Thailand’s new visa rules coming soon

BANGKOK, 4 June 2024: Easier visa rules, new visa categories, and longer visa-free stays of up to 60 days are in the pipeline, but they are likely to take effect late June or early July, a PR government release cautioned.

The Thai Cabinet approved several visa and travel facilitation measures on 28 May 2024. It follows a proposal by the Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, designed to stimulate Thailand’s economy and promote tourism. It marks the first major reform of visa measures and guidelines in 22 years.

Photo credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand. Bangkok nightscape.

The measures are divided into three stages — short, medium and long-term. According to the PR Government statement, five short-term measures are “expected to take effect in late June or early July 2024  

The explanation of the possible time frame (late June or early July) countered inaccurate information posted on a UK government website and by over-enthusiastic inbound travel companies headquartered in Bangkok. They should have known better than to flag the Thai Cabinet’s rulings without the proviso that changes to laws and ministerial regulations are only effective after officially announcing them in the Royal Gazette. It caused confusion at the country’s gateway airports as some travellers assumed the 60-day visa-free stay had already been approved and was active.

Short-term measures 

1) Extending visa exemption for tourists and short-term business visitors to  60 days (previously 30 days) for passport holders from 93 countries/ territories, up from 57 countries. 

2) Increasing the number of countries/regions whose passport holders qualify for Visa on Arrival (VOA) from 19 to 31.

3) Introducing a new Destination Thailand Visa (DTV) for long-term travel, “digital nomads,” wishing to stay and engage in long-distance work or to participate in certain cultural activities for a stay of up to 180 days per visit on a multiple-entry basis with the visa valid for five years. Cultural activities include Muay Thai and martial arts, cooking, studying, practising sports, medical treatment, training, seminars art exhibitions and music.

Graphics from the Department of Consular Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand (28 May 2024)

4) Improving the non-immigration visa to facilitate the travel of international students and those nearing graduation in Thailand. It allows them to seek employment by extending their stay for one year after graduation. 

5) Establishing a “Visa Policy Committee” to develop Thailand’s entry processes and improve the efficiency of immigration procedures.

Three medium-term measures 

1) Grouping and streamlining non-immigrant visa types.

2) Lowering health insurance requirements and expanding the list of countries eligible for long-term non-immigrant visa applications.

3) Implementing the e-Visa system at all embassies and consulates worldwide by December 2024.

One long-term measure 

The introduction of the Electronic Travel Authorisationn (ETA) system, will be implemented in line with the e-Visa system at international airports in the country by June 2025.

5 COMMENTS

  1. According to a news report in Khaosod English, the visa-free extension from 30 days to 60 days should start on 15 July. The change to visa rules will be posted on the Royal Gazette on 15 July. As of 0600 (Bangkok time) on 14 July, the announcement in the Royal Gazette was still pending.

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