Getting Visas for the UK and Thailand
In this article we will compare the processes of getting visas for
the UK and Thailand.
It is a lot easier to apply for a UK visa now than it used to be, although I don't
yet know whether the success rate is any higher. Some of the questions are just as daft though, that is for
It used to be that you downloaded the Visa Application Form (VAF), filled it in and
sent it back to to the embassy. You could also pick up a VAF or have one sent to you by post. You also had to
attach some photos and the fee.
Two or three weeks later, you were granted or refused a visa at an interview. Any
interview set for a Friday was bad news, because every Friday interview resulted in a refusal.
Nowadays, you fill in the VAF online and it is automatically sent to an agency for
checking. You also have to print off a hard copy for yourself, which you need to take with you to the interview.
This means that you cannot attach a photo or a cheque.
In some countries you can pay on line by credit card or PayPal, but in some you
cannot. You cannot yet pay on line in Thailand. However, you must pay one way or another before you go to the
interview. In Thailand, this can be done in the bank downstairs from the agency.
The bank will give you evidence that you paid. Take that, your photos and and your
copy of the VAF to the interview. Please note that you may not take any electronic equipment into the interview
with you, so you may want to take a friend with you to mind your phone, camera or laptop.
When you have filed your form on line, you are told to make an interview with the
agency. This is very easy. You choose a date and a list of available times is shown to you. Select one and then you
can print out an appointment form which has the details on it. You will have to show that to the guard, before you
will be granted admission to the agency.
The agency will take your biometric data at the interview and attach this to your
application for a UK visa. The application is sent to the embassy within an hour or two after the interview. It all
seems very efficient.
If you need a rush job, you can get an interview on a Saturday, but there is a
surcharge of $50 on top of the $130 cost of the application, so it is quite expensive. For this, the applicant may
receive a 180 day visa with multiple entry opportunities.
A 12 month visa in Thailand costs $65, but if you also want a multiple entry visa it
costs $130, so a visa for Thailand is cheaper than its UK equivalent. Most expats just go for the $65 visa and stay
This is fine if you only go home every couple of years, because the multiple entry
option is an extra that can be added any year. If you need to go home, you can preserve your visa by buying an
extra exit and re-entry for $30.
There are regional offices where you can apply for a visa. I have to go to Nan,
because it is the nearest office to my registered address. You cannot just go anywhere you like if you have a
registered address. Sometimes the cost of getting to the police station is more than the visa.
The cost to me for the 330 mile round trip is about $60 by return taxi and takes
about 12 hours. However, if I go by bus, I can stay in a very good hotel in Nan for two nights and travel there and
back for $60, which makes a nice break.
A UK visa can only be obtained in Bangkok, which for us means a 650 mile round trip
and two nights in a hotel costing about $150.
Visas are a necessary evil to foreigners all over the world, we all know that, but
back-to-back applications should be easier - more automatic and after the first visit to the UK, subsequent visits
should not be as difficult as the first one.
It seems like a huge waste of time, money and effort to keep checking people for the
same things year in year out when the people concerned are just a middle-aged, married couple with no history of
Although getting visas for the UK and Thailand are different in process - the UK visa
is far more automated - it still takes a great deal longer to get a UK visa than its Thai counterpart.