Thailand to extend visa stays and introduce ‘Golden Visa’ program

Thailand will soon be making it easier for tourists to stay longer. The country announced that it is extending its Visa on Arrival duration to 45 days from the current 30 days allowed for U.S. visitors.

This visa length extension is part of an effort to jumpstart Thailand’s tourism economy after it was decimated due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.

In addition to the tourist visa extension, Thailand is also introducing a “Golden Visa” program to allow more foreigners to stay for extended periods of time — up to 10 years — but with some very strict conditions.

For details and timing of Thailand’s new visa rules, read on.

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New Thai tourist visa duration

Adult couple on beach on Ko Samui in Thailand. (Photo by Matteo Colombo/Getty Images)

New Thailand tourism visa rules will take effect on Oct. 1. They will allow automatic 45-day stays for U.S. citizens and those from 64 other countries including the U.K. and Canada.

However, the program is currently only scheduled to last until March 31, 2023, at which point Thailand hopes its tourism industry will be fully recovered from all the coronavirus-related shutdowns and visitor restrictions.

Currently, U.S. citizens with at least six months validity on their passports and an outbound airline ticket do not have to register for a visa prior to traveling to Thailand, according to the U.S. Embassy in Thailand.

When U.S. tourists arrive by air or ship at passport control in Thailand, Thai immigration officials will issue a Visa on Arrival by stamping the passport, thereby permitting a 30-day stay in Thailand. This time limit may later be extended for an additional 30 days by paying a 1,900 baht (about $50) fee to the Thai Immigration Bureau office.

Alternately, U.S. citizens can apply for a 60-day tourist visa prior to arrival in Thailand, with the ability to extend it later for an additional 30 days for the 1,900 baht fee.

The new 45-day visa duration will automatically be added during the VOA stamping process until it reverts back to the 30-day length next April.

Related: Traveling to Thailand is about to get easier again

In This Post

The new Thai ‘Golden Visa’

Working on a laptop in a tropical cafe. (Photo by Lumina Images/Getty Images)

Beginning September 1, 2022, Thailand will accept applications for its new Long Term Residence visa program. Some are calling this the “Golden Visa” both for its value in terms of multi-year stays, as well as its requirements of wealth from the applicant.

The new LTR visa will be valid for 10 years of residence in Thailand, with multiple entries and exits permitted; it also allows the applicant to work in Thailand under most conditions. The visa holder can bring up to four dependents with them during stays.

The visa also has a few other requirements that may make it difficult to obtain (beyond the $1,600 visa fee).

Still, there may be some potential for aspiring digital nomads to obtain the “Work from Thailand” visa, and prop up their laptops on a beachside table in Koh Samui for the next few years.

The Thai Embassy visa webpage shares some high-level LTR visa information for the different categories highlighted below. It also has detailed application forms if you think you measure up to the process.

Wealthy global citizen

Must have at least $1 million U.S. dollars of assets.
Must have a validated annual personal income of a minimum of USD $80,000 for the past two years.
Must have an investment of at least $500,000 U.S equivalent in Thai government bonds, foreign direct investment or Thai property.

Wealthy pensioner

This is targeted toward retirees aged 50 years and older who have an annual pension or stable income.

Must have a personal income of at least $80,000 per year at the time of application.
In case of personal income below $80,000 per year (but no less than $40,000 per year), applicants must have at least $250,000 in Thai investments.

Work from Thailand professional

This is targeted toward remote workers working for “well-established” overseas companies. Hello digital nomads!

Must have had a minimum of $80,000 annual income for the past two years.
In case of annual income below $80,000 (but no less than $40,000/year) for the past two years, applicants must have a Master’s degree or above, own intellectual property or receive Series A funding.
The applicant’s current employer must be a public company on a stock exchange, or a private company in operation for at least three years with combined revenue of at least $150 million in the last three years.
Must have at least five years of work experience in the relevant fields of the current employment over the past 10 years.

Related: Earning points and miles as an expat: What you need to know

Bottom line

Thailand is hoping to boost its tourism and foreign visitation rates by extending visa stays and introducing a new long-term visa program.

Starting in October, U.S. travelers to Thailand can enjoy extended tourism visits of 45 days compared to the current automatic 30-day grant of stay.

The so-called Golden Visa program that grants up to 10-year stays will be of interest to potential investors in Thailand as well as retirees and some digital nomads looking to set up shop in Thailand. The visa extension’s impact on tourism is expected to be minimal, although it might enable more foreign staff to work in tourist-facing businesses such as resorts and excursion companies.

If you were ever thinking about a six-week stay in Thailand, the extended visa period running from this October through next March is the time to make it happen.

Featured photo by Marco Bottigelli/Getty Images.