To answer all your questions regarding passport and tourist visa requirements in Thailand we have put together an abbreviated explanation below.
First and most importantly, Thailand requires that travelers should hold a passport which is still valid for not less than 6 months when entering the country. Visitors from most Western and South East Asian countries, including USA, The UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and most European countries, do not have to apply for tourist visas, but can obtain free tourist permit at the airport upon arrival allowing you to stay for maximum 30 days. If your country is not on the list for visa exemptions, you can apply for one at a Thai embassy or consulate outside Thailand with very little hassle.
If you do apply and the visa is stamped in your passport, you have to enter Thailand within 90 days of the stamp being placed or it becomes invalid. The time you are allowed to stay will begin counting once you enter Thailand.
If you however plan to stay longer than 30 day, you have to apply for a Non-Immigrant Tourist Visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. This will allow you stay for 60 days. It can be further extended while you are in Thailand for another 30 days, allowing you to stay a total of 90 days.
Border runs have been cut short due to the very recent change in rules regarding overland entry by Thai immigration. Foreigners entering Thailand via border posts at Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Malaysia without securing a prior visa will now be granted only 15 days of stay in the country as opposed to the previous Visa on Arrival, which was valid for 30 days.
However, this change only applies to visitors who have not obtained a visa beforehand, and are entering from the border by land. Those who arrive at the airport without a prior visa will continue to receive a 30-day stamp. Extensions at Thai Immigration after the Visa on Arrival has expired remain at 7 days, after which you must leave the country or pay the penalty and other sanctions for overstaying the visa.
- Always keep your passport in a safe or safety box.
- Carry a copy of your passport on you at all times - never carry the original.
- NEVER give your passport to anyone when renting a motor vehicle other than at your resort.
- Finally, make sure you have travel insurance. If you lose your passport you may need the Insurance to cover all losses associated with the lost/stolen passport!