Thailand Ministry of Home Affairs is looking at reminding foreign travellers about their visa expiration by SMS to avoid them to overstay and facing the risk to be back to Thailand.
Overstay is illegal on Thailand for any foreigner with a visa. However, the punishment to overstay in the Kingdom varies greatly depending of your past records but also of the number of days you will overstay.
The Ministry of Home Affairs just instructed the Immigration Police to send from now a reminder by SMS to the mobile phone number that visitors are due to communicate when entering the country.
A test case will be conducted this month in Chonburi province (where Pattaya is located) as they are a large community of foreigners living there, both expats and tourists, according to Immigration police chief Surachate Hakparn to the Bangkok Post.
“This will prevent foreigners from forgetting their visa expiry dates, so if they continue to overstay, we will take harsh measures,” he explained to the newspaper.
Overstaying is generally punished with a fee of THB500 per day of overstaying. The extra fee to be paid can go up to THB 20,000 for 40 days of overstaying. Best is however to go to an immigration office if the overstay is over four days as a new visa costs on average the price of a four-day overstay. They are at airports with a special office dealing with overstay offenses.
Howver, if the visitor fails to declare its overstay and is caught by immigration offices, the penalty can be harsh. The foreign visitor who stays illegally in Thailand will first be detained at an immigration detention centre and, once identification and payment of extra fees resolved, he will face the following ban:
- Overstaying less than one year is matched by a five-year ban of entering Thailand
- Overstay more than one Year is matched by a ten-year ban of entering Thailand
Best then to be on alert and look at visa validity, especially after receiving an SMS from immigration!