Whether or not you need a visa to enter the country will depend on your country of origin, the length of stay and the reason for your trip. Many countries have signed Visa Exemption Agreements, that allow their citizens to visit Thailand for up to 30 days without a visa. Some nationalities, however, that are not visa exempt may obtain a visa for 15 days at their point of entry into Thailand. To find out if you need a visa, visit the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affair website.
Tourists arriving via international airports will get a 30-days entry stamp, tourists arriving via land border checkpoints will receive only a 15-days permission of stay. After these 15 days, people used to do the so called “visa run” to the Cambodian border and get a new re-entry stamp which allows them entry for another 15 days. It is for this reason, the Thai government passed a law stating that foreign visitors, who have entered Thailand four consecutive times via land border checkpoints, will not be allowed to re-enter Thailand by land.
Types of Visa in Thailand
You can apply for six different types of Visas at Thai Embassies worldwide:
- Transit Visa
- Tourist Visa
- Non-Immigrant Visa
- Diplomatic Visa
- Official Visa
- Courtesy Visa
No matter where you are from or your reasons for visiting Thailand, you will need a valid passport from your country of origin. Your signed passport should also have a remaining 6 months of validity (at least) and sufficient blank pages for any visa stamps.
When applying for a visa, it is also important to consider whether you will leave and re-enter Thailand during your stay. There are three entry options for a non-immigrant Visa:
Single Entry (all visa types): This visa is valid for 3 months from the date of issue. It allows you to enter Thailand for a single period of up to 90 days, after which you must leave the country. If you wish to stay longer, you will require a new visa for which you will have to apply for, outside of Thailand (visa run). However, it is possible to extend the single entry visa for 30 days without leaving the country by applying for an extension at the Immigration Office.
Multiple Entry (O, B and ED visa): Visas for work, studies, retirement and family unifications are valid for 12 months from the date of issue. They allow you to enter Thailand as many times as you wish for stays of up to 90 days. It is always better to get a multiple-entry visa so you will not have to visit a consulate for a new visa every three months. Be aware that the consulate will often try to encourage you to get a single-entry Visa and may even tell you that they do not issue multiple-entry visas. However, when dealing with the Thai bureaucracy, stay patient and friendly to ensure you get what you are looking for.
Three Year Multiple Entry (B visa only): The three year multiple entry visa is valid for 36 months from the date of issue. It allows you to enter Thailand as many times as you like, as long as your individual stays do not exceed 90 days.
Photo policy in Thailand
You will require a lot of passport photos for the Visa application paper work in Thailand. You must keep a straight face in passport photos and you should not wear anything which might alter your face (e.g. sun glasses or baseball caps). Although Thailand is "The Land of Smiles“ and Thai people generally smile a lot, passport photos are a serious matter, so do not smile in the photo.