A visa is a document entitling the holder to enter a country. A visa is either a stamp or a sticker in the passport and is made according to international regulations. According to international agreements, when a citizen of one country wishes to travel to another country, he or she first has to obtain a visa from the consulate or consular section of the embassy of the country is going to visit. If permission is granted, a stamp or sticker is affixed to his or her passport and he or she may travel to the country of destination. Although basically a visa has to be obtained before traveling to a foreign country, some countries have mutual agreements of visa exemption for their citizens and some countries allow citizens of some countries to enter without visa.
Thailand uses a mixed three way system, viz.
- Persons who have to apply for a visa before traveling to Thailand
- Persons who may obtain a visa on arrival at some immigration border checkpoints and at international airports in Thailand
- Persons who are exempted from visa requirements to enter Thailand, which applies mostly to citizens of developed countries with adequate standard of living who enter Thailand for short-term visits as tourists for not more than 30 days.
The visas issued by the Thai government are based on the authority of the ministerial law, which the minister of the Interior, based on sections 5, 12 (1), and 34 (15) of the 1979 immigration act, issued and transferred the executive power to officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and immigration officers under the control of the National Police Bureau, from the date of enforcement of the 1979 immigration act to the present. The Ministry of the Interior issued ministerial laws defining 9 types of visa, some of which are issued only to holders of diplomatic or official passports, while others are issued to persons wishing to enter and temporarily stay or enter and take up residence in the kingdom. The different visa types entitle their holders to different rights concerning the length of stay in the kingdom and visa fees that vary according to the type of visa.
Diplomatic visas are issued to holders of diplomatic passports entering the kingdom to perform their assigned duties free of charge by Royal Thai embassies or consulates abroad. In the case of countries with which Thailand has made visa exemption agreements, the holders of diplomatic passports may enter Thailand without a visa and will be allowed to stay in the kingdom for an initial period of 90 days.
Official visas are issued to holders of official passports free of charge. The procedures and exemptions are the same as for diplomatic visas and the initial period of stay is 90 days.
Non-immigrant visas can be obtained by foreigners wishing to enter Thailand for various purposes at Royal Thai embassies or consulates abroad. The purpose of visit must be stated in the application form. The visa will be marked with an English abbreviation as specified by the government accordingly. This is done to make the purpose of visit known to the immigration officers from the very time of arriving and to record statistics of foreigners entering Thailand.
The Non-immigrant visa is of special importance, being the only visa for foreigners temporarily staying in the kingdom that entitles them to apply for work permits. Approval or rejection of application for work permits is done according to the 1978 foreign labour act, section 11, which states that
"foreigners applying for a work permit according to section 7 must be residents of the kingdom or have received permission to temporarily stay in the kingdom according to the immigration laws. They must not have received permission to stay in the kingdom merely as tourists or on transit..."
i.e. application for a work permit depends on the visa, which must not be a tourist or transit visa.
A foreigner wishing to apply for anon-immigrant visa must contact a Thai embassy or consulate abroad, fill in the application form and state the purpose of his visit as mentioned above. As this type of visa is of special importance being the only kind of visa that enables its holder to apply for a work permit and long term extension of stay in the kingdom as necessary, presently Thailand uses stickers in the passport for this type of visa, although some consulates, mostly honorary consulates, still use a stamp affixed to the passport. There is no difference in the validity of the visa whether it is a sticker or a stamp. The visa type and class is clearly stated on the sticker or stamp, e.g. NON-IMMIGRANT VISA class B for business, class ED for education and O for other purposes, according to the list given above. The date of validity stated on the visa is often misunderstood as permission of stay in the kingdom. In fact the date of validity indicates the period within the visa must be utilised entering Thailand. If used within the validity period, the visa entitles its holder of an initial stay of 90 days in the kingdom from the date of arrival, even if he arrives on the last date of validity of the visa.
In addition, if the English words EXTENSION OF STAY NOT PERMITTED/NO EXTENSION OF STAY are written on the visa stamp or sticker, the holder may after the initial admission period has elapsed, apply for an extension according to his individual reasons and necessity. If the officer in charge agrees with the stated reasons and necessity and the applicant fulfils the specifications set by the Immigration Bureau, the stay may be extended accordingly.
This visa type, as its name states, is issued to foreigners entering Thailand as tourists. Like the non-immigrant visa, this visa type must be obtained abroad before traveling to Thailand. Upon arrival a stay of 60 days will be granted, which may be extended by another 30 days (according to Immigration Bureau policies, citizens of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda are granted extensions of only 7 days). This type of visa may be extended to long term stays of up to one year according to the authority given to the director general of the Police Department (presently changed to commander-in-chief of the National Police Bureau) to consider and approve extension s of not exceeding one year at a time (according to section 35 of the 1979 immigration act). Holders of this type of visa may not apply for a work permit. Holders of tourist visas may apply to change the visa to a non-immigrant visa if they wish to work in Thailand or are afraid that they may not be granted a long term extension of stay without non-immigrant visa.
Applications may be made at
The Immigration Office on 507 Soi Suanphlu, Bangkoks
but not all applications for change of visa status will be approved.
Transit visas are issued to foreigners passing through Thailand. Application procedures are the same as for tourist visas, but the period of stay and visa fees differ. On arrival, holders of transit visas are admitted for 30 days in the kingdom and the stay may be extended by another 30 days (as with tourist visas, citizens of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Iran, Nigeria, Togo, and Uganda are granted extensions of only 7 days). If there are strong reasons, long term extensions can be obtained as for tourist visas, but application for a work permit is not possible. Transit visas may be changed to non-immigrant visas if need arises.
IMMIGRANT VISA UNDER SECTION 41
Immigrant visas under section 41 are theoretically issued to foreigners who have obtained permission to permanently reside in the kingdom by the immigration consideration committee according to the agreement of the minister in charge, but presently this kind of visa is not issued as there are no cases of foreigners receiving residence permission through embassies abroad. Applications have to be made after arriving in Thailand.
NON-QUOTA IMMIGRANT VISA
Non-quota immigrant visas are issued to foreign residents of Thailand who wish to travel abroad, similar to re-entry permits. This type of visa is stamped in the passport and must be used together with residence documents and endorsed each time the holder enters or leaves the kingdom. The fee for this type of visa is 1,900 baht for one entry and 3,800 Baht for multiple entries within a specified period of time.
Courtesy visas are issued free of charge to holders of official passports who travel to Thailand as tourists for a period not exceeding 30 days.
Notification of staying in the Kingdom over 90 days
Procedure and notification
- The foreigner makes the notification in person, or
- The foreigner authorises another person to make the notification, or
- The foreigner makes the notification by registered mail.
- The notification must be made within 7 days before or after the period of 90 days expires.
- The first application for extension of stay by the foreigner is equivalent to the notification of staying in the Kingdom over 90 days.
Offices accepting notification:
- Immigration Bureau, Soi Suanphlu, Bangkok (Sub-section 1, command 4, administrative command, Immigration Bureau)
- Visa extension units, Ratchada Centre (BOI)
- Immigration offices throughout the country
Notification by registered mail
- Copy of all passport pages (up to the latest arrival stamp in the Kingdom or latest visa stamp)
- Copy of arrival/departure card TM. 6 (front and back)
- Previous notifications of staying over 90 days (if any)
- Completely filled in and signed notification form TM. 47
- Envelope with 5 Baht stamp affixed and return address of foreigner for the officer in charge to send back the lower part of form TM. 47 after having received the notification. This part must be kept for reference and for future notifications of staying over 90 days.
- The above mentioned documents must be sent by registered mail and the receipt of the registration kept by the foreigner. Send the mail to
Sub-section 1, Command 4, Administrative Command, Immigration Bureau (90 days)
507 Soi Suanphlu, South Sathorn Rd.
90 DAYS REGISTRATION
507 SOI SUANPLU, SOUTH SATHORN RD.,
- The notification of staying in the Kingdom over 90 days is in no way equivalent to a visa extension.
- If a foreigner staying in the kingdom over 90 days without notifying the Immigration Bureau or notifying the Immigration Bureau later than the set period, a fine of 2,000.- Baht will be collected. If a foreigner who did not make the notification of staying over 90 days is arrested, he will be fined 4,000.- Baht.
- If a foreigner leaves the country and re-enters, the day count starts at 0 in every case.
- For details contact 0-2286-2774, 0-2287-3101-10 ext.2240
Notification of residence of foreigners for businesses
Notification of residence of foreigners for businesses
According to section 38 of the 1979 immigration act, "House owners, heads of household, landlords or managers of hotels who accommodate foreigners on a temporary basis who stay in the kingdom legally, must notify the local immigration authorities within 24 hours from the time of arrival of the foreigner." If there is no immigration office in the province or locality of the respective house or hotel, the notification is made to the local police station. In Bangkok the notification is made to the Immigration Bureau. The notification of residence of foreigners is made by the manager of licensed hotels according to the hotel act, owners of guesthouses, mansions, apartments and rented houses using the form TM. 30.
The notification of residence of foreigners within 24 hours can be made in a number of ways to make the notification as convenient as possible:
- In person at the respective office, or
- Through an authorised person at the respective office, or
- By registered mail, or
- Via internet.
Filling in the foreigner residence notification form (TM. 30)
Please fill in all requested information according to the foreigner's passport, as often arriving passengers do not fill in the correct data on the arrival card. The form can be typed or handwritten in clear block letters. Leave a space between name, middle name, and surname.
- If the passport number is preceded or followed by a letter, fill in the letter too.
- Write the arrival card number (TM. 6) in the respective field. The arrival card is stapled into the passport. Both letters and numbers of the arrival card number must be filled in.
- Arrival date means the date of arrival in Thailand, while date of accommodation means the date must be filled in on the front page of the notification sheet.
After the officer in charge has verified the information on the notification sheet (TM. 30), he accepts the notification and hands over the lower part of the form to the person making the notification. This part must be kept for further checking.
For details contact 0-2286-2774, 0-2287-3101-10 ext.224