Guidance

Living in Thailand

Official information British people moving to and living in Thailand need to know, including residency, healthcare and driving.

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.

You risk a heavy fine, detention and deportation if you overstay your visa. More information about overstay in Thailand can be found on the Information about visa overstay and deportation guide (PDF, 464 KB, 3 pages)

Healthcare

General information is on our travel advice for Thailand page.

The NHS has information for people moving abroad.

Hotline number for local ambulance service is 1669.

Medical treatment

If you need emergency medical assistance, dial 1669 and ask for an ambulance. You should contact your insurance or medical assistance company promptly if you are referred to a medical facility for treatment. Most private hospitals in Thailand have an international liaison department with English-speaking staff who will assist patients, their relatives and insurance companies. Some big public hospitals also have an international liaison department but most staff often speak little or no English. You can find English-speaking doctors in Thailand.

Prescription and Medication

Prescriptions issued in the UK are widely accepted at hospitals and pharmacies across Thailand. Patented brand name medication can often be considerably more expensive than locally produced equivalents. Most private hospitals and larger pharmacy chains have English speakers available, should you require a consultation in the event of an unplanned extension of your stay. You should check your prescriptions are legal in Thailand.

See information on bringing medication into Thailand from the Royal Thai Embassy, London.

Some prescribed and over the counter medicines that are available in the UK are considered controlled substances in Thailand. Restrictions tend to apply to medication containing narcotic and psychotropic substances.

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

Medications which are only available on prescription in the UK like Viagra, Cialis and Valium are readily available in popular nightlife districts across Thailand. Medication sold on the street may not be genuine and/or may have been stolen. Taking medication without medical advice or a prescription can have serious health consequences.

Health insurance

Thailand and the UK do not have reciprocal healthcare agreements. You should buy comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you enter the country. Most Thai insurance companies will only provide health and medical cover for people up to the age of 70.

You can visit the official website of Thai General Insurance Association (TGIA) for more information on insurance requirements according to your visa type.

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.

If you are resident in Thailand, you should ensure that you have taken out an appropriate health insurance policy. If you’re here on an employment pass, check with your employer if health insurance is part of your employment package.

If you’re a visitor, arrange comprehensive travel insurance before you travel. Make sure your policy covers:

  • medical evacuation, including air ambulance services, in case you need to be flown home by these means
  • full medical cover (medical bills can be expensive)
  • repatriation of your remains in the event of death
  • repatriation of your family in the event it is necessary for you to return home due to illness or injury

Coronavirus

See NHS advice about COVID-19, including symptoms, testing, and self-isolation.

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

Find further information on what you need to know about coronavirus in Thailand in the coronavirus section of Thailand Travel Advice.

Testing

If you think you have COVID-19 symptoms, you should call the Thai COVID-19 Hotline on 1422.

If you need a COVID-19 test, Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health has compiled a list of private and government-managed testing facilities. The list can be found on Coronavirus section of Thailand Travel Advice.

You can also input your postcode on Search for Covid (in Thai) to find COVID-19 hospitals across Thailand.

Vaccinations

If you are over the age of 18 and a resident of Thailand you can register for your first Covid-19 vaccination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA). If you are having trouble registering please contact the MFA directly at foreignvac@gmail.com or call them on +66 (0) 2572 8442.

The type of vaccine administered will depend on availability and location. You will not be able to choose which vaccine you receive. More information is available from the Department of Decease Control.

Alternatively you can register for a vaccine appointment at any hospital where you have prior medical records or at hospitals that offer vaccines for purchase.

Proof of vaccination

The Ministry of Public Health have launched two covid-19 health passes.

The ‘Digital Health Pass’ may assist with domestic travel and access to services from shops and other venues if needed. You will either have to have been fully vaccinated in Thailand or had a negative covid-19 test result. Download the Mor Prom app (in Thai) from:

You may need a 13 digit number in order to register. Either use the 13 digits from your ‘pink’ ID card for foreigners or use the reference on your COVID-19 Vaccine Appointment Card. For further details contact the Mor Prom call centre on +66 (0)2 792 2333.

A ‘Covid-19 Certificate of Vaccination’ for international travel is available from the Department of Disease Control (DDC). Please contact the Provincial Public Health Office where you live for details on how to obtain your certificate. Further details are also available from the DDC Facebook pages.  

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.

Tax

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.

Pensions

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.

Benefits

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 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 involve 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 a 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 Bikes

Riding quad bikes can be dangerous. It is also illegal to drive one on the road in Thailand, even though they are available to hire on the roadside.

Coach Travel

There have been a number of serious 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.

Voting

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.

Births

See register a birth abroad.

Deaths

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).

Pets

See travelling with pets.

Emergencies

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.

Disclaimer

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.

Published 14 January 2014
Last updated 9 December 2021 + show all updates
  1. Edited Healthcare section under 'Proof of vaccination' - added details on how to obtain a 13 digit number for use with the Mor Prom app.

  2. Updated Coronavirus section: added link referencing Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health list of private and government-managed COVID-19 testing facilities.

  3. Healthcare section updated with information about covid-19 testing, vaccinations and proof of vaccinations in Thailand.

  4. Information about visa overstay and deportation guide created

  5. Update to Driving In Thailand

  6. Information relating to COVID vaccinations added

  7. Complete revision of guidance to ensure it's up to date and accurate.

  8. First published.