Legal Issues in Thailand

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When coming to Thailand on visit or for living, we must have a valid passport and visa. There are no exceptions to that, if you wish to live legally  here.  Photo Credit: Silvia Muda


Being an ‘Expat’ means enjoying the novelty, comfort, and some luxuries never experienced back at home, but also could mean facing situations and challenges never experienced at home. We leave behind Home and the security that all that means. However, now  living in a foreign country, we must prepare paper work for visas, or to think about getting a work permit, if the situation asks for that .

As we understand this, having already experienced it all ourselves, we will help you by giving the basic aspects you should be thinking about, based on our own experience and research. Additionally, we suggest where to gather further information in each case.

We are introducing you to Pattaya, so you will make your own informed decisions.


Immigration and Visas

In order to enter Thailand, we must have a valid passport issued by our own country  and an appropriate visa.

It is important to have in mind that  Visa types and requirements vary depending on the reason for a foreigner’s entry  into Thailand and the length of their stay.

There are different  reasons for coming to Thailand, therefore, there are different kind of visas, and different requirements. Coming to Thailand as a tourist for three months is not the same as coming  for more than one year;  coming to Thailand as an employee of a foreign company is not the same as trying to get a job here; being a student is clearly not the same situation as coming to Thailand to enjoy your retirement, and so on.

Employment is an important issue to have in mind at the time of planning to come to live in Thailand.  Unless a foreigner has a skill that cannot be done by a Thai national, legal employment in Thailand is very difficult.  A completely different situation is when you are relocating into  Thailand being a foreign company’s employee, so if this were the case, your company should handle or assist in the visa situation for you and your family.

Having said that, we are listing  the different types of Visa for entering Thailand. However, due to the importance of this  issue, which shouldn’t be overlooked,  we highly  advise you to check any further information, such as  requirements, visa fees,  extension of stay at the  Ministry of Foreign Affairs , Kingdom of Thailand’s  website:

Different types of Visas for travelling an living in Thailand


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It is important to have in mind that there are various types of Visa issued by the Thai government, depending on the reason for a foreigner’s entry into Thailand and the length of their stay. Photo Credit: Silvia Muda

Transit Visa

This type of visa is issued for  traveling through Thailand in order to go to another country  or to participate in sports activities and also for any person in charge or crew of a conveyance to a port, station or area in the country.

Tourist Visa

Some countries have bilateral agreements with Thailand, so in those cases it is not required to apply for a tourist Visa. If  that is not the case, you should apply for a Tourist Visa at a Thai embassy in your own country or on arrival. It is highly advisable to check this before traveling.

Non-Immigrant Visa

There are several different types of non-immigrant visa depending on the reason for staying in Thailand namely:

  • Official Duties Visa ( F ): for those who come to Thailand to perform official duties.
  • Business Visa ( B): for those who come to Thailand to conduct business, to work, to study teaching course, to work as an English teacher, to take scuba diving or boxing lessons, to work as a sport coach, to do an internship, to work as a film-producer, journalist or reporter for a short period.
  • Investment Visa ( IM): To invest with the concurrence of the Thai Ministries and Government Departments concerned.
  • Investment business Visa ( IB):To invest or perform other activities relating to investment, subject to the provision of the established laws on investment promotion.
  • Student visa ( ED): for those who come to Thailand to study, to come on a work study tour or observation tour , to participate in projects or seminars , to attend a conference or training course , to study as a foreign Buddhist monk.
  • Journalist- Film Producer Visa ( M): for those who come to Thailand to work as a film-producer, journalist or reporter.
  • Missionary Visa ( R): for those who come to Thailand to perform missionary work or other religious activities with the concurrence of the Thai Ministries or Government Departments concerned.
  • Scientific Research Visa ( RS): for those who come to Thailand to to conduct scientific research or training or teaching in a research institute
  • Specialist Visa ( EX): for those who come to Thailand to to undertake skilled work or to work as an expert or specialist.
  • Retirement and others activities Visa (O): to stay with the family, to perform duties for the state enterprise or social welfare organizations, to stay after retirement for the elderly, to receive medical treatment, to be a sport coach as required by Thai Government, to be a contestant or witness for the judicial process.
  • Over 50 years old Visa (O-A): for those who are aged 50 years old and over and wish to stay in Thailand for an intended period without the intention of working.
  • Diplomatic /Official Visa: For foreigners and their families who will assume duties at a foreign Diplomatic Mission or Consultant or International Organization

Courtesy Visa

On  official request, Thai Embassies and Consulates-General might  grant courtesy visas to diplomatic/official/ordinary passport-holders who wish to enter the country on official duty and/or other purposes.

Coming into Thailand with children:

When traveling  abroad with children, we need to be more careful yet. Thailand is not an exception. Coming to Thailand as a single parent is not the same as when a child comes with both parents; coming to Thailand with a  one-day old baby is not the same as a baby of foreign parents, born  in Thailand; also, it is not the same situation whether one of the baby’s parents is a national Thai, and so on. As this is a very sensitive topic, it is important that you have all information available at hand before making any move.

We found these two websites where you could go for further information:


If only I’d known…   

  • At the time of applying for a visa , please be aware that Nationals of certain countries are required to apply for a visa at the Thai Embassy or Consulate-General in their home – residence country or at the designated Thai Embassy. Therefore , it is highly advisable  to contact the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate-General to find out where they may apply for a visa to Thailand before departure.
  • Please  be also aware that requirements vary for every expat’s country of origin . What is required and /or denied for one country may be different for another.  It is always wise to remember that the Consular/Immigration officer reserves the right to request additional documents as deemed necessary.
  • There are requirements for the passports for entering the country, namely it should be valid for not less than six months before its expiring date and  have a minimum of six empty pages. But this could change at any time, so it is very important  to check this information before coming to Thailand.
  • If we stay past the time allowed on our visa by few days, we just pay a fine, but it is strongly advisable to be careful and avoid doing so. Overstaying your visa is a serious offense, incurring large fines or deportation and blacklisting, so it is much more convenient to stay within the limits of your visa.
  • Once settled in the country, It would be advisable to register at your own country’s embassy, giving your new address and contact details.
  • Once we get our visa, we have to  go to Immigration Office to demonstrate that we are still in the country, every three months. This is called ’90 days’ paper work. There is no exception to this rule, everyone must do it, including children. It is quick and we don’t have to go personally, so one person in the family could take all passports and get it done .
  • Also, it is not necessary to go exactly on the expiring 90 days date, we could go within 7 days before or after. It is not so uncommon just to forget the ’90 days’ deadline. If it were the case, a fine should be paid, but it is recommendable  to go in the stablished period.
  • When coming for a period a little bit longer than a short holiday and expect to leave, for example, to visit another country and re-enter Thailand before your visa expires, it would be wise to get a re-entry visa. Not doing so means the existing visa would expire automatically when leaving the country.
  • Please, be aware that all visas expire on the expiration date of your passport. So, it is strongly advisable to apply for a new passport well before the current  one expires, just to have enough time for re-apply for the new visas. Have in mind that the current visa must be on the new passport, it is not allowed to hold visas on old passports and the new passport at the same time.


Giving Birth and Dying in Thailand

In Chinese philosophy, yin and yang describes how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another. Many tangible dualities (such as light and dark, fire and water, expanding and contracting) are thought of as physical manifestations of the duality symbolized by yin and yang.

Yin and Yang represent every conceivable pair of opposites: birth and death, growth and decay, health and illness, etc. Everything that is born must die, and everything that grows will one day decay, and we can assume that what is Yin today is destined to become Yang in the future, and vice-versa…

Although these are philosophical thoughts, it is also true that while living in Thailand, babies might be born, and other people might die. We have to be prepared for both situations, not only emotionally, but also legally. We need to know in advance what paper work  we should be doing and, what is most important, the requirements under the Thai legal system.


Giving Birth in Thailand:

  • Babies with foreign parents

Foreigners born in Thailand, do not receive Thai citizenship, but still the birth must be registered. The hospital will file a certificate of birth at City Hall. To obtain the newborn baby’s  birth certificate you must go to the City Hall. You should have both parent’s passports, marriage certificate and a parent’s work permit. The birth certificate is written in Thai, so you must have it officially translated. It is a good idea to do this straight away, as there are sometimes errors in the original birth certificate. Then, you should go to your embassy to apply for a passport for the baby. A child born in Thailand and staying in Thailand may apply for Thai citizenship on reaching the age of majority before they reach the age of 22 years, if they choose.

  • Babies with foreign -Thai parents

Children that have one Thai parent are automatically granted Thai citizenship. It is advisable for the non-Thai parent to report the birth to their Embassy who will issue a Consular Report of Birth Abroad or a Birth Certificate.

A birth in Thailand is legally recognized under Thai Law only if it has been registered at the District Office. Birth registration must take place within 30 days of the birth and the birth certificate is issued after the paperwork is completed. The paperwork and birth certificate are in Thai and it’s unlikely that anyone will speak English but a translator is allowed to help. The birth can be registered by the mother and father or by the mother alone.

On completion of the birth registration a copy of the Birth Certificate is given to the parents.

You could find further information about this issue visiting this website:


If only I’d known…  

  • Please, be aware that embassies of different countries might require different documents for issuing a newborn baby’s passport, so it is advisable to contact the embassy of your own country in advance.
  • Also, if you are here for a long stay and have children it is advisable to have individual passports for them instead of having them on your own passport. This is important, because under Thai law, parents cannot leave the country without the children they arrived with ( as stated on your passport). So, if one parent is leaving with the children, do not forget to carry a written, signed and embassy notarized statement from the other parent giving permission to do so.


Dying in Thailand

At a difficult time as the death of a relative, there are a number of procedures and formalities that must be observed, and these may be quite different from those in the native country.


We found a site with very useful information about this sensitive topic, especially the procedures following a death in Thailand. Visit this website:

The importance of preparing a will in Thailand

  • Thai last will

For many people, estate planning and the preparation of a last will and testament is a dreaded thought and something that is rather delayed or  avoided. However, it is highly advisable to settle such affairs ,especially when living in Thailand for long term or permanently, and it is particularly important if you have property here.

Thai inheritance law does not recognize the idea of a statutory share, that means that any heir can be fully disinherited and if there are no living relatives and no Thai will, the estate devolves to the Thai state.

Having this in mind, it is highly recommended to have a Thai last will and testament naming all your assets, such as property, bank accounts, vehicle, and personal items as well as naming your heirs because if there is no Thai will, the statutory heirs have the burden of proof that they are next of kin.

You should also expect that it can take a considerable amount of time for a will to advance through probate and the estate and possessions released to beneficiaries.

  • Living will

Thailand now has enacted laws that govern issues related to the so-called “living will”, which means your instructions as to what to do if you are seriously injured and left in a vegetative state.


You could find more information related to this delicate topic visiting this website:


Coming into Thailand with pets:


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Pets are part of our family, so when we decide to move into Thailand, we should request at the Thai embassy of our home country which are all the requirements to bring them with us. Photo Credit: Silvia Muda

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Lets keep enjoying of our pets bringing them in the safer way. For doing so, it is wise to consult the Thai embassy in our home country, before travelling. Photo Credit: Silvia Muda

It might happen that you are moving to Thailand with your husband, children and a pet, or pets. Yes, it wouldn’t be so unusual. It is possible to bring them, but there is a standard process that should be followed. For that reason, is recommendable to contact  the Thai Embassy / consulate in  your own country and follow their advice. Thai rules could  change from time to time.

We found these websites where you could go to know more about this issue, before traveling:

Department of Livestock Development website:www.dld.go.thMo



After living in Pattaya for a while you will realise that there are more, much more than what we just have listed in this page, but  trying to include all it is just impossible. Pattaya is a city that you must experience yourself. As we do. Every single day is a new experience, a new challenge.  But we really hope  that we had been of help with the information collected in this page. Although you might find further information and tips  when you were already  living here, we tried to give you a basic help. If you have some comments, please, lets know. In this way, we will keep linking Pattaya together.

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