Thailand is one of the world’s premier holiday destinations, and for some very good reasons. If the stunning beaches are not enough, there’s also the warm welcome, the legendary nightlife, the rich history, and so much more.
However, as much as you might want to stay, there are limits on how long foreigners can stay in the country. This typically involves applying for the appropriate visas for long-term stays, but it’s not always necessary to have a visa to visit the country.
It is possible to stay legally in Thailand for some time without a visa, and this article looks at how long you can stay in a country with no visa.
The process of applying for a visa can be time-consuming and frustrating. You will also have to wait for a response from the embassy or consulate to which you submitted the application. It can also take weeks for a reply. The wait and the inconvenience might make some people consider other options, but Thailand offers visa exemptions to many visitors.
Visa exemption means that instead of applying for a visa beforehand, you only need to hand a valid passport to a Thai immigration official on arrival in the country. The official will then stamp your passport, after which you are free to enter the country.
However, it’s important to note that not all countries qualify for visa exemption. In which case, you will not be permitted to enter the country unless you have a valid visa in your passport. This makes it a good idea to check first to see if your country is one of the 64 that qualify.
How Long Can I Stay
Getting to the crux of the question – visitors without a visa can stay in Thailand for up to 30 days. When a tourist leaves on or before the 30 days, their passport will be stamped accordingly when they leave.
If you stay for more than 30 days without legally extending your right to stay, you will be on overstay. Penalties for overstaying include a 500 baht fine for every day of overstay, up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. Most people will pay this fine at the airport before they leave, and they will be free to visit the country again in the future.
However, if you overstay for 90 days or more, then you will likely be banned from entering the country again in addition to the standard overstay fine. How long you are banned for will depend on how long you have overstayed, with the lengthiest ban being ten years for those who overstayed for five years or more.
A border run involves crossing a border with another country. The idea is generally to cross back over to Thailand, gaining another visa-exempt stamp that lets you stay for another 30 days.
One of the most common types of border run is a train or bus journey to a neighbouring country. In some cases people check out of Thailand, into the destination country, and then immediately head back to the Thai side of the border. You can also consider using agencies that will organize everything for you while you will also likely have time for a meal before you make the return journey.
Another common type of border run is to fly to a nearby country. This is usually more expensive than an overland run to a neighbouring country, but it’s also an opportunity for a few days to take in the sights of another country for those who can afford it.
Regardless, the process is to leave Thailand and renter whether you return immediately or after a few days or so.
While crossing Thailand’s borders and returning will give you another 30 days, you cannot do this indefinitely. In fact, Thai law states you can only make one such extension every 12 months, effectively limiting you to 60 days in the country every year if you have no Visa. And while it’s true that some borders are more relaxed about the rule than others, it’s best to find alternatives so you don’t end up getting stuck at the border and unable to continue your journey.
Getting Caught on Overstay
Most people on overstay will eventually present themselves to an immigration official, whether it’s at the airport or any border crossing. The laws still apply in such cases with fines and potential bans, but the process is still straightforward and you will usually be allowed to continue your journey without being held up. .
However, the same cannot be said if you are caught overstaying rather than willingly approaching an immigration official first. If you are caught in this way, then you can be banned from entering for five years even if you were only one day over, on top of the standard fine. Not only that, but you may also have to stay in the immigration detention centre while your case is processed.
The good news is that avoiding such problems are easily avoidable, and millions of visitors spend 30 days or more in the country with no immigration issues.
Alternatives for Long-Term Stays
If you wish to remain in Thailand in the long term, then you will need to get an appropriate visa. There are several types of visa you could apply for depending on your circumstances.
For example, if you find legal work in the country, then you can apply for a Non-B visa that will let you stay for three months, with extensions possible. You will also need to apply for a work permit, but that’s a separate process.
Another common alternative is a non-O visa, which is mostly used as a Thai child visa or spouse visa for people with families in the country. Many expats will find a Thai partner and potentially have children, and they will obviously want to stay in the country with their families in the long term.
Many visitors to Thailand will not require a visa at all, instead being granted permission to enter the country when they arrive. However, there are limitations to how long you can stay when visa exempt, so you might need to find alternatives if you wish to remain beyond 60 days a year. The good news is that visas are available for people who want to stay long-term, and most people should be able to meet the requirements.