Friday, 10 October 2014

New Thai Tourist Visa Rules: What They Mean for You

Thailand has undertaken several major revisions on its visa system in recent years. One of the net effects of these changes is that Western tourists visiting Thailand are allowed shorter periods of visit but with various options to extend the stay under varying circumstances or conditions. These regulations can be confusing, especially if a visit to the country will be longer than 30 days. Here are some insights shedding more light on new Thai tourist visa rules that can help you during your stay at ShaSa Resort.

File the tourist visa application at your local Thai embassy

You’ll be given an initial 60-day tourist visa if your application is processed at Thailand’s embassy in your home country. Through one of immigration offices in Thailand, this visa can be extended for 30 days for a 90-day total. This 90-day period can still be extended if you make a visa run by traveling to the Thai border with Burma, Laos, or Cambodia, and turning right back to Thailand. You’ll have another 30-day visa extension through this exercise. Under the new Thai immigration policies, you can go on two more visa runs, in effect allowing your tourist visa to be extended up to 180 days. You’ll have to leave Thailand already after this 180 days’ total expires.

The path for a second tourist visa

Once you’ve used up the 180-day extended tourist visa, you can still prolong your stay in Thailand. You’ll need to leave the country too as in the visa run. Your destination this time would be a nearby country which has Thai embassy or consulate where you can file an application for a second tourist visa. Typically, your choices are Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, and Burma. Other options include Singapore, Hong Kong, and Malaysia which is preferred by some travelers because of the friendly Thai consulate staff in Kuala Lumpur. One condition though is you’ll have to stay for a minimum of three days in the Malaysian capital.

Arriving visa-less

First-time visitors in Thailand can stay in the country even without a tourist visa. Their passports will be stamped a 30-day tourist visa upon arrival. They may only have to show to immigration officers their plane tickets for departure from Thailand. 
photo credit: Eustaquio Santimano via photopin cc

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