How to get a Visa in Thailand for 6 Months
As you probably have realized by now, the information online for getting a Thai Visa for more
than 2 months is unfortunately very unclear. Don't expect the officials at the Embassy's to
know much more than you do . . . It's one of those situations where you ask five
different people, and you get five different answers. And expect to have language communication
problems too . . .
Anyway, no matter what you read or what officials say, this is the actual method
to get a Thai Visa legally for 6 months.
What you need to take with you to the Embassy:
2 passport sized photos
bank statement showing more than $500
Filling Out the Application
Now when you get there, ask for a Visa application to fill out.
Its a fairly short simple form, asking your address, a contact in the US,
your citizenship info, and type of Visa you want.
Mark 'Tourist Visa', and write the number of re-entries you want. Basically,
that number says the number of times you can exit and re-enter Thailand (say,
if you wanted to visit Cambodia or Malaysia, for example). Also, mark
your 'Length of stay' as 2 months, and 'Purpose of visit' as tourist.
Now there are two confusing parts about this. First, the Tourist Visa only
gives you two months. Towards the end of your two months, while in Thailand,
you must go to a consolate and ask for 'a one month extension.' Fee 1,900 baht.
At the end of that 3rd month, you must exit Thailand (most people recommend
going to Laos) to reapply for another Tourist Visa. It can take more than one
day, so be prepared to be in Laos for awhile.
This will give you another two months, and at the end, you can apply for one
more month extension at a consolate in Thailand. In total, this is 6 months.
There is one other confusing part, in reference to the expiration date for the number of re-entries.
Your Visa will expire in 90 days from the day your application is accepted, if you don't
use it within those 90 days. However, while the Tourist Visa doesn't start until
the day you enter Thailand, the re-entries start the day your Visa application is accepted.
For example, lets say you don't procrastinate and apply for your Visa two months before
your trip. You arrive in Thailand, and any unused re-entries expire in one month of arriving in
Thailand. Your Visa isn't expired, but if you need more re-entries, you must go to the
consolate in Thailand and reapply/pay for new re-entries. Each re-entry is $30 additional.
No Return Flight?
Now suppose you didn't purchase a return flight. To get the Visa, you need a return flight,
unless you write a letter stating a good reason why you didn't. For example,
'when arriving in Thailand, I plan to immediately start looking for a job teaching English.'
Of course, when getting the job, you must change your Visa to a 'Non-Immigrant Visa.'
Some officials will insist that you must type it up, while others say you can write it by hand.
I've been told both in the past. It 'must look official, and be longer than just a few sentences.'
And of course signed and dated.
Picking up your Visa
I got my first Visa at the Embassy in New Orleans. There was an American working there, answered
all my questions, and had my Visa ready within 30 minutes. My second Visa however was different,
as I applied for it at the DC Embassy. They told me 'in two days', but it still wasn't ready. A friend
of mine, with the same exact situation, got it within a day. It took a week for it to be approved . . .
Always call to make sure it's ready before showing up, it'll save you a trip!
External Link Misc
How to get a Thai work permit
Multiple entry visa
update, Nov 2009: My most recent attempt to get a tourist visa at the DC Embassy was interesting.
I didn't have a return flight yet, and was explaining my plans. Basically the same as my last
6-month stint in Thailand, so nothing new for me. Been there done that. To encourage tourism, the Thai Tourism Authority
ordered that all visas and an unlimited number of re-entry visas be given out free until March 2010.
Well, the head of the DC Embassy decided, for reasons unknown to the other employees, to only
give out one re-entry and no more. Period. Annoying, as I needed three with my plans, and didn't want to spend
5 hours at Immigration in Thailand to get the other two . . . Anyway, here was the strange part.
The employee leaned over and said 'it shows you've been to Thailand quite often in your passport,
can you explain to me what the Visa regulations are? They never told us how it works.'
Apparently I understand Thai immigration law better than the immigration officials!
update, Aug 2013: The DC Thai Embassy was much more strict with me this time. The lady checking my paperwork
was an angry person who made me feel like a criminal trying to lie my way into her country -
despite me speaking fluent Thai to her. They didn't have me write a letter,
but they had me verbally explain like 10 times why I didn't have a return flight ticket purchased. They asked me to go
online and print out a ticket leaving Thailand, but that it didn't have to be purchased. I guess that proves there
are planes actually flying out of Thailand? Also, they no longer accept cash. You must get a money order,
which can be done for $2 at the post office a few blocks away.