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  • Living in Thailand: What is the Visa Exemption?

    April 15 2014

    What is the Visa Exemption?

    Pursuant to Thai Immigration Law; any foreign citizen who wishes to enter the Kingdom of Thailand is in principle required to obtain a Visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or a Royal Thai Consulate-General prior to entering Thailand.

    There are two exeptions to this principle one of which is if the foreign citizen who wish to enter Thailand comes from a country that benefits from visa exemption status.

    Thailand grants visa exemptions to nationals of countries that have a passport which is valid for more than 6 months at the time of entry and are either;


    (i) nationals of countries which are exempted from visa requirements when entering Thailand for tourism purposes (for a period not exceeding 30 days); or

    (ii) nationals of countries which hold bilateral agreements with Thailand on the exemption of visa requirements (for a period as stated in the bilateral agreement).

    Practically, visa exemption means that an immigration officer will, when you enter the country, apply a stamp in your passport that shows your arrival date and the date when you will have to leave Thailand.

    Note: Visa exemption must not be confused with visa on arrival.

    Note: A visa exemption may be changed into another kind of visas such as non-immigrants visa O or B providing, however, that the applicant file an application with an immigration office to the latest 21 days before the expiration of his visa (i.e you have to do it within the first week of arrival).

    Note: The visa exemption is not the same thing that the Tourist Visa. However the Visa exemption is only granted to foreign citizens national of countries that benefit of the exemption and that come in Thailand for tourism purpose

    Who benefits from the 30-day visa exemption “Phor 30”?

    Nationals of the following countries benefit from a 30 day visa exemption called “Phor 30” (30 days): Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Indonesia, Iceland,  Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Luxemburg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, Britain & North Ireland, and USA.

    Who benefits from the 30 day visa exemption “Phor Phor 30” pursuant to Treaties?

    The nationals of the following countries who have bilateral treaties with Thailand will be granted a 30 day visa exemption called “Phor Phor 30”. They are citizens of Hong Kong, Laos, Macau, Mongolia, Russia, and Vietnam.

    15 days restriction

    Foreign citizens that come by road from a neighbouring country shall obtain only 15 days instead of 30 days of visa exemption. This restriction does not apply to Malaysian citizens who will receive 30 days visa even if they come by road

    How many times can you use the “Phor 30” exemption?

    For the time being there is no limitation on the number of time that you may use the “Phor 30”. But remember that the immigration officer at the entry point may on its own authority refuse you the right to enter Thailand at anytime if he believes that you are abusing the system. However foreigners that have made use of 3 successives visas exemptions by road are now prohibited to leave Thailand by road and have to  leave by plane and come back by plane if they whishes to obtain another round of visa exemption


    The foreign tourist who wish to benefit of the Visa exemption must

    – have a passport or travel document with validity of not less than 6 months;

    – the applicant must possess instrument of means of living expenses 10,000 per person and 20,000 Baht per family accordingly.

    Those who come in without visa can extend the stay for additional 10 days.

    Note: Change of visa status to Non-Immigrant visa ca/n be done providing that the applicant fulfill all the conditions and  have all the supporting documents needed to do so and that he/she file the request for a change of visa withing 9 days after the arrival in Thailand (the visa must be valid for another 21 days at the time of filing the application for a change of visa. Those that  come by road and benefit of the 15 days reduced visa exemption period may not apply for a change of visa.

    Why did the Thai Government tighten visa exemption privileges?

    The government has tightened the visa exemption privilege to prevent abuse. Abuse of  the privilege include the so-called visa runs which some foreigners have been using to extend their stay by taking a bus to the border, checking out of the country and then returning the same day to have their visa exemption renewed. They used to repeat the practice as many times as they wanted, affording them almost unlimited stays in Thailand which was not acceptable for the government.

    What is the 90 days visa exemption “Phor Phor 90”?

    The nationals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Korea (ROK) and Peru are granted a 90-day Visa exemption called “Phor Phor 90” and authorized to stay 90 days without Visas.

    Note that nationals coming from countries that have a treaty with Thailand and who intend to stay longer or to work in Thailand must apply for a Visa at the end of the Phor Phor 90 exemption.

    About the Author:

    The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.


    © Copyrights 2009 – Rene Philippe Dubout – This article may be reprinted if information about the author, the websites, and the URLs remain intact



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