From December 31st immigration checkpoints at land border crossings into Thailand will only allow visitors to enter the Kingdom on a visa exemption stamp twice in a calendar year, bringing an end to the much used loophole of staying in the country by doing back to back border hops.
Citizens of certain countries, including Malaysia, are exempt from the new rules that have been rubber-stamped to prevent foreigners using and abusing the system intended for use by genuine tourists.
Unlike directives in the past that came from immigration bosses, the new regulations were published in the Royal Gazette on December 1st and come into effect after 30 days making them law and not just a mandate created on a whim.
With this announcement the days of living in Thailand on back-to-back visa exempt stamps are well and truly over and it’s been a long time coming too.
Over the years there have been all sorts of “temporary” rules and restrictions put in place only to fade away after a few months.
Even all those put in place by the current military government have come and gone with one Cambodian land border crossing issuing back to back visa exemption stamps without question until recently when the system was updated with a warning system.
After an unspecified number of entries into Thailand using visa exemptions the system would alert the immigration official to issue nothing more than a warning to the passport holder this would be their last entry on a visa exemption and they should obtain a visa issued at an embassy or consulate in future.
The new rules will have zero impact on tourism and affect only those living here long term without the means to obtain a suitable visa solution – and there are plenty of options.
Holders of valid METVs can still exit and re-enter to activate their second or third entries as normal. Holders of multiple entry visas are also unaffected by these new rules.