Entry procedures for Thailand, by air or land, are straightforward: you’ll have to show your passport and boarding pass as well as completed arrival and departure cards. You can be denied entry without proof of an onward ticket and sufficient funds for your projected stay, but in practice this is a formality that is rarely checked.
You do not have to fill in a customs form on arrival unless you have imported goods to declare. In that case you can get the proper form from Thai customs officials at your point of entry. The Customs Department maintains a helpful website with specific information about regulations for travellers. Thailand allows the following items to enter duty-free:
- reasonable amount of personal effects (clothing and toiletries)
- professional instruments
- 200 cigarettes
- 1L of wine or spirits
Thailand prohibits the import of the following items:
- firearms and ammunition (unless registered in advance with the police department)
- illegal drugs
- pornographic media
When leaving Thailand, you must obtain an export licence for any antique reproductions or newly cast Buddha images. Submit two front-view photos of the object(s), a photocopy of your passport, the purchase receipt and the object(s) in question to the Office of the National Museum. Allow four days for the application and inspection process to be completed.
For visitors from 64 countries, visas are not required for stays of up to 30 days.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs oversees immigration and visa issues. There are frequent modifications of visa regulations so check the website or the nearest Thai embassy or consulate for application procedures and costs. The best online monitor is Thaivisa (www.thaivisa.com).
Visa Exemptions & Visa On Arrival
Thailand has visa-exemption agreements with 64 countries (including European countries, Australia, New Zealand and the USA). Nationals from these countries can enter Thailand at no charge without pre-arranged documentation. Depending on nationality, these citizens are issued a 14- to 90-day visa exemption. Note that for some nationalities, less time (15 days rather than 30 days) is given if arriving by land rather than air. Check the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website for more details. Citizens of an additional 19 countries are eligible for visa-on-arrival, which allows for stays of up to 15 days.
Non-immigrant visas are valid for between 90 days and a year and are intended for foreigners entering the country for business, study, retirement and extended family visits. There are multiple-entry visas available in this visa class. If you plan to apply for a Thai work permit, you’ll need to possess a non-immigrant visa first.
If you plan to stay in Thailand longer than 30 days, you should apply for the 60-day tourist visa from a Thai consulate or embassy before your trip. You can also apply for a six-month multiple entry tourist visa, which allows stays of up to 60 days for each entry. Contact the nearest Thai embassy or consulate to obtain application procedures and determine fees for tourist visas.
Visa Extensions & Renewals
If you decide you want to stay longer than the allotted time, you can extend your visa by applying at any immigration office in Thailand. The usual fee for a visa extension is 1900B. Those issued with a standard stay of 15 or 30 days can extend their stay for 30 days if the extension is handled before the visa expires. The 60-day tourist visa can be extended by up to 30 days at the discretion of Thai immigration authorities.
Another visa-renewal option is to cross a land border. A new 30- or 15-day visa exemption, depending on your nationality, will be issued upon your return. Be aware that the authorities frown upon repeated entries to extend your stay and discretion is up to the visa agent.
If you overstay your visa, the usual penalty is a fine of 500B per day, with a 20,000B limit. Fines can be paid at the airport, or in advance at an immigration office. If you’ve overstayed only one day, you don’t have to pay. Children under 15 travelling with a parent do not have to pay the penalty.
Foreign residents in Thailand should arrange visa extensions at the immigration office closest to their in-country address.
Thailand’s Immigration Offices
Remember to dress in your Sunday best when doing official business in Thailand and do all visa business yourself (avoid hiring a third party). For all types of visa extensions, take two passport-sized photos and one copy each of the photo and visa pages of your passport.