This is a round-up of Thai visas and passport regulations for anyone embarking on a tour of, or short break in Thailand and does not pertain to long-stay visitors or ex-pats.
Although in so far as most nationalities simply receive a 30-day stamp on arrival and you can dispense with visa on arrivals, e-visas etc, etc in terms of the small print and variations to the rule Thailand has some complex rules and regulations and there are still a few details to watch out for plus various bilateral arrangements between Thailand and other nations do throw up a lot of anomalies. Firstly, 6 months passport validity is required and while we can’t find any specifications regarding the number of blank pages, as usual in these parts, you’re better off with at least 2 available.
The following nationalities benefit from a visa waiver or exemption scheme and passport holders will automatically receive 30-day stamps on arrival at any Thai international airport: Australia, Canada, UK, US, certain EU countries plus citizens of other ASEAN member states. Generally, citizens of western and central European EU countries are included while those of some newer, particularly eastern EU nations aren’t. Conversely, several South American nationalities receive 90-day visas so do check in advance. A full visa exemption list can be found here. Note this is a visa waiver and not a tourist visa.
If arriving by a land crossing then the situation gets more complicated and regulations do change frequently. Normally most above nationalities are also entitled to a 30-day visa exemption stamp while other passport holders will receive 15 days though the latter is again worth checking in advance. Commonly used land crossings for the purposes of our tours would be Tachileik/Mae Sai (from Myanmar), Poipet/Aranyaprathet and Prum/Ban Pakard (from Cambodia) and Vang Tao/Chong Mek for Ubon (from Laos). The nitty-gritty also varies from one land crossing to another – some of which may be very little frequented by foreigners – so to be on the safe side have passport photos and photocopy of your main passport pages to hand.
Importantly, and this can, in theory, go for airports too, you may be asked for proof of onward travel and proof you have sufficient funds for your stay. We reckon these are more aimed at long-stay visitors and though we haven’t come across either rule being applied to casual tourists they are specified on the Thai immigration site and they do have these rules in their armoury.
If you’re not covered by any of the above or have any doubts or if you intend to stay more than 30 days then you will need to apply in advance for a Thai tourist visa. The validity of single-entry tourist visas is generally 60 days but again can vary depending upon nationality and you need to make an application at your nearest Thai embassy. (Cost is approximately $30 or equivalent in local currency.) If you are planning on exiting and re-entering Thailand more than once then you can also apply for a multiple entry tourist visa costing approximately $150. (Precise costs and waiting time vary from one embassy to another.)
Visa on arrival
Furthermore, citizens of states not covered by the visa waiver system can also apply for a visa on arrival at an international airport. This is a 30-day one costing 2,000 baht payable in Thai currency only. Again you may be asked for proof of onward travel and funds.
The above can be construed as unnecessarily complicated and furthermore regulations do change on a regular basis so again, please check beforehand if you’re not a passport holder from one of the usual suspects Canada, France, Germany, UK, et al. We have in the past come across smaller Thai embassies providing inaccurate or out of date information and anecdotal travellers’ tales are – well anecdotal – so the official Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs site should, in theory, be your best source.