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 au fait with the rules.
Either way, it's something every visitor and expat should familiarise themselves with.
So 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.
The A-to-Z of Overstay
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, if you have been given 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. Indeed, if you are on overstay and you are apprehended by immigration police, the consequences are far worse.
What Are the Current Overstay 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 If I Am Arrested by Immigration for Overstaying?
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 too until you take your flight home.
Note that the IDC is generally somewhere a serious overstayer will be taken; we're talking months not days.
Will I Be Banned from Thailand 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 on the way out of Thailand at the airport. 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 the major airports. It is here you can pay your overstay fine.
Overstay is very common, at least by one or two days. Often people have good reason to stay another day or two and therefore it isn't practical to spend a day at immigration extending a visa. So it's just easier to pay 500 Baht per day at the airport overstay counter.
Let's say you overstay by 4 days: you'll pay 4 days x 500 Baht = 2000 Baht.
However, you should not make a habit of this. 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.
That said, excuses such as the fact that you wanted to spend an extra couple of days with your girlfriend, or needed to do some more shopping, are not valid. If you are a regular visitor to Thailand, endeavour to keep your immigration history as clean as possible.
What If I Overstay 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 will label you as an “undesirable alien”. This could make travel to Thailand, and obtaining visas for other countries, more difficult.
We all hate having too many rules, especially when it interferes with our holiday. But in the case of overstay, it is 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, be late to the airport and miss their flight.
There are clearly circumstances beyond your control that may cause you to overstay. In these circumstances, there generally won't be any problem.
Can Children Be Fined for Overstay?
Children under the age of 15 are not charged a fine for overstaying but still get overstay stamps when they leave the country. However, note that being exempt from the fine does not make them exempt from needing a valid visa entry or extension to stay in the country.
The easiest way to avoid overstay is to simply organise yourself efficiently. Plan your trip so that you have a visa that covers the amount of time you want to stay in Thailand.
Rather than think; “If I need more time I will just do a visa run”, simply apply for a single or multiple entry tourist visa before you leave your home country that gives you more than enough time than you need in the kingdom.
That way, if you do need to stay a couple of extra days you will be fully covered. Visa runs can be a pain, and certainly isn't something you want to leave the beach or the bar for
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.
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.
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 do come down with a bout of traveller's tummy you have a little extra time to recover before your flight.
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