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The new six months visa to Thailand and how to use it


Last edited: September 18, 2016 at 09:19:52

INFORMATION LAST UPDATE SEPT 2016

 

Nearly one year after its launch in Nov 2015, the rules of the game on the new six months visa or Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV) have changed, thus still confusing travellers.

 

What does it offer?

The METV is a flexible long term tourist visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for a maximum period of 60 days each time, during an entry period of 6 months.
Essentially, it's a flexible tourist entry visa which already includes a multiple re-entry permit.
 

Purpose of the METV

With the METV, the Thai government aims to make Thailand more attractive to longer-term tourists.
Tourists now can choose to get a:
  • Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV): valid for 3 months, each stay maximum 60 days.
    Fees: about USD 30-35 (depending on where you apply)
  • Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV): valid for 6 months, each stay maximum 60 days.
    Fees: about USD 200 (depending on where you apply)
The formerly popular double-entry and triple entry tourist visa were abolished with the introduction of the 6 months visa, and in a way you can say that the METV replaces them.
 
The new six months visa to Thailand - multiple entry tourist visa
The new six months multiple entry tourist visa can be stretched to last 9 months
 

Benefits of the new METV and who should use it

The METV is designed as a flexible in-and-out visa, ideal for travellers to for example Southeast Asia who want to do several countries in a timespan of 6 months, with Thailand as their main (visiting) base.
In essence, it’s an unlimited entry tourist visa, you can go in and out of Thailand as many times as you wish within a timespan of 6 months, and every time you enter Thailand you can stay for 60 days. The good thing of this visa is that you don't need to go to Immigration anymore to get a re-entry permit.
 
The main benefit of the METV therefore is flexibility to stay up to 2 months whenever you want, and you only have to go once to the Thai Embassy / Consulate in your country of residence to get that.
 

Alternatives to the METV are:

So, it makes sense to use the METV if you think that during the next 6 months you might be staying longer than 30 days (visa-on-arrival / visa-exemption) or longer than 2-3 months (SETV) for a few times.
If your trips are planned and fixed, you can of course work with a combination of a few visas-on-arrival / visa-exemptions and/or SETVs which might be a bit cheaper in the end, but if you like the flexibility and want to save yourself the effort of having to go to an Embassy again, the METV is great of course.
For long-stayers, the METV is much better than a combination of visa-exemptions / visa-on-arrivals because the Thai authorities generally don't like you to use that more than twice per year.

 


THE MAIN BENEFITS OF THE NEW MULTIPLE ENTRY TOURIST VISA ARE
FLEXIBILITY TO GO WHEN YOU WANT AND
COMFORT TO APPLY ONLY ONCE



 

Is the METV cost-effective?

If a Single Entry Tourist Visa costs you USD 30 and the Multiple Entry Tourist Visa USD 200, the METV will be much more expensive if you can plan your trips and just buy 2 SETVs. But don't forget, the METV automatically includes the multiple re-entry permit, which normally costs you about THB 4,000 so then all combined it's not that expensive. Again, only if you need the flexibility and comfort that the METV provides.
 

Is the new six months visa good for Digital Nomads and long-stayers in Thailand?

That depends on how much of a nomad you are and how much money you're willing to spend on visa and necessary travel. Essentially, the METV allows you to stay for a maximum period of about 9 months (6 months + 60 days as a last entry + 30 days extension).
 
If you want to stay in Thailand for a full year without leaving the country, you could also consider some kind of non-immigrant visa like the education visa, a volunteer visa etc. (although Immigration is always becoming more strict on that).
If you fly out of the country every 60 days, you can use the METV to stay in Thailand for up to maximum 8 months.
 
Some of the requirements of the METV can be troublesome for some digital nomads, such as: a letter of employment, proof of sufficient finance and the need to apply from your country of residence. So, compared to the old situation where you could stay on a double-entry or triple-entry tourist visa for about 6-9 months doing border runs only, the new METV is not really an improvement for the digital nomad who can't comply with all the new conditions.
 
By the way, there is no visa in Thailand which is specifically designed for Digital Nomads or location-independent-workers, and it's highly unlikely there will ever be one. The introduction of the new METV (and the abolishment of the double- and triple-entry tourist visa) can work out well for the Digital Nomad who is truly travelling, because it provides comfort and flexibility at a reasonable price, but it's not an improvement for Digital Nomads or long-stayers in Thailand who stay too long are are more seen as Digital Settlers in the eyes of the Thai authorities.
 
Nobody knows exact numbers or backgrounds of Digital Nomads in Thailand, but most likely the new METV doesn't get a warm welcome by most of them.
 
Read more about why a Digital Nomad Visa is not likely to happen.



THE NEW MULTIPLE ENTRY TOURIST VISA IS ONLY GOOD FOR THE DIGITAL NOMAD
WHO HAS MONEY IN THE BANK
CAN APPLY FROM HIS HOME COUNTRY AND CAN SUBMIT THE NECESSARY DOCUMENTS
BUT IT'S BAD NEWS FOR THE POORER DIGITAL SETTLER WHO WANTS TO STAY LONG-TERM



 

Maximizing your stay with the METV

UPDATED DEC 12, 2015

 
Immigration confirmed that the entries you get with the METV are normal tourist entries just like before. This means that you can renew an entry by just doing a land border crossing (in Maesai for example), you don't need to fly. Also, you can get a 30-day extension at the Immigration office at THB 1,900.
 
All this means that the maximum period you could stay on one METV is about 9 months.
The official entry period of the METV is 6 months. You could (re-)enter the country just before the 6 months have passed, then your next entry starts and this way you could stretch your maximum stay to about 8 months: 6 months + 60 days = about 8 months. After that, you could apply for an extension.
 
A full year itinerary to stay in Thailand at lowest costs using the METV could then be like this:
- get the METV from your home country -> about THB 6,000
- do 2 border runs or fly out every 60 days; -> about THB 600 x 2
- re-enter Thailand just before the 6 months are over, then your last 60-days entry starts again -> about THB 600
- apply for the 30-days extension at Immigration -> THB 1,900
- go to Vientiane and get a SETV -> THB 6,000
- extend it at Immigration THB 1,900.
 
Total costs: about THB 17,900 for a stay of 9 months so that's nearly THB 2,000 per month. The most expensive part is your necessary trip to Vientiane.
 

Requirements of the METV

The official requirements of the METV are:
  • passport must be valid for another 6 months
  • you have to apply from your home country or show evidence of proof of a residence permit of the country where you're applying
  • bank statements showing a balance equal to at least USD 7,000 during the past 6 months for each month
  • letter confirming employment (or in case of self-employed: business license; in case of student: proof of being a full-time student) - although some Thai Embassies have waived that requirement
  • copy of airplane ticket / e-ticket / proof of itinerary for your first entry into Thailand
  • proof of bookings of accommodation for the first entry into Thailand

The practise and implementation of visa rules can differ a lot between Thai Embassies and Consulates all over the world, so some Embassies might not ask for all these requirements but in theory they could.
 

Advantages and disadvantages of the new METV compared to the old double entry and triple entry tourist visa

The advantage of the new METV lies in comfort and flexibility for those who travel frequently (every 1-2 months) in and out of Thailand:
  • you apply only one time
  • multiple re-entry permit is included in the price
  • you can fly in and out as many times as you want within 6 months
  • maximum total stay about 9 months (but with crossing a border in between)
The disadvantage of the METV compared to the old double and triple entry tourist visa especially for those who want to stay long-term is:
  • you have to apply from your country of residence
  • you have to show a solid bank statement of USD 7,000 during the past 6 months
  • you have to show confirmed flight and hotel information for your first visit
  • maximum total stay about 9 months compared to about 12 months with the old triple entry tourist visa
  • total costs on visa, extensions and travel were cheaper with the double and triple entry visa, if you stay in Thailand all the time.
     

Remaining unclarities and assumptions

The Thai authorities aren't really good at dispersing clear and undisputable information about all details of visa matters, and so it is for the METV. A good summary of the new requirements for the METV is by the Thai Embassy in Washington (more info here). 
 
As for further particulars with regards to the implementation of rules of the METV, we have to wait for experience from people.
 
 

UPDATED JULY, 2016

 
In July 2016, Immigration stopped people at the airport in Chiang Mai who had a METV and asked for the receipt proving payment at the Embassy or Consulate, as it appears that many Embassies / Consulates don't provide for the METV anymore. The computer system of Immigration isn't good enough to check the visa number so Immigration in Chiang Mai can't verify the authenticity of a visa issued in an Embassy.
Most likely, not enough people have been able to apply for the METV given the rather strict and difficult conditions, so as we expected the METV might soon be history.

Some sources

Most Embassies provide this kind of letters, confirming the same.
 
multiple entry tourist visa notice
Notice Embassy in Copenhagen. Source: Facebook
 
 multiple entry tourist visa notice
Source: johnnyfd.com
multiple entry tourist visa notice multiple entry tourist visa notice
multiple entry tourist visa notice
Embassy in Washington
 

multiple entry tourist visa notice
Notice from Embassy in Italy, source: Facebook

Multiple Entry Tourist Visa notice from Vientiane
Notice from Thai Embassy in Vientiane. Source: Thai Embassy Vientiane, http://vientiane.thaiembassy.org/en/news/announce/detail.php?ID=313

 

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Olli Posted on November 22, 2015 at 04:21:26
The Volunteer visa by CM Buddy is a doubtful enterprise, the other visa he offers you can easily get by yourself. There are still schools that provide 1-year education visa. I wouldn't get my visa from CM Buddy, don't even think the guy has a work permit and if there is trouble with your visa provider you can get into trouble yourself and your visa will be revoked. Same happened for some schools that had doubtful practises, student from those schools got their visa cancelled and had to leave the country.
Pete Posted on November 02, 2015 at 16:57:48
Sounds interesting. What kind of 1-year special visa is that that you get from buddy?
Bob Jones Posted on November 02, 2015 at 15:45:30
Everyday I am here it becomes more obvious that Thailand only wants tourists and retirees in this country

Thankfully I have one of those 1 year special visas from chiang mai buddy. Sure it cost more but it is year I can stay and not have to worry about immigration. Although how much longer the pay for stay visa options will exist is a worry.
LivinLOS Posted on November 02, 2015 at 12:14:44
Its amazing how this is even a discussion for digital nomads..

Tourist visas are a visa class that does not allow you to work in Thailand.. Working is doing anything for money, adsense, blogging, any activity even if its not yet making you money !! Stop screwing it up for the rest of us who stick to the rules.

http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/work-permit-thailand.php

Tourists are not allowed to work in Thailand. If they want to, they need to have their visa changed into a Non-Immigrant B Visa.
Chad Posted on November 02, 2015 at 09:44:18
I just returned to Thailand from my home country so can't get a METV for this stretch. After reading this article and considering my options, would it not make just as much sense to get a visa on arrival, pay to extend that visa for another month, then exit the country and repeat as necessary?
Edis Posted on November 02, 2015 at 09:43:18
Thanks for the info. I'm planning to stay in Thailand for 6 months to do bicycle touring across the country. I don't have a job and only getting $400 USD/month from my apartment rent back home which i use for travel. I also have $8000 USD on my saving account. So the best for me is to apply for the double entry visa before 13th November i guess.
Admin Locator
Admin Locator Posted on November 02, 2015 at 07:38:52
Hi Andrew, thanks for your comment. We'll edit the text accordingly so that it's more clear to everyone. You're right, passport holders from many countries have a visa exemption for 30 days, often people call this a visa-on-arrival, but indeed it's nothing you have to apply for.
The reference to the multiple re-entry permit being included in the METV is made in comparison to the old situation where you would need to buy a separate re-entry permit before you leave Thailand so as to not loose your entry on a 'normal' tourist visa.
Hope that's clear and we'll edit it with all your comments so it's as clear as possible.
Andrew Posted on November 02, 2015 at 07:22:08
I'm surprised that an article that's otherwise quite well researched still incorrectly calls a visa exemption a visa on arrival, and doesn't really mention about the advantages of this over the METV for anyone who's planning to keep re-entering the country.

I also didn't really get the references to "multiple re-entry permit is included in the price". That's the point of this visa, not a freebie that Thai immigration is throwing in out of kindness.
Greg C. Posted on November 02, 2015 at 07:08:07
Wow, I thought this was a way out of the hassle with the student visa but now it appears even worse with all the requirements. This is really a sh*tty visa that only targets high-end tourists



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