Thai Tips • What Visa?
Thailand and the Dreaded Visa – Aaaargghh!!
Steve Williams | Co-Founder
Whether you’re an international jet-setter or a newbie backpacker, one thing you’ll have in common is that to enter Thailand, as with most other countries, you need permission from the immigration department of that country. This can come in the way of a simple stamp in your passport at the international airport Passport control, or by way of a pre-applied for visa. Whatever way you do it, this is both a worrisome and stressful period as without one or the other, you won’t be getting in!
Thailand was once a country where visitors could stay for months on end by ‘working the system’ and obtaining back-to-back visa’s or entry stamps. But alas, not anymore. Recent changes with the political system have had a momentous knock-on effect to other departments including the Royal Thai Immigration Department. This is a very confusing time for all visitors to the Kingdom and ex-pat’s alike. Those foreign visitors in Thailand on something other than the absolute correct visa are in for a very worrying period of time as ‘cheating’ the system can lead to deportation, a prison stay, heavy fine or all three, but in almost all cases that foreigner will be blacklisted from returning from returning to Thailand for a period between 1 and 10 years!
Let me be clear, this blog hasn’t been written to put anybody off coming to Thailand, far from it! This has been written to help you understand the new rules and to ensure that you arrive in theKingdom with the correct visa in your passport so that you can enjoy your stay without worry.
To help you understand this blog a little more, I will define the two main tourist visa points –
- Most foreign visitors to Thailand can enter for free for up to 30 days by receiving a tourist ‘stamp’ in their passport at the international airport of their arrival. This is not a visa. This is purely the immigration accepting you in to the country as a visitor/tourist.
Any visitor who exceeds the stay of 30 days without extending or replacing that stamp will be fined 500 Thai Baht for every day they exceed the departure date.
It is possible to extend the tourist stamp within Thailand at an official immigration office. Right now the cost to do so is 1,900 Thai Baht to extend for a period of 7 days. However, it is my understanding that from August 29th 2014 tourists will be able to extend this to a maximum of 30 days for the same cost. A little piece of good news! BUT, if you’re planning to be in an area of Thailand that’s far from an immigration office at the end of your initial 30 day period, you may have to take a full day out of your trip to visit the immigration office. This could be expensive, time consuming, annoying, or all three!
To extend your tourist stamp you will need to prove that you are a tourist by showing hotel bookings (if possible) and also your return flight ticket.
A list of those nationalities who are eligible to enter Thailand on the free 30 day tourist stamp can be found here – http://www.thaiconsulatela.org/service_visa_detail.aspx?link_id=28
- The VISA! There are many types of visa available for entering Thailand. However, just because you want it, doesn’t mean you can get it! For most purposes the Tourist Visa is the way to go. This allows eligible foreigners to enter Thailand for up to 60 days at a time. They can also be applied for with single or multiple entries. A multiple entry visa means that if you wish to leave Thailand and enter a neighbouring country for the purpose of tourism, your visa won’t be cancelled and you can re-enter Thailand without trouble. The single entry version means that you if you leave Thailand, you will re-enter on the free tourist stamp as your tourist visa will be cancelled. It is also possible to extend a tourist visa at an immigration office in Thailand but, as with the tourist stamp, you will need to prove that you are indeed a tourist.
The other option for entering Thailand, and especially for anybody wanting to volunteer, is to obtain the visa called the ‘non-immigrant Type O’ visa. To apply for this you will need to prove who you are, why you want the visa (for volunteering purposes) and with whom you will be volunteering. That volunteering organization should also be willing to supply you with various documents that will prove to the Thai Consulate or Embassy at which you’re applying, that they are genuine, registered and guarantee your application. At The Bamboo Project we are more than happy to supply you with everything you need to apply for this visa.
The ‘non O’ as it is nicknamed, can give you entry to Thailand for up to 90 days and is available in the single or multiple entry formats. The more ‘extras’ you want from your visa, the more it will cost you.
One of the biggest reasons these new rules have been put in place and are being enforced is to stop those who are in Thailand illegally, have no visa, are working without the necessary permits or are otherwise cheating the system. As a genuine tourist you would have absolutely nothing to worry about and your stay in Thailand would go as smooth as silk.
The most important thing to remember with all visa applications is that you must apply for this in your own country BEFORE you leave to travel to Thailand. Give yourself as much time as possible to make the application and please contact the Consulate of Embassy with any and all visa related questions. Each Embassy and Consulate has their own way of doing things and in many cases the paperwork required to support your application differs from country to country.
It is imperative that you arrive in Thailand with the country visa. This will make the whole arrival and stay experience far less worrying and stressful. After all, you want to come to Thailand to relax, have fun and not worry about official paperwork. Take some time to do some research about which visa works best for you because it will be worth it in the long run. In almost all cases, answers to visa questions, forms you need to download and other useful hints and tips can be found on the internet.
The visa application rules have changed so please update yourself to avoid any unnecessary confusion and hassle.
Here at Bamboo we love to embrace a challenge, help our volunteers, and make sure you guys have the best time of your life! So pick up that laptop and email us today to begin your Bamboo Adventure!