*Updated April 2023*
Thailand is an absolutely incredible country. The food, beaches, mountains, and especially the incredible people who call this country home are all reasons why over 40 million people visited Thailand in 2019 before the pandemic. However, visiting Thailand means getting a visa, and the country is infamous for its confusing and sometimes difficult visa processes.
Luckily, for many of us there is an easy way to gain access to the kingdom: the visa exemption on arrival!
Contrary to popular belief, the “visa on arrival” that most nationalities receive is not actually a visa, rather it is a visa exemption with its own set of rules and regulations to be aware of!
That’s what we’re going to break down today. What is the visa exemption, who can get it, and how to get it!
So bust out a notebook and your favorite pen (or…your phone) and let’s get to it!
What is a Visa Exemption on Arrival?
The visa exemption on arrival in Thailand allows travelers from 64 countries to enter the Kingdom for a period of 30 days without having to obtain a visa.
However, there are some criteria that must be met in order to qualify for an exemption:
- The visit is for tourism purposes only
- You must have proof of onward travel within 30 days of entering Thailand (flight, train, bus ticket, etc.)
- They may ask for this at the airport upon arrival. If you cannot provide proof of onward travel, you may be turned away.
- You must be able to provide proof of at least 10,000 thb ($290) during your stay in Thailand
- A 1,900 baht fee may also be levied for the visa exemption on arrival
It’s also important to note that travelers get 2 visa exemptions per year when traveling by land border, and 6 exemptions for air travel. As long as you’re flying in, you’ll be all good!
Who Can Get a Visa Exemption on Arrival in Thailand?
The very first thing to be aware of is whether or not you are even able to obtain a visa exemption on arrival, because not every country is part of this agreement with Thailand.
Thailand currently allows travelers from 64 countries to enter the Kingdom under the visa exemption program.
These 64 countries are:
- Argentina (90 days)
- Brazil (30 days and 90 days)
- Cambodia (14 days only)
- Chile (90 days)
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- Korea (30 days and 90 days)
- Myanmar (14 days only)
- New Zealand
- Peru (30 days and 90 days)
- San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
If your country is on the list, then congratulations! You are able to obtain a visa exemption on arrival here in Thailand!
Thailand Visa on Arrival
Travelers from India, China, as well as 17 other countries are able to get an actual visa on arrival. However, these have stricter requirements and are only valid for 15 days instead of 30.
How to Get a Visa Exemption on Arrival in Thailand in 3 Easy Steps
The process for obtaining a visa exemption is just 3 easy steps!
Step 1: Book Your Flight to Thailand and Accommodation
Your first step will be to book everything for your trip. You may be asked for this documentation at the border, and can be turned back if you don’t have it!
It’s also a good idea to print out a hard copy of everything when coming to Thailand. If there’s one thing Thai government officials truly love, it’s paper copies.
Step 2: Book Your Onward Travel Ticket
As mentioned above, you must provide proof of onward travel. This does not have to be a return ticket home, but can simply be a flight, train, or bus ticket to another country.
If you do want to stay longer than 30 days, you can just buy a cheap train or bus ticket to Cambodia and either see Siem Reap or eat the cost (only about $30 on average).
You may be asked to show proof of onward travel (your ticket) upon arriving in Thailand. Again, you are asked but cannot provide it, you can be turned back at the border.
Mai sanook (that’s Thai for “not fun”).
Traveling to Thailand
Now that you’ve got everything together, print it all out and bring it with you. You may be asked for some of this information upon arrival. Much better to have it and not need it than need it and not have it!
How to Extend a Visa Exemption on Arrival
Thailand is pretty amazing, so quite frequently travelers find 30 days to be far too short a time to spend here. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to extend your stay past the 30-day limit!
The most popular (and certain) way to extend your stay is by simply leaving the country and re-entering on a new visa exemption. A short weekend (or day) trip to Cambodia, Laos, or one of the other neighboring countries is all it takes to get a new exemption stamp.
Just keep in mind that you are limited to 2 land crossings per year for the visa exemption.
It is possible to extend your visa exemption one time without having to leave Thailand. You’ll need to make a trip to your local immigration office and bring the following:
- A completed TM7 Form
- Black and white copies of your passport bio page and visa pages
- Passport photos (45mm x 35mm)
- 1,900 baht extension fee
- You may also be asked for a TM30 Form from your place of residence
It’s important to note that many offices will only process 300 extensions per day. Be sure to get in as early as possible to avoid losing a day!
LIVE in Thailand by Teaching Abroad with Destination TEFL
Shameless plug time!
All jokes aside though, if you visit Thailand and end up wanting to stay (plus make a positive impact on the country!) then teaching abroad is an amazing, impactful way to live here.
Our program will help you convert your extension into a visa, which can then be turned into a work permit once you accept a teaching position. We have done this dozens of times and know the ins and outs of this entire process, and will always be here to help you!