Pattaya City Expats Club meets again; Visa Challenges and Opportunities in Thailand

Darren McGarry from Key Visa explains to his PCEC audience some of the intricacies of dealing with Thai Immigration.

It was a large turnout for the Pattaya City Expats Club meeting on Wednesday, 24 November, for their first meeting since they were suspended last April due to the measures reinstituted to reduce Covid-19 infections due to another outbreak. The speaker was Darren McGarry from Key Visa on a topic of much interest to Expats in Pattaya, “The Latest Visa Challenges and Opportunities in Thailand.”

Darren is from the UK and has been a Visa Agent in Thailand for over 17 years. He mentioned that he was the first Visa Agent to open an office in Pattaya and that his experience allows him to help Expats and others with their visa needs whether it be dealing with Thai Immigration matters or helping those that want to obtain a visa to visit other countries.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on his business as it has many others, he has been able to keep open if these difficult times because he has a loyal clientele of Expats who reside here in Thailand. As a facilitator knowledgeable in the requirements of Thai Immigration and how they operate, he often is asked to assist those that encounter difficulties.

MC Les Edmonds presents Darren McGarry with the Pattaya City Expats Club’s Certificate of Appreciation for his interesting and informative talk on Thai Immigration issues.

He said one of the areas that tend to confuse retirees is the difference between a Non-Immigrant “O” Visa and a Non-Immigrant “O-A” Visa. He explained the difference noting the “O-A” Visa is specifically for retirees and is obtained from a Thai Embassy or Consulate in a person’s country of residence. A retiree can also enter Thailand using Visa Exempt or a Tourist Visa. Once in Thailand, they can apply for the “O” Visa from Thai Immigration for the purpose of retirement.

In deciding which of these methods to use, a retiree needs to know that health insurance is required to obtain the “O-A” Visa and to obtain annual extensions of the permitted stay at Thai Immigration. If the retiree applies for the “O” Visa within Thailand, there is no requirement for health insurance for getting the Visa or for annual extensions of stay. Another issue he mentioned was added documentation “legalization” need for marriage certificates if a retiree’s spouse wanted to extend their stay without the need to have additional financial resources.

Darren mentioned that the new requirement for those wanting to enter Thailand (Thailand Pass) can be confusing. Consequently, his company is preparing guidance that will be available to all by visiting their website at

Darren also noted that many have express concern stories that Thai Immigration will require proof of Covid-19 vaccination for obtaining extensions of stay. This is fake news and is not being contemplated.

Club member Ren Lexander interviews Darren McGarry after his presentation to the Pattaya City Expats Club. To view the YouTube video of the interview of Darren McGarry, visit:

In conclusion, Darren mentioned that he is offering a free service for PCEC members. By visiting his office and showing their membership card, PCEC members can provide their Covid Vaccination Certificate as well as their passport showing current Immigration status. His staff will copy this information onto a card that will fit in a wallet.

MC Les Edmonds then brought everyone up to date on the latest events. This was followed by the Open Forum where attendees can make comments or ask questions about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya. For more information visit the PCEC’s website at

Meeting dates in December 2021 are as follows: Wednesday 1 Dec, Thursday 9 Dec, Thursday 16 Dec, Wednesday 22 Dec and Wednesday 29 Dec.

To view the YouTube video of the interview of Darren McGarry, visit: