Visas and Work Permits in Thailand

All foreign visitors to Thailand require a visa. Depending on the country of origin, certain nationals who intend to visit Thailand purely as tourists are exempted from the visa requirement and are allowed to stay in the Kingdom for up to 30 days. Such visa exemption is available to foreigners from the following countries:

Australia Austria Belgium Bahrain
Brunei Canada Denmark Finland
France Germany Greece Hong Kong
Iceland Indonesia Ireland Israel
Italy Japan Korea Kuwait
Luxembourg Malaysia Monaco Netherlands
New Zealand Philippines Portugal Qatar
Singapore Spain South Africa Sweden
Switzerland United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States of America
Norway Oman Peru Vietnam
Czech Republic Liechtenstein Poland Slovakia

The exempted stay can only be extended in exceptional cases by a maximum of 15 days.

Foreigners entering the Kingdom at the immigration checkpoints which border neighbouring countries, will only be allowed to stay for 15 days each time, except Malaysian nationals who cross the border from Malaysia whose granted period of stay will not exceed 30 days each time.

Further Thailand concluded agreements with countries on the exemption of visa requirements for holders of ordinary passports. Nationals of the following countries are permitted to stay for a period of not exceeding 14, 30 and 90 days respectively in the Kingdom:

Cambodia (14 days) Hong Kong SAR (30 days) Laos (30 days) Macau SAR (30 days)
Mongolia (30 days) Russia (30 days) Argentina (90 days) Brazil (90 days)
Chile (90 days) Republic of Korea (90 days) Peru (90 days)

Nationals from certain other countries who intent to visit Thailand purely as tourists will receive upon arrival a so-called "visa-on-arrival" valid for a stay of not more than 15 days. Such "visa-on- arrival" can only be extended in special cases such as illness. Nationals from following countries are eligible for a "visa-on-arrival":

Bhutan China Cyprus India
Kazakhstan Latvia Lithuania Maldives
Mauritius Saudi Arabia Uzbekistan Ukraine
Ethiopia Hungary Estonia Taiwan
Bulgaria Andorra Malta Romania
San Marino

Foreigners who want to stay in Thailand for other than tourist purposes require a non-immigrant visa. If such foreigner intent to engage in employment or business activity, such foreigner requires in almost all cases a work permit.

In any case, if a foreigner intends to stay for longer than 30 days in Thailand a visa has to be applied for. There are different types of visas issued by the Royal Thai Embassy or Thai consulates. The maximum permitted length of stay depends on the particular type of visa.

The individual visa categories are as follows:

  1. Tourist Visa Travelers who intend to stay in Thailand for tourist purposes for more than 30 days, can apply for a tourist visa at Thai embassies or the relevant Thai consulates. The validity of such tourist visa is 60 days from date of entry.

  2. Non-Immigrant Visa If the foreigner visits Thailand for a specific purpose, then a non-immigrant visa can be requested from the Thai Embassy or the relevant Thai consulates. This kind of visa allows the traveler to stay in Thailand of either up to 90 days or up to one year. For certain purposes, a longer stay is allowed.

There are several different types of non-immigrant visas. The most frequently used non- immigrant visa types are:

  • Business "B": A non-immigrant visa type "B" is required to apply for a work permit in Thailand.
  • Others "O": A non-immigrant visa type "O" is required in its form "type O-A" for a long term stay in the Kingdom for foreigners at 50 years of age and more and is therefore commonly known as "retirement visa".

Work Permits

Every foreigner working in Thailand requires a work permit. Work is defined in Section 5 of the "Working of Aliens Act B.E. 2551" as "engaging in work by exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits;".

A pre-condition for the application of a work permit is that the applicant is the holder of a non-immigrant visa type "B" or residence permit.

The work permit will be approved only for certain defined work for a certain defined employer and certain defined place of work.

Working without a work permit is subject to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding five years and/or a fine from 2,000 Baht to 100,000 Baht.

Any work outside the approved scope or place of work is not covered by the work permit is subject to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand Baht.

For further Visa and Work Permit information please contact DUENSING KIPPEN, Phuket’s leading law firm specializing in Thai Property Law.