Starting last Saturday, April 1, visitors from 64 countries, including Europe, the UK, US, Russian, Japan and Australia will only be allowed to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 30 days if they choose to enter without obtaining a visa before they depart to Thailand. This policy change is a move back to the temporary tourism promotion implemented on October 1, last year, allowing visitors to stay for up to 45 days with a visa exemption.
Here’s a full list of the 64 countries that are allowed to enter Thailand on a visa exemption…
The 45 day visa waiver was introduced at the time as a means to boost tourism until the end of March this year, but it’s has now officially ended.
Tourists from 64 countries who are permitted to enter Thailand without a visa will be affected by this change, as they will now only receive the previous 30 day entry. But they can still extend their stay by another 30 days, in most cases, by going to an immigration office with a passport photo and 1,900 baht. They can only extend the visa waiver one time, making it a maximum stay of 60 days without a prior visa application – visitors from many countries can pre-apply for a 60 day tourist visa, and then extend another 30 days for a total of 90 days.
There are three immigration offices on Phuket at Siphon Him (main office) with smaller offices in Patong (Beach Road) and Cherngtalay (Blue Tree).
People hoping to repeat another cycle of 30 days wish waiver + a 30 day extension by either crossing over the Thai border or flying out of the country then back in, should be aware that the regulations specify you can only do this twice in a calendar year. Whilst there is occasional flexibility at the immigration booths on the border or at the airport, visitors would be aware they may be refused entry if they don’t have a valid visa obtained before arrival.
There has certainly been a tightening up of ‘visa runs’ over recent years, a situation that seems to be ongoing at this time.
The visa-on-arrival period has been reduced from 30 days back to 15 days for countries considered for a visa-on-arrival.
This time there was no official announcement from the Thai government regarding the reversion back to 30 day visa exemption. The Tourism Authority of Thailand and the Ministry of Sports and Tourism have both said they will approach the new government after the May elections to discuss another visa waiver extension or other programs to promote tourism.
After the flurry of visitors coming back to Thailand over the new year, the arrival numbers are slowing down in the lead up to Songkran and the Easter holidays, after which it is thought that the tourist arrivals may slow down as Thailand enters the traditional tourist ‘low season’.