One of the most regularly asked questions to Starfish by upcoming volunteers is ‘What is the Visa policy in Thailand?’, I myself asked this same question when I came out as a volunteer as well. Thankfully though, now to my constant research about how exactly to go about getting a visa and how long you can stay on each one, I have become pretty well versed in the whole thing. As always though, the best place to look for information is the official web pages for the country you are a national of as some countries have different rules about entering Thailand.
For British Nationals, those people with a British passport, there are two official websites you can visit for all the rules and regulations when it comes to volunteering in Thailand, these are the Embassy page and the Consulate page. Personally I prefer the Consulate website as it is much more user friendly compared to the Embassy page, the people there are also much friendlier from my experience as well. I called them several times to find out about my visa for moving here and they were far more helpful than the team in the London Embassy.
The question you need to ask yourself once you have decided to set out on a Starfish project is;
How long am I going to spend in Thailand?
Now we will have you for as long as you are willing to travel out for, we love you guys and never want you to go home after all! However most people who come to volunteer with Starfish, stay for around 2 to 4 weeks at a time which makes getting a visa incredibly easy as you don’t need to do anything, just get into the airport and you are done, if you are staying more than 4 weeks then you need to look at getting an official pre approved visa.
Pre approved visas
My first 6 month visa for Thailand 😀
When it comes to getting a visa that is longer than the standard 30 day one, in my opinion the best one you can get is the 6 month multiple entry visa. Now this visa allows you to come into Thailand via land or air three times before it is declared null and starts from the day of your first entry. You can send off for this visa to either the Embassy or the Consulate depending on where you are in the country. It can take up to a month to get processed by post and costs between £50-80, you also need to enclose 2 passport pictures and your passport must have at least 6 months left on it from the date you wish to first arrive in Thailand.
You could however just do what I did, which I think is easier and means you don’t have to send your passport in the post, is to actually book an appointment and go to the Consulate at Hull, where I went, or the Embassy in London. When you get there they ask you to fill in a couple of forms which ask for your flight details and the address of where you will be staying so make sure you take them, and your passport with you. Once you have filled in the forms and they have been checked over by a member of staff you then pay you fee and they disappear off with your passport. When they return it to you it is all stamped and approved; providing you aren’t a mental criminal or anything 😀
The some of the forms you need to fill out for the 6 month visa. Ignore my murderesque passport photograph 😀
Visa on arrival
On arrival visa 😀
If you aren’t planning on staying over 30 days then you just get a visa on arrival to Thailand, so when you fly in you are immediately assigned with a 30 day visa which is free – bonus! You can travel within Thailand for those 30 days but as soon as you leave that visa will be voided so if you are wanting to travel around Asia then you need to make sure you give yourself enough time to see everything you want in before you have to go to the next place. There are some countries that are not allowed this free visa though so make sure you check this page to see if you are one of those countries.
You can also get visas on arrival if you travel over a land border as well, these however only last for 15 days. So if you are backpacking around Asia then it might be an idea to arrange your visa before hand or just fly into Thailand so that you don’t over stay your visa and get into trouble.
Just always make sure that if you are applying for a visa before you arrive or at a land crossing, that you have 2 passport photos with you and you have at least 6 months left on your passport, otherwise they can refuse you entry.
That is pretty much it 😀
The websites for both the Embassy and the Consulate can be pretty confusing but if you just decide how you long you want to stay and plan accordingly then you will be fine. Visas always have a huge amount of stigma attached to them and for some countries they can be a pain to get, but for Thailand they are relatively easy to get and you don’t have to provide any personal information 😀
So now that you know how to get here without becoming an illegal alien you just need to choose the project you want to do don’t you?! Well here is the Starfish Website so you can pick your project 😀 For a look at some new updates take a look at the Starfish – Volunteer Thailand Facebook page, the Starfish Tumblr page. Alternatively you can also check out the Instagram page which is
#starfishvolunteers or even my personal Instagram which is constantly being uploaded to, by clicking the blue icon below.
Build. Protect.Teach. Care. – The Starfish Motto