Most foreign nationals entering Thailand require a visa, regardless of whether they are in the country as a tourist or looking to reside in Thailand on a more long-term basis. Luckily, the process of obtaining visas for Thailand is relatively straightforward.

Certain documents required by Thai immigration authorities will need to be translated into Thai or English. Furthermore, any document translated into English will also need to be notarised.

Citizens of certain countries are exempt from needing a tourist visa for Thailand for stays of up to either 15, 30 or 90 days. The length of the permitted visa-free period depends on each person's nationality and mode of entry into Thailand.

Visitors wanting to stay for longer periods will have to get a Thai tourist visa. These are either valid for single or multiple entries, and enable holders to stay in the country for a further 30 days. 

To obtain a tourist visa, applicants must present proof of onward travel and proof of funds for the duration of their stay. 

For those who want to stay in Thailand for longer periods and for purposes other than tourism, there are a multitude of non-immigrant visa options on offer. These cover a wide variety of situations including everything from foreigners coming to Thailand to do voluntary work or study to people looking to take up a job offer or invest in the country.

Expats are advised to consult their local Thai embassy for the latest requirements for specific visa types.


B visas

Expats intending to work for a company, do business or teach English will require a B visa. Employers often provide assistance to expat employees entering the country on this type of visa.

It is important to note that expats who want to apply for a work permit for Thailand are likely to require a B visa first.


O visas

O visas are granted to spouses and dependents of Thai citizens as well as foreigners wanting to volunteer in Thailand.

It is also possible for dependents of an expat moving to or living in Thailand to get this type of visa too. Applicants will be required to present birth and marriage certificates to prove their relationship to the existing visa holder or Thai citizen.

Volunteers require a letter of endorsement from the agency they will be working for as well as a copy of the agency's registration certificate.


OA visas

The category OA visa is a long-stay visa for retired people over 50 years old who want to live in Thailand. In addition to the standard requirements, applicants will have to prove sufficient annual funds, as well as undergo criminal background and medical checks.

There is a fairly lengthy list of requirements for this visa, and expats are advised to consult the Thai embassy in their country.

In many cases, an expat’s sponsoring company will apply for a work permit on their behalf. Those who don’t have this type of support may wish to enlist the services of an immigration consultant as the work permit process for Thailand can be quite cumbersome as it involves more than just one government department.

Expats looking to work in Thailand will need to enter the country on a Non-Immigrant Visa. Before they can start working, however, expats must get a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labour. After securing a job, getting the appropriate visa and arriving, an expat would need a work permit for Thailand in order to work in the country.

Once in Thailand, new arrivals should apply for a temporary work permit at the Department of Employment, which oversees the Ministry of Labour. After receiving their temporary work permit, applicants will then have a limited time to apply for a long-term visa called the Extension of Stay Permit at the Immigration Bureau. This permit is valid for a maximum of one year, after which an extension has to be applied for. 

Work permit applications can take weeks or even months to process so it is important for expats to act early, have patience and ensure that their visa does not expire in the interim.