Note: See also our Comprehensive Thai Visa Guide for the kinds of visas and visa exemptions, work permits, and immigration issues in Thailand, especially for English teachers.

Visa Types for Foreigners in Thailand

There is a range of types of Thai visas. The following is an overview of these visa types plus recommended visa options for SEE TEFL trainees.

Thailand Visa-Exempt Permission to Stay – VE

This is not a visa, but a visa-exemption. If a foreigner arrives without a visa, they are normally given permission to stay for 15 to 30 days dependending upon the foreigner’s nationality. Most nationalities receive 30 days if they arrive at an airport. An exemption can normally be extended for a further 30 days by visiting any Thai Immigration office. Note that an onward flight ticket is strongly encouraged in order to receive visa exemptions and visa exemption extensions.

Until recently it was possible to cross any land border to obtain further exemptions (essentially to enter and receive either a 15-day or 30-day land border visa exempt permission to stay). However, as of late 2015, Immigration no longer allows multiple consecutive exemptions, and may deny even a single entry at a land border crossing. These new practices by Immigration are in response to having processed counterfeit passports, and so they want a Thai consulate or embassy to approve entry for foreigners (with the exception of airport arrival).

The following countries are eligible for Visa-Exempt Permission to Stay: Argentina (90 days), Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brazil (90 days), Brunei, Canada, Chile (90 days), Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, North Korea (90 days), Norway, Oman, Peru (90 days), Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UAE, UK, USA, Vietnam.

Vise Exempt Permission To S

No advance application. Least expensive option. Shortest length of stay. Possible to enter Thailand, take TEFL course, find work in 60 days. Can leave Thailand for neighbor country and apply for Tourist visa for 90 days.
Where to Apply Thai Airports on Arrival
Cost Free
Length of Stay 30 Days
Extend at Immigration? + 30 Days for 1,900 THB
SEE TEFL Paperwork? No
Requirements* Return/onward flight ticket, cash, lodging reservation.  *Not always enforced, depends on airline (for return ticket), immigration.

Thailand Tourist Visa – TR

The Thailand Tourist visa is valid for 60 days. This visa can be extended one time for a further 30 days at any Thai immigration office. Before late 2015 there were single, double, and triple-entry visas (each valid for 60 days). However they have now been replaced with a Single Entry Tourist Visa and a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV).

Most consulates and embassies can issue single entry tourist visas, or the new multiple-entry tourist visa. For the METV, a second or subsequent entry can be activated by leaving and returning to Thailand (via land, sea, or air). From Chiang Mai, foreigners can cross the Thai-Myanmar border at Mae Sai arriving in Tachilek, Myanmar. The round-trip bus journey from Chiang Mai to Mae Sai takes around 5 hours each way. The Green Bus offers a number of times daily departure from and return to Chiang Mai. It is possible to cross the border during business hours on any day from Monday to Sunday. A 500 THB entry fee is required to enter Myanmar (and having this entry and exit is required to re-enter Thailand).

Note that it is not possible to obtain a work permit with a tourist visa. However, it is possible to travel around Thailand, complete short study or training courses such as the SEE TEFL 4-week teacher training course, as well as seek work (interview and sign contracts).

Tourist Visa S

Least amount of paperwork and cost of all visas (not including Visa-Exemption). 90 days to take TEFL and find work. Does not need SEE TEFL paperwork. May require return/onward flight ticket, cash, lodging reservation.
Where to Apply Thai consulate or embassy*

*Nationals from certain countries must apply for a tourist visa from their home country.

Cost Depending upon which consulate is used for application: 1,000 THB, 25 GBP, 30 EUR, 40 USD, 40 CAD, 45 AUD, 50 NZD, 450 ZAR
Length of Stay 60 Days
Extend at Immigration? + 30 Days for 1,900 THB
SEE TEFL Paperwork? No
Requirements* Return/onward flight ticket, cash (20,000 THB/person, 40,000 THB/family), lodging reservation.*Not always enforced, depends on consulate, immigration officers.

Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa – METV

This visa has replaced the double-entry and triple-entry Tourist Visa options. It is similar, but there are more restrictions, including:

  • Must be applied for in one’s home country (the country where one is a resident)
  • Some Thai consulates and embassies require a letter from an employer (to verify employment) or a business license (if self-employed), or proof of full-time student status
  • Evidence of funds in a bank account for the previous six months (no less than 200,000 THB)
  • Flight ticket (and possibly onwards/return) for at least the first entry
  • Lodging reservation (perhaps proof of payment) for at least the first entry

The Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa (METV) is limited to 60-day visits, at which point either departure from Thailand is required, or a 30-day extension (1,900 THB) at a local immigration office in Thailand.

It is possible to have approximately 270 days in Thailand with this visa, and limit departures from Thailand to two:

  • 60 day entrance (soon after being granted the Visa, which has a 6 month expiration)
  • 30 day extension (1,900 THB) at immigration office
  • Depart and return to Thailand (border crossing), activating a second 60-day entry
  • 30 day extension (1,900 THB) at immigration office
  • Depart and return to Thailand (border crossing), activating a third 60-day entry (but before expiration of the six months validity of the visa)
  • 30 day extension (1,900 THB) at immigration office

60 + 30 + 60 + 30 + 60 + 30 = 270 day

Tourist Visa M

Longest of visas, most flexible. Costs the most, extra paperwork, must apply in home country, must exit and re-enter Thailand at least twice. Can have 270 days if final entry into Thailand on the last day of the visa validity, and extending for 30 days at end of the final 60 days.
Where to Apply Thai consulate or embassy in home country only
Cost Depending upon which consulate is used for application: 5,000 THB, 125 GBP, 150 EUR, 200 USD, 200 CAD, 225 AUD, 250 NZD, 1,900 ZAR
Length of Stay 60 Days
Extend at Immigration? + 30 Days for 1,900 THB
SEE TEFL Paperwork? No
Requirements* Return/onward flight ticket (for first visit), bank statement (200,000 THB on deposit for at least 6 months), lodging reservation (for first visit).*Not always enforced, depends on consulate, immigration officers. Some consulates do not have all requirements.

Non-immigrant ED (Education) Visa

Sometimes this visa is called a Non ED, but the non refers to non-immigrant. This visa is valid for 90 days. This visa is issued to foreign Thai-language students, foreigners studying at a Thai school or university and for foreign students attending a short study or training course. This visa can be extended if there is a valid reason for the extension. For example, continuing study beyond 3 months.

Only Thai Ministry of Education (MoE) licensed schools can provide the required paperwork to support a non-immigrant ED visa application for attending a TEFL course. SEE TEFL operates under an MOE school license with permission to run TEFL programs, and can provide documentation in support of an ED Visa application. The supporting paperwork for the ED visa includes a permission letter from the MoE in Chiang Mai, which can take up to 4 weeks to process.

Non Immigrant ED Visa

Must request docs from SEE TEFL 5 weeks in advance. Visa not guaranteed, depends on Thai consulate or embassy.
Where to Apply Thai consulate or embassy
Cost Depending upon which consulate is used for application: 2,000 THB, 50 GBP, 60 EUR, 80 USD, 80 CAD, 90 AUD, 100 NZD
Length of Stay 90 Days
Extend at Immigration? No
SEE TEFL Paperwork? Yes, 5 week notice required.
Requirements* Various documents and paperwork from sponsoring organization, cash (20,000 THB/person, 40,000 THB/family).*Not always enforced, depends on consulate, immigration officers. Some consulates do not have all requirements.

Summary of Visa Options for SEE TEFL Trainees

There are three basic recommendations for the prospective SEE TEFL trainee:

  • Visa-Exemption on arrival at a Thai airport provides up to 60 days in the country.
  • Tourist visa at a Thai consulate or embassy (in home country or another country)
  • Multiple-Entry Tourist Visa is an option if one qualifies — and can travel to, or is in one’s home country. This provides the longest stay and is most flexible (though it requires exiting and re-entering Thailand every 60-90 days).

Non-immigrant ED visa option with 5 weeks or more before Travel

There is also one other visa option that SEE TEFL supports. Some prospective SEE TEFL course attendees feel they need an Education Visa. Strictly speaking, any visa or visa-exempt permission to stay allows people to take the SEE TEFL course. Nonetheless, SEE TEFL can and has provided paperwork for those wishing to apply for a 3-month Education visa. We can advise on the best approach.

Please be aware that some consulates and embassies do not issue some visas (for example, the Thai embassy in South Africa does not accept ED visa applications for TEFL courses). Also, some consulates and embassies have a higher rejection rate for some visas (even though our paperwork is always the same). Successful visa applications are not guaranteed (rather, they are up to the immigration officer’s discretion). However, SEE TEFL has had extensive experience in this area and can recommend a plausible course of action.

Supporting documents for non-immigrant ED visa applications will need to be prepared and forwarded by our staff to the applicant’s home address. Some consulates and embassies accept scans of supporting documents sent as email attachments. However, if the consulate or embassy requires original documents, these will be sent either by normal post (no extra charge but slow and unreliable) or courier (the courier fee is added to the customer’s balance fee).

Additional Notes on Visa Options for SEE TEFL attendees

  • A 6-month or 1-year non-immigrant ED (Education) Visa can also be issued to students who are studying Thai at our sister program Effective Thai Chiang Mai.
  • Visas are issued at the discretion of the consulate or embassy. Requirements to support visa applications often vary between consulates and embassies.
  • Please contact us to discuss individual visa cases.

Additional Visa Resources