Chinese citizens will be able to obtain Thailan eVisas from 15 February, according to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Electronic visas will be available for many other nationalities later in 2019.
The new Thai eVisas will save visitors, eliminating the need to physically visit an embassy or consulate. The Department stated that the online application would be simple and that it would process visa applications quickly.
The largest groups of visa applicants in Thailand are Chinese citizens, which explains their priority. The Ministry stated that the eVisa programme would include all countries having diplomatic relations with Thailand over a three-year period.
Chatri Archjananun, Director General of the Ministry’s Consular Affairs Department, said: “Last year there were more than 8 million Thai visa applicants, 85% of whom had applied for a tourist visa, and Chinese travellers were the biggest candidates. ”
The next two nationalities eligible for eVisa will be the United Kingdom (March 1) and France (April 1).
Many nationalities can currently enter Thailand without a visa for limited periods of 14 to 90 days. Visa-free countries include the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Argentina and Russia.
However, it may be necessary for nationalities currently exempted from visa requirements to apply for an eVisa in the future, once the system has been extended.
Government plan to boost tourism with Thai eVisa
The launch of eVisa is part of a larger government plan to boost tourism, which accounts for about 20% of the country’s GDP. In October, the number of monthly visitors decreased for the first time since the beginning of 2017. The Ministry of Tourism is committed to increasing the number of visitors.
Chatri said: “We will conduct a presentation tour in January to ensure that the world is aware of the new service and we should also prepare for the system.
Tourists who use the Thai eVisas to enter the country will not receive a visa in their passport at the time of entry. Instead, they will receive an automatic email alert. The information will also be transferred to the Thai Immigration Office.
As part of the eVisa application, you will need to pay fees. Kasikornbank will handle payments and accept credit and debit cards as well as bank transfers. Over 126 currencies will be accepted. To attract more Chinese applicants, they will accept WeChat Pay, Alipay and China Union Pay.
Applicants also need to meet various visa requirements, including a valid Chinese passport. The Ministry of Thailand will announce more information about eVisa in the weeks leading up to its launch.