In the last few months, I’ve met a number of teachers in Bangkok, Thailand who arrived in the country on a single-entry tourist visa when coming to look for a teaching job. Not knowing that getting a triple-entry tourist visa is not only possible but will also save them untold problems at a later date, they applied for and were given a single-entry visa instead.
For any teacher planning on moving to Thailand to look for a teaching job, however, getting a triple-entry tourist visa is not only the smartest thing to do, it will also save you many hours of time and quite a bit of money.
Why are teachers getting single-entry instead of triple-entry tourist visas? – Most of the teachers I spoke to about the issue simply didn’t have any idea how Thailand’s visa system worked, or what having a single-entry visa instead of a triple-entry visa meant. Some also chose the single-entry over a triple-entry due to the lower cost.
The difference in cost between a single-entry and triple-entry tourist visa? A tourist visa to Thailand currently costs $40 per entry, with a maximum of three entries on one visa, for a total of $120.
One married couple I recently met in Bangkok decided to only apply for the single-entry visa as they felt the savings for them, a total of $160 for the two tourist visas, was quite substantial. Considering the choice of a single-entry visa will likely cost this couple more than $500 each in visa runs, and the single-entry visa was a very poor choice for them.
Why get a triple-entry visa instead of a single-entry visa? – Let me explain the complicated Thai tourist visa issue as simply as I can.
Each entry you pay for on a tourist visa allows you to stay for three months (90 days) in Thailand (60 days initial plus a 30 day extension given at a Thai immigration office). As long as you don’t leave the country during this time, you can stay for the entire 90 days in Thailand.
With a single-entry visa,however, that is all you get. At the end of the 90 day period you must leave Thailand and go to a neighboring country to apply for, and pay for, another tourist visa if you want to return.
A triple-entry visa, however, allows you to stay for nine months or 270 days in Thailand (60 days, plus a 30 day extension, 60 days plus a 30 day extension, and 60 days plus a 30 day extension).
How you do this is on the day the first entry expires, or the day before if you prefer, you do what is called a ‘visa run’ to a neighboring country. It takes only around 12 hours if you go with a visa run service and, when you come back into Thailand, the second entry on your tourist visa is activated, giving you another 90 days in the country. At the end of the second 90 day period, you again do a visa run that will then activate your last 90 days or third tourist visa entry.
For more information on visa runs, read What is a Visa Run and How Do You Do One?
The real difference in cost between a single-entry and triple-entry tourist visa – Many teachers who come to Thailand to look for a teaching job don’t get a job right away or they don’t get a job with a work permit. What that means is they will have to leave Thailand every 90 days (if they have a tourist visa) and return with a new tourist visa in order to be able to live here.
Doing this, however, requires a substantial financial outlay, with the difference in cost between getting an initial single-entry visa and a triple-entry visa being, frankly, huge — if you plan on staying in Thailand for the 270 days a triple-entry visa would allow you.
Here is the breakdown in cost:
Triple-entry visa (allows up to 270 days in Thailand) – The cost of the visa is $120, the cost of 2 visa runs (at the end of each 90 day period) is $142, and the cost of three 30 day extensions at Thai immigration is $184. For a total of $446.
Three single-entry visas (to give you the same 270 days in Thailand). The cost of the visas is $120, (one single-entry visa x three), the cost of three 30 day extensions at Thai immigration is $184. The cost of traveling to a neighboring country (Malaysia, Cambodia) twice to apply for two single-entry visas is approximately $1,000 to $1,200 (airfare, hotels, and tourist visa costs). Total cost for the same 270 days in Thailand? $1,304 to $1,504.
If you are planning on moving to Thailand to look for a teaching job, always apply for a triple-entry tourist visa. This will give you nine months in the country to look for a job, apply for a work permit and have your new life established before your visa expires.
For more information on tourist visas for Thailand, read the Royal Thai Embassy’s detailed explanation and instructions on how to apply for one.