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Guidance: Living in Thailand

Before you go

See our travel advice for Thailand for up-to-date information on local laws and customs, safety and emergencies.

See moving or retiring abroad.

Visas and residency

See entry requirements for Thailand in our travel advice.

If you need to apply for a visa before travelling to Thailand, contact your nearest Royal Thai embassy.

If you are already in Thailand, contact the Thai Immigration Bureau with all visa and immigration issues.

See also answers to common questions about visas by the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

You risk a heavy fine, detention and other severe penalties if you overstay your visa.


See our travel advice for Thailand.

Thailand and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country.

You should also make sure you’re covered by health insurance for UK treatment or you’ll be charged by the NHS for any care you receive in the UK.

Most Thai insurance companies will only provide health and medical cover for people up to age 70.

The NHS has information for people moving abroad.

Most private hospitals in Thailand have an international liaison department with English-speaking staff who will assist patients, their relatives and insurance companies. Staff in public hospitals often speak little or no English.

You can find English-speaking doctors in Thailand.

You should also check your prescriptions are legal in Thailand. See information on bringing medication into Thailand from the Royal Thai Embassy, London.

You must apply for a permit to bring drugs containing psychotropic or narcotic substances into the country.


You should follow the advice of the Thai government and your local authority. You can also read Thailand travel advice for our latest guidance.

For information on getting a COVID-19 vaccine as a UK national in Thailand, see our coronavirus travel advice.

Working and volunteering in Thailand

If you plan to:

  • work
  • volunteer
  • conduct business or investment activities

you must apply for a non-immigrant visa at a Royal Thai embassy and, once you have this, a work permit.

You should make arrangements through your employer or volunteer organisation and ask your nearest Royal Thai embassy for advice and information.

Your volunteering organisation must be legally registered with the Thai Ministry of Commerce. You will need a recommendation letter from the volunteer organisation for your visa application and the work permit.

You should get your UK educational certificates legalised before you leave the UK.

Police certificates

You can apply for a Thai police clearance certificate, if you’ve previously lived or worked in Thailand.

You can apply for a police certificate, if you’ve been asked to provide your UK police records.


See tax if you leave the UK to live abroad and tax on your UK income if you live abroad.

See information about taxes in Thailand from the Thai Revenue Department.

We recommend you get professional advice on paying tax in Thailand.

You may be able to pay National Insurance while abroad in order to protect your State Pension and entitlement to other benefits and allowances.


See State Pension if you retire abroad and new State Pension.

Life certificates for UK state pensions

If you get a ‘life certificate’ from the UK Pension Service, you need to respond as soon as possible – your payments may be suspended if you don’t.


See claiming benefits if you live, move or travel abroad.

Find out which UK benefits you might be able to get while you’re abroad and how to claim them.

Many income-related benefits such as Pension Credit and Housing Benefit can’t be paid if you’re abroad for more than 4 weeks.

Driving in Thailand

See driving abroad and road travel in Thailand.

Also see :

If you are involved in an accident, you can contact:

191 for Police Emergency Assistance

1155 for Tourist Police

If you also require urgent medical attention, you or others can contact:

1669 for Emergency Medicine Service

1554 for Surgico Medical Ambulance and Rescue Team

Road Travel

Roads in Thailand can be excellent but there are also a lot of road traffic accidents. You should be extremely careful when deciding to drive any kind of vehicle in Thailand.
To drive a car or ride a motorcycle in Thailand

  • you must have the correct licence. You can apply for an International Driving Permit if you already hold a UK driving licence, or you can apply for a temporary Thai driving licence

  • you must make sure you have adequate and appropriate insurance for the category of vehicle you’re using

Note that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is illegal and you risk being detained, fined or banned from driving.

If you don’t follow the rules above it may invalidate your travel insurance if you have an accident or injury.

Riding a Motorcycle

A high number of road traffic accidents also involves motorcycles. The World Health Organisation (WHO) rates Thailand as one of the world’s deadliest country for fatalities on motorcycles, citing an average of 5,500 related deaths annually. A number of British people have been killed or seriously injured in accidents. Exercise extreme caution if you hire a motorcycle and always wear a helmet – it is illegal not to.

Hiring a Vehicle

If you decide to hire any kind of vehicle, do not hand over your passport as a guarantee (it is a legal requirement to carry identification with you at all times). You should offer an alternative proof of ID such as a photocopy. Make sure you hire from a reliable rental shop, that you are covered by your travel insurance, and check the small print of the lease agreement. Motorcycles or scooters for hire in beach resorts are often unregistered and can’t be used legally on a public road.

Quad Bike

Riding quad bikes can be dangerous and there have been serious incidents involving them. It is also illegal to drive a quad bike on the road in Thailand, even though they are available to hire on the roadside.

Coach Travel

There have been a number of accidents involving overnight coach travel. If you are in any doubt about the safety of your transport provider or are involved in an incident, ensure you record the vehicle registration information, date, time, and location of incidents and contact the Department of Land Transport on 1584.


See voting when you’re abroad.

British citizens living abroad can vote in some UK elections – you’ll need to register as an overseas voter.


See register a birth abroad.


See what to do after someone dies and what to do after a British person dies in Thailand.

Getting married

See getting married abroad.

Renewing passports

See overseas British passports applications and get an emergency travel document (sometimes called an emergency passport).


See travelling with pets.


Thailand has the following emergency numbers:

  • 1155 – tourist police bureau
  • 191 – local police for a general emergency
  • 1669 – emergency medical services

If you need urgent help, contact your nearest British embassy or consulate.

Accommodation and buying property

See buying a property abroad.

Generally foreign nationals are not allowed to own land in Thailand. You should contact a lawyer if you are considering buying property or land.

Other useful information

Returning to the UK

To move your pension to the UK, contact the International Pension Centre.

See tax if you return to the UK.

Your right to free NHS treatment depends on the length and purpose of your residence in the UK, not your nationality. See NHS: cover your healthcare abroad.

See bringing your pet to the UK.


Please note that this information is provided as a guide only. Definitive information should be obtained from the Thai authorities. The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office will not be liable for any inaccuracies in this information.


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