Tourists coming from 21 countries are allowed the facility of Visa on Arrival at 48 checkpoints 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. The following documents need to be carried by the tourists with them:
- Passport with a minimum remaining validity of 30 days
- Return / onward journey air ticket for travel within the next 15 days
- One passport size (4 x 6 cm) photo
- Boarding card of the flight of arrival
- Duly filled-in Visa on Arrival application Form
- Duly filled-in Arrival / Departure Card
- Hotel address / other stay address in Thailand that can be verified
- Hotel booking voucher
- Visa on Arrival fee of 2,000 Thai Baht in Thai currency only
- Thai or other currency equivalent to 10,000 Thai Baht per person or 20,000 Thai Baht per family
Tourists visiting Thailand on visa on arrival cannot engage in any type of employment or work. The visa stamp on the passport also contains the words – “Employment Prohibited”.
Visa on Arrival Process at Suvarnabhumi Airport Bangkok
Arrival / Departure card is provided to the passengers during the flight itself and should be filled in carefully. Visa on Arrival application form is made available at the counter seen in the above picture. The staff at the counter will ask for your passport size photo that will be stapled on the blank form before the form is given to you. Completely filled in application form and other documents need to be carried into the above Visa on Arrival gate.
Inside, the application form and other documents and 2000 Thai Baht fee is first subjected to a preliminary examination by immigration officials. The visa fee is accepted at this preliminary document verification counter. There is usually a queue at this juncture which can mean a wait of 10 minutes to more than one hour depending on how many flights have simultaneously arrived. They also have a fast track counter (towards left side after entering the Visa on Arrival gate as seen in the above picture) where an additional fee of 200 Thai Baht is charged. This fast track counter is meant for tourists who have to catch domestic connecting flights from the airport. Probably anyone can use the fast track counter but I never tried it. Preliminary examination takes 1-2 minutes and usually no questions are asked if the documents are in order. A token number is given to the tourists for collecting the passport after visa stamp. Wait time at this point is about 10 minutes. Then a staff at a side counter calls your token number so that you can collect your passport, boarding card and visa on arrival fee receipt. Thereafter, you proceed to any of the immigration counters in the same area. At the immigration counter, you need to stand at the place marked on the floor for picture taking by the counter staff. Its a breeze except that you have already lost one full page of the passport because its a huge stamp. OK, Welcome to Thailand. Your baggage is waiting at the designated belt. Before leaving the airport, Thai Customs officials will screen bags on a random basis at the Green Channel so be careful about what you carry along.
Thailand Visa on Arrival Application Form
This is the new official Thailand Visa on Arrival Application Form after revision in the visa on arrival fee to 2000 THB. Click and save the JPEG displayed below. Later, open it in an image viewer and print it.
How to locate the Visa on Arrival Counter At Suvarnabhumi Airport
After coming into the terminal building via a bus or an aero bridge, you will see sign boards pointing you to places like “International Transfer”, “Immigration”, and “Visa on Arrival”. Just keep following these sign boards. Most of the times, you will be walking along with the crowd of other passengers and all of them too are headed towards visa / immigration.
Near the entry to the Visa on Arrival area, you will see Exchange Counter to change your currency in to Thai Baht and a small cabin for taking photo in case you forgot to bring your passport size photo along. Exchange rates here are not very favourable and a photo will probably cost 150 THB so better not to forget. If you need to change money here, change just enough to carry you into Bangkok city. You can find much better rates at Super Rich Money Exchange in Bangkok.
Transit Procedure at Thai Airport – Arrival by International Flight and proceeding to Domestic Flight in Thailand
Passengers arriving at any Thailand Airport by international flights must complete immigration formalities at Passport Control –> collect their baggage –> and clear Customs before proceeding to board their domestic flight.
(i) If you already have a Boarding Pass for the domestic flight, you may proceed to passport control directly for immigration.
(ii) If you do not have a Boarding Pass for the domestic flight, you will need to obtain a Boarding Pass before proceeding to Passport Control.
Transfer Check-in counters at Suvarnabhumi Airport are located on the second floor.
Travel from Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport to Pattaya by Airport Bus or you may like to read about Airport City Link and Airport Express Trains
Visa on Arrival Process at Don Mueang Airport, Bangkok
Visa on Arrival counters were relocated to a dedicated area in Don Mueang Airport in August 2016 as shown in the above picture. Documents and other requirements for visa on arrival are the same at all Thai airports. I urge you to read the entire page from the beginning before reading this section for a proper understanding of the subject. Please fill up Arrival / Departure Card that will be given to you during the flight before arriving into Bangkok. This card, Visa on Arrival application form (can be downloaded from this page – see link above) and other documents need to be carried to the Visa on Arrival counter.
Visa on Arrival Counters at Don Muang Airport Bangkok
The Visa on Arrival counters of Don Mueang Airport can be seen in the above pictures. Wait times in this area can be short or very long depending on which country’s flight has arrived. Incoming passengers are required to queue up on the left side in this hall for document verification. After document verification is over, a token number is allotted and then one has to wait for the token number to be announced along with the assigned counter number. Visa fee of 2000 THB per person is to be paid here against which a receipt is issued and a preliminary stamp is put on the passport. Just know that these are Visa counters only and immigration is a separate step that will come later. After the visa stamp, passengers are required to come out of the visa on arrival area through the same gate from which they entered first. Walk back a little and turn left towards the immigration counters. There are separate immigration counters for those visitors who have taken visa on arrival and the queues at these special immigration counters are very short. The regular immigration counters usually have very long queues. On can identify the special VOA immigration counters from the display boards on these counters that say “Visa on Arrival”. The Immigration counter people will take your photo and put the final stamps on the same page along with the earlier visa stamp. Now you are ready to proceed towards the baggage claim area and then onwards to the Customs (Green / Red) channels.
Fast Track Visa on Arrival at Don Mueang Airport
There are two possibilities of getting a fast track visa on arrival at Don Mueang Airport – The “free” possibility and the “paid” possibility. The free possibility is when the airline staff available in the VOA area help you in clearing your VOA so that you can check-in for your next domestic flight. Many times I see Air Asia staff standing near the VOA queue asking people if they have an onward domestic flight on Air Asia. In such a case, they help their customers in clearing everything fast. Now this “free” possibility may have limitations and may not work every time. In April 2017, I also saw the paid fast track VOA happening at Don Mueang Airport. One person from the immigration was telling everyone that if they want VOA “very quickly”, they can proceed to another counter on the left side. On the outside, the signboard towards this counter reads “Group Counter” but apparently they also process fast track VOA in there by charging 200 THB extra per person.
Visa on Arrival at Phuket International Airport
The visa on arrival process at Phuket International Airport is similar to that of other airports. There is a large visa / immigration hall. There are several waiting chairs and writing stands. Some of the writing stands have pockets holding the visa on arrival application forms. One can take a form, fill it up and then proceed to the photo counter at the back where those who forgot to bring a 4x6cm photo can get their picture printed for a fee. The lady at the counter will happily staple your photo to the form for free. Then take all the documents along with the form and proceed to the first counter on the side where “Document Check” is written. The visa fee is required to be paid at this counter. No waiting tokens are issued at this airport because generally, the visa on arrival area is not supposed to be very crowded. The official at the counter will take the fee and then ask you to wait briefly at the next counter. Your passport is returned to you here with a blank visa stamp. Next, you are supposed to go to one of the immigration queues. The rest of the formalities like the completion of the visa stamp and your picture taken with a webcam happen here. After immigration, one can walk towards the baggage claim which is behind the immigration counters. But you need to watch out for a visa scam at this airport, read this: Thailand Visa Scam at Phuket International Airport
Where to take VOA if Bangkok is not your final destination
This question is repeatedly asked – where Visa on Arrival is to be taken if someone is taking an onward flight from Bangkok to another airport in Thailand, such as Phuket or Chiang Mai, etc. The answer to this question is to be decided by your airline. Theoretically speaking, if you are flying out of Bangkok by the same airline that brought you to Bangkok, you are given both the boarding cards at the airport of origin of the journey, and your baggage is checked-in right up to the destination beyond Bangkok, you will need to take VOA only at your final destination. That means, at Bangkok you will remain in the transit area of the airport and will proceed to boarding the domestic flight without collecting your bags in Bangkok. However, if you have only one boarding card up to Bangkok and your bags are checked-in up to Bangkok only, then you need to take VOA at Bangkok, collect your bags, clear Customs, and check-in again for the domestic flight. Practically, however, we have the experience of Thai Airways connecting flights beyond Bangkok. For these flights, Thai Airways checks-in bags right up to the final destination but gives boarding card up Bangkok only. The logic being, one is supposed to have a valid visa before taking a domestic flight in Thailand.
List of 42** Check Points where Visa on Arrival can be obtained
**There seems to be a list of “48” checkpoints in an official Thai government web page. Some names have been repeated in that list so I am not sure if the list is actually of 48 places. The link to that page is partly in Thai language and therefore I am unable to reproduce the link here. However, that link can be seen in this page whose own link is fortunately in English: http://www.consular.go.th/main/th/services/1287
1. Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok
2. Don Muang International Airport, Bangkok
3. Chiangmai International Airport, Chiangmai
4. Phuket International Airport, Phuket
5. Hatyai International Airport, Songkhla
6. U Tapao Airport, Rayong
7. Mae Sai Immigration Checkpoint, Chiangrai
8. Chiang Saen Immigration Checkpoint, Chiangrai
9. Chiang Khong Immigration Checkpoint, Chiangrai
10. Betong Immigration Checkpoint, Yala
11. Sadao Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
12. Samui Airport, Surat Thani
13. Sukhothai International Airport, Tak Immigration Checkpoint
14. Bangkok Harbour Immigration Checkpoint, Bangkok
15. Sri Racha Immigration Checkpoint, Chonburi
16. Mabtaput Immigration Checkpoint, Rayong
17. Nong Khai Immigration Checkpoint, Nong Khai
18. Samui Immigration Checkpoint, Surat Thani
19. Phuket Immigration Checkpoint, Phuket
20. Satun Immigration Checkpoint, Satun
21. Krabi Immigration Checkpoint, Krabi
22. Songkhla Harbour Immigraion Checkpoint, Songkhla
23. Chiangrai Airport Immigration Checkpoint, Chiangrai
24. Surat Thani Airport Immigration Checkpoint, Surat Thani
25. Sattahip Harbour Immigration Checkpoint, Chonburi
26. Khlong Yai Immigration Checkpoint, Trat
27. Pong Nam Ron Immigration Checkpoint, Chanthaburi
28. Aranyaprathet Immigration Checkpoint, Sakaeo
29. Mukdahan Immigration Checkpoint, Mukdahan
30. Tak Immigration Checkpoint, Tak
31. Padang Besar Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
32. Su-ngai Kolok Immigration Checkpoint, Narathiwat
33. Nong Khai Immigration Checkpoint, Nong Khai
34. Bueng Kan Immigration Checkpoint, Bueng Kan
35. Phibun Mangsahan Immigration Checkpoint, Ubon Ratchathani
36. Tha Li Immigration Checkpoint, Loei
37. Nakhon Phanom Immigration Checkpoint, Nakhon Phanom
38. Nan Immigration Checkpoint, Nan
39. Ban Prakob Immigration Checkpoint, Songkhla
40. Khuan Don Immigration Checkpoint, Satun
41. Tak Bai Immigration Checkpoint, Narathiwat
42. Bukit Tal Immigration Checkpoint, Narathiwat
List of 21 Countries Eligible for Visa on Arrival in Thailand
15. Papua New Guinea
17. San Marino
18. Saudi Arabia
You may like to read: Country Wise Information on Visa Availability to Enter Thailand
Penalty For Overstaying In Thailand
Visa on arrival is valid for a period of 15 days including the day of arrival. There are penalties for overstaying that can result in monitory fines, imprisonment, and additionally a ban on re-entering Thailand that can extend up to ten years. These are the rules in detail:
In case a foreign national, who overstayed in Thailand, surrenders before the authorities:
Period of Overstay – Ban on Re-entering Thailand
More than 90 days – Gets banned for one year
More than 1 year – Gets banned for three years
More than 3 years – Gets banned for five years
More than 5 years – Gets banned for ten years
In case a foreign national does not surrender before authorities but instead is arrested and prosecuted:
Period of Overstay – Ban on Re-entering Thailand
Less than 1 year – Gets banned for five years
More than 1 year – Gets banned for ten years
The lesson in short is, do not overstay.
Beware of Immigration Traps
Thai Immigration officials sometimes try to trap tourists by making seemingly attractive offers of some kind but with a hidden sinister motive. Once while leaving Bangkok, an Immigration officer who looked like a Supervisor at the Immigration counters offered me a roll of currency notes asking me to buy a bottle of “Double Black” for him. I politely refused. But if I had accepted the money, I would probably be arrested for breaking some Law. Double Black means Johnnie Walker Double Black Whiskey that is popular among Tourists who buy the brand from the duty free shop while leaving Bangkok. It is very unlikely that a senior Immigration official will need to ask a tourist that too a complete stranger to buy a bottle of duty free booze for him at the airport. I have also read a story where a female employee at a duty free shop clandestinely put an extra packet of cigarettes in to the shopping bag of a tourist arriving into Bangkok and then he was stopped at the Green Channel. Remember, not all Thai people are your friends. Read more about Tourist Scams in Thailand.