Jump to content

Visa or Extension of stay.

Recommended Posts


A citizen of a foreign country who seeks to enter another country generally must first obtain a visa, in this case from a Thai Embassy/Consulate, which is placed in the traveller's passport, a travel document issued by the traveller's country of citizenship.

Certain international travellers may be eligible to travel to Thailand without a visa if they meet the requirements for visa-free travel, or a Visa on entry.

Having a visa allows you to travel to a port of entry, airport or land border crossing, in Thailand and request permission of the Immigration entry clearance officers to enter Thailand.. While having a visa does not guarantee entry, it does indicate a consular officer at an Embassy or Consulate abroad has determined you are eligible to seek entry for that specific purpose. Ultimately Immigration clearance personnel are responsible for admission of travellers to Thailand, for a specified status and period of time. The Immigration departments also have responsibility for immigration matters while you are present in the country.



The frequently read, or spoken terms ‘Marriage or Retirement Visas’ are not only misleading as to one’s Immigration status, but the terminology is factually incorrect. Thai legal websites, even Immigration officials often use the incorrect terms as a means to describe the purpose of staying in Thailand. If you’re not a native English speaker then learning the term ‘Retirement Visa’ is a far less daunting task than having to learn to say ‘Extension of stay based on Retirement’, or a ‘Non Immigrant O single entry Visa’

They can be forgiven, but for those who are native English speakers, understanding your Immigration status and the correct terminology is important, especially when you have a question to ask.

Here, I try to explain the differences between a Visa and an Extension of permission of stay and the various conditions attached to each.

A Visa is issued by a Thai Embassy/Consulate in another country and only allows travel to a port of entry in Thailand and request permission of the entry clearance officer to enter Thailand. Your length of stay granted by the entry clearance officer on arrival in Thailand is determined by the Visa type subject to Thailand's Immigration Act. This is known as your ‘permission of stay’.
A Visa comes in the form of a ‘Vignette’ or ‘Apostille’ affixed into your passport.

Visa validity is different from the period of stay.

Visa validity is the period during which a visa can be used to enter Thailand. The validity of a visa is granted with discretion by the Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate-General and is displayed on the visa sticker.
The period of stay is granted by an immigration officer upon arrival at the port of entry and in accordance with the type of visa. The period of stay granted by the immigration officer is displayed on the arrival stamp. Travellers who wish to stay longer than such period may apply for extensions of stay at offices of the Immigration Bureau located in the provinces. For information on applications for extension of stay, see the Immigration Bureau website at https://www.immigration.go.th/en/

There are 3 main common Visa types available for the reason and/or purpose of ‘Retirement’ or ‘Marriage’ in Thailand.
The Non Immigrant Non O single entry Visa. (based on retirement or Thai family/spouse).
The Non Immigrant Non O multiple entry Visa (based on retirement or Thai family/spouse).
The Non Immigrant Non O-A multiple entry Visa (based on retirement)

The availability and requirements for obtaining the above Visas differ from country to country and Embassies to Consulates, so check you meet the requirements before making an application. The O-A type Visa for example will only be issued to those holding residency status in the Country where they apply.

Extensions of Stay based on ‘Retirement’ or ‘Marriage’, are ‘Permits’, not Visas.
They are a rubber inked stamp posted in your passport and obtained from internal Immigration offices, not Thai Embassies/Consulates. They extend your permission of stay from the entry of a Visa after it's expiry. On entry the entry clearance officer will grant a period of entry displayed on the entry stamp, permitting you to stay until a certain date. It is this permission of stay granted at entry that you extend.
A Visa cannot be extended. A single entry visa is USED on entry, whilst a multiple entry visa is USED on the expiry date, after which it's no longer valid.

You can apply for an extension of permission to stay based on retirement or marriage (subject to meeting the financial requirements) within the last 30/45 days of any of the above permission of stay periods of the above Visa types.
For 1 year extension applications you must have been initially granted a Non Immigrant type Visa. This has to be done at the local Immigration of the province where you are residing

An annual extension, unlike a Visa, does not allow entries into Thailand. It is not an extension to your Visa, which expires on the ‘enter before’ date, or on entry, It only extends your permission of stay in Thailand, for 365 days, subject to making 90 day reports.
Above the ‘extension stamp’ a separate stamp stating either ‘retirement’ or ‘marriage’, only denotes the purpose on which the extension was issued. The second line of each extension stamp states the length of permission of stay granted and reads as follows;

Extension of stay permitted up to….....(date)………… (Note, not extension of a Visa.)

If you wish to leave and re-enter Thailand on an extension of your permission of stay, you must first purchase a re-entry permit to keep your extension valid. A single re-entry permit cost 1,000 baht, a multiple entry costs 3,800 baht. They are only valid for the period of the extension and expire when your current extension expires.
Once again if you read the extension stamp in your passport fully, it states the following;
To keep your stay permit, re-entry permit must be made before leaving Thailand.

Notification of residence must be made every 90 days.
If you do happen to leave and re-enter Thailand during your permission of stay, this will change the due date of your next 90 day report.
Your next report will now be due 90 days from the day of the re-entry date. (Inclusive).
90 day reports are only required when spending more than 90 consecutive days in Thailand.

There is however one abnormality to the above information.
Many foreigners arrive in Thailand on a Tourist Visa or Visa exempt entries, only to discover that a 1 year extension of stay obtained from Immigration can only be issued if you have a current Non Immigrant Type Visa.

In these situations Immigration offer a ‘procedure', whereby you can apply for a change in Visa status from a Tourist Visa to Non Immigrant, or apply for a Non Immigrant from a Visa exempt entry, but purely as a prelude to applying for a 1 year extension of stay based on Thai family/wife or retirement. Proof of funds for the required type of extension must be submitted before they will proceed with the application. You must have more than 15 days permission to stay remaining on your current entry type and two visits to Immigration are required, several days apart.
The change of Visa status process and financial requirements can be found here:
For the purpose of retirement;
For the purpose of Thai wife;

There are those who will still be sceptical and state the correct terminology is just semantics. Every type of Visa or Extension comes with different conditions attached as you can see from the above examples. All I can add is that if you want the correct answer to a question, then the correct terminology is important.
If in doubt, look at the last filled page of your passport.
Is it a piece of paper bearing a Vignette and wording ‘Kingdom of Thailand’ across the top. If so, you obtained it from a Thai Embassy/Consulate and it is most certainly a Visa.
The words ‘Marriage’ or ‘Retirement’ will never appear on a Visa.
If it’s a rubber stamp bearing the words ‘Extension of Stay permitted up to’ and the reason for issue stamped above, either ‘Marriage’ or ‘Retirement’ then you obtained it from an Immigration office and it is most certainly a permit, not a Visa.

Please open a new topic if you have any questions about this information.



  • Like 7
  • Thanks 4
  • Cool 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This topic is now closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By posting on Thaiger Talk you agree to the Terms of Use