THAILAND – Upcoming Changes to the Visa and Travel System

June 4, 2024

By: Patricia Clarino

New visa and travel measures proposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and aimed at boosting tourism and stimulating Thailand’s economy were approved in a recent cabinet meeting. These guidelines currently outline only the principles of the new measures. Detailed rules and practices will be announced later by relevant government agencies.

Short-term measures targeted for implementation on June 1, 2024

  • The visa-on-arrival (VOA) policy will be expanded to include additional countries.
  • The allowable stay of 30 days will be extended to 60 days for tourists and short-term business travelers from 93 countries.
  • Introduction of a new visa category called “Destination Thailand Visa” (DTV). This visa is geared towards attracting foreign nationals who are combining work and tourism, including skilled professionals, digital nomads, and participants in activities like Muay Thai, culinary arts, sports, medical treatment, training, seminars, and art exhibitions. Financial proof or sponsorship of at least THB 500,000 is required to qualify for the visa. It provides multiple entries with a stay of up to 180 days per entry and is valid for up to five years.
  • Extended visa options are to be provided for international students and recent graduates allowing in-country conversion of a current visa to a work permit once students find a suitable employer.

Medium-term measures targeted for implementation from September to December 2024.

  • Consolidation of visa codes from 17 to 7 categories (B, ED, F, M, O, L-A, O (L-A))
  • Long-stay visa requirements for applicants over a certain age who are retiring in Thailand will be relaxed. The health insurance deposit requirements for non-immigrant O-A visa will be reduced to 40,000 THB for outpatient and 400,000 THB for inpatient care.
  • Expansion of eligible countries for Non-Immigrant O-X visa. The plan is to implement this in September 2024.
  • Increase e-visa services to all Thai embassies, consulates, and trade offices worldwide by December 2024.

Long-term measures targeted for implementation in June 2025.

  • Thailand will be introducing an Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system for foreign nationals who are exempted from visa inspection. The ETA will not have any associated fees and it will be required for eligible travelers upon each entry. Travelers will apply for the ETA prior to traveling to Thailand or before passing through immigration clearance. Exemptions are in place for diplomatic, official passport holders, and United Nations Laissez-Passer users, as well as Border Pass users at land and water checkpoints.
  • The implementation is set in two phases: 1) A temporary ETA system by December 2024, and 2) a complete system integrating e-Visa and ETA by June 2025.

Newland Chase insights.

This is a positive development in Thailand and underscores their dedication to attracting foreign nationals and simplifying travel within their borders. While many countries are increasingly prioritizing security measures like the ETA system, Thailand also places significant emphasis on attracting highly skilled foreign nationals, relaxing regulations on international students and transitioning transactions to online systems to streamline their processes. We will continue to track these developments closely and provide timely updates as more information becomes available.

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out to your Newland Chase dedicated contact or submit an inquiry here should you have any specific questions regarding this announcement.

This immigration update is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for legal or scenario-specific advice. Furthermore, it is important to note that immigration announcements are subject to sudden and unexpected changes. Readers are encouraged to reach out to Newland Case for any case- or company-specific assessments.