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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration Law"Foreigners Are Restricted to Two Border Visa Runs" in Thailand?

"Foreigners Are Restricted to Two Border Visa Runs" in Thailand?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing, well the title might be a little bit confusing for those who watch this channel rather frequently. As frequent viewers may be aware and as some have pointed out, it may be something of a semantic point, but I view there being a difference between Border Runs and Visa Runs so-called. Now it's a labeling difference; at the end of the day they are very similar activities. I get that but I like making the designation and the distinction because in my opinion we are kind of talking about two different things here. So what do we mean?

So in my mind, the Border Run is basically when someone hops over the border for example Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Malaysia, here in Thailand, they literally just hop over the Border. What you see a lot of down here in Bangkok, Pattaya area, sort of the eastern part of Thailand, you see a lot of folks run over the border to Cambodia. Literally they just hop the Border, they are there for a relatively short period of time, almost nominal period of time and then they hop right back into Thailand and then they get their status that way. Then there is what I think of as a Visa Run which is when one flies or you could drive but ultimately what is going on here is you are going to an Embassy, in this case a Thai Embassy and getting a new actual Visa, then coming back to Thailand. So Border Running I kind of think of when I think of the Visa exemption and Visa Running, I think of when I think of people going to an actual Embassy. Again, kind of a semantic point but one notable nonetheless. I thought of making this video after reading a recent article in the Pattaya Mail,, the article is titled: Thai Visa Runs to Laos: latest update. So this is kind of the reason for the title as you will see later but overall the reason for the title is Visa runs and Border runs, a bit of a muddled thing sometimes, there is sometimes not the clearest distinction between the two, but when I think Visa Runs, I think of somebody going to get an actual Visa, not using an exemption stamp, hopping out, coming back in getting a new exemption stamp, that's the way I think about it.

In any event, quoting directly: "Most foreigners wanting a longer holiday in Thailand are opting at the Cambodian border for a new 45-day Visa exempt stamp with the option to extend for a further month. However some nationalities (notably Indians and Chinese) cannot use this route as they are not categorized Visa exempt but rather Visa on Arrival which is different. Visa on Arrival applies to around 20 countries and offers 30 days (plus 15) on payment of a fee of 2,000 Baht on arrival in Thailand, unless waived. All foreigners are restricted to two Border Visa Runs in a 12 month period." Okay a couple of things to unpack there. As I already discussed, bit of a distinction between Border and Visa Run and again maybe a semantic point but I think that the distinction is worth it because it gives more precision as to what you are talking about when you are talking about what you are doing with respect to your visa. 

Leaving that aside, the whole issue of two Border Runs a year. Now we discussed this when it was first promulgated in the Royal Thai Gazette and yes the actual law says foreigners, all foreigners, they are able to do basically two Border Runs a year and they list the nationalities. It is basically the nationalities that are Visa Exempt, not Visa on Arrival, Visa Exempt. Okay now, where there is a bit of a misnomer here is, it may and I stress may be possible to do another border run in a given year. Immigration has that discretion and in the past they used a lot more frequently. They make it sound like you get two and only two. That is not necessarily the case. Immigration has discretion to let somebody in another time in Thailand, it's just they are not overly inclined to use it. I have seen a mixed bag on that especially on the third time. Most of the time, Immigration points it out to the person coming in and says, "hey look, you have done two this year; we are going to let you in this time but be aware there is going to be an issue later." And they will likely put a notation in their system on that I presume, I am speculating a little bit but maybe put in a notation on their system on that and basically go ahead and when somebody were to come back in after that within a given year, at that point I think you are going to have problems. But the notion that it is two and only two and that is hard and fast, is not quite correct. They do have discretion to let people in more than twice a year in a Border Run kind of scenario under the Visa exempt set up. I think more and more you're going to see them not want to exercise that discretion as time goes on. For now I don't think they are going to go out of their way to turn away much of anybody looking to come into Thailand especially prospective tourists, so it will be interesting to see how it plays out. We will certainly keep people updated on this channel as the situation evolves.