- Download our Moving to Thailand Guide (PDF)
Expats should not have too much difficulty when it comes to getting a visa for Thailand. It’s a fairly straightforward process as long as expats ensure they understand what documents need to be submitted.
Any documents in foreign languages must be translated into Thai or English. In the case of English translations, applicants will often need to have their documents notarised.
Tourist visas for Thailand
Citizens of certain countries are exempt from needing a tourist visa for Thailand for stays of up to either 15, 30 or 90 days. The length of the permitted visa-free period depends on each person’s nationality.
Visitors who aren’t from visa-exempt countries will have to get a Thai tourist visa, which allows a visit of three to six months. All applicants require proof of onward travel and proof of funds for the duration of their stay. At least six months’ validity on a passport is needed for a visa to be granted.
Non-immigrant visas for Thailand
There are multiple visas for people entering Thailand for purposes other than tourism. This includes everything from people wanting to volunteer or study as Buddhist monks to those wishing to teach English or invest in the country.
Royal Thai Embassy websites provide in-depth information on the requirements of each visa type. A few of the visas that are most popular with expats moving to Thailand include the following:
This is perhaps the most common non-immigrant visa used by expats, as it allows entry for the purpose of working or doing business in Thailand. Companies often assist their foreign employees with the B-visa application process. Once an expat has entered the country on this visa, they require a work permit before they may begin working. There are single and multiple-entry B visas are available, but they both allow stays of up to 90 days maximum.
Non-immigrant Visa-ED are typically granted to expats pursuing educational endeavours in Thailand. This can be anything from full-time educational programmes and internships to company training. Expats should note that informal cultural and language training courses are exempt from this visa unless they can prove the course meets the minimum requirements to be considered educational. This visa is valid for 90 days, and holders can apply for an extension.
Category O visas are typically for the spouse or dependant of a Thai citizen. It’s possible for the dependants of an expat moving to or living in Thailand to get this visa. This can, unfortunately, be more difficult to do when a male spouse is dependent on a female spouse. Expat families applying for this visa will require birth and marriage certificates where applicable, and a minimum of three months’ bank statements as proof of funds.
The O visa also covers volunteer workers, who must submit a letter of endorsement from the agency they will be working for, as well as a copy of the agency’s registration certificate.
The category OA visa is a long-stay visa for retired people older than 50 years old who want to live in Thailand. In addition to the standard requirements, applicants will have to prove sufficient annual funds, as well as undergo criminal background and medical checks.
There is a fairly lengthy list of requirements for this visa, and expats are advised to consult the website of the closest Thai embassy, contact the embassy in person or enlist the help of an immigration professional.
The media (M) visa is for media professionals who want to work in Thailand. This visa requires journalists, reports and film producers to get permission from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through a lengthy application process involving an interview and submitting a wide range of professional and identification documents.
Expats who would like to perform missionary or religious works in alignment with the Thai Department of Religious Affairs. Applicants will need a formal issued by the Immigration Bureau of Thailand to be considered for the visa.
- The official website of the Thailand electronic visa has more information on applying for an e-visa.
*Visa requirements can change at short notice, and expats should contact their respective embassy or consulate for the latest details.
►For more information on the required documentation for working in the country, see our page on Work Permits for Thailand
What do expats say about Thai visa application processes?
"My visas are run through my language school. The only difficult thing I’ve experienced is sitting on long bus rides to the border. Do your research, ask questions from other expats with actual experience, and be cool and calm at every immigration office." Read our interview with Canadian expat James to learn more about living in Thailand.
"I did the visa applications myself for several years as a journalist. It was painful, but no more so than in any other country. But these days the company I work for handles all my paperwork, which is a lucky situation to be in." Check out our interview with Canadian expat Greg to learn more about his over 20-year experience in Thailand.
Are you an expat living in Thailand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Thailand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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