If you're new to Thailand then you probably don't know too much about overstaying your visa.
If you've made a few trips back-and-forth already, you may have heard the term but probably aren't familiar with the rules.
Either way, it's something every visitor should familiarise themselves with.
In this post I give you a full breakdown of the rules, plus some advice on how to avoid the hassle of overstaying your visa.
What Does Overstay Mean?
Overstay refers to staying in Thailand beyond the period for which you are permitted.
An example of overstay would be to stay more than 30 days on a 30-day exemption stamp.
Another example would be to stay more than 60 days on a single entry tourist visa, or more than 90 days on a single entry Non Immigrant O Visa.
Is Overstaying Illegal?
It is illegal to overstay your visa in Thailand, but overstaying by a small number of days does not carry a serious penalty.
However, overstaying for a long period of time could land you in a lot of trouble.
What Are the Current Overstay Ban Rules?
- Overstay more than 90 days: 1 year ban from Thailand
- Overstay more than 1 year: 3 year ban from Thailand
- Overstay more than 3 years: 5 year ban from Thailand
- Overstay more than 5 years: 10 year ban from Thailand
How Much Is the Overstay Fine?
The fine depends on the number of days you have overstayed. The minimum charge is 500 Baht per day. This goes up to a maximum of 20,000 Baht for overstays of 40 days or longer.
What Happens If I Am Arrested by Immigration?
If you are arrested by immigration for overstaying your visa, the penalty is far worse.
It is likely that you will be taken to an immigration detention centre. After this, you will be subject to the following ban:
- Overstay less than 1-year: 5 year ban from Thailand
- Overstay more than 1-year: 10 year ban from Thailand
Where Is the Immigration Detention Center?
The IDC is located at the Immigration Office on Soi Suanplu, Bangkok. If you get arrested you will be held there while you await a court date. If you are to be deported, you'll be held here until you take your flight home.
Note that the IDC is generally somewhere a serious overstayer will be taken. We're talking months and years, not days.
Will I Be Banned If I Overstay by a Few Days?
No. You can pay a fine and you will not receive a black mark against you. There are foreigners who pay overstay fines every day.
It is easiest to pay your fine at the airport, on the way out of Thailand.
However, the legal line is that any person who realises they are on overstay should immediately go to an immigration office and pay the fine.
You may have noticed that there is an overstay booth located on the other side of passport control at every airport in Thailand that provides international flights. It is here that you can pay your overstay fine.
Overstay by one or two days is very common.
The most common reason is not feeling well enough to fly, in which case you can just pay the 500 Baht per day charge at the airport overstay counter.
Let's say you overstay by 4 days: you'll pay 4 days x 500 Baht = 2,000 Baht.
Don't make a habit of overstay, though.
It is perfectly reasonable to overstay your visa by a day or two if you have misplaced your passport, or you are suffering from illness and cannot fly, but saying I wanted to spend an extra day with my girlfriend isn't acceptable.
If you are a regular visitor to Thailand, it is wise to keep your immigration history as clean as possible by leaving on or before the date you are supposed to.
What If I Over Stay by More Than a Few Days?
If you are in a position where you have overstayed for more than five days, it is best to go to the nearest immigration office and explain your situation. You will most likely be asked to pay the fine there.
You may also be allowed to apply for an extension of stay, depending on your situation. This extension of stay will give you the legal right to stay in Thailand for an extended period of time.
If you have overstayed more than 90 days, you should seek legal advice to help prepare your exit as soon as possible. This legal help may prevent you being detained. Bear in mind that in this situation you will probably be banned from entering Thailand for 1 year.
What If I Overstay in Thailand More Than Once?
One or two times isn't going to be an issue, particularly if it is just one, two or three days. But continuous violation of this immigration law could become a problem for you.
Your passport could be marked with a stamp declaring you in violation of immigration law. This stamp could make travel to Thailand, and obtaining visas for other countries, more difficult.
It's just best to stay on the right side of the law.
What If I Overstay by a Few Hours, Will I Be Fined?
Probably not. Immigration understands that some people have their flights cancelled or delayed, or that they might get stuck in traffic and be late to the airport and miss their flight.
There are clearly circumstances beyond your control that may cause you to overstay. In such circumstances there generally won't be any problem. And even if you are charged a day overstay, it's no big deal.
Can Children Be Fined for Overstay?
Children under the age of 15 are not fined for overstaying but will still receive an overstay stamp – if they overstay – when they leave the country.
Please note that being exempt from the overstay fine does not make children exempt from needing a valid visa to enter the country, or a valid extension to stay in the country.
The overstay rules in Thailand are stricter than they used to be, but they are still pretty reasonable, especially considering how people have abused the system over the years.
Simply being able to pay 500 Baht per day for a couple of extra days in Thailand is not a big expense, and it is reassuring to know that if you ill and have to rearrange your flight you can pay your overstay at the airport.
That said, the easiest way to avoid overstay is to be organized. Plan your trip so that you have a visa that adequately covers the amount of time you want to stay in Thailand.
If you think you might need more than the 30 or 15 days you get on arrival (depending on which country you are from), make sure you get the right visa before you arrive.
+ Find out what visa you need here
Rather than think; “If I need more time, I will just do a visa run“, instead apply for a single or multiple-entry tourist visa before you leave your home country. That way you will have the extra time you need.
A visa run means travelling across the border by land or air to a neighbouring country and usually returning the same day. This gives you a new entry stamp in your passport and resets your stay.
A visa run is a pain and certainly isn't something you want to leave the beach or bar for.
If you do need to do a visa run, check out the fastest and cheapest option here.
Also remember that you can always extend your stay in the kingdom by visiting an immigration office. So if you are three quarters of the way through your holiday and think you might want to stay longer, take the afternoon out and go to immigration to extend your visa.
More Tips for a Better Life in Thailand
Send Money to Thailand:
Use Transferwise. It is fast, cheap, and gives you the market exchange rate. Me and the majority of my readers are using it.
Get Good Health Insurance:
Start with a quick quote from Cigna. Then compare my other recommendations here.
Improve Your Thai Skills:
Learning Thai makes life here easier and more fun. I use Thaipod101. It is free to get started & easy to use.
Protect Your Online Privacy:
A VPN protects you against hackers and government snooping. I always use one. You should too. Read why here.