THAILAND VISA ON ARRIVAL- EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW

Hello fellow travelers, since my last post A 3-DAY TRIP TO PHUKET , I’ve received a lot of queries from my fellow reader regarding the procedure of Visa on Arrival in Thailand. In this article you will read the detailed procedure, the documents that you need to carry and the eligibility and other requirements that you need to fulfill in order to get a Visa on Arrival in Thailand. The list of countries eligible for Visa on Arrival in Thailand is also provided. From this page, you can download the Thailand Visa on Arrival Application Form and get the necessary information for transit passengers, i.e., arriving by international flight at an airport in Thailand and proceeding to a domestic flight. I made this as there is lot of misinformation on the ad-filled forums and blogs. Also please read the FAQs below, I have answered the most common questions there.

Eligibility for Thailand Visa on Arrival

Tourists coming from 19 countries (see list later in the page) are allowed the facility of Visa on Arrival at 42 Check Points in Thailand including Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports. Visa on Arrival is a temporary tourist Visa and entitles the holder to stay in Thailand for a period of 15 days. Visitors who enter Thailand with Visa on Arrival generally cannot file an application for extension of Visa except in special circumstances like illness that prevents them from leaving Thailand, etc.

Documents you need for the Visa

  • Your Passport- 

    Your passport needs to be valid for at least six months from the day you enter Thailand. If you have less than six months validity left on your passport, the airline counter at your home airport (and the immigration guys at your home country) may not allow you to board the flight. Thai visa and the immigration stamps take up one full page so you need at least one empty page.

  • Your boarding pass stub –This is part of the boarding pass that has your seat number and flight details etc. The stub also has your flight number (you need this number to fill in the Arrival/Departure card). The boarding pass is issued to you at your home airport when you check in for you flight. When you leave your home airport, the airline staff at your boarding gate will tear a part of you boarding pass and return the rest to you.
  • Arrival-Departure card:-The flight attendants will distribute this card before the plane lands in Thailand.  The first page is the Arrival Card. Fill all the areas except the part that asks for the visa number. The visa officer who grants you the VOA will fill in the visa number later.

    arrival_form                                                           Arrival Card (Front) 

    The back leaf of the first page has additional questions. The From/Port of embarkation is the city where you started your journey. Next City is the immediate next destination after Bangkok. So if you are going Phuket after Bangkok, then you could write Phuket. If you are only staying in Bangkok and going back to your home city (or the city you started your journey from) then put that city. We were going to Phuket on the same day we landed at Bangkok so we put Phuket as Next city. 

    arrival_form_back                                                            Arrival Card( Back)                                                                The second page of this form asks for your departure flight.departure_form                                                                 Departure Card                                                        Sometimes, they run out of this card in the plane. You can find this card at the Visa on Arrival counter. At the Thai immigration counter later, the officer will keep the arrival part of this card, and staple the departure part to your passport.

  • Your return or onward ticket or e-ticket printout- Your return date must be within 15 days from the date of entry (visa on arrival allows 15 days, including the date of entry and the date of exit). So say if you enter Thailand on 1 June, you must return no later than 15 June.
  • One recent photograph-Thai immigration website recommends  that the photo be 4 x 6 cm. There is a photo booth nearby that will take your photo for small fee. Make sure that the photo that you use resembles how you look now (don’t use photos from some years back).
  • Visa Form-Completed visa form.You can get this form at a desk near the visa on arrival area or    you can download it from here.
    Fill the part until the signature. Fill in everything that I have marked in the image below.voa

    Make sure that you fill in the section that asks for the address in Thailand. They are very particular about this. Fill in the name of the hotel you are staying at. If I am staying in multiple hotels in multiple cities, I will fill in the hotel where I am staying first (or the hotel where I am staying the longest). If I am staying at a friend or a relative’s place, I will fill in their address.

  • The visa on arrival fee-Visa on Arrival fee of 2,000* Thai Baht to be paid in Thai currency only
    (*Visa on arrival fee will be 1000 THB between December 1, 2016 and August 31, 2017). If you do not have Thai currency, you can get it at the 24 hour money changers near the visa on arrival counter at most Thai international airports. If you are crossing into Thailand by land, better get the money exchanges at the shops in the border towns of the neighboring country.
  • Proof of ability to stay in Thailand-10,000 THB (about 340 USD) per person (if you are a solo traveler) or 20,000 THB per family (people traveling together in one party) . They will not take this money. They just want to make sure you have enough money. This can be in any currency as long as it is equivalent to the Thai currency above. They do not acknowledge credit or debit cards. In Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) airport there are ATMs before the immigration where you can withdraw cash, if you have to.
  • Hotel reservation printout-  They do not list this in the official requirement, but last month one of my friend was asked to show hotel reservations. Though I didn’t encounter this request, If you have already booked your hotels, just take a print out, and keep it with you, just in case they ask to see it. If you are planning to stay with your relatives or friends etc, keep their phone numbers and business cards ready.

Procedure

First of all, look for the Visa on Arrival signs, they will lead you to the Visa on Arrival area.If you arrive on a plane from India or China, most people will be going to that area. Note the money-changers just before the Visa on Arrival Counter.

Walk to the visa on arrival desk. Collect and fill the Visa On Arrival form. This counter is open 24 hours. The official at this counter can usually speak some English and Chinese. Give your photo to this official, and he/she will staple it to your form.

Next, proceed to the queue

While you are waiting in the queue, make sure you have the following documents 

  1. Boarding pass stub
  2. Passport
  3. Completed visa form (with photo attached)
  4. Return ticket printout
  5. Completed Arrival/Departure form

Your documents will be checked at the end of this queue. The officer here  will collect the fee and forward your passport for processing. She will issue you a token with a number on it. Sit down at the waiting area until your number is called by an officer. The officer will come to the waiting area and return your passport with the visa stamped on it. Collect your passport, and proceed to the visa stamping area. There the officer will stamp the entry date on the page that has the visa, staple the departure card to your passport, and return your passport. They will also ask you to stare at a small camera, this takes a photo for their immigration records. Once done, you will find the baggage area just behind the immigration counter.

As a precaution, I always take a picture of the Thai visa and the stapled departure card as soon as I get them back. It helps to have this information if you lose the stapled departure card or passport etc.

img_0538

The above photo shows how the visa on arrival stamp looks like. Note that it takes up one whole page on your passport.

List of 19 Countries Eligible for Visa on Arrival in Thailand

1. Andorra
2. Bulgaria
3. Bhutan
4. China
5. Cyprus
6. Ethiopia
7. India
8. Kazakhstan
9. Latvia
10. Lithuania
11. Maldives
12. Malta
13. Mauritius
14. Romania
15. San Marino
16. Saudi Arabia
17. Taiwan
18. Ukraine
19. Uzbekistan

Frequently Asked Questions

Q. Is it better to take a visa on arrival or should I apply for a visa at a nearby Thai embassy. 

A. If you have smaller children or senior folks in your party, I would recommend getting the visa in advance. Otherwise visa on arrival is fine. You can only apply for a Thai visa at the embassy if you have a residency permit in that country.

Q. Are there other options for getting the Thai Visa in India?

 

A. You can contact the Thai embassy or consulates in India. VFS Global is also able to assist for resident of select cities. See http://www.vfs-thailand.co.in/

Q. Is it fine if I show my bank statements, in lieu of the spending money?

 

A. It purely depends on how strict the visa officer that is handling you is. Often, they do not even ask you to show this money, but don’t take chances. My adage is always do exactly what they say on their official visa on arrival rules mentioned at their Visa on Arrival pagehttps://extranet.immigration.go.th/voaonline/voaonline/VoaonlineAction.do. If you check that page, you will notice that they do not mention bank statements. If the visa officer ignores your bank statements and insists on seeing the spending money, you will spend time arguing with her, and the people in the queue behind you will get angry. I am sure you are planning to take some USD (or INR etc.) to spend in Thailand, just show this money. Having said that, I guess there is no harm in carrying a bank statement printout. 
Q. Do we need to show a marriage certificate to prove that we are a family
A. You do not need any documentation to prove that you are a family. Thailand is not that fussy. Having said that, it is a good idea to carry a photocopy or a digital copy of your passport and other travel documents just in case. I keep a scanned copy on on Dropbox. This way, even if you misplace your passport etc, you will have some backup to show your embassy and get an emergency passport.
Q.  Are the counters open 24 hours?
The counters are open as long as they have international flights at that particular airport (or as long as the land border is open).
Q. Can I enter Thailand via one VOA point and exit via some other point?
Yes. You can enter from any VOA post. You can exit from any border post, same as your point of entry or different, even if the exit port does not have VOA. 
Q. Do I need to take VOA for kids below a particular age?
Yes, every member of your party, irrespective of their age, needs a VOA. You’ll have to pay the full VOA fee even if the applicant is a cute little baby. Each traveler, even minors need to have the VOA form filled. You can sign on behalf of younger children. 

Any other questions, you can ask in the comment section below or drop a mail at nandan_jha07@hotmail.com. I will try to reply within a day or two. Have a good trip.

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