Visa Rules for Thailand
By Maria Thermann

Visa Rules for Thailand

If you are currently planning to search for Thai property and want to extend your Asia research beyond Thailand's borders, you should be aware that the Thai government is having a "crack-down" on multiple overland entries that seek to circumvent visa requirements. Thai immigration now only allows foreigners entering Thailand via border posts at Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Malaysia no more than TWO entries, if they have not secured a visa prior to entry. You will only get a 30-day visa exemption stamp twice a year, counting from January 1st to December 31st.

The new ruling aims to "persuade" foreigners to apply for visas before they enter the country. This should be done via a Royal Thai Embassy prior to arrival. Thai Immigration Bureau is also trying to prevent foreigners from extending their 90-day visas by simply leaving the country for a few days and then re-entering via the aforementioned border posts.

At the time of writing, this new ruling applies only to foreigners who didn't obtain a visa beforehand, and are coming into Thailand by land. If you are flying into Thai territory without a visa you will still receive a 30-day stamp up to 6 times per calendar year. Extensions to this visa will only be for 30 further days at a cost of 1,900 Baht. Only Malaysian passport holders travelling to Thailand from Malaysia are exempt from this rule. They will continue to receive a 30-day Unlimited Visa Exemption stamp.

What happens if you overstay your visa?

If your visa only allows you to stay, for example, until 30th May, and you overstay by just a day, you are in trouble with Thai Immigration, no matter what the reason for your overstay might be. You will need to report and present yourself to Thai Immigration without delay, as it is illegal for foreigners to stay in Thailand without a current visa. You won't usually get fined, if you overstay by just a day for a valid reason, for example, if you were the victim of a crime or accident. But if you overstay for several days, you will have committed an offence, and can expect to be fined 500 Baht per day of your overstay. If you get caught by Thai immigration police in a random check-up, you will most likely be arrested and will end up imprisoned. Thai prisons have a terrible reputation, so getting caught without a visa is seriously bad.

Should this happen to you, the only way out is to seek help from a friend inside the country, or by hiring a Thai lawyer who speaks English (or your own mother tongue). Repeat offenders caught without a visa will find their passports stamped with a note that tells other officials, including your home land, that you have broken Thai immigration laws. This could stop you from ever travelling anywhere else in the world and may prevent you from ever coming back to Thailand. The stamp will declare you an "undesirable alien", or worse, "Persona Non Grata", which means you are no longer welcome in Thailand.

Immigration rules change frequently, so if you are planning to stay in this part of Asia for a while, it is advisable to seek advice from a Thai law firm that offers immigration services on a multilingual basis. Here are a few examples:

Integrity Legal
www.legal.co.th
Sittivorakit Building
9th Floor
Soi Pipat
Silom Road
Silom Bangrak
Bangkok 10500
T: 0066 2 266 3698
Email: info@legal.co.th

Opus Law
www.opus-law.com
The Trendy Building
20th Floor
Suite 2001A
Soi Sukhumvit 13
Wattana
Bangkok 10110
T: 0066 9 259 13366
Email: p.sweeney@opus-law.com

Bangkok Lawyer Ltd
http://www.thailand-english-speaking-lawyer.com
Silom Complex Building
Silom Bangrak
Bangkok 10500
T: 0066 8 818 991 604
Email: partner@bangkoklawyer1998.com or expatlawyer@gmail.com


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