I have been lucky enough to travel to quite a few Visa on Arrival countries. In fact, the very first country that I had visited was Sri Lanka, which then had a visa on arrival for Indian citizens. Things, however, were very complicated when I was traveling to Europe, which required a Schengen Visa and that meant tons of paperwork and then waiting for the application process to go through.
Thailand off late have exempted Visa requirements for Indians which means you can just plan a trip overnight and head out. Especially tourist from Kolkata have an advantage considering the distance between Kolkata and Bangkok. Prior to my recent trip to Thailand, I had quite a few doubts and found it difficult to find a single source to get all the consolidated information. Therefore, I had decided that when I come back I would write one consolidated blog covering all the variables.
Types of Thailand Visa for Indians
As an Indian you have four options when it comes to Thailand Visa, this includes both paid and free visas. These are as follows:-
Sticker Visa from the Embassy or Consulate
E-Visa on Arrival
Free Visa on Arrival (Pre Filled)
Free Visa on Arrival (Hand Filled at the airport)
Sticker Visa from the Embassy or Consulate
This is the regular Visa service from Thailand government which you can either apply through VFS Global from any one of their office or from Cox and Kings Global Services. You need to visit their offices submit your passport along with form filled, photograph and the necessary fee for the Visa. Please note that apart from the Visa charge from Thailand embassy there will be a service charge from these private agencies.
If these two organizations have offices in your city then the process becomes easier else, it has to be routed through another agency and can take additional time.
E-Visa on Arrival
This is applying for an Electronic Visa online directly on the site and getting an approval printout. With this, you can directly proceed to Immigration Control at any of the control points in Thailand. This is not a free option but a paid service. Instead of a sticker on your passport, you will get the electronic Visa on your email which you need to print out and carry with you. The cost of this E-Visa id 600 TB for regular and 2500 TB for Express service.
E-Visa on arrival is only accepted in these following airports:-
Suvarnabhumi International Airport
Don Mueang International Airport
Chiang Mai International Airport
Phuket International Airport
Link to get E-Visa https://thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com/thailand/online/home/index
FAQ about E-Visa https://thailandevoa.vfsevisa.com/thailand/online/home/faq
Free Visa on Arrival (Pre Filled Online Form)
Use this option if you are planning for Visa on Arrival in Thailand. This form is the same form, which you would have filled up manually with your own handwriting in the airport itself. Once you fill up the form, you have to take a printout and attach a photograph of yours when submitting this document at the Visa counter at the airport. This process is supposed to expedite the process, which otherwise the Visa officer would have done at the counter by filling up the information in the system.
Rest of the process is the same as mentioned below in the Free Visa on Arrival (Hand Filled at the Airport) section.
I would personally not recommend you to do this process, as the Visa officer will anyways prefer to fill in all the details again.
Free Visa on Arrival (Hand Filled at the Airport)
This is the most common type of Visa that people usually opt while traveling to Thailand. When you land at the airport follow the signage that will take you to Visa on Arrival. Please note that photography and videography are strictly prohibited thus put those devices away. The blue gate clearly marks Visa on Arrival and the countries that are applicable. Luckily for Indians, it’s Free Visa on Arrival, which was started end of last year and is supposed to continue till the end of 2019 and might be extended later.
There will be two queues one on the right is Fast Track Visa on Arrival and the left section is regular Visa on Arrival. Normally it takes around fifteen minutes to an hour to get Free Visa on Arrival but if you are in a hurry then you can take the right lane and after paying a fee of 200 Thai Baht, you get your Free Visa on Arrival. Fast Track generally takes less than ten minutes so use this option if you want to get through this process fast.
Documents Required free Visa on Arrival
You need a valid passport obviously with at least two free pages as the visa stamp itself takes a full page and then would need the other for immigration in and out stamps. You need to produce printout of your return flight tickets and hotel accommodation confirmation email or any document that confirms your hotel accommodation. If you are staying with a friend or a relative then you would need an email or letter confirming that they will host you during this period. Along with this, they might want to look into your boarding pass which they use to verify the information that you would have filled in the Arrival Card which was handed over to you by the cabin crew.
Fill up the Visa on Arrival Form, which is available out here at the entry gate of Visa on Arrival section, fill in all the details in complete whichever is applicable and do not forget to write your return flight number.
At the Visa on Arrival, counter hand over all the documents (Passport, Visa on Arrival Form, Arrival Card, Boarding Pass, return ticket printouts and hotel accommodation receipts or email). The officer will check the application and match it with the other documents submitted and then after getting convinced will put the passport along with arrival card in a plastic bag which has a specific number attached to it and hand you a token with the same number. You have to then proceed to the next counter and wait for the visa officer to complete the stamping procedure.
The photograph that is required for an individual to attach with the application form is very different from any other country as this is not a passport size photograph but a photo having a dimension of 4 X 6 Centimetre. It’s best to have your photograph in this dimension, as there have been incidents when an individual had to have his photo taken at one of the photo booths at the airport who charge up to 700 TB. Thus, get this done in India only where they would charge you around 50 to 80 INR.
Minimum Thai Baht Currency
As per the Visa policy of Thailand an individual who is opting for Tourist Visa must have 10,000 Thai Baht with him individually and in case of a family the amount is 20,000 Thai Baht. The Visa officer may or may not ask you to show the currency as a proof of fund. Personally, for me in all these years of travel, I have never ever had to show any currency proof. It is completely on the Visa officer if they want or not usually, they are used to profiling a passenger thus they can guess to a certain extent as to who is a genuine tourist and who is not.
The person in front of me who was also from India had to show this minimum fund which he, of course, had in US $ while another passenger from another country had his Visa rejected because of insufficient fund. He cried and pleaded but it did not help.
Dollar or Thai Baht What To Carry?
Both works as you can carry a minimum of 10,000 Thai Baht (individual) currency equivalent in US Dollar also. Please keep in mind the currency conversion rates for buying and selling currency is different thus you may lose in multiple currency conversion. In Kolkata, there are many currency sellers from whom you can directly buy Thai Baht with Indian Rupee, make sure you compare the exchange rates before selecting a particular vendor. I have sometimes used the service of Book My Forex, which is an online forex service and have found their rates almost at par with the market.
Getting You Passport
After the Visa officer has taken your passport and given you the token you need to wait at the next counter for your passport which would have the Visa stamped. With five to ten minutes, a uniformed representative of the Visa office will call out the token number and when your turn comes hand over your token and you will be given your passport with the Thai Visa stamped. Usually, you will be given a single entry Tourist Visa with a validity of 15 days within which you must leave the country.
Immigration Passport Control
Once you have the Visa approach the Immigration section and hand over your passport and Arrival Card. If you have E-Visa then you can come to this section directly. The immigration officer will scan your passport and register your entry and stamp your passport with the entry date. Next, the immigration officer will take your photograph so you would have to look straight into the camera. A portion of the Arrival Card will be torn away from the perforation and you will be handed the Departure Card section, make sure you keep this little piece of paper safe as this will be required while exiting the country during your departure.
Checked In Baggage
You will get your checked in baggage after getting your visa and after your immigration process thus by this time your baggage is sure to arrive at the luggage belt as announced by the cabin crew. If it takes a longer time then you will find your luggage kept in front of the luggage belt and not on it as by then other flight might also use the same luggage belt. If by any chance, you do not find you’re checked in luggage then please contact the airline office as sometimes they might keep it aside.
Overall it was not a tiring experience getting Visa on Arrival in Bangkok if given a chance I will avail this service again as you get to save some money with which you can do some additional shopping at Amazing Thailand.
- Have all your relevant documents required for Visa on Arrival in your hand baggage, as you will only get your Checked in Baggage after you complete the Visa and immigration process.
- Try to get only 1000 or 500 Thai Baht currency notes when you buy them here in India.
- Keep in mind that only currency notes are converted when you come back to India thus if you have some coins in foreign currency then use them up.
- It is always advisable to carry photocopies of your Passport.
- Keep a note of the address and contact details of Indian Embassies and Consulates in Thailand. In case of an emergency, you can call them anytime.
- While filling up the Visa and Arrival Card make sure you fill genuine details.
I was invited to this FAM trip by Thai Smile and Tourism Authority of Thailand in India along with other bloggers and media representative. Other team members included Poorna Banerjee, Debjani Lahiri, Tanayesh Talukdar, Kirti Mahima, Mohammad Masood Alam, June Mukherjee, Gopanjali Roy & Sutrshna Barua. Thank you Thai Smile and Tourism Authority of Thailand for this opportunity.