UPDATE: New automated visa processing coming soon!
The Thai government announced on 7 September that it will soon be installing automated immigration entry systems into all major international airports in Thailand. The new “Advance Passenger Processing” system will mean passengers avoid the long entry queues normally associated with landing in Thailand and are whisked quickly though immigration based on a scan of their passport and a stamp. The automated entry processing will cost around 50 Bt per passenger.
As a general rule, Thailand is a very welcoming country and is happy to issue tourist visas at entry points like airports, border crossings, etc. But there are some exceptions and limitations to this general rule.
Who can get a visa on arrival?
If you happen to reside in a country that has major problems which lead to people seeking refuge in other countries, Thailand will almost certainly want you to obtain a visa before arrival. Otherwise you are likely to be turned away and sent home.
Passport holders who can be issued with a visa on arrival in Thailand are those from:
- Czech Republic*
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Russian Federation
- Saudi Arabia*
- South Africa
- South Korea
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
* Indicates that you will only receive a 15 day visa on arrival. Other nationalities will receive a 30 day visa.
What do I need to get a visa on arrival?
- Valid passport with at least six months until the expiry date.
- Usually some form of onward travel booking (e.g. return ticket, onward flight ticket)
What if I want to stay for more than 15/30 days?
There is a common practice in Thailand known as a “visa run”. You can find them advertised on boards outside travel agencies and booking agencies all over the country. Essentially, you jump on a bus of some kind and go to the nearest border crossing where you cross the border (leaving Thailand) and re-enter again with a new visa.
There are also longer term visas available for Thailand.