STAY LONGER ON KOH LANTA: THAI VISAS
Thai Visas. Whether you have fallen in love with Koh Lanta and never want to leave or you are still on a distant shore awaiting your Lanta destiny, you will need a visa.
At first, or possibly even third or fourth glance, Thailand’s visa information can appear daunting. But in essence it’s simpler that it seems. However, one should always seek current information regarding Thai visas as they are and have been subject to change without prior notice. A good reference is www.thaivisa.com for daily updates or for planning your trip to the Kingdom.
Thai Visas on arrival
Most of us will enter the country from a nation which is allowed a free visa on arrival in Thailand.
If you are from one of the 50 countries on the list that you may enter Thailand by air and stay for 30 days with your visa that you receive on arrival. If you arrive by land, the time permitted is 15 days.
If you then wish to stay longer, you will have to obtain a visa at the consulate.
(Early in 2015 it was decreed that the arrival by air visa could be extended once by a further 30 days at your local immigration office and that overland entries would also be permitted 30 days. These regulations may stay in place for all of 2015 or could change next week!)
Thai Tourist visa
You can also get a visa prior to arrival in Thailand from the Thai Consulate/Embassy in your home country.
There are three general visa types which we feel would be applicable to most. Since we imagine you’re planning to stay awhile, we’ll focus on tourist, student and non-immigrant visas. Here’s a rundown of the basic visas to set you on your way:
Tourist: A tourist visa is a good starting point. You can apply in your own country, which is an especially good idea if you think it’s likely or possible you will want to stay longer than the 30 days of a visa on arrival visit. Application for a tourist visa will afford you 60 days in Thailand with the option of a 30 day extension. Thai Embassies in some countries may well offer multiple entry versions of this visa; therefore giving 2, 4 and 6 month options. Make sure you check with your local Embassy to see the options available to you. Also, each tourist visa can be extended for an additional 30 days at the Krabi Immigration office (see later section on extensions).
Learn Thai & stay
Student: An Education or Student visa is a great choice if you want to learn to speak Thai, attend a seminar or have an internship and be assured of a significant time block on Koh Lanta.
The visa is 90 days and you can apply for an extension of up to one year from your entry date.
Make sure you apply, join and attend your lessons at a respectable Thai language school (Lanta International), and everything will be fine. Typically, a Thai school will arrange all of your paperwork for you as well as charge you your applicable visa fees.
Non-immigrant: For those of you who already know Koh Lanta is your place in this world, the non-immigrant visa is where to begin your plan for the long term.
There are several motivations for this visa; retirement, to work or conduct business, even marriage!! Each with its own intricacies, all are possible for visitors who qualify.
The Non-Immigrant visas are typically 12 month /multiple entry, allowing easy transit in and out of the Kingdom.
For the working visa, you either need to set-up a Limited Company yourself and apply or find work with a company that can facilitate the employment of a foreigner and supply the work permit etc.
If you are looking to retire, in Thailand you can at just fifty years old! You only have to show you have the funds to support yourself. If your impending nuptials are in the air and you have found the Thai partner of your dreams, get married and then you, too, can stay on the non-Immigrant visa.
The Thai government welcomes guests and businesses. Just as the people of Koh Lanta welcome visitors and those who have come and choose to stay.
The Infamous Thai Visa Run
To some a joy, to others a necessary nightmare.
If you are holding a multiple entry visa, one of the stipulations may be that you have to leave Thailand every 90 days to renew.
This can be done in a variety of ways- the most popular being going south to the Malaysia border by road.
The old school (and cheapest) way of traveling the 300 km each way is by the white minivans. The cost is low (as is the comfort) and it will take all day, however if you only have to do this every 90 days, it’s a small price to pay.
There are other options of course: rent a car to take things at your own pace or even take a return flight to Kuala Lumpur which can also be done in one day from Krabi airport.
Alternatively, make a trip out of your visa run and visit some of the fabulous cities, islands and places in the neighboring countries – all within easy reach from Krabi airport.
With most Thai visas you have the option to extend. This must be instigated before your visa expires and has to be done at the local Immigration Office.
For Koh Lanta, this is in Krabi Town. Make sure you check the Thai National Holidays before you make the trip to the office.
It is a simple process: attend the office with a passport, picture and 1,900 Baht, wait a while and get your new stamp. New stamp = More Koh Lanta time!!