BANGKOK, 6 December 2018: Following the eVisa-on-Arrival service introduced by Thailand’s Immigration Bureau, last month, a foreign office official confirmed an eVisa service for the standard 30-day tourist visa will be available online next year.
Billed the “Thai E-VISA”, deputy permanent secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Thanee Thongpakdee, headed the 3 December launch briefing, while Department of Consular Affairs’ director-general, Chairi Archjananum and Kasikorn Bank managing director, Predee Daochai, made a detailed presentation.
Chairi called the “Thai e-Visa a new dimension for the visa application that allows visitors to fill out the electronic form and make an e-payment anytime regardless of embassy working hours, while the system will comply with world-class secure payment technology, through Kasikorn Bank.”
Currently, the Immigration Bureau, in cooperation with Samart Group, offers a 15-day eVisa-on-Arrival for 21 nationalities. They can now complete the process online in advance, which speeds up the final processing of their visa-on-arrival at four airports in Thailand (Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang airports, Phuket and Chiang Mai) to around one minute, or so officials claimed.
The electronic visa-on-arrival service is offered by www.evisathailand.com , but the manual VOA service is still available at airports for those not prepared to use the eVisa service, which requires a credit card pre-payment of a TH525 administration fee. The actual visa fee of THB2,000 has been waived for two months up to the end of January 2019.
However, the eVisa announced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is an entirely different project. Due to launch 15 February 2019, it will be available for visitors who currently apply for a tourist visa at an embassy or consulate. They will no longer need to physically visit a consulate, or embassy, to file their visa application for a 60-day stay.
Travellers will still be able to apply for a tourist visa in person at the nearest embassy, or consulate, if they are not comfortable making online payments.
Thai embassies and consulates in China will roll out the first eVisa service in February followed by the UK and France in April.
Visitors from the UK and France are also eligible for a visa-free stay, which for shorter stays is by far the most popular choice. Visa-free entry for a stay of up to 30 days is valid for 57 nationalities.
It will take around three years for all embassies to have the eVisa service up and running, begging the question why a single platform was not created for all nationalities with multiple payment channels through one portal.
Based on the launch explanation to media, each embassy will have to create a landing page on their embassy websites with its own secure payment facility.
Kasikorn Bank (Kbank) has been commissioned to provide the gateway for secure payments and in the case of Chinese visitors applying for the online tourist visa they can also use China Union Pay, Alipay and Wechat Pay
Travellers will complete the process online, pay a service fee and the THB1,000 visa fee and receive approval bar-coded number that they present to immigration officials at border checkpoints to have their passport stamped for a 60-day stay.
According to Kbank once the system is activated the address for visa applications will be www.thaievisa.go.th.
KBank president, Predee Daochai, said it would meet world-class security standards, but considering recent incidents of hacking linked to travel giants such as Marriott and Cathay Pacific the potential security risks need to be addressed.
About 8 million tourists apply for Thai visas each year, of which 85% are tourist visas. The standard tourist visa costs THB1,000 and is valid for a 60-day stay.
- Passport or travel document with validity of not less than six months
- Visa application form completely filled out
- Recent (4×6 cm.) photograph of the applicant
- Evidence of travel from Thailand –confirmed air ticket paid in full.
- Evidence of flight itinerary to and from Thailand
- Evidence of adequate finance (THB20,000 per person, or THB40,000 per family).
The above requirements complicate the online process further as travellers will have to upload multiple documents such as a copy of the relevant pages of the passport, confirmed return air ticket and a recent photo attached to the online application form.
In contrast the highly successful Myanmar eVisa, also valid for 30 days limits the uploads to just a “recent photograph.”