Thailand double-entry tourist visas could soon be available for foreign travelers, according to a government source.
Until now, multiple-entry visas have only been available to visitors from Singapore. Citizens from other countries have had to reapply for a visa each time they wished to enter Thailand. The new double-entry visa plan would allow travelers to cross the border to neighboring countries like Cambodia and Malaysia and cross back into Thailand later on their trip.
Why is the Thai government considering this plan? When would it take effect? And how will travelers be able to obtain double-entry Thailand visas?
Can You Enter Thailand Multiple Times?
At present, multiple-entry visas for Thailand are only available for nationals and Long-Term Pass Holders of Singapore.
Visitors of other nationalities may only apply for a single-entry Thailand tourist visa, which allows a maximum stay of 60 days and allows the holder to enter Thailand once within 3 months of applying for the visa. After they leave Thailand, they must reapply for a visa if they wish to enter the country again.
Citizens of a number of countries can apply online for a Thailand eVisa on arrival. This allows travelers to pass through border control quickly and easily with a fast-track line for eVisa holders.
Like paper visas, the eVisa on arrival allows a single entry to the country.
However, reapplying for an eVisa is currently the simplest and most practical way to re-enter Thailand.
The new plan to introduce double-entry visas will likely change all this in the near future. Travelers holding such a visa would be allowed to enter Thailand more than once without reapplying.
Why Is Thailand Introducing a Double-Entry Visa?
According to senior government official Kobsak Pootrakul, the Thai government is planning to introduce a double-entry tourist visa as part of a number of initiatives aimed at boosting the tourism industry.
Mr Kobsak, deputy secretary-general to the prime minister, said that the government’s aim was to draw 42 million foreign visitors to Thailand in 2020. The target for 2019 was 40 million, but the total number of visitors for this year look set to bottom out at 39 million. This is likely what has prompted the Thai government to consider a double-entry visa.
One Thai media outlet reported that the government was even considering a multiple-entry visa, which would presumably allow visitors to enter Thailand more than twice.
How Do I Get a Multiple Entry Visa for Thailand?
Very few details regarding the new visa system have been confirmed with any certainty. It is likely that the double-entry Thailand visa will be available in the same ways as the single-entry visa: via a Thai embassy or online (for eligible nationalities).
In the absence of a multiple-entry visa, applying online for another eVisa is currently the fastest and simplest way to enter the kingdom a second time. Check if you meet the current requirements for the Thailand eVisa.
In his statement, Mr Kobsak commented on the possibility of foreigners being able to apply for the double-entry visa online. Whether the list of eligible countries will be expanded is unknown.
How Will the Thailand Double-Entry Visa Work?
There will first be a trial period lasting 3 months, according to Mr Kobsak. During this time, double-entry Thailand visas will be available for foreign visitors. It will allow these visitors to enter Thailand twice within its period of validity. The length of this period of validity has not yet been announced.
There will also be 2 land entry points open 24 hours a day during these 3 months:
- Nong Khai (on the Thailand-Laos border)
- Sadao (on the Thailand-Malaysia border)
It is unknown exactly when this trial period will begin. Reports have suggested it will either begin around the end of 2019 or the beginning of 2020, but there has been no confirmation of this from official government sources.
Data will be collected during the trial regarding the number of tourists applying for and using double-entry visas and the number of people using the 2 border checkpoints in the extra hours they will be open for. This data will then be analyzed to gauge the effectiveness of these measures so that the Thai government can make a decision on whether to continue.
Until further details are revealed by the Thai government, it is unclear how exactly the new Thailand double-entry visa will work. In the meantime, travelers of eligible nationalities can apply online for a Thailand visa once they leave the country the first time. This is currently the most straightforward way of reentering the country.