for any inaccuracies.
For full information please read the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs Website.