As opposed to just one option of a regular Visa on Arrival for Thailand in the past, now suddenly there are three options:
- The good old regular Thailand Visa on Arrival
- Online Application for Visa on Arrival, and
- eVisa on Arrival
First let us see the basic requirements which are common to all the three types of visa on arrival:
- Passport with a minimum remaining validity of 30 days, and at least two full blank pages in your passport for visa / immigration stamps (eVisa page of vfs-global says at least 1 blank page, so it’s your call).
- Return or onward ticket for leaving Thailand within 15 days of arrival (day of arrival is counted as one day, so you have to leave on the 15th day)
- Accomodation address in Thailand that can be verified
- a 4cm x 6cm applicant photo (print or digital depending on the mode of application)
- Money to cover expenses in Thailand equal to 10,000 THB per person and 20,000 THB per family
What Are the Three Modes
eVisa on Arrival
You can register and pay for eVisa on Arrival before leaving your home country. Just go to the eVisa on Arrival website: https://thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com/thailand/online/home/index
Citizens of the 21 countries who are eligible for the regular visa on arrival are eligible for eVisa on Arrival too. All requirements are also the same except for the payment of the fee and the extra service charge.
Online Visa on Arrival
You can make an online application for Visa on Arrival on this website: https://extranet.immigration.go.th/voaonline/voaonline/VoaonlineAction.do
This mode lets you do a sort of a registration for Visa on Arrival before you arrive in Thailand. After you complete the online VOA form, you get to print a receipt that has your visa application details and a TRN number. You are supposed to paste a 4x6cm photo on this form. You carry this form to the special Online VOA counter upon arrival in Thailand where they stamp your passport. The VOA fee has to be paid in cash (Thai currency) at the Online VOA counter. The pre-filled online form is supposed to make the process quicker.
Regular Visa on Arrival
This is the original mode where you carry a Visa on Arrival Application Form and other documents to the Visa on Arrival Counter upon arrival in Thailand. The VOA fee has to be paid in cash (Thai currency) at the Online VOA counter. Read details about Visa on Arrival for Thailand here: https://www.desiyatri.com/thailand-visa/visa-on-arrival/
Similarities Between the Three Modes of Visa on Arrival
The most basic similarity between all the three modes of Visa on Arrival is that you get a single entry visa for a total period of 15 days including the day of arrival. For example, if you arrive on 1st April, your return flight must be on or before April 15th.
Other similarities are the passport with minimum 30 days remaining validity, confirmed return/onward journey ticket within 15 days of arrival including the day of arrival, 4x6cm photo, confirmed accommodation address that can be verified, and money to be carried along. Basically, the eligibility for Visa on Arrival is the same for all the three modes of application. So what is the difference?
How The Three Modes of Visa on Arrival for Thailand are Different?
1.Payment of Fee
A. Regular VOA
In case of regular Visa on Arrival, you have to pay the fee of 2000 THB* in Thai currency only at the Visa on Arrival counter at a Thai airport or another point of entry.
B. Online VOA
In this mode, you will find the special Online VOA counter at the Thai airport or another point of entry, present the printout of your online application that has the TRN (Transaction Reference Number) with your printed 4x6cm photo affixed on it, and pay the regular VOA fee of 2000 THB* in Thai currency only at the counter.
C. eVisa on Arrival
IN this mode, you will make the payment of the eVisa on Arrival fee (2000 THB*) along with service charges (600 THB) online on the website of the eVisa on Arrival vendor, print and carry the eVisa on Arrival receipt and go to the special eVisa on Arrival counter at the designated Thai airport or another point of entry. You will get your passport stamped at the counter without paying anything more.
*Thai government has completely waived the Visa on Arrival fee up to October 31, 2019 for citizens of 21 countries who are eligible for visa on arrival. Please see this news story for confirmation:
2. Visa Approval
In all the three modes, upon arrival in Thailand, you have to go to a Visa on Arrival counter first. You cannot go directly to an immigration counter. The difference will be (rather should be) in the time you spend in the queue at the Thai airport before you get your visa stamped on your passport.
A. eVisa on Arrival
The following four Thai airports are supposed to have dedicated counters to stamp eVisa:
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport
- Bangkok Don Mueang Airport
- Phuket International Airport
- Chiang Mai International Airport
Now if you actually find the special eVisa counters on arrival at these airports, your eVisa venture will pay off because the queues for regular Visa on Arrival at Thai airports tend to be rather too long. Why this doubt about the special counters not being open? Well, my experience tells me that you cannot take it for granted in Thailand. I had once completed the process for Online VOA but on arrival at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport, I found the special counter closed. They made me stand the regular VOA queue for more than an hour before I could get my visa stamped.
B. Online Visa on Arrival
As I said in the previous paragraph, you have to go find that special Online VOA counter in the immigration area. And if the counter is there, and they are able to retrieve your online application by using the TRN from the printed receipt you carry, you will probably save some time. They will take the fee in cash, see your documents, and stamp your passport.
C. Regular Visa on Arrival
Regular Visa on Arrival process is simple, just stand in a mile-long queue holding your visa on arrival application and other documents, and when your turn comes, you will get the visa stamped. More details on the regular VOA are in this article of mine.
Go To Immigration
In all the three modes, after your passport is stamped with the visa, you need to go to the immigration counter. Some airports have special immigration counters for Visa on Arrival applicants and those counters are relatively less crowded. The immigration part of the process should take a lot less time as compared to the stamping of the visa.
Details on Visa on Arrival in Thailand
This is my article on Thailand Visa on Arrival Requirements, Process, Fee, and Application Form