According to a number of reports that have surfaced on social media recently, tourist visa holders may now be required to show at least 20,000 Baht in cash to immigration officials at the border when entering Thailand. This is apparently to kind of prove that you can financially support your stay in the kingdom.
While this obviously sounds somewhat antiquated in the agre of credit cards and online banking there is a more unsettling catch in it: If you don’t carry enough cash on you may be thoroughly questioned and/or entry may be denied – ironically despite the fact that there’s a freshly issued tourist visa sticker in your passport.
Increased scrutiny is obviously being placed on tourist visa holders under 50 that immigration may suspect of working illegally in Thailand and with “too many” visa stickers in their passport.
While some may argue that a “genuine tourist” should easily be able to produce such an amount (otherwise how would he or she be able to cover their holiday expenses in Thailand?) it’s obviously also an unwelcome sign that the ongoing clampdown on tourist visa holders has recently only been intensifying.
According to a report on Thaivisa.com this Monday,
immigration officials at a number border checkpoints across Thailand are asking some people entering the country on a tourist visa to show 20,000 baht in cash.
Thaivisa understands the increased scrutiny being placed on tourist visa holders is to crackdown on foreigners who officials suspect are not genuine tourists and who may be working in Thailand illegally.
People trying to enter with history of tourist visa entries appear to be the ones under the most amount of scrutiny. ED visa holders also are also the subject of similar scrutiny.
Several reports have recently surfaced on social media of foreigners being refused entry either at an airport or land border checkpoint for not having 20,000 Baht in cash on them. Some were also questioned if they were working in Thailand on a tourist visa and how they could financially support their stay.
A number of those refused entry at the border claimed that they even had proof of hotel bookings, details of onward flights and bank statements showing sufficient funds in their accounts.
Still no joy. They were rejected by immigration officials on the grounds they didn’t have the required amount in cash and were suspected of working illegally in Thailand.
According to Thaivisa.com, an unnamed immigration official would only confirm that tourist visa holders should be “able to prove they can support their stay in the kingdom.”
They have also been unable to confirm whether the 20,000 baht in cash requirement applies nationwide or only at a number of notoriously strict immigration checkpoints such as those along the Malaysian border or Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang Airport.
So truth be told, things may not be as bad as the headline and the handful of reports may suggest.
Having said that, the Thai Foreign Ministry and the immigration Bureau have for quite a few years now been clamping down on back-to-back tourist visa holders. If you already have a number of tourist visa stickers or entry stamps in your passport, applying for another tourist visa has become significantly harder just over the last couple of years.
Indeed, increasing numbers of tourist visa applications at Thai consulates in the SEA region have only recently been rejected simply because the applicants already had “too many” visas in their passport.
Yes, a number of people were even denied entry at immigration checkpoints even though they were holding freshly issued and valid visas. But while such incidents were extremely rare in the past and didn’t appear to indicate that there was some kind of official system at work, this appears to have changed now and entry may be refused at the border simply on the grounds you don’t carry enough Thai Baht on you.
Granted, it obviously doesn’t make much sense: You get a fresh visa from a Thai embassy or consulate (so they’ve accepted your application and your payment of the visa fee) and are then denied entry at the border.
We guess the main issue may be that two ministries are at work here – the foreign ministry (which is responsible for embassies and consulates) and the interior ministry (immigration police) – and that both ministries do not always follow the same guidelines or cooperate as well as you would expect.
As far as we know, for example, the immigration database is not accessible to consulate officials who may therefore issue a visa to applicants that immigration would reject anyway.
The bottom line appears to be that the signs are on the wall and long-stay tourists especially under 50 holding valid back-to-back tourist visas – that is the only type of visa they can legally apply for unless they’re married to a Thai national or so – practically no longer have a guarantee that the visa they have only just paid for at an official Royal Thai Consulate will actually give them access to the kingdom.