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The Kingdom of Thailand is popular with tourists from all over the globe as well as downshifters looking to escape the expensive and humdrum life in the West and money-savvy pensioners.

Visas

EU nationals are entitled to 30-day visa-free stays in the Kingdom while citizens from ex-USSR countries like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan can only stay 15 days. When crossing the border, you will need to provide a return ticket and a passport valid for at least six months after the trip ends. They can ask for additional documents such as proof of funds, (i.e., bank statements or cash) in the amount of THB 10,000 (Thai Baht), or $280, per person per month. For longer stays, you need to apply for a special visa at an embassy.

Common visa types

  • Transit visa: issued for transit through Thailand and for participation in sports events, valid for three months. Transit visa holders can stay in Thailand for no more than 30 days.
  • Tourist visa: issued to tourists and those coming for medical treatment, valid for three or six months. Tourist visa holders can stay in Thailand for no more than 30 or 60 days.
  • Non-immigrant visa: issued for the execution of office, business and investment activities, studies, participation in conferences, residence with family and upon retirement. It is valid for three months to one year. Non-immigrant visa holders are allowed to stay in Thailand for no more than 90 days at a time.
  • Diplomatic and courtesy visas: issued to diplomatic passport holders and foreign citizens who come to Thailand on official state business.

Required documents

  • passport valid for six months after the trip ends (or 18 months for a year visa)
  • completed application

Optional documents (depending on visa type)

  • 4×6 cm photo
  • travel reservations (printed)
  • proof of funds (THB 10,000 per person/THB 20,000 baht per family for transit visas or THB 20,000 for tourist and THB 40,000 for non-immigrant visas)
  • proof of employment
  • letter from a medical institution in Thailand, medical history (for medical tourism)
  • valid visa of the third country in the passport or travel document (for transit visas)
  • invitation to participate in sports events in Thailand (for transit visas)
  • non-immigrant visas require documents such as birth or marriage certificates, notice of admission to an education institution, invitation from a business, labour contract, etc.

Getting a residence permit

Getting a permanent residence permit in Thailand is difficult but the law does not prohibit extending a multiple entry visa. Often foreign citizens extend their visas, living legally in the country for years.

Basic requirements

  • hold a non-immigrant visa that has been extended every year for at least the last three consecutive years (i.e., live in Thailand permanently for at least three years).
  • disclose information on your income, assets, professional skills and marital status.
  • have a clean criminal record.
  • be absent from the list of persons prohibited to enter or reside in Thailand.
  • be proficient in Thai language at a certain level.

Additional requirements by type

  • Investment: you can get a residence permit if you invest at least THB 10 million ($280,000) into a company registered in Thailand, the local stock market or public bonds. You must make annual reports on your investment to the Immigration Commission and hold the asset for at least three years.
  • Employment:
    • be employed by a company with minimum capital of THB 10 million that is registered in Thailand and of benefit to the local economy. The applicant must earn a monthly salary of at least THB 50,000 ($1,400). “Benefit to the economy” includes activities such as international trade or tourism ("supplying" Thailand with at least 5,000 foreign tourists annually).
    • earn a salary of at least THB 80,000 ($2,240) per month for two years before applying for a residence permit or pay annual income tax of at least THB 100,000 ($2,800) to Thailand for the same period. It is also necessary to hold a labour permit for three consecutive years and a job in a Thai company for one year before applying.
  • Family reunification: the applicant must be the spouse, parent or child (under 20 years of age) of a Thai citizen or permanent resident. In order to receive a permanent residence permit for a marriage with a resident, the applicant must have registered the request at least two years prior. The couple must earn at least THB 30,000 ($870) per month.
  • Education: the applicant must hold at least a Bachelor’s degree or a qualification of benefit to the Thai economy.

Getting Thai citizenship

Permanent residents can apply for citizenship. Children born in the country are automatically given citizenship.

Requirements

  • residence in Thailand for at least five years
  • clean criminal record
  • permanent employment
  • proficiency in the Thai language

Requirements such as five years of residence and proficiency in the Thai language proficiency are waived if the applicant is the spouse or child of a Thai national or has previously been a Thai citizen. Children born to parents with Thai citizenship automatically get citizenship regardless of where they were born. In order to obtain Thai citizenship, you must renounce your current nationality.