Thai Visas for UK citizens & the western world
If you are a UK citizen wishing to travel Thailand, you will require a visa.
Depending on your planned length of stay, there are a few options.
If you only require up to 30 days, you can be granted a Visa on arrival, the cost is 1900Baht (around £45). You must leave Thailand on or before the specified departure date.
Exiting the country will then allow you to re-enter again under the same terms, repeated.
If you already know you will spend more than a month in Thailand & want to make life easier on your travels, you can apply for a 2 month Visa from the Thai Embassy in London, before leaving the UK.
This visa grants you 2 months from the date you arrive into Thailand, with an optional 30 day extension available too, simply by going to the local Thai immigration office. Most MAJOR cities have one, but if you are going off the grid, be sure to check your visa validation & get your extension granted first.
it’s a straight forward process gaining a 30 day extension on a 2month Visa, you will need a passport photo, a photocopy of your passport & a photocopy of the visa stamped page, details of where you are staying & a reason for the extension request.
Cash in local currency to cover the fee is also required, a 30 day extensions is 1900 Baht.
Check the individual immigration office opening times on the Thai embassy website, but most open at 9am, arriving early will see that you get seen quickly.
You’ll fill in the appropriate form for the extension request & the get in line for it to be checked.
Once the paperwork is checked & taken, you’ll be shown into a waiting room, expect to be here for an hour or two, possibly more.
Friday’s are busiest due to it being the weekend & some people leaving it until the last minute.
Once you’ve had your passport stamped with the extension, you are free to go.
Want to stay even longer?
If after three months, you wish to spend more time in Thailand, you must leave the country. Neighbouring countries that are often uses for ‘Visa runs’, are Malaysia & Laos.
There are companies that set up specific trips to Laos, just for a Visa run, they will take you there & back!
But if you want to make the most of a trip out of the country, spend some time there rather than using a visa run tour.
For UK citizens, Laos charges around £30 for a 30-day visa on entry (regardless of staying one day or 30!). Malaysia grants a free 90 days on arrival Visa.
If choosing Malaysia, Penang is a great spot to explore, the world heritage site, Georgetown, is a popular location.
With its history & art drenched walls, it’s worth the extended trip.
There is a Thai embassy office in Penang that is easily accessible.
Heading to a Thai embassy when out of your home country & requesting another 2 month visa is a fairly straight forward process,
just be prepared to explain why you want another visa AND provide your onward travel itinerary.
This could be a flight out of Thailand, for example.
The cost of another 2 month Visa is around £45. Again, this can be extended for another 1900Baht at an immigration office in Thailand too.
You can repeat this sequence up to 3 times in a 12-month period. Which if timed right, could see you have up to 9months of the year travelling Thailand.
Avoid over staying your visa or face a daily fine! 500Baht per day will be charged upon your exit, with a maximum 20,000 Baht penalty.
There is also a risk of being denied re-entry for overstaying & repeat offenders.
Not from the UK?
Each nationality will have it’s own unique visa requirements but most westerners will be granted a 15- 30 day on arrival visa at the cost of 0- 1900Baht.
Visa runs can be done just the same as UK citizens but 2month visas are only available for certain nationalities, checking the official Thai embassy website will clarify your allowance.
Your passport is required to have at least 6 month validity at the time of entering Thailand, no visa is needed if your planned stay is less than 30 days.
You can arrive into Thailand via an international airport & be granted a visa exemption of 30 days, this is free of charge but can only be done twice in the space of 12 months, via land or air.
Other types of visas
In addition to tourist visas, education visas can be granted if you wish to spend longer in Thailand to study.
A common choice is to learn Thai language & sign up to a year course, obtaining an education visa is fairly straight forward & will allow you a stay without having to do multiple visa runs & trips to immigration. (Providing your visa is obtained outside of Thailand, ideally in your home country).
If you fail to get the visa before entering Thailand, the cost will be higher & a little more complicated, but is certainly possible!
Besides learning Thai, many people come to Thailand for a TEFL course (English teacher), again, education visas can be granted for these as you are here to study!
Volunteer visas are also available, if you plan to do voluntary work, there is a special type of visa just for this, depending on your length of stay.
Its always best to plan & arrange your Visa for Thailand before you leave your home country, be it a tourist visa, an education visa or a volunteer visa. But if you don’t, things CAN be arranged on arrival in most cases, it just comes at a higher cost & a little more effort!
The immigration offices, located is most major Thai cities have all the information you need, as does the embassy website & many chat forums.
It’s always best to speak with someone or gain advice from those that have done it before, getting little tips can often save time & potentially money too!
Don’t get sucked into a third party doing things for you if you can help it, as there are many scams & often it’s such a simple process for you to do it yourself!
It’s easy when you know how!