Everyone who plans to spend an extended time in the beautiful Thai gulf will need to get a Samui visa and deal with immigration at some point, whether you are simply visiting on a long holiday or plan on setting up a new life here. While many nationals are granted a visa waiver when they arrive, those wishing to stay for more than a few weeks will have to make other arrangements.
While few people relish the thought of figuring out the often confusing process of securing the correct visa, this is absolutely essential and staff at the Samui visa and immigration office can help to a certain extent. While tourist visas in Samui are valid for up to six months, year long visas are available for those who choose to work, study or retire here.
This is sometimes referred to as a transit visa and most visitors to Samui will be able to use this visa to travel within Thailand for up to 30 days. Those who hold a passport from any of 56 different countries including New Zealand, the UK, most European countries, the USA and others as well as an onward ticket will be receive this visa without applying in advance.
Visa on arrival
Nationals of a further 20 countries who don’t fall into the above category can receive this type of visa when they arrive. This visa is valid for 15 days and costs 1,000 baht.
Tourist visas in Samui
Anyone from one of 36 of the countries offered visa waivers who wish to stay in Samui, or anywhere else in Thailand, for more than their allotted 30 or 15 days will need to apply for a tourist visa at either the embassy or consulate at home or in a neighbouring country. These tourist visas last for 60 days and can be extended once at Samui’s immigration office for an addition 30 days.
Tourist visas must be used within 90 days of being issued and, while the fee varies from country to country, the cost for extension is fixed at 1,900 baht. Those wishing to stay longer than the allotted extra 30 days can also apply for a multiple entry tourist visa, which provides travellers with up to three entries, each lasting for 60 days, which amounts to almost nine months after each visa has been extended.
Visitors should make sure that they carry bank statements with them when visiting immigration and passing through an overland checkpoint as travellers are occasionally asked to show proof that they have at least 30,000 baht in their bank account for each period of 30 days that they plan to stay. Those who make border hops on a regular basis may also be refused entry for up to 90 days, although this rarely happens.
Retirement visas in Samui
Holders of a clean criminal record and bill of health who are over the age of 50 may be granted a retirement visa. However, they also have to be able to provide proof of a regular monthly salary of at least 65,000 baht or show that they have had 800,000 baht or the equivalent in the bank for at least three months.
Non-immigrant visas in Samui
People who plan to live on Samui or anywhere else in Thailand may apply for a non-immigrant visa. There are several different types of non-immigrant visas in Samui, and these are granted to those who have secured a job here such as teaching, religious work or a journalist posting. Those who have a Thai spouse or dependent child may also apply for a non-immigrant visa.
Non-immigrant visas in Koh Samui allow holders to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days, while those who manage to gather the relevant paperwork to support their application may extend this visa for up to a year. However, the requirements for these visas are constantly changing to clamp down on those who simply want to relocate to Thailand and the best way to get up to date with the requirements is by visiting thaivisa.com.
Foreigners holding a non-immigrant visa who wish to travel abroad before their visa expires can apply at immigration for a re-entry permit. This permit allows the person to re-enter Thailand without cancelling the original visa, while those who plan to hop in and out of Thailand on a regular basis can apply for a multiple entry visa.
Types of non-immigrant visas in Samui
(see the full criteria on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website).
Non-imm B: this is the most common type of visa and is intended for those who have been offered a job in Thailand. Companies must have at least four Thai staff and two million baht for each foreign employee they register, and immigration staff may ask to see the company’s books as well as a valid letter of appointment. It takes around four weeks to convert a Non-imm B visa to a full work permit, and this may also involve several trips to the immigration office.
Non-imm O-A: retirees and those who are taking care of a Thai dependent such as a spouse or child may be granted this type of visa. In addition to the relevant paperwork, applicants must show proof that they have had 400,000 baht or more in a Thai bank account for at least three months, or proof of a regular monthly salary from abroad. Retirees who wish to obtain this type of visa need to have a monthly salary of 65,000 baht or 800,000 baht in the bank.
Non-imm Ed: visitors who want to spend time sunning themselves on the beach without having to seek employment can choose to take a part-time Thai language course, which will provide them with a visa for the duration of their study, usually up to 12 months. Those seeking a non-imm Ed visa must take care to choose their school carefully, as an endorsement is required from an accredited school in order to obtain this visa.
Among the other types of non-imm visa that are less common and have different criteria are;
Non-imm M: this is granted for journalistic work and must be endorsed by an approved media agency.
IM: this investment visa can only be approved through the Board of Investment.
While stiff financial stipulations apply, those who wish to establish a business in Thailand may also be granted a non-imm B investment visas for up to three years.
Permanent residence in Koh Samui
This is perhaps the most difficult type of visa to obtain and many people who have lived in Thailand and established families here have been rejected, largely due to the fact that only a limited number of permanent resident visas are granted per country each year. Those hoping to be successful must be willing to shell out 195,000 and pay a 5,000 baht application fee. Applicants will be given a Thai language proficiency test and be subjected to background checks.
Overstays and extensions in Samui
The staff at Samui’s immigration office are available to deal with all types of extensions, and the process can usually be completed quickly and conveniently, provided you have all the paperwork ready. If your Samui visa is due to expire or your application for a long-stay visa is being processed, the immigration officer will usually grant you a 30-day visa in the meantime.
It is not advised to overstay your visa as you will be charged 500 baht for every day after the visa expired, which can go up to as much as 20,000 baht. Not only is overstaying your visa costly, it can act as a black spot against you and officials have started clamping down on those who overstay, even randomly detaining people for 40 days or more.
Samui Immigration Department
Thaweeratphakdee Road, two kilometres south of Nathon town
Tel: +66 77 421 069, firstname.lastname@example.org
Opening Hours: 08:30 to 12:00, 13:00 to 16:30, Monday to Friday.
You are advised to arrive as early as 08:00.