Only Two Visa-Exempt Entries at Border Crossings Per Calendar Year

Thai immigration have been kind of clamping down on “visa runners”/”border hoppers” for a while now. An English friend of your webmaster was actually stuck behind the Cambodian border for a couple of days this year as he had “too many” visa-exempt entry stamps in his passport and immigration wouldn’t let him back in. In the end he had to get a tourist visa from the embassy in Phnom Penh before immigration let him cross the border back into Thailand.

But how many is “too many”? It has always remained somewhat obscure how many back-to-back visa-exempt entries, or visa-exempt entries per calendar year, you can actually get at Thai land border crossings, for example, if you go on a “visa run” to the nearby Cambodian border and re-enter Thailand without a visa.
Immigration have a kind of computer alert system that triggers a warning after “too many” border runs and they might not let you back in again or advise you to apply for a proper visa and maybe fly into Thailand. But the details of how this alert system works always remained very sketchy and there never appeared to be any clear rules regarding the number of visa-exempt entries that are okay at land border checkpoints.
This appears to have changed now.

According to a new regulation published in the Royal Gazette earlier this month, effective from December 31st, 2016, foreigners who have not obtained a visa for Thailand and enter/re-enter the country through a land border checkpoint can now only get two visa-exempt entries per calendar year.
This is apparently to stop foreigners from “abusing” the visa exemption scheme.
Note: This new regulation does not apply to holders of a multiple-entry visa but only to foreigners who enter or re-enter Thailand without a visa. It does seemingly not apply to foreigners either who fly out/fly in and enter the kingdom through an airport immigration checkpoint.
Thaivisa.com have an unofficial translation of the new regulation here. Here’s an excerpt:

“Those who enter the Kingdom temporarily for tourism {…) by crossing Immigration checkpoints at land borders are entitled to enter the Kingdom in this way no more than two times per calendar year, except for Malaysian citizens or citizens of other countries, as specified by the minister.” (…)

The reason for this announcement of ministerial regulations is that it has been found that, on examining the time spent in the Kingdom by aliens receiving visa exemptions to enter the Kingdom temporarily for purposes of tourism by crossing Immigration checkpoints at land borders, such aliens have tended to spend more time in the Kingdom than is consistent with the purpose of granting visa exemptions (…)

Thus, in order to make these land border crossings conform to the stated purpose of tourism, it is necessary to issue these ministerial regulations to limit the number of annual border crossings by individual aliens using visa exemptions for the purpose of tourism.

Source: Thaivisa.com

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