5 February 2017
Thai authorities have recently announced a significant change to the visa exemption scheme. The changes apply to people arriving in Thailand via a land border crossing. Under the new rules, if you are not in possession of a visa you will only be permitted to enter Thailand at a land border crossing twice in a calendar year. Tourists flying to Thailand will not be affected by the changes.
Passport holders from the following countries are eligible to enter Thailand under the visa exemption scheme and if your country is listed here the new rules for land border crossings will apply to you:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bahrain, Brunei, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom and United States of America.
The new rule limiting the number of land border crossings does not apply to Malaysian passport holders.
- The change should not affect people in possession of a valid visa
- The new regulation applies to land border crossings (e.g Mae Sai, Nong Khai etc.)
- People arriving in Thailand at an international airport (e.g. Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket etc.) are not affected by the new rules
- The changes came into force on December 31, 2016
Please note the visa exemption scheme is not the same as visa on arrival. Under the existing visa exemption scheme, passport holders from certain countries arriving in Thailand without a visa are initially permitted to stay for up to 30 days. It’s possible to apply at immigration offices in Thailand for an extension to this initial permission to stay.
There is no one-size fits all policy when it comes to immigration and visa issues in Thailand. Please check with the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country for more information on whether you require a visa or not.
Updated visa information
Please note that visa regulations in Thailand may have changed since this article was first written. Check the visa section on this site for more details on the current rules.