For nationals of 52 countries, including most European countries, including the UK, German, Netherlands, Switzerland and France, as well as the US and Australia, there is no need to apply for a visa before travelling to Thailand if you are entering as a tourist and staying for 30 days or less. Your passport will be stamped on arrival at immigration issuing you with a visa exemption valid for 30 days. If you leave the country by an air border and re-enter without a visa your passport will again be stamped and the visa reset, giving you a further visa exemption of 30 days; you are only allowed to do this twice in any six-month rolling period. If re-entering via a land border without a visa you will only receive a 15-day visa exemption and you are only allowed to do this twice in one year. Make sure you have at least six months remaining on your passport from the last date you intend to leave Thailand, otherwise you may not be granted entry into the country.
If you're not sure if you are eligible for a visa exemption, or for further and more depth information, please visit your Thai consulate website of the country you are from, which will give you specific information regarding your visa eligibility and what visa you will need. We have also found this website useful as it gives up-to-date information in an easy to understand format: https://www.locationindependent.co.uk/thai-visas-digital-nomad-guide/
For visits of more than 30 days there are a numerous visa options to choose from, most of which you will need to apply for before travelling to Thailand, and some can be complicated and time consuming. Here is an overview of some of the visas available to apply for:
60-day tourist visa - single entry
You will need to apply for this from your local Thai Consulate - in the UK you need to send a completed visa application form (available from your local consulate website), payment (around GBP 35), your passport with a minimum of six months remaining and at least two blank pages (for the visa and entry/exit stamps), and two recent passport photos. The visa, once issues, is valid for three months from the date of issue, so you will need to enter the country by the day before the 'enter before' date as shown on the visa, and once there you will receive a stamp in your passport indicating when you must leave by. If you leave Thailand within the 60 days, the remaining days on the visa are forfeited. You may be able to extend the 60-day stay by a further 30 days by visiting a local Thai Immigration Office and paying a fee of around THB1,900 for an extension. At the end of your 60 day stay (and 30 day extension if applicable) you are able to visit a neighbouring country and re-enter Thailand to receive a 30-day visa exemption, if re-entering by an air border, or 15-day visa exemption via a land border. Please be aware, however, that the decision to allow re-entry is at the discretion of the Immigration Officer, and if entering Thailand without a visa you will only be allowed a maximum of 90 days in Thailand within and six-month rolling period (i.e you can only do this twice within six months by air border).
60-day tourist visa - multiple entry
Again, for the UK, you will need to send a completed visa application for with two recent passport photos and your passport (with at least six months validity and two blank pages), to your local Thai consulate. In addition, copies of your last six month's bank statements, showing your name and address and a minimum balance of £5,000 at the start/end of each month, along with a copy of your return/onward air ticket (to be valid within the visa dates), and confirmation of your hotel/lodgings booking. If you are employed you will need to provide a letter from your employer confirming your commencement date with them; if you are self-employed then a copy of your self-assessment tax form for the last year; or if you are retired and receiving a Private Pension, then a copy of your Pension Statement or similar (showing your name and address), should be provided. Further information may be required by you so please check with your local consulate. The fee for this type of visa is around £135.
This type of visa is valid for six months from the date of issue and allow an unlimited number of entries into the country until the expiry date six months later, with each stay lasting for up to 60-days, with your final 60-day entry being the day before the 'enter before date' on your visa. There is a possibility of extending each 60-day stay by a further 30-days from a local Thai Immigration Office (with a fee of around THB1900). Therefore, with careful planning, it is possible to accumulate eight months in Thailand, if your last entry is a few days before your 'enter before' date. As you already have a visa then you can re-enter via a land border to activate your next 60-days, so there is no need to use the air borders if you don't want to.
Non-Immigrant Visa O
There are several options to obtain this type of Visa, including retirement, volunteering and marriage.
Retirement - will allow you multiple entries into Thailand, is valid for one year and renewable inside Thailand on a yearly basis. It will also enable you to open a bank account in Thailand and to apply for permanent residency after renewals. an option if you are over 50, with no criminal record and can meet the financial requirements, which are: 800,000 Thai Baht in a Thai bank account for two months prior to your visa application; or a monthly income or pension of at least 65,000 Thai Baht (proof of income will need to be obtained via your embassy); or a combination of both these requirements, totalling 800,000 Thai baht. This type of visa requires you to first obtain a 90-day visa or 1 year non-immigrant O visa from your country of residence.
Volunteer - to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa O for volunteer purposes you will need submit the official recommendation letter from the organisation in Thailand that you are planning to volunteer with to your local Thai Embassy (along with other relevant documentation requested). This visa will be valid for 90-days on a single-entry basis, and can be obtained within 2 working days. You can apply for an extension of this visa within Thailand (at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok). It is important to note that a foreigner holding a tourist visa is not permitted to work as an English teacher in Thailand, even on a voluntary basis, the appropriate visa must be obtained.
Marriage - a marriage visa (1-Year Extension of Stay Based on Marriage) is available to foreign nationals who are married to a Thai national, and entitles the holder to stay in Thailand for a year without needing to exit the country. The visa is renewable yearly, and can be done inside Thailand subject to requirement of the visa. The holder will also be entitled to obtain a Work Permit and thus work in Thailand.
Financial requirements for this visa are: 400,000 Thai Baht in a Thai Bank account (for at least 2 months prior to visa application); or a monthly income of at least 40,000 Thai Baht (to be proved via your embassy).
However, there is no direct application for a marriage visa, some basic guidelines are as follows: you will need to have obtained a 90 day or 1 Year Non-Immigrant O visa from your home country prior to application, activated by travelling to Thailand, and you must prepare all your required documents in order to convert your non-immigrant O visa to a marriage visa. A marriage visa may take a month before being issued, so you will need to apply with plenty of time before your existing visa expires.
Non-Immigrant Visa B
This covers several categories for wishing to stay in Thailand for a length of time, including conducting business, working as an English teacher, studying, taking scuba diving or boxing lessons and to do an internship, to name a few. Visa validity ranges from 3 months to 3 years and there are numerous steps to undertake to obtain such visas, for example for business purposes you may need to be doing business or have working relationships with existing Thai businesses, or start a subsidiary company in Thailand to qualify.
Business - There are two types of visa for foreigners who wish to conduct business in Thailand, they are a 90-day non-immigrant visa - single entry; or a multi-entry 1-year non-immigrant visa (with the possibility of extension).
To obtain this type of visa you will need to apply for an initial 90-day non-immigrant B visa in your home country (for employment), and apply for a work permit during these initial 90 days. Once this is obtained you will then be able to apply for the 1-year non-immigrant B visa within Thailand, renewal of this visa is also possible, however a re-entry permit will be required if you wish to travel outside of Thailand.
Upon application, you must be present in Thailand and demonstrate you are neither a public or security threat to the Thai government. You will generally require a passport with 6 months validity from arrival, a confirmation letter clarifying your purpose of travel (issued by the organisation concerned, i.e. your employer in Thailand), an Embassy fee, supporting documentation as requested by the Royal Thai Embassy, and proof of financial funds and travel itinerary. Processing of the visa application usually takes 5 to 10 business days.
Teaching - if you have an appropriate qualification to teach then your Thai Embassy can issue a non-immigrant B visa for single-entry and a 90-day validity, and can be obtained within 2 working days. Once in Thailand you will then need to apply for a teacher licence at the Ministry of Education or the Ministry of University Affairs, as well as applying for a work permit at the Ministry of Labour (which will take 7 working days). This documentation will then need to be presented to the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok in order to apply for your visa extension to cover the term of employment.
You will be required to provide relevant documentation to your local Thai Embassy in order to apply for this type of visa, including a letter of acceptance as a teacher from the school/organisation you intend to work for.
Please visit the Thai Embassy website of your country of origin to establish which visa is right for you and full details of requirements and how to apply.
Passport rules for tourists
You will need to ensure that your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your entry into Thailand, and you have one blank page for your visa on arrival. Immigration officials may ask you for your onward/return travel details.
By law tourists and expats are required to carry their original passport with them at all times and failure to do so may result in a 2,000 Baht fine if you are stopped asked to produce your passport by the Thai police/military. This is to help Immigration track over-stayers and foreign criminals who may be in the country illegally.
However, there is conflicting information regarding carrying your original passport, some saying that tourists having a photocopy of their passport as form of identification, or driving licences for expats, is sufficient.