Immigration into the Kingdom is governed by the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (A.D. 1979) and is administered by the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police, Ministry of Interior.
A. GENERAL INFORMATION
1. Any alien wishing to enter Thailand, unless otherwise exempted, must obtain a proper visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate prior to arrival in Thailand.
2. Aliens in transit and tourists from the countries listed below are permitted to obtain an entry visa on their arrival at designated entry points in Thailand. An entry visa allows a stay of 15 days.
Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine.
3. Aliens in transit and tourists from the countries listed below are exempted from visa requirements. They are permitted to enter and stay in the Kingdom for 30 days without an entry visa. However, these individuals must obtain an entry stamp on their passports at the immigration checkpoint of entry.
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Vietnam.
4. For a stay longer than 30 days, all aliens must have a valid visa which can be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate prior to entry into Thailand. The exceptions are nationals of the Republic of Korea, Brazil, and Peru who are currently allowed to stay up to 90 days after obtaining an entry stamp at the Immigration checkpoint of entry. These lists of countries change periodically. The Immigration Bureau adds and removes countries as circumstances dictate. Therefore, checking with a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate is recommended before traveling.
B. TYPES OF VISAS AND PURPOSES OF VISIT
In Thailand, there are numerous visa categories, with eight major types issued under the Immigration Act. Each category is restricted to a specific purpose. Aliens are advised to strictly adhere to the rules governing each visa category. A visa authorizes entry into Thailand for a specific length of time depending upon the type of visa. The passport will show the date of authorized entry. The permissible duration of stay is always entered in the passport.
1. Transit Visa "TS". Applicable to aliens entering Thailand with an intention to travel on to another country.
2. Tourist Visa "TR". Applicable to aliens visiting Thailand for sightseeing purposes only.
3. Non-Immigrant Visa. Applicable to aliens entering Thailand on a temporary basis for a particular purpose:
- "B" - Business.
- "B-A" - Business or investment.
- "IB" - Investment or other affairs connected with an investment under the law governing investment promotion.
- "IM" - Investment which has been approved by the ministries or departments concerned.
- "ED" - Study or observation.
- "RS" - Scientific research or teaching in a research or educational institution in Thailand.
- "M" - Performance of duties connected with the mass media.
- "R" - Missionary work with approval from the ministry or department concerned.
- "Ex" - Performance of skilled or expert work.
- "O" - Other purposes as prescribed in the ministerial regulations (as dependents, retired persons, sports trainers, or for family reunions, medical treatment, and legal proceedings).
- "O-A" - Temporary residence.
4. Diplomatic Visa "D". Applicable to those aliens entering the Kingdom on a diplomatic or consular mission or for the performance of duties with international organizations.
5. Official Visa "F". Performance of official duties (involving the Thai government).
6. Immigrant Visa (Permanent Residence). Applicable to those aliens entering Thailand for permanent residence purposes.
7. Non-Quota Immigrant Visa. Applicable to permanent residents wishing to leave Thailand and return within a year.
8. Courtesy Visa. Applicable to those diplomatic and/or official passport holders who enter the Kingdom for purposes other than official duties and to those ordinary passport holders who enter the Kingdom in response to an official Thai request.
C. LENGTH OF STAY
Length of stay in Thailand depends on the type of visa:
- Transit Visa - not exceeding 30 days
- Tourist Visa - not exceeding 60 days
- Non-Immigrant Visa - not exceeding 90 days
- Diplomatic, Official, and Courtesy Visa - as necessary
D. EXTENSION OF STAY IN THAILAND
- Transit Visa - a transit visa may be extended for 7 to 10 days depending on applicant's nationality.
- Tourist Visa - a tourist visa may be extended for a maximum of 7 to 30 days depending on applicant's nationality.
- Non-Immigrant Visa - Non-immigrant visa categories "B" or "B-A" are usually extended for a period not exceeding 1 year at a time from the date of arrival except "IM" which shall not exceed 2 years, and "IB" which is generally 2-3 years depending on the recommendation of the BOI and the size of the investment.
The government fee for an extension of a transit, tourist, or non-immigrant visa is Baht 1,900.
The period of stay allowed is always stamped or written in the passport upon arrival in Thailand. Every alien is responsible for checking his/her passport for the authorized length of stay. Any alien who overstays in the Kingdom is subject to a fine of Baht 500 for each day after the expiration date of the permitted length of stay up to a maximum of Baht 20,000. This fine may be paid at the Immigration Division or at the airport upon departure. If an alien cannot or is otherwise unable to pay the fine for overstaying a visa, he/she is subject to detention at the Immigration Detention Center.
F. CHANGE OF VISA
The Thai government gives foreigners who did not get a chance to apply for a Non-Immigrant visa before arriving in Thailand to change their visa if they need to stay in Thailand longer. This procedure may be done within the country. A foreigner who is eligible for a change of visa must have entered Thailand with a Tourist or Transit visa granted by a Thai Embassy or Consulate abroad. The foreigner must apply for a change of visa not less then 30 days before his current visa is due to expire. Various documents are required depending on the purpose of the application for a Non-Immigrant visa.
G. RE-ENTRY PERMIT
Aliens holding any kind of visa for stay in Thailand who wish to leave and return to the country by the expiry date of such visa without having to apply for a new visa must apply for a re-entry permit prior to departure. A re-entry permit allows the alien to re-enter Thailand and use the time remaining on his/her visa. If a re-entry permit is not applied for, the visa will automatically be canceled although it has not expired. To facilitate the travel schedules of aliens, aside from the Immigration offices throughout Thailand, a re-entry permit may be obtained at Don Muang (Bangkok), Chiang Mai, Phuket, Hat Yai, and Sukhothai international airports, as well as other designated immigration checkpoints throughout the country. Don Muang (Bangkok) International Airport operates 24 hours, 7 days a week, while other checkpoints operate from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday to Friday. The fee for single re-entry is Baht 1,000 while that for multiple re-entries is Baht 3,800. It is advisable to request a multiple visa if one expects to be frequently traveling out of Thailand. This allows him more than one entry into Thailand during his travels.
If one leaves Thailand before his visa has expired and wants to return but does not have a re-entry permit, he must apply for another visa. Exits may only be legally made at designated immigration control points. The crossing of any border is an exit for immigration purposes, whether or not the exit point is controlled. Thus, forays into neighboring countries are deemed exits, legal or otherwise, and returning to Thailand from such trips is a new entry, requiring proper visas or re-entry permits.
Please note that this information is not inclusive of all the answers to questions involving immigration and related matters but is intended to address general issues. Whenever appropriate, please consult a lawyer versed in immigration matters or the nearest Immigration Division officer. Policies and procedures may change rapidly and without notice.