Citizens of dozens of countries can enter Thailand visa-free.

This makes it one of the easiest countries in Asia to visit impulsively. Other travelers and visitors on longer trips need a visa, but they're easy and inexpensive to obtain.

There's a lot to see and do in Thailand, and your visa must cover the full period of your stay. Make sure you know the requirements before your trip – read on for the basics.

Thai girl from village in rural of Thailand offering foods to Buddhist monks who going about with alms bowl to receive food in morning by walking across rice field with palm trees
Getting a visa for Thailand is usually straightforward © Mongkolchon Akesin / Getty Images

What you need to know about visas in Thailand  

Entry procedures for tourists to Thailand are very straightforward, whether you arrive by air or overland. Thailand shares land borders with MalaysiaMyanmarCambodia and Laos, and many people zip in and out multiple times on a multi-destination trip around Southeast Asia.  

Many travelers can arrive in Thailand visa-free; the remainder have to apply for tourist visas. For all visa classes, you need a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry, with several spare blank pages. You can be denied entry without proof of an onward ticket and sufficient funds for your stay, but in practice, this is rarely checked. You'll also need to enter an address in Thailand on your arrival card, but again, this is rarely followed up. If you don't have a hotel booked, pick a name from a guidebook or an online search.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees immigration and visa policies; check the website or contact the nearest Thai embassy or consulate for the current rules. The 'Do I need a tourist visa?' section of Thailand's e-visa website is very helpful for identifying requirements based on your nationality.

Visa-free entry to Thailand depends on what passport you hold

Thailand allows visa-free entry for tourists from many countries for stays of 30 to 90 days. The exact list of countries and permitted durations of stay varies, but it usually includes the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, most of Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and more prosperous nations in Asia, South America and the Middle East. 

Some visitors can get a tourist visa on arrival (VoA)

Citizens of some smaller European countries and a handful of destinations in Asia can get a tourist visa on arrival (VoA) for stays of 15 days.  

There are desks handling the paperwork at more than 30 airports and land border crossings. You'll need a recent passport photo, proof of funds to support yourself and tickets for onward travel within 15 days. The cash fee is 2000B (about US$60), payable in Thai Baht.

Backpacker on suspension bridge in rainforest in Thailand
Visa on arrival can mean you don't have to walk the tightrope of bureaucracy © FredFroese / Getty Images

Get a tourist visa in advance from your local embassy or consulate, or online

If you are not eligible for visa-free travel or a VoA, you will need to apply for a tourist visa ahead of your visit. It allows a stay of up to 60 days and is valid for three or six months. Fees and conditions vary; contact your local Thai embassy or consulate for the latest rules.

The Thai government's e-visa process makes applying online a possibility for eligible nationalities. Use the Q&A form to understand if this process is open to you. If it is, you can create an online account and follow the steps to provide all the requested information digitally, paying the application fee ahead of processing. If your application is successful, a confirmation email will be sent to you, which you should print out and show to airline or immigration officials when traveling to Thailand.

Education visas are available for those going to study  

Thousands of travelers visit Thailand yearly for long-term diving training, meditation study, Muay Thai courses, language lessons and more. If that's you, you can apply for an education visa.  

You'll need a letter of acceptance from an accredited education institution showing proof of enrollment on a course, and your passport should be valid for at least six months past the end of the course. The single-entry visas are valid for three months.

Asian woman travel nature. Travel relax. sit work with a laptop the balcony of the resort. View of the field on the Moutain in summer
Thailand doesn't yet have a digital nomad visa © last19 / Getty Images

Thailand doesn't yet have a true digital nomad visa

The closest thing Thailand has to a digital nomad visa is the new LTR (long-term resident) visa. Unfortunately, it's geared toward those with money. Applicants must pay a processing fee of 50,000B (approximately US$1380) and show proof of earning US$80,000 per year (or at least US$40,000 per year if they can fulfill other requirements, such as having a master's degree). They also need insurance covering US$50,000 and must work in a legally registered company that has an income of no less than US$150 million within the past three years. If granted, it allows up to a 10-year stay for skilled professionals who wish to work from Thailand.

Tourist visas can be extended in Thailand

If you run short on time during your stay, tourist visas can be extended for an additional 30 days at any immigration office in Thailand at the discretion of Thai immigration authorities; the usual fee is 1900B. See the website of the Immigration Bureau for office listings.  

Remember to dress in your best when you visit the office; turning up in threadbare beachwear and thongs is unlikely to reassure the immigration officers that you have funds to support yourself for a longer stay.

For all types of visa extensions, bring two passport-sized photos and photocopies of the photo and visa pages from your passport. Always take care of your visa business yourself; if you go through a third party, you'll pay more, and there's a risk of falling for a scam.

What if I overstay my visa?

If you overstay your visa, the usual penalty is a fine of 500B per day, with a 20,000B limit. Fines must be paid in Thai baht, either at the airport or in advance at an immigration office. Kids under 15 are exempt, and if you've overstayed by only one day or your departure is delayed because of circumstances beyond your control (eg a flight cancellation by the airline), you usually won't get charged.

"The visa run" is still a possibility... twice

Another extremely popular extension-of-stay option for travelers eligible for visa-free entry is simply to cross a land border and re-enter Thailand after a few days. A new visa exemption will be issued upon your return.

This typically works well the first two times, but authorities are becoming increasingly strict towards travelers who try to extend their stay indefinitely by popping over the border multiple times; don't expect to be able to come back in if you've already done it twice, and remember that re-entry is at the discretion of the visa agent.

This article was first published September 2021 and updated January 2024

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