Thailand Revises Visa Restrictions

Travel News Asia Friday, 15 September 2006

In an attempt to gain greater knowledge of who is visiting Thailand and curb the amount of people working or living in the country without the correct visa or necessary permits, the Thai government has decided to enforce stricter new immigration policies beginning 1 October 2006.

Currently it is possible for nationals from 42 countries to enter Thailand without a visa for a 15 or 30 day period. These 'Permission to Enter (Visa Exemption)' stamps or 'Visa on Arrival', as they are also often known, are free of charge and can very simply be renewed by doing what is known as a visa run, or a border hop. This entails simply leaving the country, in some cases for as little as a few minutes, and then returning to get a new stamp.

The changes that will come into effect 1 October 2006, will allow nationals from 39 countries to remain in Thailand for no more than 90 days in a six month period. This means that someone who enters Thailand without a tourist visa provided by a consulate or embassy outside of Thailand, will be able to travel to Thailand as frequently as needed, as long as the amount of time spent in the country does not exceed 90 days from the date of the first arrival stamp. The arrival stamps remain, as now, at 15 or 30 days depending on nationality. Therefore, if a traveller were to try to spend more than 90 days in Thailand within a six month period, with for example, 3 back to back 30 days visa exemption stamps, then it is believed they would be refused entry and would have to remain outside the country for 90 days before being permitted to re-enter.

The changes have caused much confusion, and concern among frequent travellers to Thailand and those that are currently using the loophole to stay in Thailand indefinitely.

At press time, there had been no official statement as to how these revisions would be enforced, whether they are retroactive (although it is believed not), and how the Thai government will enlist the help of airlines bringing travellers to Thailand who have already spent more than 90 days in the country within the allotted time.

See other recent news regarding: Thailand, Visa, Suvarnabhumi Airport - Bangkok, Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel

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