I’ve been living and working in Thailand for twenty years now and have changed my job twice. I last did this about seven years ago and even though I still had a few months left on my visa, Immigration cancelled it and said I had to leave the country within 7 days. This is because the work permit is tied to the visa and is only available for that particular job. Immigration told me to leave the country and come back with a 30 day visa exemption stamp which can then be changed in Bangkok Immigration to a Non Immigrant B Visa. Last time I flew to Luang Prabang and made a holiday out of it. But this time, I just wanted to do the quickest way. So, that is why I signed up for the services of a “Thai Visa Run”.
Many people go on visa runs or border runs every day. There are a number of different companies that can help you with this. Just Google “thai visa run” and the city you want to start from like Bangkok or Phuket. On my coach to the border there were about 30 other people. Some of them were extending multiple entry visas to get another 90 days. Others were tourists and wanted to get another 30 days. You need to check first if you can get 15 days or 30 days at the border. People from the UK and G7 countries can now get 30 days at both land and airport border immigration.
The ride down to the Cambodian border took over five hours. They only gave us one stop for toilet. For lunch they phoned ahead and the food was waiting for us. Which we then ate on board. There are other borders nearer than the one we went to at Ban Pakkad. But, the visa people argued that not many people crossed here and so no queues. Which they were right. We went through Thai Immigration very quickly and then ended up at this small cafe a short distance away. We then handed our passports to this guy who sorted out the arrival and departure cards for Cambodia. They wrote these for us. We just signed them.
What I didn’t know at the time was that this was still no-man’s land. Unbeknown to me, while I was in the rest room, this guy on a motorbike took all of our passports up to the Cambodian border checkpoint. Where they were then stamped with entry and departure stamps and then brought back. I cannot fault the efficiency of it all as we were at the border less than 30 minutes before getting back on the coach. Though I wish I had known before that my passport was going to leave my hands in this manner. It’s sounds a bit dodgy but it was all done with the knowledge of both the Thai and Cambodian immigration.
If you have overstayed your visa then you can pay the fine here first before leaving. It’s 500 Baht per day up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht. Even if you have overstayed, there is no problem in coming back. I’ve known people who overstayed, payed the maximum fine and then came straight back. I should point out that overstaying is risky. Immigration police sometimes do sweeps of guesthouses and police sometimes ask for passports. If they find out that you have overstayed you will be arrested and sent to Immigration Detention Center where you will stay until they take you to court to pay the fine. You will then stay in IDC until someone on the outside helps you buy an airplane ticket to your home country. Once done, they will escort you to the airport and stay with you until you depart. This could mean 5-7 days in detention. Some have been there years as they don’t have money to buy a ticket home.
If you have any experience with different Thai visa run services then feel free to post them in the comments below. But please, only genuine visa runners and not visa company employees pretending to be tourists.