Visa and Immigration Law



All persons, other than those in transit and citizens of certain countries, are required to obtain a visa in order to enter Thailand. Foreign nationals who intend to remain in Thailand to work or conduct business must comply with visa requirements in addition to obtaining a work permit.


A. Visa Categories

The Immigration Act of 1979 as amended in 1980 establishes the following visa categories:

  • Tourist

  • Visitor transit

  • Immigrant

  • Non-quota immigrant

  • Non-immigrant

Nationals of most countries will, without applying for a visa from a Thai embassy or consulate in advance, be given a 30 day-visa, except for those who are eligible for 90 day-visas.  Nationals of some countries who are entitled to the 30 day-visa may be requested by the immigration officials to produce an onward ticket to establish that they will leave the Kingdom within 30 days.


Tourist visas are initially valid for 60 days and are renewable at the discretion of the Immigration Department. Renewals are normally granted for periods of up to 30 days at a time.

Visitor Transit:

Aliens who have obtained a transit visa from a Thai embassy or consulate will be granted a 30-day stay in the Kingdom. Extensions of stay are normally granted for periods of 7-10 days.

Non-quota immigrant:

This category includes, inter alian, former residents who have lost their resident status but who have reapplied to resume their residency and who have been able to demonstrate a convincing reason to support the granting of this type of visa.

Members of the diplomatic or consular corps, aliens coming to perform their duties in Thailand with the approval of the Thai government, aliens performing their duties in Thailand under an agreement between the Thai government and a foreign government, heads of international organizations or agencies operating in Thailand, and dependents of all the aforementioned persons, including private servants of members of the diplomatic corps, are exempted by the Act from the normal visa requirements. 


B. Non-Immigrant Visa 

Aliens seeking a prolonged stay, or those coming to work in Thailand, should obtain non-immigrant visas for all family members prior to entering the Kingdom. There are several categories of Non-Immigrant visas which include, among others, business visa category (B); dependent visa category (O); investment subject to the provision of the laws on investment promotion (BOI IB); diplomatic and consular visa category (D); performance of duties with the mass media (M); performance of skilled or expert work (EX); investment (with concurrence of ministries and departments concerned)-(capital investment IM); study or observation (ED).


Procedures for Extending Temporary Visas


    Extension applications for tourist and transit visas are handled by the Tourist and Transit Section, Sub-Division 3, Immigration Bureau, in Bangkok.

    A tourist visa may be extended for a maximum of 30 days. A transit visa may be extended for 15 days. The following documents are needed to process an extension application:

    passport or travel document

    photograph (2½-inch square)

    outline of reasons for requesting an extension

    The government fee for an extension of a tourist or transit visa is Baht 500.



    Extension applications for non-immigrant visas are handled by the Non-Immigrant Section, Sub-Division 3, Immigration Bureau. Non-immigrant visas vary in length and specified stay. Usually, the extension is for 1 year from date of arrival. In support of an application, the alien should attach the same documents as for Tourist/Transit visa extensions. The processing period for extending non-immigrant visas depends on the type of visa. In general, 2 weeks' processing time is required.


    Business: 1 year

    Capital Investment: 1 year

    BOI: 1 year

    Education Study/Observation: 1 year

    Mass Media: 1 year

    Missionary Work: 1 year

    Scientific Research: 1 year

    Expert: 1 year

    Sports: 1 year

    Others: 1 year

    The government fee for an extension of a non-immigrant visa is Baht 500.


The period of stay allowed is always stamped or written in the passport upon arrival in Thailand. Every alien is responsible for checking his/her passport for the authorized length of stay. Any alien who overstays in the Kingdom is subject to a fine of Baht 100 for each day after the expiration date of the permitted length of stay up to a maximum of Baht 20,000. This fine may be paid at the Immigration Bureau or at the airport upon departure. If an alien cannot or is otherwise unable to pay the fine for overstaying a visa, he/she is subject to detention at the Immigration Detention Center.


Exits may only be legally made at designated immigration control points. The crossing of any border is an exit for immigration purposes, whether or not the exit point is controlled. Thus, forays into neighboring countries are deemed exits (legal or otherwise) and returning to Thailand from such trips is a new entry, requiring proper visas or re-entry permits.



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