One day overstay in Thailand could mean a 5 year ban

February 20, 2016
By

immigration

Over the last few weeks, the Thai newspapers have been writing stories about a crackdown on foreigners overstaying their visas. This is in advance of what they call “D-Day” on 20th March 2016, which is when foreigners could face a ban of re-entering Thailand. One Thai headline I saw put it this way: “If a foreigner is caught overstaying by one day, they will be banned from re-entering for five years”. Is this crackdown against normal foreign tourists? No. They say they are targeting foreign criminals who are operating in Thailand without proper paperwork. The recent renewed search for foreigners overstaying their visas is due to the capture of the suspect in the grisly murder of a Spaniard. Immigration police say that the suspect had overstayed his visa. There have been other examples recently.

My opinion is that when visiting any foreign country, it is advisable to carry some form of photo ID at all times. This is especially true for Thailand as we are under military rule. Like citizens of some other countries, Thais have to carry their ID cards at all times. So, it would make sense that foreigners should also do the same. In fact, many embassies urge their citizens to carry their passport while in Thailand. Obviously, this is not always practical, so Immigration police have come out to say that it is acceptable to carry a photocopy of your passport. However, your passport should be nearby. This means that if you go away somewhere overnight, for example to Pattaya for the weekend, you should take your passport too.

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I have traveled all around Thailand and I have always used my Thai driver’s license as a photo ID. This has been accepted on domestic flights, hotels and even at banks. A couple of times I have been stopped at police and army checkpoints and they accepted my driver’s license as a form of ID. However, if they are specifically looking for overstayers, they will insist on seeing your passport. That is why I always carry a photocopy of my passport and visa page just in case. To make it more convenient, I shrank this down to credit card size and laminated it. As a back up, I also have a digital copy of my passport and work permit on my smartphone. Friends have told me that they have used this successfully at checkpoints.

I am sure there are many people like myself who have said they have never been stopped and asked for a passport. But, times are changing. Just yesterday, there were two newspaper reports of foreigners being detained for not carrying passports. First one is from Chiang Mai Citylife. In their story (see here), they said armed police officers raided an entertainment complex and rounded up all the foreigners who weren’t carrying their passports. The second story comes from Khao Sod (see here). In this case it was a raid at a nightclub in Pattaya. About 30 foreigners were detained for not carrying their passport and were taken to the police station. In both cases they were released once they could produce their passport. This clearly illustrates that you shouldn’t go too far from where you are keeping your passport safe.

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If you are in Thailand at the moment and you have overstayed your visa, my only advice is do the right thing now and get yourself legal. By surrendering yourself at an Immigration checkpoint, you will only face a 500 Baht per day fine with a maximum fine of 20,000 Baht. From 20th March 2016, if you are caught overstaying by even one day, you will face a ban from re-entering Thailand of five years. If you have overstayed by more than one year, you will face a ban of ten years. See full list on the Samut Prakan Immigration website. On the front page of this official website, you will also see a note that says you are allowed to “carry a copy of your passport”. But it is very important that your passport is kept nearby. In addition to a crackdown on overstayers, they will also be more strict with homeowners and hotels who don’t register the arrival of foreigners within 24 hours. That includes your Thai wife if you are married. More details on the SP website linked above.

39 Responses to One day overstay in Thailand could mean a 5 year ban

  1. Ray
    February 20, 2016 at 9:30 pm

    If you surrender at an immigration office you are likely to be detained the best way is to fly out and pay the fine at the airport

    • ashley
      April 18, 2016 at 11:33 am

      The law passed in March though – what if they detain you from your flight? My 30 day visa stamp expires the 27th and my flight leaves the 30th. It’s currently the 18th, can I just go turn myself in at immigration or ask for extension?

      • April 18, 2016 at 2:21 pm

        You can apply for extension for piece of mind (costs 1,900 Baht if eligible). But many people just pay the 500 baht/day fine at the airport. Just don’t get caught!

  2. Alex Judd
    February 20, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I have been stopped numerous times recently (driving a motorbike in Bangkok this happens a lot) and whether it be a fine or bribe I end up paying they have always accepted a photo of my passport on my phone.
    Yesterday was a larger than usual 500b backhander but he never even asked for ID, not even my lucense which I always ensure is accidentally on purpose pulled out along with 2x100b notes but this was not enough for him.

    • Gary
      February 21, 2016 at 5:27 pm

      So what were you stopped for Alex Judd ? A traffic infringement ?

  3. Rik
    February 22, 2016 at 12:57 am

    Nettoyer la Thaïlande…
    Il devrait aller à kanchanaburi plusieurs touriste sans visa, Pour ne pas avoir de problème suivre les lois et respecter les visa, c’est pareille dans tout les pays (pas de visa c’est l’expulsion du pays avec interdiction de revenir pour quelque année)

    he should go to Kanchanaburi several tourist without a visa if you want to have any problem to follow the laws and respect the visa, this is parial throughout the country (no visa this is the expulsion of the country and forbidden to return for any year)

    good clean up the thailand

  4. Allan
    February 22, 2016 at 1:20 am

    I used to ride a motorcycle in Bangkok and the police don’t need an excuse to stop you, especially if you’re farang. Used to get stopped about twice a month for no reason and like Alex, kept the money behind the license. They would pull over about 10 bikes from the front row of traffic lights.

    • February 22, 2016 at 1:58 pm

      You know, they only do it because people bribe them. If you have really done something wrong, then pay the fine. They cannot give you a ticket for a made up offence as you can complain at the police station when you go to pay. In this case, are you saying that you were wearing a helmet, driving in the left lane only, had a Thai driving license and insurance?

  5. Nathaniel
    February 22, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Lived in Thailand for more than ten years…never had any problem with either the cops or army….but now it seems like they want to keep long termers out…sad to see the great country become like europe or us…miss the good old days 🙂

  6. Rampratap maurya
    February 22, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    Very sad news

  7. Joe
    February 23, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Good guys in, bad guys out – that’s so funny. They’re clueless to find any of the bad guys and good guys have long ago stopped going to Thailand. Sorry to break it to you Thailand, but your reputation here in Europe is as a brothel and place to buy counterfeit products. Or to get scammed or killed.

    • John Banks
      August 1, 2016 at 2:48 am

      Hey, Joe.
      When were you last in Thailand?
      Whenever I go to Europe I hear comments like yours; invariably from people who have never been here. I think the sex trade is all most Westerners are interested in hearing and talking about and what the western gutter press rely on to sell their trash.
      Is that all you saw when you were here? If so, it’s a real shame, because I’m sure there are just as many ‘oportunities’ for you in your own country, though perhaps not exciting enough for you to notice.
      Regarding counterfeit goods: there has been a serious crack-down on counterfeiting in recent years and I think you’ll find that Thailand no longer lives up to the reputation that you believe it has.

  8. me
    February 25, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    Nothing really new here besides if you “get caught” http://www.samutprakanimmigration.go.th/warning-of-overstay-in-thailand/
    What a silly article and title. Trying to get everyone worried if you overstay one day you will be banned for a year (If you get caught and do not turn yourself in).
    Seriously title your article better.

    • February 26, 2016 at 6:13 am

      Thanks for your feedback. It is a direct translation of the news headline in the Thai media. I just added the word “could” to soften it. There is a grace period at the moment and I am sure they will still have one. But, no guarantees. Immigration officials I spoke to confirmed this headline as accurate.

      BTW, the website you linked to is also mine. It is the official website for Samut Prakan Immigration.

  9. Kickout
    February 26, 2016 at 11:42 am

    I can say from experience the headline is accurate. I lived in Thailand for 13 years and overstayed less then 30 days then banned for 5 years, but after 6 months decided to check if there really was a ban at all.

    Well I spoke to a friend in immigration hoping to help me grease the wheel so i could return sooner so my Thai daughter could visit her mother from time to time and found out there is no 5 year ban in existence so she told me. If you are banned it is for life. Also if you are caught you will be brought to court and can plead guilty pay a fine and will then need a ticket of departure before you are then delivered to the airport. They will not release you you have to leave immediately on the date you can show proof of a plane departure ticket.

    If you are on overstay the best route is to buy a ticket go to the airport pay the fine and take a short trip to Singapore or Laos. On your return even if it’s just a day you will be able to reenter again without issue.

    Added note if you are caught on the street the fine is 500 baht for each day on overstay same as if you turned yourself in and an additional 200 baht for non compliance because you got caught and didn’t turn yourself in. Look at the white card of “90 day notice” in your passport it states it there. and they are looking to get every baht from you before departure in the new LOS.

    • roy keith fox
      July 9, 2016 at 7:01 am

      i retired to Thailand 1998 but the last 4 years i have overstay my visa.the reason for that to travel to the boarder was taking me over 22 hours round trip.and i am 70 year old i have been hear 18 years never been in trouble so now with the new law if i arrive at the airport pay my 20.000 baht i will be blacklisted for up to 10 years

      • July 15, 2016 at 9:22 am

        I am sorry, but there has been a lot of publicity since November last year about this new law. There was plenty of notice for people to go and do the right thing and become legal before it was too late.

        • roy fox
          July 15, 2016 at 4:45 pm

          I just found out a month ago about the new overstay laws the reason for that is the newspapers are in Thai and television is in Thai.I only found this out from a guy in pattaya if I had known I would have left the country long before the new law came into force

          • July 19, 2016 at 7:49 pm

            I watch Thai TV and read Thai newspapers and didn’t see anything about it in advance. However, for ten months it was on the Immigration website in English, numerous bloggers blogged about it and English newspapers wrote about it.

  10. Chris Harrell
    February 26, 2016 at 5:50 pm

    An aquaintance of mine went to the airport a couple of days ago, he paid the fine and received a 5 year ban. He was at least 2 years overstay.

  11. Jack Mehoff
    March 5, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    “An aquaintance of mine went to the airport a couple of days ago, he paid the fine and received a 5 year ban. He was at least 2 years overstay.”

    Wow that’s the first I’ve read about someone getting banned like that. I thought “if you leave before March 20th” you wouldn’t be banned for overstaying.

    It really makes me wonder if they are just saying you want get in trouble to flush people out, well knowing that as soon as the people go to leave they will ban them.

  12. Bob Smith
    June 2, 2016 at 9:27 am

    Hi Richard

    I have a tourist visa that finishes on the 22nd but my flight is on the 24th. Is it still possible to pay a 500baht/day fine with no ban as it was previously because I am less than 90 day overstay? Lots of websites are saying different outcomes.

    Thanks

    • June 7, 2016 at 3:19 pm

      If you surrender yourself after only a few days overstay, you won’t face a ban. They are only doing this to keep bad guys out. Not normal tourists.

  13. Ron
    June 23, 2016 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Richard,
    I will be entering Thailand on Visa-on-arrival for 15 days with my family. But my return flight is on the 16th day. Will I be given a visa-0n-arrival? And will I be banned or jailed for the 1 day overstay?

    • June 24, 2016 at 10:12 am

      Sorry, I have no experience with a visa on arrival situation. All I can say is that they rarely ask to see the return ticket unless they suspect you are not really a tourist. Also, they won’t ban or jail you for overstaying by a few days if you surrender at the airport on your way home.

  14. Jai
    July 13, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    Hi Richard, I’m currently in Thailand on a 60 day visa which ends on 7th of August and my flight out is on the 8th of august which was all booked and supplied to immigration when applied for visa.

    • July 15, 2016 at 9:14 am

      In theory you shouldn’t have a problem. Just be careful on that last day. If you overstay by less than one day they might not even fine you.

  15. susy
    July 21, 2016 at 9:14 pm

    Hi,
    I just realized that when I leave in a few weeks, I will be one day over my 30 day tourist Visa. Should I try to reschedule flights, or just go to the airport and hope it isn’t noticed? .

    • July 25, 2016 at 6:30 am

      Many tourists are one or two days over. As long as you surrender at the airport and you aren’t caught then you should be fine. Just don’t go out clubbing if you have overstayed.

  16. Jietsche Dierick
    July 24, 2016 at 10:18 pm

    I have overstayed by one day last year. Somewhere in 2015.
    Does that mean that I won’t be able to enter the country when I go on my holiday to thailand next week?
    I payed the fine 10000 baht not 500 baht (Guess I got scammed) Oh thailand <3

    • July 25, 2016 at 6:25 am

      You will be fine unless they marked in your passport you are blacklisted. Whenever you pay for anything you should ask for a receipt. Also ask for what it is for.

  17. John Banks
    July 31, 2016 at 3:52 pm

    I have only been able to find information online regarding the penalties for overstays of 90 days or more. What are the consequences of coming clean for overstaying for, let’s say, 85 days?

    Might the lack of this information online be due to the possibility that, if it doesn’t carry a blacklisting threat, it might be seen as a possible softening of these otherwise ruthless measures?

    • John Banks
      August 3, 2016 at 11:04 pm

      Hey, Richard.
      Any insight/answer to the above question in the very near future would be greatly appreciated. I would ask a local immigration officer, if I thought the answer would be relyable, but I’m quite confident that any response I get would differ from that offered by any of her colleagues. I have to wonder if they are told the regulations, or actually instructed to hazard a guess, or perhaps that the majority of them suffer from learning disabilities… Bless!

      • August 16, 2016 at 8:56 am

        If you surrender there isn’t a penalty for less than 90 days. But, it should be noted that it is done on a case by case basis. For example, if you have often overstayed or have often done back to back visa runs, the Immigration officer might decide to ban you from re-entry.

        • Jai
          August 16, 2016 at 10:02 am

          Ok so I ended up overstaying 2 days as my original flight was cancelled. Had no problems at the airport and was fined 1000 THB. No mention of any bans and noticed a sign at immigration only mentioned bans if more than 90 day overstay and more severe penalty for been caught rather than handing yourself i .

  18. Rach
    August 29, 2016 at 1:54 am

    Hi, we’ve accidentally booked our flights out of Thailand the day after our 30 day visa runs out (the flight is literally 9 hours later!) and we can’t get a refund on the flights.

    Will we still just get 500 baht fine hopefully and maybe a mark in our passports for being a day late? Reading the other comments it seems like we shouldn’t panic. But the new regulations don’t seem so clear!

  19. Pete
    September 1, 2016 at 2:40 pm

    Hello, I am currently in Koh Tao and am leaving for Malaysia tomorrow. I won’t cross the border via bus until Sep 3rd and my stamp is good until Sep 2nd. All of these previous posts are involving airports. Whay will one day or just 12 hours overstay at a land border station result in?

    Ha any urgent reply is most appreciated. Especially with the recent referendum in Thailand.

    • September 2, 2016 at 10:51 am

      Sorry, cannot second guess what the Immigration officer will do as each case is different. But you should be fine with just a one day fine.

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