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yes you need a return ticket to enter thailand

  • bekk

    Joined Travelfish
    13th October, 2010
    Posts: 14
    Total reviews: 2

    hello everyone!
    i just landed in Thailand yesterday and wanted to let everyone know that Thai airways will not let you get on the plane without a ticket out of the country in 30 days or less. at least if you are originating from ALK...
    i had gone with the advice of other backpackers and blogs i read that said you don't need one. but this has changed. a ticket out of the region of SE asia (ie hanoi-toronto in three months) is not acceptable.
    now i have a ticket i don't want!

    #1 Posted: 4/11/2010 - 08:03

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  • bdtjones

    Joined Travelfish
    17th September, 2010
    Location Canada
    Posts: 13

    I would like to point out that if you purchase a Thai Tourist Visa beforehand (I know here in Canada it costs $35) then you don't need proof of an outgoing flight. Much cheaper alternative, plus you have 60 days allowed in the country as well, which is perfect for people who plan on visiting Laos or Cambodia but might want that fifth week in Thailand.

    #2 Posted: 4/11/2010 - 10:41

  • Captain_Bob

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    had gone with the advice of other backpackers and blogs i read that said you don't need one

    If you had asked about it here you would have been warned that you need one (by me at least).

    In countries like NZ/AU/US/UK where the rules tend to be followed it is standard airline procedure to require a flight out of Thailand within 30 days IF you don't have a Thai visa. This is a pre-requisite to boarding the flight, although it is not generally enforced by Thai Immigration on arrival.

    #3 Posted: 4/11/2010 - 12:01

  • oscarcat

    Joined Travelfish
    11th November, 2008
    Location Cambodia
    Posts: 66

    Etihad LHR took same attitude with me and so I had to book a 70€ trip to Phnom Penh. The check in desk informed me I would have been ok with a 3 month rtn but I think they were busking. Just made me get out of Thailand even quicker (not that fond of it)! Was impressed by the speed and efficiency of PP Visa desk @ Airport - although I had forgot a photo ( 2 dollar fine) whole 'plane load processed pdq.

    #4 Posted: 4/11/2010 - 13:30

  • neosho

    Joined Travelfish
    13th August, 2008
    Posts: 386

    I've never been asked, so this is news. It seems to be more the airlines enforcing it than Thai immigration.

    #5 Posted: 4/11/2010 - 18:01

  • Tilapia

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    Bdtjones ... visas are free until March of 2011, so it IS a much cheaper alternative.

    A friend of mine got soaked in Toronto. They made him pay $35. Visa scams in Canada! Who would have thought?

    #6 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 02:50

  • kiaraangus

    Joined Travelfish
    25th October, 2010
    Posts: 13

    hey tilapia- are these tourist visas of the 30 or 15 day variety?

    #7 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 05:36

  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    like the others have said, it isn't Thai immigration that worries about this - it's the airlines. this happened once to my wife while flying United to Bangkok. the gate agent at Dulles Airport in DC didn't want to let her board, but eventually did. the gate agent at her connecting flight through LAX could have cared less about the more than 30 days thing.

    even if there wasn't a free Thai visa, purchasing a 60-day Thai tourist visa is still a simple and relatively inexpensive way to avoid worry about what the airline may or may not do the day you show up for your flight. plus, it gives you lots of extra flexibility for an extended trip.

    #8 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 05:42

  • Tilapia

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    Kiaraangus ... as Exacto mentioned, it is the 60-day visa that is not being charged for until March of 2011.

    #9 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 07:25

  • kiaraangus

    Joined Travelfish
    25th October, 2010
    Posts: 13

    and is it available on arrival (overland) or does it need to be obtained in advance?

    #10 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 08:01

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  • exacto

    Joined Travelfish
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    ki,

    visa exemptions are available on arrival in thailand. you will typically get 30 days if you arrive in thailand by air, but usually only get 15 days if you arrive overland.

    the 60-day tourist visas we mentioned are available in advance only. you would arrange one of those through a thai embassy or consulate abroad. like Tilapia said, they are available for no fee until march of 2011. usually they cost in the US $35 range here in the states, plus whatever it costs for postage both ways if you can't appear in person. i don't know what they cost elsewhere. hope that helps. cheers.

    #11 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 10:50

  • bekk

    Joined Travelfish
    13th October, 2010
    Posts: 14
    Total reviews: 2

    sad days for the asian backpackers! i had to buy a last minute flight to PP for 300NZD that i might be to cheap to change.
    and of course the customs when i arrived did not bat an eyelash at me. i don't think they even looked at me. i bet they have the arrangement with the airline to insist on a return flight so the customs guys don't have to worry about it.


    talapia, when i get home lets find this Canadian visa scammer and chuck apple crawlers at him.

    #12 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 19:51

  • maccaroon

    Joined Travelfish
    5th November, 2010
    Posts: 1

    How sweet it is to be scammed by an airline.

    If you don't have the balls to stand your ground then enjoy being scammed.

    Airlines don't have the authority to refuse entry to a country. That's why they tell you that it's your responsibility to have a valid visa for the country you're entering blah blah blah.

    They do have a responsibility to make a lot of money by fooling people into buying extra tickets.

    Thai immigration don't stop people entering, outbound ticket or not.

    Politely but firmly tell the airline you're travelling out of Thailand overland and that they don't have the authority to decide who enters Thailand and who doesn't and you will report them to your country's Thai Embassy who will promptly make a complaint on your behalf.

    Stop being such pussies when someone in a jacket with a badge tells you what to do.

    I've done it. Airlines are businesses, not an immigration service. Remind them of that and follow through with complaints to get this BS stopped.

    #13 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 22:08

  • exacto

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    i agree that 99 out of 100 or even 999 out of 1,000 times thai immigration will not refuse entry to someone who does not have the required onward ticket. but thai immigration is completely within their rights and regs to do so if they choose and there is nothing you or the airline can do about it if they do.

    this isn't a scam. the airline is just protecting itself in case thai immigration does choose to refuse entry, because if they do, the airline is on the hook to fly you back out.

    i'm not sure playing the tough guy at the ticket counter is the smartest move either. there is a big difference between polite yet firm and being the ass that gets denied boarding. in other words, it is true that the airline doesn't decide who enters thailand or not, but they do decide who gets on their aircraft or not.

    i'm also not sure how complaining would help. you would essentially be complaining to the embassy that the airline is correctly complying with thai law.

    perhaps checking with your airline to see how they interpret and enforce this rule before you buy your ticket is a good rule of thumb and get it in writing. if you don't like the answer you get, choose a different airline. otherwise, that 60-day tourist visa solves a lot of problems and concerns. cheers.

    #14 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 22:43

  • gregmccann1

    Joined Travelfish
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    Location Taiwan
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    I've been to Thailand 13 times and I've never been asked to show anything at immigration. Nothing at all...aside from my passport

    #15 Posted: 5/11/2010 - 22:45

  • Captain_Bob

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    Let's make this clear:
    NO ONE IS SAYING THAI IMMIGRATION REQUIRE PROOF OF ONWARD TRAVEL.

    The airlines do however increasingly enforce the onward ticket rule and yes they can deny you boarding the flight to Thailand. If you have a Thai visa already then no problem. If you don't have a visa that means you intend to enter on a 30-day visa exemption, in which case technically they require you to have a flight out of Thailand within that timeframe.

    However, they may well let it slide if your ticket out is say 90 days on and you use the "will travel overland" explanation. And of course there are instances where they just let it slide altogether because they can't be bothered. The main message here should be:

    You risk being denied boarding of the flight to Thailand if you don't have a visa or an onward flight ticket. Taking that risk is your choice. On arrival to Thailand, however, currently there is no similar requirement.

    Plenty of folks still report "I've been to Thailand X times and never been checked". Congratulations, but the risk of being checked remains.

    Sorry about the all-caps and bold but it's been explained over and over again.

    I keep a good summary of the visa and ticket situation here:
    http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1969547

    #16 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 13:10

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    Captain_Bob you say:
    'Let's make this clear:NO ONE IS SAYING THAI IMMIGRATION REQUIRE PROOF OF ONWARD TRAVEL.'

    Oh yes they do.

    This is from the Thai Embassy website dealing with the 30 day exemption entry stamp:

    -They arrive in and depart Thailand by any means of transport (air, land or sea) through immigration checkpoints, any confirmed tickets to leave Thailand within 30 days from the arrival date at the port of entry in Thailand must be obtained.
    -Confirmed tickets to leave Thailand within 30 days from the arrival date at the port of entry in Thailand must be obtained.

    In all the years I've been travelling to Thailand I have never been asked for anything at Thai immigration and have always sailed through with my 30 day stamp; but I've never had to worry anyway as I've got my ticket to Phnom Penh if they did ask.

    The simple answer is if you're stressed by the thought of getting turned back buy a cheap onward ticket.Who wants to be stressed when you are supposed to be enjoying travelling?

    #17 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 15:16

  • eastwest

    Joined Travelfish
    17th December, 2009
    Posts: 772

    I agree with sayadian.

    And when you think of it: why would an airline be stricter than Thai immigration?

    Airline regulation states

    "You will not be permitted to board your flight without proof that the government at your destination will allow you to leave the airport. Thus, every US citizen leaving or returning to the US must present a valid passport and a travel, student or work visa, if required. Some nations, such as Brazil, require any visitor to obtain a tourist visa before entering the country. Check the US Bureau of Consular Affairs or the embassy of your intended destination for visa requirements."

    The above may differ from country to country but in most countries airlines can be held accountable and could be shued if they let you onboard against these rules.

    Experience may be different but that takes nothing away from the above.

    #18 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 16:40

  • oscarcat

    Joined Travelfish
    11th November, 2008
    Location Cambodia
    Posts: 66

    Not sure how much commission Etihad would get from AirAsia for my €60 BKK-PNH ticket, nor how they'd collect. Unfortunately all airlines and airports have now become laws unto themselves asking us to jump through hoops of their own invention, argue with them at yr only peril, I must say I quite enjoyed my AA experience. I have had to come to Phnom Penh and am returning BKK real soon so went to Thai embassy here. I missed the 11 o'clock deadline for passport deposit, and visas currently have a 6 day turnaround (some national holiday in the middle) faced with a wk's wait I paid 25 bucks to the nice policeman in the booth outside and got my visa at 5pm that evening - gotta love corruption!

    #19 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 21:07

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    :-)
    I wonder how much of that the police passed on.
    Yes,it's nice to see nothing has changed in Cambodia.

    #20 Posted: 6/11/2010 - 23:49

  • Captain_Bob

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    "This is from the Thai Embassy website"
    Embassy websites are rife with erroneous info. Don't belive they are accurate or "up-to-date", some are shamefully outdated. Go back to what actual travellers are reporting first-hand. Thai Immigration isn't the issue. Airlines are the real issue, although as stated it's still hit & miss about being screened pre-boarding. Know the risks and where they exist.

    #21 Posted: 7/11/2010 - 00:22

  • sayadian

    Joined Travelfish
    15th January, 2008
    Posts: 1557

    In S.E.Asian countries if you smile and are polite and give due deference to authority the world is a sweet place and I would imagine that the Thais would never try to make things awkward for you.I expect that if you went along demanding your rights an immigration official would soon produce this requirement out of the rule book and you wouldn't have a leg to stand on.The airlines probably know the Thais aren't going to hassle you but they've probably had the occasional bad experience with a belligerent farang who has drunk too much and has got him/herself turned away.I expect they're just covering themselves.

    #22 Posted: 7/11/2010 - 01:04

  • stef1

    Joined Travelfish
    9th July, 2011
    Posts: 2

    just want to clarify. I plan to arrive in thailand with no pre obtained visa on 27th sept and then fly out to burma by the 20th Oct, I will have proof of my onwards flight, will the airlines/immigration be ok with this?

    #23 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 21:06

  • SBE

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    Yes stef1. You should be fine. Print out your onward flight to show your airline at the airport in your own country when you check in. Your airline will probably require you to show it. It's highly unlikely anyone else will ask to see it.


    I've been asked to show onward proof of travel/visa every single time I've flown to Thailand from Paris for the last 5 years. Doesn't seem to matter which Middle Eastern airline I use, they all seem to want to see proof of onward travel nowadays....don't think it's just an Etihad problem oscarcat.

    Once you're in SE Asia it's different. I've never been asked to show onward proof of travel when I'm flying to Thailand from another country within the SE Asia region. Didn't get asked when I flew from Sri Lanka on Air Asia either.

    #24 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 21:56

  • stef1

    Joined Travelfish
    9th July, 2011
    Posts: 2

    thanks sbe for your quick reply, very helpful

    #25 Posted: 9/7/2011 - 23:25

  • boaby

    Joined Travelfish
    26th January, 2011
    Posts: 29

    Great thank's to captian bob who has explained how it is . you can mail your airline company explaining that you will be travelling overland/sea and would like a cover note
    (before you buy the ticket) or as mentioned by an air asia flight then change the flight for a thai internal flight

    #26 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 00:22

  • Captain_Bob

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    You're welcome. Unfortunately this topic has been hashed over time and time again, and will continue to be as long as the visa and onward ticket "policies" remain so confusing and randomly applied.

    "yes you need a return ticket to enter thailand"
    should be more like
    "yes you need a return ticket to board the flight to thailand"

    ...except of course depending on where you're flying from and who's working the check-in desk that day, and if you don't have a visa which some consulates don't issue unless you have a return flight anyway... blah blah blah clear as mud eh? (insert winky-smiley face here)

    #27 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 16:35

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6349
    Total reviews: 10

    This happened to my mother, and interestingly enough the airline people in Boston - not understanding that laws and rules in Thailand are flexible - decided she needed an early return ticket. So they printed her a fake one! Of course, she didn't need it.

    #28 Posted: 10/7/2011 - 18:18

  • katie84

    Joined Travelfish
    27th February, 2013
    Posts: 1

    Hi sorry I know people are sick of this question but having read the threads I am panicking hopefully unnecessarily. I am due to fly with Eithad on 26th from frankfurt (im british) to bangkok. I have no return flight booked but I do have a non immigrant type o visa which entitles me to multiple entry and is valid for a year. This is due to the nature of my visit. Can some one please answer simply will I have a problem or not because of the visa I have.
    Many thanks

    #29 Posted: 27/2/2013 - 12:30

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