The Thai Visa and How To Get One
There are two problems here that many people confront when traveling to a new country for an extended period of time:
- What is a visa and why do I need one?
- How do I get a visa? It seems complicated!
These two problems can be easily solved if you just put in a little research, but LUCKILY you are reading this and I've done the research for you. I had the very same question when I first traveled to Thailand. Each country has different rules, that goes for the country of origin and the destination country. A visa a document that is placed inside your passport to allow you to stay in a country for a period of time. For many people traveling to Thailand for tourism you do not need a visa if you will only be in the country for up to 30 days. So lets break this down.
#1 Traveling to Thailand as a paid teacher and receiving a visa on arrival
When you book your flight to Thailand, knowing that you are going there to work, you have two options: you can fly into Bangkok and receive a visa on arrival OR apply for a tourist visa before you depart. Check out Global Teaching Adventures' website for visa information for paid teachers here; it lists the visa requirements and gives detailed information on the visa process. If you receive a visa on arrival (aka entry stamp in your passport), your visa will only be valid for 30 days. This is what I did and it made me feel a little unsure of what happens next, but this is when you have to remind yourself that things work differently in other parts of the world. Your school will likely NOT issue you a work permit within those 30 days for several reasons; one reason is because they want to be sure you are a good investment. Work permits are expensive and some people that go abroad to teach find that they do not like the experience and leave within the first month or change schools. This means you must get an extension before the 30 days is up and this can be done by traveling to an immigration office in Bangkok. Check out this website and scroll down to number six for the address and name of the office, at Thai Visa. You will receive an extension for approximately 30 days, but this may vary depending on port of entry and your native country. If you still do not have a work permit after receiving an extension then you will take a visa trip. This is unnerving for some but it can be a great adventure. Luckily, I was introduced to a very helpful company called, Meesuk Travel. It was an awesome experience. They spoke English and picked me up near my apartment in Bangkok, drove me to the boarder of Laos and Thailand, and took care of the entire visa process. The cost was about 6,000 baht ($200 USD) for the three day trip, but this included travel, visa application, visa costs, hotel accommodation, and meals (breakfast and lunch). I believe the cost is totally justified for the convenience and ease of experiencing your first visa trip.
#2 Apply for a tourist visa before you depart
This option can be applied to paid teachers or people traveling to Thailand for more than 30 days (like Global Teaching Adventures English Camp volunteers). Applying for a visa before you depart is a relatively simple process and for Americans, costs about $40 USD. There are a couple of other useful websites to check out that have helped me to figure out this process, you can view one of those websites here. You will have to fill out an application form which can be found here. You will need your passport, 2 passport photos, copy of your most recent bank statement, and a flight itinerary. For the most up to date information please check out the Royal Thai Embassy website as rules have changed over the years. This will allow you to stay for up to 60 days and then you can receive an extension for 30 more days by visiting the immigration office. So if you are planning on staying for a few months then this is the best option. One thing to note is the validity of your visa, if you apply for a visa before you depart, it must be used within 90 days. The validity of your visa is different from your period of stay. The period of stay begins the day you land in Thailand. So if you have received a tourist visa you must land in Thailand within 90 days, but then you have 60 days from the day you land to receive an extension. So make sure you do not apply for your visa too soon, but also give yourself enough time to mail in the required documents and receive the visa back in time before you depart.
I hope that this was helpful, comment below if you have any questions. I would love to give more advice and read about your experiences!
Note: visa requirements and rules change often and recently Thailand has updated their visa entry rules, some websites will state that your tourist visa is valid for 90 days if applied before your departure, this may be a new rule and would be very convenient for travelers, check out Global Teaching Adventures Facebook page to view current events in Thailand and receive quick responses on questions for traveling to Thailand.
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- Johna Hunger