So You Want To Take Your Thai Girlfriend To Australia? Here’s what to do 6 months before.
From legalities to making her comfortable, here’s what you’ll need to do.
Preparing For A Trip Out Of Thailand Should Begin Six Months In Advance.
You can never be too ready, or ready too early. It is virtually unheard of that a traveler remembers every little thing or was too well prepared. No matter how buttoned down and squared away you are, the moment the airplane lifts off there will be something you’ll suddenly realize you wish you’d done. Minimize this – start planning right now. Everything mentioned below isn’t urgent… yet. But it will be if you put it off.
First and foremost, you’re going to need to have your girlfriend or fiancee’s visa in perfect order. Don’t delay starting the visa process. While we are absolute experts at all types of visa applications things can take longer than expected and you do not want any snags in your calendar. Here’s the basics of what you need to know, have and do. This may seem like anything other than basic, but that’s why people come to Key Visa to have it done for them. The visa application process for Thai nationals to go to Australia can be an incredible burden on anyone and is really best left to the pros.
Collate Visa Application Documents
You will need many documents to get your girlfriend her visa. The Australia embassy is quite strict about issuing travel visas and navigating the visa process can be, as stated above, a nightmare. Do not wait to start getting your documents ready. If your visa application isn’t totally sorted it will be rejected, and then you’ll have to wait months to try again.
A sponsor letter is a detailed, official letter that explains your living situation, relationship status, financial ability, your intent with your girlfriend and an official invitation for her to come with you to Australia. The sponsorship letter is the cover letter for your visa application and sets the tone for the whole application so the experienced team at Key Visa can help you to ensure that you include all the necessary information.
Your letter must contain the following:
Personal details [1st paragraph]
- Your profiles, DOB, family, marital status, family background.
- Your current address and details of the property owner
- Has the property enough bedrooms for her to stay? Explain how many rooms.
- Include photos
Relationship [2nd paragraph]
- Where and when you first met with full explanation
- How long have you been together
- How often do you visit Thailand
- How you keep in contact
- How the relationship developed with each other
- State about your plan for marriage
- Explain about your plans for the future
- And what is her reason to apply for this visa
Financial Status [3rd paragraph]
- Provide and explain your assets in Australia
- What is your current job, how long have you worked for this company? How much is your salary or annual income?
- Explain the current status of your financial account
- Show responsibility for all expenses
The Australian embassy wants to be satisfied about the legitimacy of your relationship before issuing any relationship-based visas. One very important and easy to obtain supporting document is a timeline of messages between your partner and yourself. If you’re in a legitimate relationship you should have this already: Emails, texts, letters, facebook posts – no modern relationship exists without them. Save them! If you don’t have these already you now have six months to collect them. Don’t worry too much about generating these messages as most Thai ladies create enough electronic correspondence for several relationships, but do be diligent in collecting them.
Proof of Funds
One of the important factors the Australian immigration authority considers when deciding whether or not to grant a fiancee, marriage or other long-term visa is if you can indeed support your lady or if she even needs your support. The Thai government wants to know she isn’t fleeing Thailand and has something to come back to. Both of those mean showing you have enough money. The requirements change from time to time, so check with your embassy or just call us. We’re happy to advise you.
Available funds can be money in an account (a Thai account, in her case), income or a combination of the two.
If your girlfriend doesn’t have a bank account, opening one is simple. Give her the necessary funds in cash or a check or arrange with the teller or customer service representative for a transfer of funds from your account to her new one. She will need ID and a signature and that’s it.
It should go without saying, but: she will obviously need a passport, and it will have to be up to date. Detailing the entire procedure and all the requirements for obtaining a passport is beyond the scope of this article, but here are some of the basics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website:
- Apply during the work week between 8:00 -15:30.
- Apply, in person, at the Department of Consular Affairs, Chaengwattana Rd. or
- At the 3 Temporary Passport Offices in Bangkok
- Thailand’s Overseas Employment Service Center
- Outside Bangkok, she can apply at the nearest Temporary Passport Office:
- Khon Kaen
- Chiang Mai
- Ubon Ratchathani
- Surat Thani
- Nakhon Ratchasima
- The passport services in the locations outside Bangkok are open until 16:30
You will need visa photos. You can get them any photography shop – and there are many, many of them – or even at a bus stop photobooth. Have fun!
Travel insurance is not necessary for every type of visa but the Australian embassy does consider it to be important. Holiday insurance costs vary widely depending upon date and length of travel, any special planned activities, such as skiing or cruising, that you wish to cover and the age, nationalities and medical conditions of everyone you want to insure. Obviously, insuring the both of you will cost more than just insuring her.
Thai insurance companies will have the most experience with insuring Thai nationals, especially for visa compliance, so it isn’t a bad idea to go with one of them if you don’t have a specific preference. Besides being able to interview your partner in her native language and knowing which medical conditions are common to Thai physiology, Thai insurance companies have the right price. AXA’s Travel Smart plans, for example, will insure several million baht worth of misfortune for under ฿3000 for an entire year.
Make sure whichever insurance company you choose has a stipulation for a refund of your premium in case your visa is denied or wait until you have visa approval before buying travel insurance.
You have to provide proof to the immigration authority that you have suitable accommodation for you and your girlfriend. This proof can come in many forms, and depends upon the type of accommodation you have arranged. So, first step is picking where you’ll stay and second step is proving you’ve got it sorted. Here are your choices.
- You’ve got your own place already.
- Prove it with a rental / lease agreement or title. Further proof can be bills to that location in your name.
- You’ll be staying with friends or family.
- Prove it with a letter of invitation from the owner of the house.
- You’ll be renting specifically for the purpose of the visit.
- Again, prove it with the rental / lease agreement. Make certain that the agreement is in effect before your girlfriend intends to travel and lasts at least as long as her planned stay.
- You’ll be staying in a hotel.
- Proof of booking is required and proof of a deposit isn’t a bad idea. Show your credit card bill, booking confirmation and maybe a receipt from the hotel itself.
When entering Australia from Thailand, you may be asked to provide proof of vaccination. There is a perceived risk of certain social infections, malaria and other tropical diseases. It is not a legal requirement to be vaccinated, but getting vaccinated is a really good idea. Vaccines to get include:
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatits B
- Yellow Fever
- Japanese Encephalitis
If you don’t like getting jabbed, understand that not all vaccines are recommended for all travelers. Better safe than sorry, though.
Airports and flights
Book your airline ticket as far in advance as you can. Shop around for bargains, one-offs and subscribe to price alerts. If you don’t already know about them, price comparison websites such as travelocity, hipmunk, and priceline are absolute gems. Check them daily. Subscribe to the twitter feeds of every single airline serving your destination. And here’s a little travel industry trick – many times a flight that continues on to another destination is cheaper than one that terminates at your destination. Book that flight and miss the connection – you just saved a whole ton of money. Just remember to make sure that your bags are offloaded at your destination and don’t continue on without you. This shouldn’t be a problem at most international gateways, but check in advance.
Customs and quarantine
This should come as no shock to anyone but… well, this is Pattaya so it bears mentioning: Please do not try to bring drugs home with you. If you have any substances you’ve come to depend upon, enjoy or carry with you as a matter of course now is the time to start getting rid of them. Steroids are on this list.
Weapons, foods, skins, feather, seeds or pets that are considered endangered or protected in, or a danger to, Australia will also be barred from entering the country. If you need someone to take care of your new pet ocelot, make arrangements long ahead of time. Little Fifi will not be welcome in the land down under, though she might could help with the whole rabbit problem.
Similarly, consider how much cash you’re bringing with you. More than $10,000 AUD or the equivalent in foreign currency must be declared and will incur a tariff. If you want to bring a prepaid cash card, there’s no limit on that but you will end up paying fees in Australia when you try to use it. You therefore may wish to keep money in a Thai account or make other arrangements.
Preparing For A Little Culture Shock
Australians, we know you love to pride yourselves on how laid back, friendly and welcoming you are but no amount of kindness and hospitality can prepare a girl who’s never been away from her family, home country, and everything she’s ever known for just how different a modern, developed, English-speaking first world country is. Just consider for a moment how often and easily people smile in Thailand as compared to pretty much anywhere else in the world and you’ll understand how misunderstandings and homesickness can arise.
To say there are a lot of differences between Thailand and Australia is quite an understatement. From the wildlife to the nightlife, Australia is as alien an environment as you can get compared to Thailand without going to Antarctica or leaving Earth. Making the transition as comfortable as possible is very important to the success of your relationship, and the key to that is preparation. In this article you’ll find a guide to what you should be doing, or should have been doing already, to make sure your Thai girlfriend is happy on her first trip down under and wants to remain or return to your sunbaked country.
If there is one guarantee in life, it’s that your Thai lady does not have sensible winter clothing. You will be traveling with a woman who refuses to turn on the air conditioning when the temperature is only 30 degrees celsius and shivers when it is 25. Buy thick blankets, a winter coat, boots, sweater, hoodie, gloves, socks. Buy them here where they’re inexpensive and pack them even if she thinks it’s unnecessary. You’ll have the last laugh when she sees snow for the first time on a trip to Victoria’s ski areas.
Depending on whether your lady needs brand name, top shelf clothing or not you can find great deals on just the essentials or an entire new wardrobe. Steer clear of any of the big shopping plazas in Pattaya center and instead head out to the Made in Thailand market, the outlet mall by Thepprasit road or go a little farther and visit the Pacific Park department store in Sriracha.
As you’ve no doubt learned by now, food is a huge, huge, huge part of Thai culture. Not only are Thai people not used to western food, they find it strange and much of it is just not appealing. Besides that, one very common complaint you’ll hear from Thai women is that western food will make them “very easy for fat.” That might just be true. You have two options. Number one, try to get her to enjoy western food. If you can find a few common foods she’ll actually like then life will be a lot easier for her when you get to where you’re going. But even if you do manage to find plenty of foods she’ll eat without complaining, or even enjoy, she’s going to miss Thai food as much or more than you’ve missed a really good bar burger, burrito, tacos or steak. She’s been eating sticky rice her entire life and there’s not a thing in this world that can replace it – so start looking for Thai restaurants now, or start investing in a rice cooker and locating some Asian groceries. Let’s face it, most western food is quite boring compared to Thai food. To her it’d be like if you came to a country without salt. Many Thai people travelling abroad have been known to pack their suitcase full with ‘Mama’ noodles – quite a surprise for the immigration officers if they do a spot check on your luggage.
Here are some links to some Asian supermarkets:
266 Liverpool Road, Ashfield (02 9798 9555)
Ashfield Asian Supermarket
272 Liverpool Rd 2131, Ashfield (02 9716 7809)
Fu Tong Asian Supermarket
243/245 George Street Liverpool (2 9605 1992)
Hometown Asian Supermarket
2/422-440 Elizabeth Street (3 9663 2603)
29 Wallace Square Melton (3 9746 9888)
Long Da Asian Grocery
395 Sydney Road Brunswick (3 9388 0603)
Good Morning Asian Grocery
725 Gympie Road (7 3256 3284)
Malindo Asian Groceries
113 Ditton Road Sunnybank Hills (423 085 139)
shop3 / 24 South Pine Road Alderley (7 3161 0511)
As you can see, preparing for the trip of a lifetime can seem like it’ll take a lifetime. But it’s definitely worth it. This trip can make or break your relationship and much time and effort hinges on its success. Whether you choose to let us handle all the headaches for you or go it alone do not hesitate to begin your preparations. From all of us here at Key Visa, best of luck with everything and just let us know if we can help.