Visas and border crossings forum

Major change in Thailand visa rules

  • somtam2000

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    Effective today, foreign visitors to Thailand will only be granted a single entry by any land crossing. What this appears to mean is that if you enter by land on a 15- or 30-day visa free stay you can no longer leave by land and re-enter on the same thing.

    LAND ENTRY IS ONLY PERMITTED ONCE ON A 15- OR 30-DAY VISA FREE STAY.

    This is an extremely important development that will effect many people's travel plans. But there are many "what ifs" that are yet to be answered.

    Thai visa has a translation of the announcement here:
    http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/725053-final-crackdown-for-border-runners-new-strict-immigratioin-regulation-in-force-from-today/

    This is a big deal. Will update when I hear more.

    #1 Posted: 10/5/2014 - 02:43

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  • somtam2000

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    The most obv what if is:
    "What if I enter on 15- or 30- days then leave to Laos for two weeks, do I need to get a tourist visa to be able to reenter thailand? Or can I get another visa free entry?"

    It is not clear from the announcement if it is only people doing same day turnarounds or if what they are saying is that everyone only ever gets one visa free stay. The time between them is what needs to be spelt out.

    #2 Posted: 10/5/2014 - 03:02

  • SBE

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    And what about people who regularly visit Thailand and already have loads of 15 or 30 day stamps in their passports?

    Does this mean they'll have to get a 2 month tourist visa every time they enter Thailand from now on, even if they aren't staying for long and aren't doing back to back visa runs?

    #3 Posted: 10/5/2014 - 03:15

  • somtam2000

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    @SBE -- nobody knows. According to the second half of the Thai statement on Thaivisa, mid august the same rules will hit for fly in fly out.

    This Thaivisa story (I linked to above) seems to paraphrase the actual Immigration Bureau statement here - if someone wants to translate it, please feel free!

    It seems a very short ruling for a very complex situation and I can't help but think this sudden change is tied to the other developments playing out currently in Thailand.

    The Thaivisa thread has a lot of commentary as well - worth a look.

    #4 Posted: 10/5/2014 - 05:33

  • fondo

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    Well, I can see who this is aimed at. I'm guessing that a 'reasonable time' between exit and entry modification will eventually appear. There's not much sympathy on thaivisa for regular border runners but still, it's a leap into the unknown and major pain for bona fide tourists right now.

    #5 Posted: 10/5/2014 - 22:47

  • somtam2000

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    The discussion on Thaivisa supports Fondo's point that there will be some kinda "reasonable time" between exit and entry. But short of clear guidelines this is really left to the fancy of individual immigration officers, which is far far from ideal.

    They need to clarify it be saying something like:

    "15- or 30-day visa free stays via air-or land can only be granted after a stay outside the country of X-days"

    To which I'd say, a fair number for X would be somewhere between five and seven days out of country as that would encompass travellers looking at short trips to say Angkor, 4,000 islands. Gibbon Experience, Penang and so on. If they stretch it to 2 weeks, then for people making a short hop it makes sense to get a multiple tourist visa.

    The people they're really targeting though, are the serial overstayers -- expats who are living and working in Thailand illegally and doing a run every 15/30 days. There are other, far simpler ways they could have knocked that on the head, but haven't, so I'm still thinking the inconvenience created by this is more a sideshow to other bigger things happening in Thailand at the moment.

    But my conspiracy theories are here nor there -- if you're looking at a trip to SEA that involves multiple entries to Thailand, you're going to need to plan a bit more. We'll be writing more on approaches to this later this week.

    #6 Posted: 11/5/2014 - 09:41

  • DLuek

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    Will be interesting to see how this shakes out. My guess is that regular travelers won't be affected unless the immigration officer has a "bad feeling" about them. People who, say, go to Angkor for a couple days then straight back to Thailand will probably have to explain what they're up to, but it would really surprise me if legit travelers are turned away even if they can show an air ticket out of Thailand within the 15/30 days. But nothing but guesses at this point.

    #7 Posted: 11/5/2014 - 10:07

  • DLuek

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    More detailed info here from Bangkok Post: http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asia/409403/thai-immigration-clamps-down-on-visa-runs

    Key lines include:

    "The law permits immigration officers to give such travellers permission to re-enter for 15 to 30 days, or to deny them permission to enter" - and - "Officials at borderpoints will use their discretion on a case-by-case basis."

    So it appears that regular travelers will be okay, though ultimately it's all up to the immigration officer. Would be best to have a plane ticket out of Thailand to be safe.

    #8 Posted: 12/5/2014 - 09:18

  • somtam2000

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    The discretion, case by case basis bit is a real minefield and while by the sounds of it they're not going to be targeting bona fide travellers, it would be pretty easy to get caught up in this if you've been in and out 3-4 times and "fit the profile"

    More concerning though is that when this moves to flights as well in mid-August as if it continues to work on an arbitrary system then I'd expect all airlines to start requiring that all inbound passengers to Thailand have a valid visa. Why? Because if you arrive in Thailand and get refused entry, the airline can be fined for bringing you in the first place. I can't imagine international carriers willing to leave this to guesswork and I'd expect them to require a valid visa.

    Immigration really have not thought this through at all. They'd be better off to cancel the 15- and 30-day visa free arrivals and just revert to requiring everyone to get a visa. It's straightforward, clear and easy to understand.

    #9 Posted: 12/5/2014 - 21:14

  • Captain_Bob

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    Agree, as if it wasn't confusing enough already, now they've made visa policy ridiculously mind-boggling. It's also going to make processing each entry a complete pain in the arse for Immigration officials having to sift through every page of your passport and determine if you can get another exempt entry and/or if you fit some "profile" deemed as worthy of denial, blacklisting, etc. Now travellers will have to plan much more carefully how many times and by what means they will re/enter Thailand. When in doubt, get a tourist visa with the appropriate number of entries (if possible) otherwise know your limits. A shitty move against freedom-loving travel indeed.

    - Coming soon... electronic fingerprinting
    - “Out-In” visa runs are – apart from a few exceptions – a thing of the past
    - 'a tightening-up on passports was inevitable"
    - "Thirty days should be enough for a normal tourist"
    - "If we believe their purpose in coming to Thailand is not what they say it is, then we will order them to leave and they will be blacklisted"
    - etc.

    http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/725773-immigration-boss-confirms-the-out-in-visa-run-is-dead

    #10 Posted: 13/5/2014 - 03:45

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  • charlottex

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    Hi!
    Thanks for all this information. Did the situation have been clarify? I entered Thailand in May by plan and I left by land. I went to Laos and Cambodia (so 2 months) I would like to go back in Thailand and from there catch a flight to Vietnam. So my question is: if I cross the border by land, will I get a 15 or 30 days entries? I have to know if I want to buy my flight ticket to Vietnam before entering Thailand again. Where can I get this information up to date? Thanks a lot!
    Caroline

    #11 Posted: 27/6/2014 - 23:43

  • Captain_Bob

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    If you're travelling on a G7-country passport (U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan) you will get 30 days entering by land. Other passports 15 days by land. The recent "crackdown" was targeted at wanna-be residents /squatters doing multiple repeat visa-exempt border hops to grab another 15/30 days, but since you've been out for a while and have a flight ticket (obvious tourist) they'll stamp you in no worries.

    #12 Posted: 28/6/2014 - 23:43

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