From the tropical beaches of Phuket to Bangkok's ancient temples and cosmopolitan culture, the Kingdom of Thailand exudes an allure like few other destinations. It comes as no surprise that this fascinating and beautiful country in Southeast Asia regularly sees over 30 million visitors per year, one million of which are American.
U.S. citizens benefit from Thailand's visa exemption program, which means you don't need a visa to enter Thailand as long as you don't plan to stay in the country for more than a month. If you're not a U.S. citizen, check the Royal Thai Embassy website to see whether you need to apply for a visa in advance. Thailand grants 15-, 30- and 90-day entry permits and visas on arrival to citizens of many other countries.
If you are a U.S. citizen and plan on staying in Thailand for more than 30 days, you'll need to apply for a non-immigrant visa before you leave for your trip. You can either visit the embassy or a consulate in person to apply for your visa or mail in your application. Additional documents will be required depending on the visa type, but every application will always require the following:
- Two passport-sized photos
- A copy of your flight confirmation, showing your journey in and out of Thailand
- A copy of a recent bank statement ($700 per person and $1,500 per family)
If you're obtaining a visa for a minor younger than 20 years old, you'll also need to provide a copy of their birth certificate, the passport(s) of their legal guardian(s), and a letter of notarized consent to travel abroad.
|Visa Type||How Long Is It Valid?||Required Documents||Application Fees|
|Single Entry||60 days||Passport, bank statement, copy of flight itinerary||$40|
|Multiple Entry||60 days||Proof of employment (or full-time status as a student) and a bank statement||$200|
|Medical Visa||60 days||A letter detailing your treatment from the hospital or medical facility||$40|
|Work Visa (Business, Teaching, and Work)||90 days||Letter of invitation from Thai company or school||$80|
|Education Visa||90 days||Letter of acceptance from Thai school and a statement letter from the school in your home country||$80|
|Volunteering Visa||90 days||Letter of invitation or acceptance from the non-profit foundation in Thailand||$80|
|Retirement Visa||1 year||Bank statement proving financial capability, a copy of your health insurance policy, and a foreign insurance certificate||$200|
Single Entry Tourist Visa
A single-entry tourist visa (Tourist Visa "TR" Single) will allow you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days. You can apply for this visa for $40 if your country isn't on the list of visa-exempt countries. No additional requirements beyond the basics are required.
Multiple Entry Tourist Visa
Thanks to the affordable cost of air travel, it's easy to country-hop in Southeast Asia, and you might wish to leave Thailand for a short period to visit another country. If so, you can save money by starting with a multiple entry visa (Tourist Visa "TR" Multiple) outright. This will allow you to leave and reenter Thailand as many times as you want within 60 days of your first entry. The application fee is $200 and you will also need to provide a letter that proves your that you are employed or a full-time student if you're still in school. If you're self-employed, you'll need to show your business license or registration. Your bank statement will also need to prove that you've maintained a minimum balance of $7,000 for the past six months.
Tourist Medical Visa
If you are going to Thailand to receive medical treatment, you'll need to apply for a medical visa (Tourist Visa "TR" Multiple). In addition to providing the requirements of the basic tourist visa, you'll also need to include a letter from the hospital or medical facility in Thailand describing the purpose and duration of the treatment and application fee of $40. Like a single entry tourist visa, the medical visa only lasts 60 days but you can request an extension at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.
If you are coming to Thailand for business or a job, you can apply for a work visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Category "B"), which will allow you to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days. The work visa has three categories you could apply for and each has a different set of required additional documents:
- Business: You'll need two letters: one from your employer detailing how long you've worked there, your salary, the purpose of your visit, and how long you'll stay in Thailand and another one from the Thai company you'll be working with, confirming your length of stay and the purpose of your trip.
- Teaching: You must provide the original copy of your acceptance letter, evidence of your educational qualifications, a copy of the Thai school's license or business registration, and an original letter that shows you passed an FBI background check.
- Working: For other kinds of jobs, you'll need to show an offer of employment from a Thai company, and letter of approval issued by the Thai Ministry of labor (your employer must apply for this), and a copy of the work permit issued by the Ministry of Labor.
All these visa categories, except for the business visa, are only available for single entry with an application fee of $80.
To study or do an internship in Thailand, you'll need to apply for an education visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Category "ED"), which will allow you to stay for 90 days. Your application will need to include a letter of acceptance from the university or school that you'll attend. You'll also have the option of applying for an education visa with multiple entries, but it will cost you $200 and you will also need to provide an original letter from your home school describing the details and conditions of your visit to Thailand.
If you will be working with a non-profit organization to volunteer in Thailand, you can apply for a volunteering visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Category "O"). With your application, you'll need to include the original letter of your invitation from a registered non-profit foundation in Thailand, plus the $80 application fee. You'll be allowed to stay for 90 days, but will not have the option to apply for a multiple entry visa.
If you are over 50 years old and want to spend your retirement in Thailand, you can apply for either a one-year visa for $200 (Non-Immigrant Visa Category "O-A") for $200 a 10-year visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Category "O-X") for $400. With your application, you must submit a U.S. or Thai bank statement that proves you have approximately $26,000 in the bank or a monthly income of at least $2000. You must also submit an FBI background check, a copy of your health insurance policy, and a foreign insurance certificate from the Department of Health Service Support.
If you overstay your visa, you will be breaking the law and will face a fine of $16 for every extra day you stay in Thailand. This must be paid before you're allowed to leave the country. If you overstay your visa for a significant amount of time (over 90 days), you will be subject to a $642 fee and could be banned from Thailand for one year. However, this only applies if you are discovered upon leaving Thailand. If you are caught overstaying your visa anywhere else in Thailand, you could face a ban of five years, even if you're over by one day and if you stay illegally for more than a year, you could be banned for ten years. However, if you've simply made a miscalculation in your schedule and realize you'll be overstaying your visa by a few days, you could simply visit the nearest immigration office to apply for an extension if you still have time do so.
According to the U.S. State Department, "The Thai police have been known to sweep areas frequented by low-budget travelers and arrest those who have overstayed their visas." If this happens, you could be held in a detention center until you can pay your fine and buy a ticket out of Thailand. It may be possible to extend your short term visa after you pay your fine, but the number of days you've already overstayed will be subtracted from that extension.
Extending Your Visa
After you've already entered Thailand, you can extend your visa by another 30 days at the Immigration Bureau, as long as your total stay does not exceed 90 days. You'll have to pay a fee of $61 for this privilege and the decision on whether or not you'll be granted one will be up to the discretion of the immigration officer. You'll find immigration offices where you can file for an extension in major Thai cities like Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Phuket.