Thai VISAs

There are many different VISAS available for people wishing to visit or move to Thailand. If visiting for 30 days or less as a tourist and are from one of the countries listed on the Thai embassy website then you will not require a VISA. We look at some of the ones needed by expats.

Non-Immigrant VISAs

These Visas grant someone the right to go to Thailand to work, study, retire or to join up with family members. Non-immigrant visas are subdivided into different categories which reflect the purpose of your stay. The most common types of visas are:

B visa – to work in Thailand or to conduct business

ED visa – to study in Thailand

visa – to stay with the family (i.e. for spouses and children of foreign workers), to retire or to receive medical treatment in Thailand

In addition, there are some visa categories for special cases:

F visa – official duties visa

IM and IB visa – investment visa

M visa – visa for film-producers, journalists or reporters

R visa – visa for missionary work or other religious activities

RS visa – visa for scientific research or training or teaching in a research institute

EX visa – visa for skilled work or for the work as an expert or specialist

Regardless of the amount of time you spend in Thailand, you will need to notify the Immigration Bureau every 90 days, and update them with your current address. You will need to fill in a simple form but there is no fee. Make sure you complete this notification 7 days before the expiry date. If you miss the expiry date, even if just by one day, you will have to pay a fine of 5,000 Baht and also risk losing your visa.

Business and work VISA

To find work in Thailand an expat has to apply for a B visa in their country of residence and provide a letter of Approval from the Thai Labour Department. There are many jobs in the country that foreigners are not allowed to do so getting permission to work is important. After arriving in Thailand you then have to apply for a work permit, you can also get one prior to your arrival by requesting it from your employer.

To apply for a work (B) visa, you will probably need some or all of the following:

  • A fully completed visa application form.
  • Passport or travel document valid for at least 18 months.
  • One (4 x 6 cm) passport photo, taken within the past six months.
  • Evidence of adequate finance.
  • Letter of Approval from the Ministry of Labour (to obtain this letter, the prospective employer in Thailand is required to submit Form WP3 at the Office of Foreign Workers Administration).
  • Letter from a company stating the objective of your visit to Thailand.

Spouses and children of a B visa holder will need a non-immigrant O visa, which is also issued to foreigners who wish to retire in Thailand.

Category O VISA

These VISA’s are for expats wanting to move to Thailand to retire or to live with their spouse. These VISA’s only last a year but can be renewed. It does not allow you to get a job or work.

To apply for an O visa you will have to submit the following:

  • Fully completed visa application form.
  • Passport or travel document, valid for at least 18 months.
  • One (4 x 6 cm) passport photo, taken within the past six months.
  • Evidence of adequate finance.
  • Birth certificate.
  • Certificate of marriage (if applicable).
  • Medical certification.
  • A copy of a bank statement showing a minimum of 800,000 Baht in your account.

Permanent Residence

Only a few thousand people a year can apply for permanent residence and the process is very confusing. Only 100 people per nationality can apply, and in some years you can only apply for a residency during three months of the year. Permanent residency is mandatory if you want to apply for Thai citizenship.

You can apply for a Thai residence permit if:

  • You need the citizenship for business or employment reasons.
  • You need permanent residency for investment purposes (min. 3 – 10 Mil. Baht investment in Thailand).
  • You are an expert or an academic doing research.
  • You are supporting your spouse or children who are Thai citizens or you are dependent on a Thai citizen.
  • You are accompanying a family member who has a residency permit.
  • You are retired in Thailand (and will likely stay in Thailand permanently).

To qualify you will need to have held a non-immigrant visa for at least 3 years f your application is approved, you will receive the residence blue book. In addition to this, you will also receive an alien registration book (red book), which will be issued to you at the local police station. This card is the equivalent of the Thai ID card. You must re-register every year.

However, if you wish to leave the country and then return to Thailand, you will have to apply for a re-entry permit (endorsement). You cannot have any criminal record either in Thailand or your country of origin and your fingerprints will be taken. The Residency Permit itself never expires, unless revoked. Hiring a lawyer could help you get through the confusing process. You will also have to attend an interview with the Thai immigration office and take a series of tests.

Usually you will receive your approval letter one and a half years after your application, depending on the category you were applying for. To obtain your certificate of residence, you will have to visit the Thai Immigration Office within 30 days after you get the approval letter and you will also have to submit the following:

  • The original and a copy of your passport.
  • The original and a copy of your residence’s House Registration Book Tabien Baan.
  • 12 (4x6cm) photos taken within the last 3 months.
  • Fee paid in cash.