Top-3 Thailand Visa Options for Foreign Expats

Living in Thailand literally is living the dream. However, dreams can sometimes turn to nightmares, especially if you are not on top of your visa requirements. You cannot simply turn up in Thailand and expect to be able to stay here forever without the prerequisite visas. Keeping above board in regards to visas is essential.


Did you know that if you overstay your visa that you can get blacklisted from entering Thailand for 10 years? There are so many things you need to take into consideration when living in Thailand as a foreigner, and getting the right visa is number-1 on the list of ‘to-do things’. Here are our top-3 Thailand visa options for foreign expats to consider.

#1: Education Visa – Thailand Visa Advice


  • Visa Type: Non-Immigrant Visa Type ED
  • Pros: Low bar of entry, inexpensive
  • Cons: Does not confer the right to work


The Education Visa is available for foreigners who stay in Thailand for the purpose of attending a full-time education course at a Thai university or smaller school. “Full time” means that you must attend at least 100 hours in classes for every 90 days of your stay.


There are a number of schools that will sponsor a visa for muay Thai boxing, Thai culture, or even Thai cooking, but more and more of these schools are losing their certification with the Ministry of Education (“MoE” certification). You want to ensure that the school you choose is legitimate and certified by the Ministry of Education in Thailand. There has been a trend in recent years of schools that set up basically to issue Education Visas—sometimes without offering real courses or enforcing the minimum study hours—and Thai Immigration is catching on.


We do not recommend getting an education visa if you intend to work in Thailand. However, many foreigners do choose this path as a way to prolong their stay in Thailand past the 30-60 days allowed by a Tourist Visa. It is by no means a long-term solution, but it may be an option if you do not plan to stay longer than 1 to 3 years.

#2: Thai Marriage Visa


  • Visa Name: Non-Immigrant Visa Type O
  • Pros: Long term option
  • Cons: Does not confer the right to work


If you marry a Thai national, you are eligible to receive the Thai Marriage Visa. Other than a Thai spouse, the main requirement for this type of visa is sufficient funds in your bank account (THB 400,000) or monthly income (THB 40,000) to prove that you can support yourself and your family in Thailand.


You might be able to get the first year visa without proof of income, but after that, you will need to prove each year that you have the money—without needing to work in Thailand—to support your family and live in the kingdom. The visa is renewable every year and the renewal process can be done without leaving Thailand.


There is no direct application for the Thailand marriage visa. Rather, you should obtain a 1-Year Non-Immigrant O visa from your home country or country of residence. Once your visa is activated by entering Thailand, you must prepare the required documentation to convert your non-immigrant O visa into a marriage visa. It can take up to a month of processing before the Thai marriage visa is issued. If you happen to find a job, it is possible to have a work permit while on this visa type.

#3: Thailand Retirement Visa – Thailand Visa Advice


  • Visa Name: Non-Immigrant Type OA-Long Stay Visa
  • Pros: Long term option
  • Cons: Not for everyone


To retire in Thailand, you must be at least 50 years old and have enough money in the bank (THB 800,000) or a monthly pension coming in from your country of citizenship (THB 65,000) to show that you can support yourself in Thailand without having to work.


This is a long-term Thai visa that allows the holder to stay in Thailand for 1 year. The visa is renewable each year and can be done inside Thailand. The application and renewal process follows the same general guidelines as the marriage visa.


You can apply for a Thai retirement visa either inside Thailand or your current country of residence. It is important that you provide the required documentation in full when putting together your application. Also importantly, please note that not all Thai Embassies and Consulates are able to supply Thai retirement visas, so you should double-check before submitting your application.


In conclusion, the three most popular visa types for foreign expats in Thailand are an Education Visa, a Thai Marriage Visa, or a Thailand Retirement Visa if you are old enough to qualify. For sure, there are other options such as investing in a business starting a new business and a few other options. However, these are the three most popular.


If you have any questions or want to know more about your visa options, you can email us at and we will recommend the best visa companies to help you get your visa.


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