Overstay


Do not overstay in Thailand!

The maximum overstay fine in Thailand is 20,000 baht (approx US$450). Foreign children are subject to fines for overstaying in Thailand only when over the age of seven.

You can easy clear an heavy overstay at the Airport, but if you are caught by Immigration before you reach the airport, you will be jailed and deported until you can pay your fine and show a one way ticket back to your home country.

If you overstay by one day, there is no charge. After that, it’s 500B per day, so 2 days is a 1,000B fine, 3 days 1,500B etc…

Paying the fine is simple. When going through Immigration, they will notice the overstay and take you to a desk to pay it, taking about 5 minutes in all. Fines can also often by paid in advance at any Immigration bureau. You will not be jailed it you volontarily clear up your overstay.

Warning – Note that overstaying is technically breaking the law and while there is little problem with it if you ‘surrender’ yourself to Immigration at the airport, it can be a very different story if you are stopped by the police beforehand for whatever reason and are found to have overstayed – no matter for how long. This may well lead to you being detained in one of the feared Immigration Detention Center for a few days while your case is processed. Needless to say, this is an experience you can well do without, as conditions inside have been described by Amnesty International as ‘cruel and degrading’ and ‘seriously overcrowded’.

Though the chances of ending up in this situation are very small, you’d still be well advised to not overstay your visa if at all possible. If you do overstay for any reason, obviously you should steer well clear of any kind of activities that might attract the attention of the authorities.

To be personna non grata in Thailand is very serious case—i.e., your name is recorded in a secret ‘Confidential List’, popularly known as the ‘black list’; and you will be banned from entering Thailand forever. It is extremely difficult to have your name removed from the ‘black list’.

Overstaying a visa can leave you trapped in jail and deported from Thailand

Foreigners who migrate temporarily to Thailand sometimes break the immigration laws intentionally or unintentionally. The crime they commit may be serious or just a simple matter such as staying longer than permitted by the Immigration Bureau.

In some cases, they only have to pay a fine to the Immigration Bureau or the Immigration Office in the province concerned. For example, in the case of a visa that expired 150 days earlier, but where the passport remains valid, the fine can be paid at the immigration checkpoint on the day of the departure. In such cases, the maximum fine that can be levied is 20,000 baht.

In normal cases, such as when a passport has expired and the owner surrenders to the Immigration Office, the owner will be fined 200 baht per day from the date of passport expiration up to the day of surrendering. By surrendering, the owner of the passport will only have to pay a fine up to the maximum of 20,000 baht.

However, it is important to remember that if your visa has expired even for just one day, and you do not surrender but are apprehended by immigration officials or the police, you will automatically be taken to court. If your court hearing is held on a Friday and you pay your fine the same day, in accordance with the court order, it does not mean that your case has ended. The Immigration Bureau still has to pursue your case by deporting you. Therefore, you will need to have a confirmed air ticket together with sufficient money for transportation to the airport. If you cannot meet those requirements, you will be detained in the Immigration Bureau jail until you are able to acquire a confirmed ticket and sufficient cash for the trip to the airport.

In addition, if your court hearing is not completed until Friday afternoon other problems can arise, even when you have everything you need for your departure from Thailand. The officer who escorts you to court is not the same officer who has to arrange for your departure documents. Therefore, you will have to arrange for the completion of the documentation by the officer concerned. That officer will need to present all the papers concerning your deportation to his superior officers who have the authority to approve your release. However, in reality, you will not be able to do so because you are in jail and will have no opportunity to see the documentation officer. Unless you have a friend or a representative (e.g., a lawyer) who can make the necessary arrangements with the officer concerned, you will be unable to settle the matter.

It is even more difficult if you are not going back to your own country. For example, if you are an Australian but you have a job in Singapore, you will have to go to Singapore instead of Australia. That will involve more paperwork and people, thus extending the time needed to complete the required documentation for your departure.

You should keep in mind that the Immigration Bureau’s office hours end at 4.30 p.m. Therefore, if your court hearing is held on a Friday, and since it takes more than half a day to complete all the necessary procedures, you can expect to remain in the Immigration Bureau jail until the following Monday. Even worse, if the following Monday is a public holiday, you will have to wait until the next working day before your departure can be approved.

Your immediate problems will therefore be:

(a) How to arrange for a new air ticket if you do not have anyone to help you get it?

(b) If you have no more money (because you have had to spend it during your stay in jail), how will you be able to buy an air ticket and pay for your transportation to the airport?

Remember, until you are able to solve these problems, the Immigration Bureau will continue to detain you in jail.

Finally, foreigners who are apprehended in up-country areas for overstaying their visas will be sent to the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok. If that occurs during the weekend, such persons will be detained in the Immigration Bureau jail until the next working day even when they are in possession of a confirmed ticket and money for transportation to the airport. Remember, this delay will result in air ticket problems, since you will have to find a way to contact the airline about amending your ticket or being issued with a new one.

This is not a fairy tale with a happy ending. It is a warning that you could get trapped in a never-ending circle of problems. Such situations do occur. However, do not be put off from visiting Thailand. If you want to stay in Thailand for a long period, make sure you do it legally. Since that is not so easy to do, you may need the assistance of a qualified lawyer who is familiar with immigration law.

If you violate the rules of the Immigration Bureau, it is not easy to resolve the problems that will arise – especially during non-office hours. Do not hope for mercy or an exception to be made in your case by immigration officials. They are part of a very bureaucratic system and do not care about why you overstayed your visa. They will neither feel compassion nor bend the rules and regulations for you.

Questions about overstay? Please visit our web board!

Note:

Deportation of foreigners is governed by the Immigration Act B.E.2522 (A.D.1979), Section 54:

Any foreigners who enters or comes to stay in the Kingdom without permission or when such permission expires or is revoked, the competent official will deport such foreigners out of the kingdom;

The provisions of Sections 19 and 20 will be applied ‘mutatis mutandis’ if an investigation for deportation has to be conducted in reference to item (a) above; Where an order of deportation is made, while waiting for the alien to be deported the competent official may order that alien to remain at any prescribed place or he may order the alien to report to him (competent official) according to a prescribed date, time, and place with security (personal guarantee) or with security and bond (e.g., cash or land title deed). The competent official may also detain the alien at any given place as may be necessary. The expense of detention shall be charged to the alien’s account; The provisions of Section 54 shall not apply to foreigners who entered and took up residence in the Kingdom before the enforcement of the Immigration Act. B.E. 2480 (A.D.1937).

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