Photo: .

Visas and border crossings forum

Major change in Thailand visa rules

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/5/2014 at 02:43 admin

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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
 Where has somtam2000 been?   Website   Twitter   Facebook    Flickr    Google+   Instagram   Pinterest 

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/5/2014 at 03:02 admin

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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
 Where has somtam2000 been?   Website   Twitter   Facebook    Flickr    Google+   Instagram   Pinterest 


Posted by SBE on 10/5/2014 at 03:15

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 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
 Where has SBE been? 

Posted by somtam2000 on 10/5/2014 at 05:33 admin

@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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
 Where has somtam2000 been?   Website   Twitter   Facebook    Flickr    Google+   Instagram   Pinterest 

Posted by fondo on 10/5/2014 at 22:47

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 fondo has been a member since 23/6/2006. Posts: 171
 Where has fondo been? 

Posted by somtam2000 on 11/5/2014 at 09:41 admin

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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
 Where has somtam2000 been?   Website   Twitter   Facebook    Flickr    Google+   Instagram   Pinterest 

Posted by DLuek on 11/5/2014 at 10:07 TF writer

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 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by DLuek on 12/5/2014 at 09:18 TF writer

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 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by somtam2000 on 12/5/2014 at 21:14 admin

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 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,566
 Where has somtam2000 been?   Website   Twitter   Facebook    Flickr    Google+   Instagram   Pinterest 

Posted by Captain_Bob on 13/5/2014 at 03:45

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 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by charlottex on 27/6/2014 at 23:43

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 charlottex has been a member since 18/6/2014. Posts: 6

Posted by Captain_Bob on 28/6/2014 at 23:43

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 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by lucrecia on 14/8/2014 at 06:16

Hi Im Italian, now in Phuket, i got given 1 month when i came in by plane, my plan was to travel north doing a visa run in Ranong. But I understand the rules have change...
Thank for all the information provided, my doubt now is, can i still go in and out by land? If yes how many day I would be given?
If not, what are my options can i go out by land and come back in by plane?...

#13 lucrecia has been a member since 14/8/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by DLuek on 14/8/2014 at 09:18 TF writer

lucrecia -- I wouldn't count on doing an out / in run at all (by that I mean crossing the border and trying to come back into Thailand on the same day or even the next day). Chances are you'd be okay if you left the country for at least a few days and then came back, but this is by no means guaranteed anymore. Being from Italy, you would get 30 days if arriving by land, assuming the immigration officer allows it. You might be better off getting a visa while out of the country.

When I arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport on August 12 (apparently the first day of the full-scale crackdown), a European in the line next to me was getting a hard time from the immigration officer because his ticket date out of Thailand was after 30 days and he didn't have a visa. The officer was apparently on his way to speak with a supervisor about it as I was going through, so not sure how it turned out for him. Never before have I had immigration ask for proof of onward travel, or even question whether I'd leave within the 30 days (or 60 for a tourist visa). This thread on Thai visa has some first-hand info, with most people saying they haven't had problems... "I didn't fit the profile" seems to be an increasingly common statement.

#14 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by SBE on 14/8/2014 at 11:26

@ DLuek. It's quite hard wading throughThaiVisa trying to get clear info and that link you posted doesn't seem to work. Can you repost it please?

@ Lucrecia. Pons Place is a reliable travel agency based in Ranong who've been selling in/out visa run trips for years. Try contacting them to ask what the situation on the Ranong border is like now before heading there. I suspect it's no longer possible to do a run from Ranong to get a free 30 day stamp but they'll know for sure.

If you don't have to do a visa run straight away another possible option is to extend your 30day stamp at an immigration office within Thailand.

From Thai Visa:

BANGKOK: -- The Immigration Bureau has announced that of August 29. 2014 you will be able to extend your visa exemption period whilst you're in Thailand by 30 days, instead of the current 7 days, giving a total visa-exemption stay of 60 days. The fee for extension of stay is 1,900 Baht (unchanged).
http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/744440-longer-visa-exemption-extensions-begin-august-29-2014/

I bet that doesn't last long even though in theory it's quite a good idea for the Thai economy. Now Thailand will be getting the 1900B per tourist whereas in the past it was the neighbouring countries who gained most from visa runs through visa fees. But I wonder if the immigration bureau has thought through how it's going to process hundred of thousands of visa extension demands?

#15 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
 Where has SBE been? 

Posted by lucrecia on 15/8/2014 at 08:22

Thanks so mucho for your replies! Im gonna check in immigrations next week ...to se what happens...
thanks

#16 lucrecia has been a member since 14/8/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by lucrecia on 18/8/2014 at 04:48

So I went today to immigration and they are only giving 7 day extesion. The officer said that they may be changing things from the end of the month to 30 day ext but for the moment they would give me max 7 days. I did ask him what where my options, what would happen if I went out by land, how long I had to be outside, he basicaly said it all depends who you find there, some are nice and will let you back inn and some may make you stay more that 15 day out before trying to come in...

#17 lucrecia has been a member since 14/8/2014. Posts: 3

Posted by SBE on 19/8/2014 at 13:23

Thanks for the update Lucrecia. Sounds more or less what I expected... the immigration officials haven't been told exactly what the new rules are either!

Will be interesting to see if the new 1900B 30 day extensions actually start being given out on the August 29th. For many tourists that's cheaper than doing a visa run to a neighbouring country so the queues at immigration offices are going to be dire unless they've thought this through properly (which would be very unThai).

#18 SBE has been a member since 14/4/2008. Location: Global Village. Posts: 2,019
 Where has SBE been? 

Posted by MADMAC on 20/8/2014 at 01:12

My son just made a border run to Cambodia and got 30 days. Go figure.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Captain_Bob on 23/8/2014 at 10:42

Immigration Bureau told to be flexible with visa runners
Coup leader calls for Immigration to relax out-in visa clampdown

#20 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by DLuek on 24/8/2014 at 21:53 TF writer

Some welcome clarification coming from Chiang Mai immigration here.

Reading between the lines, the general idea seems geared towards making things easier for people who are in the country long-term for what immigration deems as legitimate reasons -- for example they've made things a bit easier for volunteers, missionaries and professional athletes, to name a few. Also interesting that they've once again said that people who work online are allowed to do their work while on tourist visas... So it seems digital nomads should have no problem spending six months in the country every year on a double-entry tourist visa with extensions (though good luck staying longer than that without a Non-Imm visa).

Unfortunately there's still no real clarification for legit travelers who might re-enter Thailand by land a few times during a long trip... Chances are these people won't have problems, especially if they're out of the country for at least a couple weeks between entries, but no one has guaranteed this so far. It does say that people doing out/in runs may be asked to show an air ticket out of Thailand within the 15 or 30 days.

Also no further discussion on the many English teachers who work part time for one or more language schools, which generally don't provide work permits for teachers receiving hourly pay. It would be good to see a new, easy-to-obtain visa type specifically for English teachers in this boat, as Thailand really needs native English speakers and some have already left due to the new rules (here's one example from Ajarn.com).

It's also worth mentioning that what Chiang Mai immigration says doesn't necessarily hold true to the whole country... The rules come from Bangkok, but as we've seen, how the rules are interpreted/enforced can be quite different depending on the specific checkpoint/office/officer.

#21 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by aisinbangkok on 2/9/2014 at 09:31

I'll be back in Bangkok next month and need to stay between 45 and 60 days.having only ever stayed less than a month before visa runs have never been necessary. i thing i should get to a Thai consulate now and get some form of long stay visa, is something like that available and what restrictions are there. I'll be having medical treatment and that's the reason for the extended stay.

#22 aisinbangkok has been a member since 2/9/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by Captain_Bob on 2/9/2014 at 10:54

A standard issue tourist visa (obtained at a Thai embassy/consulate) provides a 60-day entry and can be extended 30 days longer.

#23 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by Funnyways on 27/9/2014 at 09:44

Would someone be able to confirm I understand these new rules correctly? I'm travelling to SEA for 2 months (59 days) in January flying in and out of Bangkok. My plan is to get a single entry 60 day visa for Thailand before I leave to make sure my Airline is happy. I'd then leave by land into Cambodia and travel about via Vietnam, Singapore and Malaysia before going across the land border with a 30 day exemption (I'm from the UK). I'm I correct in saying this would still be allowed under the new rules as its one land entry exemption and have proof of further travel out of Bangkok? I could just get a 2 entry visa and be totality safe but seems like a waste of money. Thanks for you help, this websites been invaluable for planning my first trip.

#24 Funnyways has been a member since 27/9/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by DLuek on 27/9/2014 at 21:25 TF writer

Funnyways, that should definitely be fine. Have fun.

#25 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by Tazzfalcon on 8/10/2014 at 16:03

I am intending to enter Thailand from Cambodia via land in Feb 2015. I haven't visited Thailand since 2009, but my passport is the same as it was then and I've got three entries (2 via land) in there - none were visa runs, all were 'legit' multi-day exits before re-entry.

Am I likely to be able to get a single entry two week visa at the border this time around?

#26 Tazzfalcon has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 18

Posted by Tazzfalcon on 8/10/2014 at 16:03

I am intending to enter Thailand from Cambodia via land in Feb 2015. I haven't visited Thailand since 2009, but my passport is the same as it was then and I've got three entries (2 via land) in there - none were visa runs, all were 'legit' multi-day exits before re-entry.

Am I likely to be able to get a single entry two week visa at the border this time around?

#27 Tazzfalcon has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 18

Posted by DLuek on 8/10/2014 at 21:33 TF writer

Tazzfalcon, yes you have nothing to worry about.

#28 DLuek has been a member since 19/6/2008. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,173
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by Captain_Bob on 9/10/2014 at 06:43

"Am I likely to be able to get a single entry two week visa at the border this time around?"

You can even get 30 days if your passport is US/Canada/UK/Germany/Italy/France/Japan (G7 countries). Visa-exempt entry by land for these nationalities was changed to 30 days last November. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Thailand

No problem at all with having previous Thailand entries in your passport. It's not the sort of profile that was targeted by that silly "crackdown".

#29 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by Tazzfalcon on 9/10/2014 at 07:25

Really?! That's brilliant! 30-days would give a lot more freedom to what we want to do! That's excellent! Thanks!

#30 Tazzfalcon has been a member since 20/12/2008. Posts: 18

Posted by camelman on 9/10/2014 at 23:37

I traveled to Thailand from China in mid August, got a 30 days stamp in my passport (South African) at Bangkok airport. I left for Cambodia two days later and returned to Bangkok about 10 days later, got a new 30 days stamp. Immigration did not even look at the earlier entry stamps.

#31 camelman has been a member since 14/8/2014. Posts: 1

Posted by jpr353 on 7/2/2015 at 15:40

Hi all,

I'm travelling to Bangkok at the end of June with my partner. We're travelling to and from Bangkok from Birmingham, UK.
I wonder if somebody can explain how we would best manage the visa rules for Thailand.
We're arriving in Bangkok and having 6 nights in Thailand before heading off to Cambodia and Vietnam for 24 nights. On the 31st Day we will travel by air from Hanoi to Bangkok, have 2 more nights in Bangkok before departing for home.
The original 30 day visa exemption will have expired the day before we return to Thailand. Will we get another 30 day free stay. Will we be able to pay for a new visa when we arrive at Bangkok airport the second time? Do i need to get a 60 day visa before we travel?
And even if we can get another 30 day free stay will we be allowed travel to check in at Birmingham on Air India with the airline knowing that we are staying more than 30 days without a visa?

Thanks so much - All the information on the internet is getting me nowhere!

#32 jpr353 has been a member since 7/2/2015. Posts: 2

Posted by Captain_Bob on 8/2/2015 at 00:56

A visa-exempt entry expires the moment you leave Thailand, but yes you will get another one for free when you return to Thailand.

The only potential hangup in your scenario is boarding the flight from Birmingham, since you apparently have no proof of onward travel within the 30 days allowed by visa exemption. Any kind of "proof" you can show at airline check-in (that is, if they even ask) would be helpful, even your Hanoi flight. Otherwise you're all good to go.

#33 Captain_Bob has been a member since 27/5/2006. Location: Thailand. Posts: 1,891

Posted by antoniamitchell on 8/2/2015 at 08:34

As the "will my airline want to see proof of onward travel or not" issue keeps coming up, I think it would make sense to put together a log (which airline, from which departure city). If even a small percentage of the vast numbers of people who fly in every month contribute, we can hopefully spot the pattern: who's making it an issue and who doesn't give a toss, to provide greater clarity to all the "do I need to worry about this?" questions. At the moment the answers are mostly anecdotal so a more scientific approach could be useful.
What does everyone think?

#34 antoniamitchell has been a member since 13/5/2012. Location: Singapore. Posts: 492
 Where has antoniamitchell been?   Website   Twitter 

Posted by jpr353 on 8/2/2015 at 13:36

Thanks. I didn't specify but we have decided to fly to Siem Reap anyway so will have proof of that booking. Do I take it that Air India will be satisfied with this to allow us to check in?

#35 jpr353 has been a member since 7/2/2015. Posts: 2


Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.