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Visas for Thailand

Vexed by visas?

Thailand has a multitude of visa options and requirements -- many of which change with an alarming frequency. You're best off going to the horse's mouth at the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the full spiel, but for an overview, read on.

Visa-free stay

If you're entering Thailand by air for tourism purposes and you're from one of the 42 countries below, you're eligible for a free 30-day stay in Thailand. If you arrive via a land crossing, depending on your nationality, you are only entitled to 14 days. In both cases, you are required (in theory) to have an onwards ticket out of Thailand.

As of November 1, 2013 travellers holding UK, US, Japanese, German, French, Canadian and Italian passports are now eligible for a 30-day visa-free entry when entering Thailand by a land crossing, as opposed to the 14 days they were granted previously.

You can leave Thailand and re-enter Thailand to get another 30 days (by air) of 14 days (by land) for a total duration of 90 days within 6 months. This means, for example, if you're planning a trip to Thailand, Laos and Cambodia, which involves four stays in Thailand of ten days each, you DO NOT NEED to get a visa in advance. If you're planning on more than 90 days in Thailand though, you will need to look into getting s proper Tourist visa at a Thai consulate or embassy.

The forty two countries are:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil*, Bahrain, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, 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 Kingdom, United States of America 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. Nationals of these three countries are exempted from visa requirements and are permitted to enter and stay in Thailand for a period of not exceeding 90 days.

Tourist visa

If a visa-free stay isn't going to work for you, then you need to get a Thai tourist visa. This type of visa is valid for 60 days and can be extended for a further 30 days once you are in-country, giving you a 90-day stay all up -- if you're looking at a long stint in Thailand, this is definitely the way to go -- don't waste time on visa runs. The visa costs around US$30 and is a single entry visa.

Extensions

A 30-day visa free stay can be extended once at an immigration office in Thailand for a further 14 days. A 14-day visa free stay can be extended once for just 7 days. Both extensions cost a whopping 1,900B.

A Tourist visa, as already mentioned, can be extended for 30 days -- also for 1,900B.

Validity issues

Both the visa-free stay and the Tourist Visa are single entry. While it is no big deal to do a visa run down to Malaysia or across to Cambodia, tourists should be wary of the 90 days visa-free in six months rule. This rule was introduced primarily to target foreigners who had been living in Thailand longterm, many working illegally, on 30-day visa-free stays and, assumming you are a legitimate tourist, you shouldn't have a problem with this rule. That said, if you are planning on a stay in Thailand that will take you over 90 days in six months (not difficult to do if you country hopping) try to factor in a lengthy stay in Thailand on at least one Tourist Visa. Stays on Tourist visas do not count towards the 90 days in six months rule.

Things to watch out for

Do you need an onwards ticket if you're planning on entering visa-free? In theory, by the book, yes you do. In practise, many people don't and they don't have a problem. Again this rule was introduced to target long-term overstayers, so it's unlikely you'll have a problem, but nothing is 100%. If you're uncomfortable not following the regulations, get a Tourist Visa beforehand.

Also, check with your airline. Some airlines, notably British Airways, will not carry travellers to Thailand unless they have either a tourist visa, or an onwards ticket, so give your airline a call.

Border crossings

For information on the border crossings and to read traveller's reports, please see our Thailand border crossing page, or the exhaustive Border Crossings FAQ thread on the messageboard, which includes reports back from travellers.



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