This article was written by Brian Maxey. for the Pataya Expat Club
Note that is often easier to obtain your Visa before you leave your Home Country for Thailand, at
Thai Consular Offices (not the regular Thai Embassies), located in many Countries.
These are businesses (often law offices) and they are much more helpful and
responsive than the typical Embassy. Plus, most transactions can be done by mail from an
address in your Home Country. For contact information, just Google for Thai
Consulates in the United Kingdom for example, ot Thai Consulates in the USA.
Many thanks to Club Member Brian Maxey for this updated information: (September 2008)
(My thanks to Darren Mcgarry of Key Visa for his technical expertise and keeping me 'up to date'
with the ever-changing visa scene. - Brian)
Many helpful websites are listed at the end of this article.
Visa types available for visits to Thailand.
(Our advice is not to try to understand all of this information. If you know which Visa Type you need -
read only that section. If you don't know, then ask yourself this question "How long do I want to stay
in Thailand", and read appropriately. Bear in mind many people stay longer than they plan for -
Thailand's like that!)
First, here is a simplified look at "VISAs for Thailand".
If you intend to come to Thailand for less than 30-days, you do not need to pre-arrange, or apply for
a visa, before you travel. There is a 'Visa Waiver Program' for most 'Western' nationalities for stays
up to 30-days. However you will need a confirmed 'onward travel document', for travel out of
Thailand, dated within that 30 day period, and leaving by air. Overland exits from Thailand rarely
qualify - a flight e-ticket does. Your airline may not allow you to 'board' at the start of your journey to
Thailand if you have neither a visa, nor an onward ticket within the 30-days stay.
The following is the current position regarding 'Visa Waiver Entry Permits' (mistakenly called
30 day VISAs):-
Nationals of countries which have special arrangements with Thailand (this includes most
EC/US/Can/Aust/NZ nationals) can enter Thailand for simple tourist purposes for a stay not
exceeding 30 days without the need for a pre-arranged visa provided they can show a confirmed
international flight ticket taking them directly out of Thailand within 30 days of arrival. (Nationals of
certain countries must arrive in Thailand with a visa whatever their length of stay - do check!) At the
point of entry into Thailand, Immigration Officials will stamp a visitors passport and grant them a
stay of 30 days. Upon expiry of their stay visitors must leave the country or risk a heavy fine and/or
imprisonment. This type of entry is either 1) Visa Waiver, or 2) VOA - Visa on Arrival, depending on
Since 1 October 2006 the situation has been further complicated:- Those planning to enter
Thailand utilising the 'visa waiver' (30-day stay method) will have to comply with another criteria.
This criteria is NOT new, but has been largely ignored in the past. When you first enter Thailand
using the 30-day method, a 6 month time-line period will start for you. During that 6 months you will
be allowed to enter Thailand several times up to a total aggregate stay of 90 days. When 90 days
is reached you must leave Thailand for the remainder of the 6 months - OR - return to Thailand
using a different visa entry method stamped in your passport.
The purpose of these adjustments to the policy is to stop perpetual tourists from attempting to live
in Thailand with no visa arrangement.
The 90-days in 6-months rule does not affect you if you arrive with any current pre-arranged visa
already stamped in your passport.
If you intend to stay longer than 30 days, you need to get a visa BEFORE arrival - usually from a
Thai Embassy or Consulate in your 'home country'.
A visa is simply - 'permission to come to Thailand with the intention of staying more than 30 days',
+ an indication of the maximum stay allowed for that particular type of visa. There are various types
of visa for different lengths of stay, and reasons for stay. You do not need an onward travel
document when you have a visa, although you may have problems with the airline check-in staff
insisting that you do. Please be patient with the airline staff, they cannot possibly remember all the
different visa regulations for all the countries they deal with. A righteous attitude with a member of
'check-in' staff may earn you that seat allocation you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy. I'm sure
you know the one!
All visas stamped in your passport will have: 1. a unique number, 2. visa category, 3. number of
journeys to Thailand, 4. 'must be utilised by' date, 5. date of stamping in passport.
All visas have a stated 'life' (4. above) - a 'Use By date' - when they are stamped in your passport.
The date of expiry of that visa is shown. This is the 'validity of the visa' (not the permitted length of
stay in Thailand). Your visa must NOT have expired in order to enter Thailand - even if you have
never used it. Do not obtain your visa too long before you trave!
Tourist, and Non-Immigrant Visas typically have a 'Use By' date in your passport of 3 months. This
means you must travel to Thailand within 3 months of your visa being placed into your passport in
order for it to work. Multiple versions of a visa do have a longer life.
The 'Use By' life of a visa in your passport should not be confused with how long you will be
allowed to stay in Thailand. You may enter Thailand as late as just 1 day before the 'Use By' date
expires, and still stay in Thailand the full amount of time allowed under the visa type. Look upon a
visa as an open door to allow you to enter Thailand. Your length of stay starts from that entry date.
Therefore do not apply for your visa too long in advance of your travel. If it is expired when you arrive
you will only get a 30-day stay.
Different visas allow different length of stay in Thailand (2. above). Typically 60 days for a 'Tourist
visa', and 90 days for a 'Non-Immigrant visa'. Often a visa can be purchased with more than a 'one-
time' use (3. above), e.g. a 'triple-entry' tourist visa (allowing 3 separate visits to Thailand), or a
'multi-entry' non-immigrant visa (allowing unlimited entries over a given time), without the need to
visit a Thai Embassy or Consulate each time you wish to enter Thailand. Although the time allowed
to stay may be similar, the purposes of the visits (and thus the visa type) are different.
You may not qualify for all visa types - they may be dependant on age, gender, educational
qualifications, health, financial status, marriage status, past history in Thailand.
It is usually not possible to challenge, or change, a decision by an Embassy or Consulate in any
country, or Immigration Official in Thailand. You are a 'guest' in their country, and they can choose
to allow you to come, stay or leave. However you can 'appeal' a refusal of visa and request an
explanation, but you may not always get it.
To stay beyond the date granted by Immigration is a very serious criminal offence (yes, criminal).
You become an 'illegal Alien', and the penalties include fines, jail and deportation. Recently 'Visa
Run' transports to the border have been checked by Police at the roadside. Anyone found not to
have a 'current permission to stay stamp' is arrested. Often Police visit Hotels, Guest Houses and
late-night tourist venues to check for drugs, anyone found not to have a 'current permission to stay
stamp' is arrested.
NOW FOR AN "IN DEPTH" LOOK AT VISAS
(remember you DON'T need to understand ALL of the following, just the rules that apply to your
needs - ask yourself, how long do I intend to stay in Thailand - ask yourself, how often do I intend to
visit Thailand - then look up the rules for that particular type of visa)
WHAT IS A VISA? - How does it work?
Entry into Thailand, by a document issued in a foreign country is termed a VISA, obtained from a
Thai consulate or embassy abroad.
Entry into Thailand without a VISA, permitted at many 'ports of entry' for thirty (30) days, is with a
document termed a 'Visa Waiver Entry Permit'.
As explained by immigration on their website, VISAS are the sole province of Consulates and
Embassies attached to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Entry into Thailand, deportation and regulation of the length of your stay, including entry and re-
entry permits, are the province of the Department of Immigration, a Police Agency.
It is important to understand that these two Government departments are different and separate.
Embassies outside Thailand cannot guarantee length of stay in Thailand. This is the job of the
Immigration Police. A lot of good information is available from both sources, and both try to smooth
the way for visitors. However it is possible to change your current visa entry type, under special
circumstances, to allow a different length of stay here in Thailand, at the office of the Immigration
Police (Pattaya / Jomtien Soi 5).
Think of the purpose of a visa as being two-fold. a) it allows you to travel to Thailand for a length of
stay in excess of 30 days, and b) it tells the Immigration Officer at arrival how long you are
authorised/permitted to stay, although this Immigration Officer has final control over this decision.
The Officer will stamp two dates in your passport - the date you arrive, and the last date you must
leave by. If you are not sure ask the Officer when you must leave Thailand. Basically this is 60 days
with a 'Tourist Visa', and 90 days with a 'Non-Immigrant Visa'. Please remember the day you arrive
is 'day 1' - also think in terms of 60 days, not 2 months! Do check these dates at the time they are
stamped. Do not assume they are as you anticipate. Mistakes can happen - it is your responsibility
to check. Unknowing does not excuse the penalty.
The visa you acquire in your passport (outside Thailand) contains three quite different elements:
1. It's 'useable life' (Use By Date) (the limited period during which you may enter Thailand).
2. How many times can you use it, during it's 'life' (e.g. single-entry - - double-entry - - multi-entry).
3. Visa type - indicating how long you should be permitted to 'stay' in Thailand upon arrival. ('T' = 60-
days, 'O' = 90-days, 'B' = 90-days)
You can ONLY get NEW visas OUTSIDE Thailand. You cannot get another visa inside Thailand.
Your 'home country' is usually the easiest. Many Embassies/Consulates in other countries
(particularly bordering Thailand) will no longer issue multiple-entry visas to foreigners of any age.
So, there are basically two ways to come to Thailand. a) No visa - for a total of 30 days, and b) with
a variety of visas for longer periods.
Please remember ALL visas are 'temporary', they do not allow you to 'live' in Thailand forever. Many
people think they can come to Thailand without a visa and stay forever - you simply cannot! Equally
foreigners cannot stay in your country without permission.
The following visas are designed for temporary, short visits, but 'permission to stay' MAY be
extendable (in Thailand) for longer - up to 1 year at a time.
Tourists wishing to visit Thailand for any length of stay without a pre-booked/confirmed air ticket out
of Thailand must obtain a Visa prior to arrival in Thailand.
Tourists wishing to visit Thailand for a stay in excess of 30 days must obtain a Visa prior to arriving
[in other words - for a single stay up to 30-days, you simply arrive at the airport in Thailand, and
provided you come from an approved list of countries, and have an onward reservation confirmed,
you will receive a 30-day permission to stay - FREE. You can only extend this permit once for 7
days (1900 baht), before it expires, on application to any Immigration Office, provided you can show
a confirmed ticket out of Thailand dated during that 7-days. After that, YOU MUST LEAVE Thailand]
TOURIST VISA. 60-day stay obtained from external Embassy or Consulate. (a 30-day extension is
allowed - one time)
At the point of entry into Thailand, Immigration Officials will stamp a Tourist visitor's passport
granting them a single stay of up to 60 days. It may be possible to extend a stay but only with the
approval of the Thai Immigration Bureau and should not be relied on. Upon expiry of the stay
visitors must leave the country or risk a fine and/or imprisonment. Possession of a further (second
or third) valid entry on the same visa entitles the tourist to re-enter for a further stay of up to 60 days.
There are four entry options for Tourist Visas:-
a) Single Entry -- The 'life/validity' of this visa is 3 months from date of issue and allows a visitor to
enter Thailand for a single period of up to 60 days after which they must depart. A further visit will
require another visa which can only be obtained outside Thailand. (a 30-day extension may be
applied for - once)
b) Double Entry -- The 'life/validity' of this visa is 6 months from date of issue and allows a visitor to
enter Thailand for one period of up to 60 days after which time they must leave the country. They
can then re-enter for a further stay of up to 60 days. On expiry of the second stay they must depart
and cannot return without a new visa which can only be obtained outside Thailand. (a single 30-
day extension may be applied for, after each 60 days)
c) Triple Entry -- Same principle as for Double Entry except that it allows for up to three visits within
a period of 6 months. (a single 30-day extension may be applied for, after each 60 days)
d) Quadruple Entry (not always available) -- Same principle as for Double Entry except that it
allows for up to four visits within a period of 6 months - this is generally the maximum. (a single 30-
day extension may be applied for, after each 60 days - 1900 baht)
[in other words - each entry is valid for 60 days, and can be purchased in units of 1, 2, 3 or 4 (i.e. 3
separate trips to Thailand over the fixed 'Use By Life' of the visa.]
Leaving Thailand without a specially pre-arranged 'Exit/re-entry permit' terminates your current visa
entry (whether expired or not), re-entry to Thailand requires another entry visa. So, crossing a
border (in both directions) will terminate one 'trip' & create a new 'trip' utilising another visa entry.
You can extend each stay once (usually for 30 days - costing 1900 baht) on application to any
Immigration Office, but do NOT rely on this.
NOTE: The total 'Use By Life/validity' of this type of visa varies dependant on the number
purchased, 1 = 3 months, 2, 3 or 4 = 6 months. This is the 'fixed' time you may use the visa, not
how LONG you may STAY.
[In UK Thai Consulates (not Embassy) 4 units are available = 6 months total life]
[So, every day the visa sits in your passport BEFORE you arrive in Thailand does not change the
'permitted dates of use' written on the visa, although this may well effect your total time allowed in
Thailand with a multiple entry type. These dates are 'fixed', and cannot be changed later.]
No proof of finances is currently needed to obtain this type of visa in your 'home' country, and is
available for any age. Availability rules in other countries may vary.
Here is an example of how a 3-entry Tourist Visa could be used for an extended stay in Thailand.
Obtain a Visa from your country's local Thai Consulate - lets say late February.
Arrive Thailand 1 March - get permission to stay for 60 days - to 29 April.
Extend stay at local Immigration Office for 30-days 1900 baht - to 29 May.
Go to Cambodian Border - 29 May.
Re-enter Thailand 29 May - get permission to stay for 60 days - to 27 July.
Extend stay at local Immigration Office for 30-days 1900 baht - to 26 August.
Go to Cambodian Border - 26 August.
Re-enter Thailand 26 August - get permission to stay for 60 days - to 24 October.
Extend stay at local Immigration Office for 30-days 1900 baht - to 23 November.
23 November leave Thailand (or make one more trip to Cambodia for extra 30-day stamp in
This is a total stay of 268 days (8+ months) - perfectly legal - using a 3-entry Tourist Visa + 3
extensions + 2 trips to Cambodia. Total cost in Thailand around 10k baht (200+ Euros). (if you do
the extra trip to Cambodia at the end you will be 297 days since originally entering Thailand = 9+
NON-IMMIGRANT VISA. 90 days 'stay' obtained from external Consulate (or Embassy). (Can be
converted to 'long-stay' fairly easily if you are over 50 years of age, or legally supporting a Thai
The following is the current position regarding Non-Immigrant Visas:-
Anyone wishing to visit Thailand for purposes other than tourism must have a Non-Immigrant Visa
stamped in their passport before arrival in Thailand. At the point of entry to Thailand immigration
officials will stamp a Non-Immigrant visitor's passport granting them a single stay of up to 90 days.
It may be possible to extend a stay but only with the approval of the Immigration Bureau and should
not be relied on. Upon expiry of the stay visitors must leave the country or risk a heavy fine and/or
imprisonment. Possession of a further valid entry on the visa entitles the traveller to re-enter for a
further stay of up to 90 days, etc. (a 30-day extension is not possible for this visa)
Among the 13 categories of Non-Immigrant Visa are the two most popular types available:
a) Category 'O' for travellers wishing to visit relatives/friends living in Thailand.
b) Category 'B' for travellers with confirmed business in Thailand.
There are two entry options for Non-Immigrant Visas:
a) Single Entry -- The validity of this visa is 3 months from date of issue and allows a visitor to
enter Thailand for a single period of up to 90 days after which they must depart. A further visit will
require a new visa which can only be obtained outside Thailand.
[in other words - a single entry non-immigrant 'O' visa allows you to stay in Thailand up to 90 days,
but may not normally be extended for short periods]
b) Multiple Entry -- The validity of this visa is 12 months from date of issue and allows a visitor to
enter Thailand an unlimited number of times, for stays of up to 90 days each, within the validity of
[in other words - a multi-entry non-immigrant 'O' visa, when each 90-day trip is over and you must
leave Thailand, a simple 'border run' will allow a further stay of 90 days - etc, etc. Because it is a
'multi-entry' type, this procedure can continue throughout the 'Use By Life' of the visa. The start date
of the 'life' is when the visa is placed in your passport, not the date of first entry into Thailand) and
allows as many entries into Thailand as you like during that 1 year period. Your FIRST 90 days will
start with a date stamp in your passport upon arrival in Thailand (extensions for this type of entry
are pointless as you would only get 7-days for 1900 baht, whereas a 'border run' would achieve a
further 90-days for around 2000 baht). Then you must leave Thailand, or travel to a border - cross -
and return. Thus your next 90 day period starts - etc. Your LAST 90 day period may be adjusted to
agree with your original visa's 1yr expiration date. (this varies by Immigration Officer at your entry
Here is an example of how a Multi-entry Non-Immigrant 'O' Visa could be used for an extended stay
Obtain a Visa from your country's local Thai Consulate - lets say late February.
Arrive Thailand 1 March - get permission to stay for 90 days - 29 May.
Go to Cambodian Border - 29 May.
Re-enter Thailand 29 May - get permission to stay for 90 days - 26 August.
Go to Cambodian Border - 26 August.
Re-enter Thailand 26 August - get permission to stay for 90 days - 23 November.
Go to Cambodian Border - 23 November.
Re-enter Thailand 23 November - get permission to stay for 90 days - 20 February.
Go to Cambodian Border - 20 February.
Re-enter Thailand 20 February - get permission to stay for 90 days - around 20 May.
Do ensure your last trip to the Border occurs BEFORE the expiry date of the original Visa. This
means your choice of date of original visa application is crucial. Remember you may leave
Thailand at any time during a 90-day stay, but this cancels the remaining time. Re-entering starts a
new 90-day period.
This is a total stay of 446 days (14+ months) - perfectly legal - using a Multi-entry Non-Immigrant 'O'
Visa + 4 trips to Cambodia. Total cost in Thailand around 8k baht (164 Euros). This Visa may not
be available to those under 50 years of age unless you can support an exceptional need.
*DO NOT SEND YOUR PASSPORT UNACCOMPANIED TO ANOTHER COUNTRY FOR A NEW VISA, IT
IS ILLEGAL AND EASILY EXPOSED - THE CONSEQUENCES ARE DIRE*
NOTE: Trips from Pattaya to the nearest border currently cost around 2100 baht for an 'all-in visa
run', which should produce a 'new 90 day stay' stamp (for a multi-entry-non-immigrant-O'). If you
have this multi-entry 'O' type it makes sense to do 'visa runs' to the border instead of seeking an
extension at an Immigration Office (office gives 7 days - border gives 90 days - same price!).
Some financial 'proof' may be required to get this visa from an Embassy or Consulate in your
'home country', depending on age (maybe a Bank statement) (enquire from Consul). (currently,
PEC members get a discount with some 'Border Run' companies in Pattaya)
Upon final expiry of the 'O' visa originally stamped in your passport, getting another NEW 'O' visa
requires you leave Thailand and go to an Embassy or Consulate in another country. Seeking a
new visa in countries bordering Thailand is usually not successful. Most folks return to their 'home'
country for this new visa. With the advent of increasing international security, the issue of visas is
coming under increased scrutiny.
IMPORTANT. A multi-entry 'O' visa does NOT allow you to stay in Thailand for 1 year (a very
common misunderstanding). It only allows you to VISIT Thailand multiple times WITHIN a 1 year
period. Only a 'retirement extension', or a 'spousal support extension', allows you to STAY in
Thailand for 1 year, and is available in Thailand as an ADD-ON to an 'O' visa.
A MULTI-ENTRY 'O' visa simply allows you to VISIT Thailand, for up to 90 days, AS MANY TIMES AS
YOU WISH in 1 year. VERY DIFFERENT!
At the expiry date of EACH entry of a 'multi-entry' type you must leave Thailand. It is designed for a
frequent traveller to Thailand, not a resident. You will find the date you must LEAVE Thailand
stamped in your passport on arrival in Thailand, (probably next to the blue/white TM6 departure
card stapled to a page).
You don't have to return to your 'home' country if you have this 'Multi-entry O' type of visa, you just
need to 'leave' Thailand, make a day-trip to Cambodia (or any neighbouring country - Burma, Laos,
Malaysia), thus activating another of the 'multi-entries' available with this 'multi-entry O' visa.
Thriving 'Visa Run' businesses exist in many tourist areas, some in the Pattaya area give PEC
members a discount. They are legal as they only take you to a border & give advice. They cannot
get a visa for you - you must do this in person.
One last point. All visas are for visits to Thailand, and specifically exclude WORKING in Thailand
without a 'work-permit'. There is no exception to this rule. A 'work-permit' is required to WORK in
Thailand and may be available if you qualify. A 'work-permit' is available only from a 'Labour Office'
in Thailand - not from an Embassy or Consulate.
Since June 2006 it is possible to upgrade a 30-day entry stamp (or a Tourist Visa entry stamp) (or
a Non-Imm 'O' Visa entry stamp) into a full 1 year extension for qualifying nationals at certain
Immigration offices. This would (for example) allow you to get a 1-year extension for 'retirement'
purposes, provided you qualify for all the steps (see below). Currently only major Offices can
achieve this in-house, Pattaya's local office at Soi 5 Jomtien, is one that can do this. To apply you
must have at least a week remaining on your current entry stamp, and may take a while to finalise.
If you leave the country during the process it will be cancelled unless you tell Immigration and
obtain a special permit. Your qualifying financial requirements must be maintained during the
whole process otherwise your application will fail. (Note: even if you arrive on a 30-day entry stamp,
you will be allowed to stay for the required waiting period, in order to qualify)
ONE YEAR 'EXTENSION' FOR A NON-IMMIGRANT 'O' VISA.
When in possession of an 'O' visa (either single entry, or multiple), if over 50 years of age, or legally
supporting a Thai national, obtaining a '1-year' extension (officially classified a retirement
extension, or spousal extension) is fairly straightforward and can be obtained locally at the
Immigration Office for 1900 baht. This is where the 'money in the bank' part raises it's ugly head.
1. Retirement Extension: In order to qualify for a 1yr 'extension' for retirement purposes, you must
show an official Bank letter confirming a Thai bank statement in the amount of at least 800,000
baht (there is an alternative available - see below). You may be required to show confirmation from
your Embassy as to your 'Wish to retire in Thailand', and (very occasionally) a recent, local, medical
certificate from a government approved medical facility. This minimum Bank balance will need to
be maintained and shown for 3 months prior to the application. (The medical certificate is largely
redundant now and only required if you are deemed to be 'very sick')
The first time you get this type of 'extension' your current 'permission to enter stamp' of 90-days will
be extended by 12 months. Thereafter, renewal is for 1 complete year periods. Although an
application for this type of extension may be problematic the first time (proving your qualification),
upon expiry a repeat extension for one year at a time will be granted to this group of people as long
as they continue to meet the requirements as earlier stated, but is at the discretion of the
immigration department. Each further extension currently costs 1900 baht/year (September 2008),
provided you continue to qualify, without the need to depart from Thailand at any time.
(alternative) Applicants for a retirement visa may use income as part of their financial support
(pension or other guaranteed income), but must get their Embassy to confirm and stamp the
original proof of income documents, and confirm the amount, for later application at Immigration.
2. Support Extension: Financial requirements for issue of a 1 year extension for under 50 years
old supporting a Thai national (by marriage perhaps) is by proven combined annual income for a
couple of a total averaging 40,000 baht per month (proven by tax returns showing salary) +
reasonable amount in a local bank account for day-to-day living expenses. (each Immigration
Office may determine this amount - in Pattaya it can be up to 100,000 baht) The Immigration Officer
looks for regular monthly income, depending on the type of business, and decides if a bank
balance is necessary.
In the case of the first application for spousal support, there will be a delay for Immigration to prove
'income' or 'true marriage' over at least a 3 month period. Each year Immigration may exercise it's
right to do this. Applications are delayed because they all go through Bangkok Central Immigration
We advise nationals over 50 years to choose the 'Retirement' option whether married or not,
as it is much simpler to qualify.
NOTE: if you get a '1 year extension' you must be aware of the consequences of simply leaving
Thailand for a 'trip'. Leaving Thailand will cancel your current visa, and your 1yr extension, and you
would have to start again with a NEW visa in order to enjoy another '1 year extension'.
The way to safeguard your extension is to obtain a separate 'exit/re-entry permit' from your local
Immigration office so that your current extension will be preserved and continue on your return to
Thailand (a one-time use 'exit/re-entry permit' is 1000 baht. A multiple use 'exit/re-entry permit' is
3800 baht. Both permit types expire on the same anniversary date as the '1 year extension').
Exit/Re-entry permits are available in Pattaya Immigration Office. There is also an Office at the
airport in Bangkok that provides this 'Exit/Re-Entry Permit'. You require 2 photos, can be busy
causing a delay. Remember, if you renew your extension early, your existing Re-Entry Permit
becomes invalid, and a new one is needed.
Foreign single women are treated the same as foreign single men. Only when a foreign woman is
married to a Thai man are the rules different. She would then not need to show independent
financial security. And could get a 1-year extension based on 'marriage to a Thai national'.
A foreign man wishing to retire to Thailand, and bringing his (foreign) wife as a Dependant (she is
under 50), would be granted a 'Retirement extension' to an 'O' visa, but his wife would only be
granted a simple 'O' visa which may be extended for the same period as her husband. Only one
800,000 baht would be needed, but she would have to make 'border runs'.
If they are both over 50, the husband is granted a Retirement Extension in his own right, and the
wife is granted a 1 year extension as a dependant. Only one 800,000 baht is required. Both
extensions run with the same dates, but independent trips from Thailand may raise problems.
If they are both over 50 it probably makes sense to apply separately, each for a 'Retirement
extension' to their visa in their own right. This would need 800,000 baht in separate bank accounts
in order for each to qualify. This way one extension is not dependant on the other person.
As they say in Thailand - Up To You!
Best advice is that an application that relies on one person qualifying has less potential future risk
than an application dependant on two or more people.
The experience of many people who obtain visas outside Thailand is that a Thai Consulate is
easier to deal with than a Thai Embassy. Indeed a Consulate will often operate by phone/mail in
your home country.
NOTE: Do not send your passport to your home country for a 'new' visa while you stay in Thailand.
IT IS ILLEGAL, and easily verified by Immigration. The consequences are dire!! You must possess
a current passport when in Thailand, and have it available to show a Police Officer when required.
Passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months upon entry to Thailand (or the total time of an
extension e.g. more than 12 months for a retirement extension).
So, the bottom line is - if you are over 50 years and get the right visa to start with, you can come to
Thailand for about a year (without getting a 1 year extension) before having to return 'Home' to get
another visa, during that time all this will become a lot clearer when you attend our meetings.
During that year you can apply for the 'retirement' extension if you wish. You certainly don't have to
make any irrevocable decisions about visas whilst in your home country, but getting the 'right' visa
to start with can reduce unnecessary travel costs.
The last type of visa available outside Thailand that I will attempt to cover here is designed for
those who want to stay for long periods without the need for frequent 'border runs'. Currently this
visa is available in UK, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Europe, UAE, but may be available
elsewhere. (please let me know if you get one of these in another Country)
O-A (Long Stay/Retirement) Visas - obtained in your 'home' country before coming to Thailand.
(this category should not be confused with the previous visa type)
You must apply for this type of visa only through the Royal Thai Embassy in your country. (Canada,
USA, Europe, Australia may issue O-A visas from certain large Consulates as well - UK currently
If you are unable to satisfy the requirements of the 'O-A' visa in your 'home' country, the only other
option available to you is the non-immigrant category 'O' visa (maybe multiple entry) - see earlier -
which may be extendable for up to a year, when in Thailand. The end result is very similar, but not
[Reports from our members say that obtaining an O-A in your home country is complex &
expensive. Most say they would choose to upgrade a Non-Imm 'O' in Thailand as a much simpler
& cheaper option. The only real advantage is that the financial requirement applies to the country of
application, not Thailand, so your money can stay in your country for at least one more year -
probably at higher rates of interest. But this may well be overtaken by the added cost of preparation
[If you choose the 'O' visa route upgradeable in Thailand - see above]
Basically an O-A is a 'full retirement visa' obtained in your home country, without the need to
upgrade it in Thailand. You do need to show financial standing, medical status, and a criminal
activity report - all in your home country!
An advantage is that you will better understand the requirements for such a visa as the instructions
will be written locally, and the financial requirements relate to a bank account in the country of
application in the first instance. Make enquiries. Be ready to receive conflicting information from
different offices, as a certain amount of variation exists in the interpretation of the rules. Be patient
& 'go with the flow'. Look upon it as 'good training' for living in Thailand.
Sometimes this visa is available as a 'Multiple Entry' type - at added cost. This means it has the
same advantage as a 'Multi-entry O visa' (except that the 90 day stay becomes a 365 day stay) and
if you have this you will NOT need to purchase an 'exit re-entry permit' when going 'in & out' of
Thailand. Not every Embassy is issuing this 'extra' type.
Folk who go this route often comment on the 'hassle factor' in their own country, rather than arriving
with an 'O visa' and upgrading in Thailand. e.g. you don't need a Police report in Thailand. You don't
need to have any documents 'notarised' in Thailand (except income/pension verification). The
medical document is usually not required - a lot less than a full medical check in (say) USA. If you
stay in Pattaya it's all done locally - no long distance travel. Therefore the extra cost involved in
doing this in your own country may well be more than the extra bank interest earned over a two year
period by keeping your money back home, and you do have to bring money here to 'live on' anyway.
The only real advantage to applying in your home country is the 'multiple-entry' aspect (if you can
Some of the many visas mentioned above are available in Thai Embassies in countries adjacent
to Thailand. This availability is becoming less as time passes due to International Security
By-the-way, it would not be helpful to state that you are leaving your country to 'live' in Thailand,
either to the Thai authorities, or to the Embassy or Consulate, as in order to qualify for most of
these visas you will be asked to state a 'permanent' home-address outside Thailand. After all, a 'T'
or 'O' or 'O-A' visa is actually only a 'temporary' (renewable) visa. There is no such thing as a
'permanent emigrant' visa. You would need a 'Permanent Residency Permit' or 'Citizenship' in
order to eliminate the need for a 'VISA' (not a simple procedure here).
Many people ask us "How can I come to Thailand for an extended time (permanently)". Thailand, in
keeping with most other countries, does not allow foreigners to just come and 'live' here, unless
permission is given by issuing a 'Residence Permit'. Under normal circumstances this takes a
minimum of 3 qualifying years. Before obtaining this 'permit', you will be in Thailand only on a
'temporary visa'. This visa arrangement can be terminated at any time by the Immigration Police
and should not be considered a 'right' or 'a way of life'. At best we are 'guests' in Thailand, and can
be asked to leave at any time. Please behave as a 'Guest' would be expected to behave. Do not
transgress the rules of your 'Host'. The laws apply to us all.
CRITERIA FOR RETIREMENT EXTENSION (obtained in Thailand)
Initially you should apply for a Non-Immigrant ('O') visa before you enter the country from a Thai
Embassy or Consulate abroad. Permission will be for 90 days for the first permit (single entry), but
you can apply for a multiple type giving a maximum of a one year stay in Thailand (interrupted each
90 days by a 'visa run' to the border).
NOTE: If you get a 1yr 'extension' (to any kind of Non-Immigrant Visa) you MUST report your
address to an Immigration Office every 90 days or face a fine of 5000 baht + 200 baht a day. (you
may be asked for some 'proof' to support your address)
Requirements for a 1 year extension to an original 'O' visa at an Immigration Office in Thailand:
Completed application form T.M.7
Passport + Copies of passport or substitute document. (Passport must have validity in excess of
Two 4 x 6 cm photos (just one in Pattaya / Jomtien).
1900 baht fee.
Proof of financial status or regular income (such as a pension).
[Letter from your embassy saying you wish to retire in Thailand, and confirming your overseas
income if appropriate. For an applicant who is over 50 years old, proof of a sum of at least 800,000
baht in a Thai bank for the previous 3 months (bank letter) OR an income of not less than 65,000
baht per month must be presented (a combination of the two is often permitted). (Remember
these are 'minimum' amounts.) From Dec 2007 a pension confirmation letter obtained from your
Embassy in Thailand must be accompanied by the original, notarised documents proving the
income - each year.] Embassy costs are in excess of 2000 baht.
The approved extension will ADD 12 months to your 90-day-stay stamp (not replace it, as before).
(For a foreigner married to a Thai national, the financial requirements are different. See below)
With all the required documents in hand, and the bank certification dated within a day or two the
applicant goes to the Immigration office, the one year Retirement Visa is sometimes issued
speedily, or may take up to 3 months for the first time application. This delay is for verification of
your claim for qualification.
NOTE: The bank certificate of account balance (for minimum 800,000 baht) must show that the
money came into the bank from another country at least 3 months prior to application. (The bank
will need to be able to follow the paper trail, or transfer) (It's a great idea to ask the bank for a copy
of the Telegraphic Transfer document to keep as proof of an International transfer, which would be
required in order to re-transfer the money out of Thailand, later)
800,000 baht is the minimum for a man (or woman) over 50 years.
40,000 baht family income per month is required for a man married to a Thai. A Thai bank account
showing a reasonable amount is also required.
The overriding criteria is to satisfy the Immigration Officer that you have 'sufficient' money to live in
Thailand comfortably, without the need to rely on Thailand for support in the event of a big problem.
Being able to demonstrate more than the minimum amount goes a long way. If you have the bare
minimum and no other income, they may refuse. But if you can show the minimum + even a small
regular pension, this will often suffice. They are aware that an 'age pension', or 'company pension'
is ongoing. You will need to confirm an income/pension through your Embassy - remember to
bring proof. The Embassy will notarise the documents. The Embassy proof letter must be issued
each year (no copies allowed now).
PLEASE REMEMBER, if you have permission to stay for a 'long' period (e.g. a 'Retirement Visa'
or 'Work Permit'), you must report to an Immigration Office every 90 days to confirm and
maybe prove your address - or pay a 5000 baht fine + 200 baht a day!
There are other Visa 'types' available, but they are mostly specialised (e.g. Work, Education,
Investment, Religious, etc.). You would normally only need one of these after becoming familiar
with Thailand for some time.
All this may sound horribly complex! But remember, you only need (and can only have) ONE visa at
a time. Decide which type you need, then learn the rules for THAT visa type. It's not really as bad as
Some people even write to complain we don't give enough detail - WOW!
In the UK the London Thai Embassy issues the O-A visa to qualifying applicants by personal
attendance. The UK Consulates will give application details, but refer you to the Embassy for
The Consulates in Hull & Birmingham (UK) have recently updated their websites with very helpful
information on obtaining various visas. Those applicants in UK can download forms for application
by mail. (http://www.thaiconsul-uk.com) & (http://www.thailand-visa.com)
See links for Consulate addresses in the United Kingdom, USA, Australia and Europe.
Also remember - 'Murphy's Law' applies! (not sure if Murphy ever came to Thailand, but I'm sure he
would have loved it!) I sure do!
For individual advice, contact: Darren <firstname.lastname@example.org>
A typical experience of extending a Non-O single entry visa, to a Retirement 1 year renewable in
Pattaya for the first time.
Arrived in Thailand with a 'single entry Non-O visa' obtained from a Consulate in the UK. About 77
days later I did this:-
Day-1. I visited my Thai bank, and arranged to pick up the letter the following day - 200 baht. I
visited Soi 5 Jomtien, picked up an application form TM7 (they insisted I didn't need two), and
asked if anything had changed in the rules in the last month (it hadn't). NOTE: the medical
certificate is no longer required for the retirement extension renewal - August 2007.
Day-2. I picked up the bank letter, noticed the wrong date & got it re-written (do check!) Got 2 photo-
copies of almost everything - 20 baht. Visited Soi 5 Jomtien, and left 45mins later with a 1 year
extension to my non-immigrant-O visa - 1900 baht.
I also registered for the '90-day reporting' stamp at the same time - next visit 90 days later.
I took all the 'house papers' + the owner, but was never asked for them. I was asked how long I
had lived at my address. I was asked to name my parents, and state my previous occupation, and
salary in baht. I showed my Thai drivers licence to prove my address, this was well received.
The 'One-Stop' service system (at Soi 5) is certainly a vast improvement on the 'old one'. I visited 2
different desks as part of the process. Very efficient. The staff were relaxed, amiable, and chatty -
Before I left I picked up form TM8 (re-entry permit), and form TM47 (90-day reporting) ready for later.
And before you ask, no professional help - just another old Farang.
1 TM7 application form.
1 photo 6x4cm.
1 passport + 1 copy of 'face', 'visa', 'entry card (TM6)', latest entry stamp.
1 bank book + 1 copy of 'name', 'deposits & withdrawals' pages.
1 bank letter dated within a few days showing amount in book (no copy needed) 200 baht.
It's a good idea to write down your parents names, and your profession + salary (needed 1st time
Renewals for this extension have been easily completed at 1 year intervals - total time at office 1
hr, and a return trip to pick-up passport later. (if you take the list of items stated above for the
renewal, you will have everything required - renewals only need one photocopy for each original) (if
you take exact money, there will be no problem with change!) NOTE - medical exams & certificates
are no longer required - August 2007.
My last '90 day address confirmation' notification at the Immigration Office on Soi 5 Jomtien Beach
Road took 9 minutes on a normal busy day. (you may be asked for 'proof' of your stated address)
They tell me, soon it may be possible to do the '90 day' notification by Internet. We'll see!
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