Thinking about heading to Thailand for your gap year? Well, you’ll need to consider the subject of Thai visas first! Luckily, the visa application process for Thailand isn’t really that tough and usually doesn’t even require you to leave the comfort of your own home. On the other hand, you’ve probably not gone through the process before, which is why we’ve compiled this handy resource for anyone looking to get their Thai visa in the near future…
Who Needs a Visa?
Citizens of 49 countries, plus Hong Kong, are not required to obtain a visa before travelling to Thailand, under the Tourist Visa Exemption programme. This scheme includes those from the UK, Australia and the USA. For a full list of exempt countries, please click here.
This exemption means that anyone from one of these countries can simply buy their tickets and turn up, providing they are only planning on tourism and aren’t going to stay for longer than 30 days (entering at a checkpoint from neighbouring countries reduces this time to 15 days). You’ll also need to prove that you have at least 10,000 BAHT with which to support yourself. All other nationalities will need a tourist visa, regardless of how long they are staying for.
When it comes to working or volunteering, all nationalities will need to obtain a visa before travelling to Thailand. There are no exceptions and the visa will need to be arranged before you arrive in the country. There’s more about this further down the page.
Types of Visas
As with most countries, Thai visas come in a variety of different forms – and you’ll have to work out exactly which one you will need to get. Below you’ll find the more common visas applied for by people on a gap year in Thailand, so that you can further understand which one applies best to you.
- Tourist Visa
As already stated, most backpackers won’t need to apply for a tourist visa, as they will be from one of the countries with an exemption. If you plan on staying for more than 30 days though, a tourist visa will be needed. A tourist visa will allow you to remain in the country for up to 60 days, and make sure you don’t overstay, as the penalties can be severe. A tourist visa will cost £25 and it is sometimes possible to extend the visa once you are in the country.
- Non-immigrant Visa
There are loads of different types of non-immigrant visas, designed to suit the specific purpose of the applicant. For backpackers, the most commonly applied for visa of this type is the Category O visa, which allows visitors to the country to participate in voluntary work. If you are planning on teaching English as a way to earn some money (as opposed to volunteering), you will need to apply for a Category B visa. All non-immigrant visas will cost £50. For more information on the different types of this visa, please click here.
How to Apply
Firstly, you need to ascertain whether you need a visa – if you are only going for less than 30 days as a tourist, you probably won’t. If you do though, the process can be done easily, starting by an application form, which can be found here. Once this has been completed, you will need to send it away to your relevant embassy, along with your passport, two passport photos and the fee (please note there’s an extra charge of £10 added to have the passport returned and the embassy will only accept a postal order when applying by post).
It should be noted that if you are applying for anything other than a Category O visa, you will also need to supply some kind of supporting documents. This could come in the form of letters from the volunteer company or a letter confirming employment as an English teacher. Once the documents have been sent away, you should have your application processed within 7-10 working days. You must not apply for your visa any more than three months before you are scheduled to arrive in Thailand.
Visa Refused/Cancelled: What Next?
If you are refused a visa, you should contact the Thai Embassy for advice regarding how to appeal. They will then outline the different options open to you, although the chances of overturning their decision are slim. If your visa is cancelled while in Thailand, you should attempt to make contact with your own country’s embassy for advice. You should always ensure you know the contact details for your embassy before travelling to any country.