American citizens can be permitted to enter Thailand through different types of visas as follows:

1. Visa Exempt Entry

U.S. citizens carrying a tourist passport and having a return airline ticket do not require a visa to enter Thailand. The passport must still be valid for at least six months to be allowed entry. Upon entry, Thai immigration officials will place an immigration stamp in the passport giving a 30-day permit of stay in Thailand if arriving by air or a 15-day stay if arriving by land. This permit of stay may be subsequently extended for an additional 7 days by paying a Baht 1,900 fee to the Thai Immigration Bureau office.

For those Americans who are carrying a diplomatic or official passport, it is advisable to obtain a visa before arriving in Thailand. In some situations, it is possible for diplomatic or official passport holders to enter without a visa, but it is up to the precautions of the airline and/or immigration personnel whether or not you will be granted an entry.

2. Tourist Visas

If an American wants to stay in Thailand for more than 30 days, he or she may consider obtaining a tourist visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate in theUnited States, before arriving in Thailand. This tourist visa will allow an initial stay of 60 days and must be used within 90 days from the date of issue. After arrival in Thailand, a tourist visa may be extended twice, each time for an additional 15 days. There is a fee of Baht 1,900 for each extension.

Americans who wants to stay in Thailand for more than 90 days during any six-month period will be required to obtain a valid Thai visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate that is authorized to issue visas. The U.S. Embassy advises all Americans who wish to obtain a Thai visa to contact the Thai Immigration Bureau for complete visa requirements and regulations. Individuals who do not comply with Thai visa regulations may be possibly denied entry to Thailand at the border.

3. Work Visa

All foreigners (regardless their nationalities) who are interested in working in Thailand must obtain a valid Thai work visa and Thai work permit. In order to be granted a work permit, an application must be filed by a company, foreign government, or other organization in Thailand on behalf of the work visa applicant. Once granted, the work visa can be extended to one year.

4. Retirement Visa

Thai retirement visas are available to foreigners aged 50 years and above. These visas are valid for only one year and any kind of employment is strictly prohibited. According to Thai Immigration, applicants must have the following qualifications in order to be eligible for retirement visa:

– Applicant must be able to provide evidence of a pension or other regular income from a source outside ofThailand;

– Applicant’s pension or other regular income must be no less than the equivalent of Baht 65,000 per month;

– Alternatively, the applicant may meet the financial requirement by maintaining a Thai bank account with a minimum balance of Baht 800,000. Thus, applicants will need to show that they have Baht 800,000 in savings each year when they renew their visa.

– Any applicant married to a Thai citizen may be able to receive a visa on that basis rather than retirement.

5. Visa Overstays

If a person does not leave Thailand upon the expiration of his or her permit of stay or visa, this person is already considered staying in Thailand illegally. And, in order for him or her to leave the country after his visa or permit expires, it will be necessary to pay a fine for overstaying of Baht 500 per day up to a maximum of Baht 20,000. The fine is payable to the Immigration Bureau, at the Suvarnabhumi Airport Immigration office or other departure points.

Thailand visa rules regulations are subject to change without prior notice. For further assistance, contact MSNA lawyers for visa and work permit services.