Thailand is famous for many things, one of which is its famously warm welcome. The country is widely known as the land of smiles for a good reason, and countless visitors have enjoyed their stay in the country with help from the friendly locals.
However, Thailand is the same as every other country in that there are laws regarding who can stay, and for how long. Most visitors are either given a stamp on arrival that gives them permission to stay in the country for a specified amount of time. Many others will have an official visa that will also give them a set length of time they can stay in the country.
In many cases, it is possible to extend visas or obtain new ones to legally prolong your stay in Thailand. However, many people remain in the country without having made necessary extensions or renewals, essentially meaning they no longer have permission to stay in the country. Such situations are officially known as overstaying, and they can be very bad news for the passport holder.
What Are the Consequences of Overstay?
Overstay is a legal situation, and you are officially breaking Thai law even if you are only one day over. As such, there are ramifications, including fines, but the severity of the punishment varies.
Consequences After Surrendering on Overstay
The best way to avoid severe penalties is to leave the country voluntarily and as soon as possible. Do this officially by leaving through one of the country’s immigration borders, such as at a land border or an airport. In doing so, you surrender yourself to an immigration official who will then process your case accordingly.
If you are on less than 90 days overstay when you leave the country after surrendering, you will be fined 500 baht a day for every day of overstay up to a maximum of 20,000 baht. After paying your fine, your passport will be stamped accordingly allowing you to leave the country. You will then be waved off with a smile and be free to re-enter the country again.
However, if you surrender yourself and you have overstayed for more than 90 days, you will receive a ban from entering the country. How long your ban is depends on how long your overstay was. You will also still have to pay the fine.
- Overstay for between 90 days and 1 year: Ban for 1 year
- Overstay for between 1 year and 3 years: Ban for 3 years
- Overstay for between 2 years and 5 years: Ban for 5 years
- Overstay for 5 years or more: Ban for 10 years
While nobody wants to be banned from entering the country, surrendering yourself in this way is still the best option. After all, the penalties if you are caught while on overstay are more severe.
Consequences After Being Caught on Overstay
Foreigners end up on overstay for multiple reasons, with financial problems being one of the most common. Another relatively common reason for overstay is that the foreigner gets complacent and believes they won’t get caught. However, such complacency is misplaced because many foreigners are caught every year.
Overstayers are caught in numerous ways. For example, the immigration police will occasionally undertake sweeps in areas where many ex-pats stay, looking for people staying in the country illegally. Alternatively, somebody on overstay might have an accident or get involved in another incident that means they must show ID. Regardless of how you are caught or why you are even on overstay, the consequences remain the same.
Thai Immigration Detention Centre
If you are caught on overstay then you are arrested and will probably be taken to the Thai Immigration Detention Centre (IDC). Thailand’s IDC is essentially a jail for people who have broken immigration laws. It is very overcrowded, offers very little privacy, and is generally a very unpleasant place to be.
In some cases, the foreigner will have or be able to raise the money to pay for the fine and a flight to their home country. If that’s the case, then the foreigner is usually released and deported quickly. However, many more people cannot raise the required funds and will remain in the IDC for weeks, months, or even years.
Being arrested and detained in IDC should be enough of a deterrent to avoid going on overstay, but it’s not the only reason. For example, you will still have to pay the fine (500 baht a day up to a maximum of 20,000 baht). Not only that, but you will also receive bans from entering the country again. Only this time, the penalties are more severe and you will receive a 5-year ban even if you overstayed by just one day. In addition, anybody overstaying for more than 1 year will be given a 10-year ban.
How to Fix Overstay?
The best way to fix an overstay situation is to surrender yourself to the authorities, the more you wait the more problems you may face. It is advised to use a lawyer or consult our team who can guide you through. You might receive a ban, depending on the length of your overstay, but the process will be mostly amicable. The process should take no more than a day and you will be free to go once your fine is paid and a back ground check is made to ensure you haven’t done a crime.
If you can’t afford to pay for your flight and fine then get in touch with Thai Visa Expert and we will help however we can. But while we may be able to help make the process faster and smoother for you, you should still expect to be deported and you may also receive a ban.
Of course, the best way to fix overstay is really to prevent it from happening in the first place. Try to plan accordingly regarding travel dates and visa expiry dates to avoid going over, and remember that extensions are often available. Remember that it only takes 1 day of overstay to face potentially harsh consequences, so it’s best not to take any risks.