Thailand: Visa Overstayers Subject to Reentry Bans
Visa overstayers are now subject to reentry bans and random passport checks according to stricter new rules that are effective immediately. Foreign nationals should therefore carry their passport or a photocopy of their passport and visa stamp at all times.
The Ministry of Interior has implemented stricter penalties including reentry bans and random passport checks for foreign nationals who overstay their allowable visa stay period, effective immediately. The period of the ban will depend on whether the foreign national appears at an immigration checkpoint or if the police apprehend the foreign national.
Foreign Nationals Who Appear at an Immigration Checkpoint
Foreign nationals who voluntarily appear at an immigration checkpoint to declare their overstay in Thailand must pay a fine of 500 baht (approximately USD 14) per day of overstay, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht (approximately USD 566), and will be banned from reentering Thailand as detailed below:
• Those who overstay more than 90 days are banned for one year from the departure date;
• Those who overstay more than one year, but less than three years, are banned for three years from the departure date;
• Those who overstay more than three years, but less than five years, are banned for five years from the departure date; and
• Those who overstay more than five years are banned for ten years from the departure date.
The bans do not apply to foreign nationals under the age of 18 and those who departed the country prior to the enforcement date of this rule (March 20, 2016).
Apprehended Foreign Nationals
In the past, foreign nationals who overstayed their visa for short periods did not face a ban as long as they paid an overstay fine at the airport upon departure. The new regulations specify that if the police or immigration authorities come across a foreign national who has overstayed his or her visa (in any situation, not just at an entry or exit point), the foreign national will face a reentry ban as follows:
• Those overstaying for less than one year will be banned for five years from their departure date; and
• Those overstaying for more than one year will be banned for ten years from their departure date.
Foreign nationals who have overstayed their visa and who are stopped by the police for any reason may be detained in an Immigration Detention Center while their overstay penalty is determined.
Enforcement of the Overstay Rule
Immigration authorities have implemented the following procedures to enforce the new rules:
• Foreign nationals applying for a new visa or extending their visa at the Immigration Office must now complete a form in which they acknowledge the penalty for overstaying a visa; and
• The Thai police have announced that they will randomly check foreign nationals' passports and visa stamps.
What This Means for Foreign Nationals
Foreign nationals should carry their passport or a photocopy of their passport and visa stamp at all times in case of random checks.
Foreign nationals who have overstayed their visa and are traveling out of Thailand should arrive at the airport much earlier than their flight as the new overstay process may cause delays.
Foreign nationals who have previously overstayed and are returning to Thailand should expect delays upon return since immigration officers will likely investigate their previous overstay and, in some cases, interview the traveler.