Updated last April 07, 2020.
People can find themselves overstaying in Thailand for a number of different reasons. Some foreign nationals do so by mistake, by miscalculating their given visa days against the length of their stay, or by simply forgetting their visa expiration date.
You should strongly avoid overstaying in Thailand, but if you do find yourself in Thailand on an expired visa it is very important that you act fast and in the right way.
What is overstaying?
Overstaying is basically the act of staying in Thailand beyond the given permission to stay period on your visa. For example, if you entered Thailand on September 1st on a 60-day tourist visa you will be given a permit to stay or admitted until the date of October 29th. If you continue to stay in Thailand after October 29th without successfully renewing or extending your Thai Visa, or leaving and re-entering Thailand, you will be deemed as overstaying.
You are solely responsible for leaving Thailand or extending your visa when in Thailand. If you are caught failing to do so you will face penalty or legal sanctions which can end in imprisonment and deportation.
What will happen if you overstay your permit to stay in Thailand?
It is illegal to overstay your visa or permit to stay in Thailand and it is seen as breaking Thai laws, even if you overstay by only 1 day. If you are caught overstaying in Thailand you will face a fine and the probability of being detained in a Thai immigration detention center, after which you will be deported or face imprisonment in Thailand.
If you are caught in Thailand as an overstaying foreigner you will be detained and face punishment. However, if you leave Thailand as an overstaying foreigner without being caught you will only face a fine and possible ban from re-entering Thailand, depending on the length of your overstay, when exiting through immigration control at the airport or land border, and will not face any imprisonment or detainment.
As you can face detainment and imprisonment even when overstaying by just one day, it is important to avoid getting caught or being questioned by police, and resolving your overstay issues as soon as possible. On occasions, immigration police will do random checks on foreign nationals on entertainment centers, on the street and some checkpoints.
What happens if you get caught overstaying in Thailand?
If you are caught before reaching an international airport or if you are caught during a random checkpoint, you will face detainment in an immigration detention center. Just like any Thai prison, these places are dirty, unsafe, and very unpleasant places to be in. In order to get out of an immigration prison and leave the country, you will have to rely on help from friends, your embassy, and/or a lawyer; and even with this help the process can take days, weeks or even months.
If you make it through to an immigration checkpoint at the airport, your fine will be based on the length of your overstay and you will face the possibility of being banned from re-entering Thailand. If you have overstayed in Thailand by a considerable amount of time, or repeatedly overstayed, you may receive a red stamp signifying that you have violated Thai Immigration Law; not only will this affect any future visa applications or visits to Thailand, but it can impact visas and travel to other countries.
In the case of more serious overstaying you can receive a status of “Persona Non-Grata” which means you can be banned from re-entering Thailand for the rest of your life. You may even end up on the infamous travel ‘Black List’, which can mean making future international travel more difficult.
Thai Immigration can be very strict and difficult to deal with, typically sticking to the rule book in all cases, so don’t expect any special treatment, sympathy, or leniency when breaking immigration laws.
What are the penalties?
The fine for overstaying is 500 Baht per day, reaching a maximum fine of 20,000 Baht (when overstaying 40 or more days).
When overstaying for a significant amount of time (90 days or more days), it is a serious offense that you could face deportation and ban from entering Thailand. Here are the current guidelines for overstaying and entry ban:
When surrendering at airport immigration when leaving Thailand:
- Overstay less than 90 Days = 500 Thai baht/day overstay fine (maximum 20,000 Thai baht)
- Overstay more than 90 Days = 1 year ban from Thailand and 20,000 Thai baht overstay fine
- Overstay more than 1 Year = 3 years ban from Thailand and 20,000 Thai baht overstay fine
- Overstay more than 3 Years = 5 years ban from Thailand and 20,000 baht overstay fine
- Overstay more than 5 Years = 10 years ban from Thailand and 20,000 baht overstay fine
When caught while overstaying
- Overstay of 1 day to 1 Year = 5 years ban from Thailand and 500 to 20,000 Thai baht overstay fine
- Overstay more than 1 Year = 10 years ban from Thailand and 20,000 Thai baht overstay fine
What should I do if I find myself overstaying in Thailand?
If you do find yourself overstaying in Thailand you should try to resolve the issues as soon as possible.
If you are overstaying in Thailand by just 2 or 3 days and are about to leave Thailand via an international airport, you should be alright to leave as normal, making sure to avoid confrontations with any Thai authorities or checks from police. Once you reach immigration you will be asked to pay a small fine (500 baht for every day you have overstayed), which should be resolved within 10 minutes and without further punishment (as long as you have not overstayed several times before).
If you are overstaying in Thailand by a few days but still have several days before you plan to leave Thailand, your best advice is to head to the nearest Thai immigration office and explain your situation and pay the appropriate fines. You may find that you are allowed to apply for a visa extension which will cover the remaining days of your stay.
If you find yourself having overstayed in Thailand for a week or more you are advised to leave Thailand as soon as possible, making sure to not get caught and having the appropriate fine ready in cash.
If you find yourself in Thailand having overstayed for more than 90 days it is advised that you immediately seek legal help and prepare to leave the country as soon as possible, facing the possibility of being banned from re-entering Thailand for a set period of time.
Overstay for children
Children regardless of their age should also have a proper visa and should not stay beyond their permit to stay date stamps. However, children below 14 years of age are not subject to an overstay fine or a travel ban from Thailand. This does not mean that it is legal for the children to overstay or worse, not to obtain the proper visa.