Thailand Visa and Immigration

UPDATED NOVEMBER 13TH 2015

Thailand Visa At a Glance

Had Lek Immigration for renewing Thailand Visa

Visa Exemption Stamp
Issued free on arrival at airport – 30 days, all countries.
Issued free on arrival at land border – 30 days for Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Russia, USA, United Kingdom and Vietnam. All other countries 15 days only.
Your passport must have at least 6 months validity.
Strictly speaking, proof of funds, onward plane travel ticket required. Tickets showing exit by land border are not accepted.
Both the 30 days and 15 days stamp can be extended for further 30 days in Thailand at a local Immigration Office for 1,900bt.
Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV)
Bought in country of residence or neighbouring to Thailand.
3 months validity, 60 days permitted per trip, can be extended for further 30 days in Thailand at a local Immigration Office for 1,900bt.
Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV)
Bought in country of residence only with strict criteria including bank statements, employer letters, plane tickets and hotel reservations.
6 months validity, 60 days permitted per trip.

Thailand Visa at an Island Pace

Visa Exemption

The Visa Exemption is the most commonly used method for entering Thailand. On landing at an Airport, you are are stamped permission to stay for 30 days. This covers most people on their holidays. The stamp can be extended at a local Immigration Office (in country) for 1,900bt for a further 30 days, after which you then have to leave the country.

If you are coming and going from Thailand into neighbouring countries, you can re-enter using another Visa Exemption stamp, with either 30 days or 15 days granted depending on nationality. That is provided you are out of the country for a few days. You are no longer able to exit and immediately re-enter (visa run) with visa exemptions. Similarly, even if you stay out for a few days, you will be turned away at the border if your Visa Exemptions are obviously going back to back. Always carry your onward plane ticket printed out (not digital) in case requested.

Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV)

If you wish to stay longer than the 30 day Visa Exemption without leaving the country or going to pay for an extension, the easiest option is to buy a Single Entry Tourist Visa from any Thai Consulate or Embassy, with fees as per their websites. The length of stay is 60 days from day of arrival (the single entry of the visa). It may be extended at the local Immigration Office (in country) for a further 30 days for 1,900bt, as long as this is done before the 60 days has expired, with the date stamped in your passport, next to the stapled-in white departure card, the last day possible. This will mean you have 90 days in total before you need to leave the country.

The Single Entry Tourist Visa itself shows a validity of 3 months, but this has nothing to do with length of stay, simply stipulating that you must enter the country (i.e. use it) before the expiry date shown (which will be 90 days from when the visa was issued).

After the 60 days (or 90 if you buy that extension), having left the country, you can then re-enter again with either a new Single Entry Tourist Visa bought at a Consulate in one of the countries bordering Thailand and start the 60 days (or 90 if you buy that extension) process once more. Or you can re-enter on a Visa Exemption stamp, granting you 30 days (airport) or 30 or 15 days (land, according to your nationality). How many times you can buy back to back SETV’s and which country has the most amenable Embassy or Consulate for issuing said back-to-back Single Entry Tourist Visas is discussed and updated on many websites.

Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV) – The loss of days

What is misunderstood with a Single Entry Tourist Visa is the Single Entry. Simply put, you use this up when you first enter, so whilst you can stay for 60 days and then extend in country for 30, if you step over the border, the visa is immediately finished/cancelled. This is regardless of whether you have used up its full quota of days. As an example, were you to leave the country after 20 days to pop into Cambodia to see the temples and then come back to Thailand by air or land, you will be given a 30 days (airport) or 30/15 days (land, according to your nationality) visa exemption stamp. You do not pick up the 60 day Single Entry Tourist Visa from where you left off, so the 40 days remaining are lost. If buying a Single Entry Tourist Visa but also wanting to travel a little outside of Thailand, therefore, use up your days before you go.

Double and Triple Entry Visas

As of November 2015, the double and triple entry visa have been replaced by the new Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV), as explained below.

Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV)

Laem Ngop Immigration for Thailand Visa from Koh Chang
Multiple Entry Visas are issued only in your country of origin.

There are strict criteria which must be met for the visa to be granted. Though varying from country to country, these involve bank statements showing at least $6,000 for at least 3 months, letters of employment or if self employed, assessments forms and registration documents, plane tickets in and out and hotel reservations.

The visa is valid for 6 months from date of issue, with 60 days granted per trip. After that, you must leave the country and on re-entry will be granted another 60 days. There is no word yet on whether each 60 days can be extended in-country by 30 days for 1,900bt at a local Immigration Office, as is possible with the Single Entry Visa (SETV). Similarly, it is too early to say if you can hop out at land border after the 60 days (or 90 days if extensions are allowed), stamp into the neighbouring country, turn straight around back into Thailand and re-activate the next 60 days. It may be that you have to stay out for a few days

The Multiple Entry Visa itself shows a validity of 6 months, but this has nothing to do with length of stay, simply stipulating that you must enter the country (i.e. use it) before the expiry date shown (which will be 180 days from when the visa was issued). Only time will tell if it is permitted, but there is nothing to stop you leaving on the days just before expiry and coming back in to re-activate another 60 days. This means though the visa is finished, you are still permitted to stay until those 60 days are up and so in effect, it will give you 8 months in the country.

As this new visa beds in, there will be changes, rules may be less stringently applied and what is possible or not possible in their use will become more apparent. Check forums like thaivisa for all the latest updates.

More Visa Options and Overstay

There are a whole host of other visas, Non Immigrant Type O, Ed and B which range from retirement, to education to business with details found at www.mfa.go.th/main/en/services/, the official site for visa information and procedures.

Overstaying your visa by a few days is expensive rather than a serious problem, but technically you are breaking the law. The first day is not charged but after that, it is 500bt per day, so two days makes 1,000bt, 3 days 1,500bt and so on. Children over 7 are eligible for the fine. This is normally paid at the the airport as you leave the country.

Long term overstayers are now being targeted, fined and thrown out with Barred from Visiting Thailand stamped into their passports. The length of that ban is taken on a case by case basis, 1 year upwards.

Immigration at Laem Ngop and Border at Had Lek

The nearest tourist Immigration Office to Koh Chang is at the small coastal town of Laem Ngop. If driving, it is found down a soi on the right hand side off the main street, a hundred metres before the sea. Coming by songthaew from one of the ferry piers will cost around 40bt per person depending on numbers. Hours are 08.30am to 16.30, tel: 039 597 261-5. There is a copy shop next door, but it is best to bring copies of the photo page, the visa page and the in/out stamps page from your passport, as well as a couple of passport photos themselves. Going back away from the sea, on the other side of the main street, another small soi opens out onto a grassy area with a couple of good local restaurants, a nice spot for lunch.

In Klong Prao Beach between the bridge and Ban Chang Thai Elephant Camp, opposite the old airfield, there is now a tiny Immigration Office. This deals with expat residents with year visas and work permits, allowing them to do their 90 day reporting. It can answer other questions for you but extensions to tourist visas are still being processed over in Laem Ngop.

The nearest border to Koh Chang is Had Lek, 1.5 hours from Trat, see To Cambodia for more details.