Thailand visa and entry requirements for UK passport holders 2015

Every year a growing number of Brits leave the damp shores of the UK for the tropical delights of Thailand for a short stay, a long stay or even, in some cases, a life-long stay. This guide summarises the entry requirements that Thailand requires of visitors from the UK. To be precise, the guide is written for holders of a full British passport. It's not for British Overseas Passport holders, for which the requirements are different in some areas.

Some prices are in Thai baht.. £1 = approximately 53 baht (Nov 2015)

Bupparam Temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bupparam Temple, Chiang Mai, Thailand | Source

Short stay tourism

If you're visiting Thailand as a tourist and intend staying no more than 30 days, you don't need a visa as British passport holders qualify for entry under Thailand's 'visa exemption scheme' (also known as the 'visa waiver scheme'). If you arrive by air, you'll automatically be given entry for up to 30 days. If you arrive overland from any of the neighbouring countries: Malaysia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar) or Cambodia, you'll be allowed to enter for up to 15 days.

Entry Conditions


It's a requirement of the visa waiver scheme that you are in possession of a return ticket. In addition, although it's very rare, you may be asked to show that you have enough money to support yourself during your stay. Currently, it's 20,000 baht (£400) or 40,000 baht for a family.

Koh Samet beach
Koh Samet beach | Source
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Bangkok

Visas

For other purposes of entering Thailand, you need a visa. There's a wide range of visas available, each type covering a set purpose of stay, and each having its particular requirements that you have to fulfil when applying for one.

You can apply for your required visa in person at any Thai embassy or consulate, worldwide. In the UK, you can apply in person, but can no longer apply by post except via the Royal Thai Embassy in London. Thai Consulates throughout the UK can no longer accept applications by post, you have to turn up in person to make the application.

Tourist visa

To stay longer than thirty days as a tourist, you'll need a tourist visa, which allows you to stay for up to 60 days. Single-entry or multiple-entry visas are available. With a multiple-entry tourist visa, you can arrive in Thailand and be given 60 days to stay, but you can also leave Thailand at any time and return by using your remaining entry or entries. Each time you return you'll be given another 60 days. However the validity period of the visa must still be current at the time of entry. Whenever you get a visa it will be valid from the date of issue for a certain length of time, such as 3 months in the case of single entry visas and 6 months in the case of double and triple entry visas. Your final entry in Thailand must be before the validity period expires. You'll be given your final 60 days from the time of that entry even if the validity period expires before the end of that 60 days period.

Tourist visa costs:
Single entry = £ 25.00, Multiple entry = £125 + £10 processing fee

Note* Double and triple entry tourist visas have been discontinued since November 2015 and replaced with multiple-entry tourist visas. The requirements for a multiple-entry tourist visa are far more strict than they ever were for double or triple entry tourist visas. You need to be in employment and show a letter from your employer confirming your absence from work. If you're self employed. you need to show a self assessment tax return letter from HMRC. You also need to show a recent bank statement confirming that you have at least £5,000. If you can't fulfil all the requirements, you'll be granted a single entry visa only.

Extending a tourist visa
This can be done at any Thai immigration office. It will cost 1900 baht for an extra 30 days. Further extensions are also possible, but you will get less time (7 -15 days) for the same fee of 1900 baht. Most people who want to stay longer will travel to Malaysia, Cambodia, or Laos and apply for a new visa at any Thai consulate. Note that visas can't be obtained from the Burmese border town of Tachileik.

The option to re-enter Thailand under the visa exemption scheme for another 30 days stay (if returning by air) or 15 days (if returning overland) is no longer available. The rule that came into force in August 2014 is that you can't enter Thailand under their visa waiver scheme if you have just completed a stay in the country. Unfortunately, Thai Immigration haven't clarified how long you need to be out the country before that option is again open to you.

This rule was brought in to stop people abusing the visa waiver scheme by constantly crossing and re-crossing the border with one of the neighbouring countries for an indefinite stay in Thailand without a visa.

Chao Phraya river and Thonburi district of Bangkok
Chao Phraya river and Thonburi district of Bangkok

Working in Thailand - Non Immigrant (B) visa

To work or do business in Thailand, legally, you need to be in possession of a non-immigrant 'B' visa. In addition, you'll need to apply for a work permit once inside the country (See the application section below).

The visa forms that you need to complete can be downloaded from the Royal Thai Consulate at Hull. (See the application section below).

Non immigrant 'B' visas cover the following purposes of stay:

Working in Thailand for a Thai company

This is a common purpose of stay among Brits as there's always a demand for native English speakers to work as English teachers (even if they've never previously taught English). You'll require a letter from your new employer along with proof from them that they are a registered language school. Many people find this type of work by first entering Thailand as a tourist. If they find work with a legitimate Thai company, such as an established language school, they can then travel to a Thai embassy or consulate in one of the neighbouring countries, Laos, Malaysia, Cambodia or Myanmar (Rangoon only) and apply for a non-immigrant (B) visa, (which must be applied for outside Thailand).

Working in Thailand for a foreign company

For Brits, this will (usually) be a British company that is sending them abroad to do some business in Thailand. A company letter is required from the company stating reasons for wanting to send employees to Thailand and, if applicable, a letter of invitation from a Thai company.

Working in Thailand as a UK based sole trader (self-employed)

If you're self-employed, you can also apply for this visa.The purpose of stay must be in line with the kind of business that you do in the UK as a sole trader. You need to show evidence that you really are self-employed by submitting part of your application on company-headed notepaper with name address phone, etc. Also supply the address of your website if you have one - It helps.

Single and multiple entries

Non-immigrant (B) visas can be single entry or multiple entry. Single entry visas are valid for three months, and you will be given 90 days entry provided you enter anytime before the end of the three month validity period, which starts from the day of issue of the visa. Multiple entry visas are valid for a year and you can come and go as often as you please. Each entry will give you 90 days. The final entry must be made before the end of the one year validity period, but you'll still get the full 90 days stamp in your passport even if the validity period is about to expire.

Non-Immigrant (B) visa costs:

Single entry = £50.00 - Multiple entry = £125.00

Studying in Thailand - Non immigrant (ED) visa

The non-immigrant (ED) visa is required if you want to study in Thailand. Common studies taken by foreigners in Thailand include, Thai language, Thai cooking, traditional Thai massage, kick boxing and Buddhism.

This visa requires a letter from an established school or learning centre. This is also the type of visa required for anyone taking part in a work study/observation project or a seminar.

Democracy Monument, Bangkok
Democracy Monument, Bangkok

Visiting family in Thailand - Non-immigrant (O) visa

This is the type of visa to get if you have a family relationship with a Thai person or persons residing in Thailand, and you want to visit them. It can also be issued to people under the age of 20 who have a family relationship with a non-Thai person residing in Thailand.

This visa is also used for other purposes such as applying for residence through marriage to a Thai resident, or retiring in Thailand.

Non-immigrant (O) visa costs
Single entry = £50 - Multiple entry = £125

Retiring in Thailand - Non Immigrant (OA) visa

If you want to retire in Thailand, you can first apply for a non-immigrant (O) visa, then apply for the retirement visa while in Thailand. It will be valid for one year and there's no requirement to leave Thailand every 90 days. You still have to report to immigration every 90 days, though, to report your address. You can renew the visa every year while in the country. To be eligible, you need to satisfy the following requirements:

  1. You need to be at least 50 years old.
  2. You need to show you have enough money to support yourself. Currently the amount required is 800,000 baht, (£16,000) deposited in a Thai bank for at least three months prior to the application OR a regular income from home of 65,000 baht per month (£1,300) OR a combination of both.
  3. No criminal record in the UK. (Subject access report from UK police required to prove this).
  4. A certificate of health completed by a Thai doctor.

If your application is successful, the non-immigrant (O) visa will be upgraded to a non-immigrant (OA) visa. (Retirement)

Alternatively, if you want to apply for it in the UK, it must be done via the Royal Thai Embassy in London in person or by post.

The forms are available from the link below


Visa application forms

Download the application forms for whichever type of visa you require from the Royal Thai Consulate in Hull by clicking the link below:

http://www.thaiconsul-uk.com/visas-downloads.php

For information on how to obtain the work permit, which is necessary in addition to the non Immigrant (B) visa for those intending to work in Thailand, click the link below.

http://www.siam-legal.com/Business-in-Thailand/thailand-work-permit.php

Credit: All images by chasmac

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