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To enter Thailand, citizens of most countries will need a valid passport, or an equivalent travel document if they are a stateless person or refugee.
All passports and other entry clearance documents must be valid for six months after the date of entry into the country. Citizens of most countries will also need a visa to immigrate into Thailand.
It is possible to extend this period for a further 30 days by applying at your local immigration office. These stays, however, apply mostly to tourists. In all cases, you will also need to produce a return or follow-on ticket; otherwise you may be refused entry into Thailand.
Citizens of the above countries wanting to stay for longer than 60 days will always need a visa – as will citizens of all other countries.
Every non-national entering or leaving Thailand also needs to fill in an arrival/departure card. If you have arrived from a country that the Thai government considers yellow fever endemic, you must produce a yellow fever vaccination certificate. else you will be quarantined for six days.
Visas that allow a stay of longer than two months in Thailand are rather ambiguoously known as ‘non-immigrant visas’. These last for an initial period of 90 days and can be either single or multiple entry, with the latter covering a period of a year. Sub-categories include those for work, investment, family members and spouses, and the non-immigrant B visa, for business people, in which case a letter from the company will also be needed. For full details see the Thai Immigration website.
There is also the retirement non-immigrant visa, for those over 50 who want to retire in Thailand and have adequate financial backing. After the initial period on this visa, you will need to apply for an extension of stay.
You must apply for a Thai visa before leaving your home country. A copy of the visa application form is available online in English and Thai. However, you will need to print the form out and post it or deliver it in person to a Thai embassy or consulate. As visa application can take some time to complete, you should apply at least three months before you intend to move to Thailand. Once you application has been submitted, you should allow several weeks before your visa is issued to you.
Whichever visa you apply for, you will need the following documents as a minimum:
Visa fees in Thailand are generally low. Note that visa fees vary widely depending on which country you come from.
As is usually the case, a visa is not a legally binding permit to stay in Thailand, as border control guards have the right to refuse entry for any reason they see fit. A visa only indicates that you have been cleared for entry so far. It is the permission to stay stamp on your passport that demonstrates that you have been officially cleared to enter Thailand. This document gives your entry date and also the date you must leave Thailand.
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