I will say for the record that yes, the following scenario was pretty much 100% my fault, and no, I don’t recommend anyone else to follow in my footsteps (as the ending results may vary greatly!!).
When I first arrived in Thailand in December of 2014 I didn’t bother to look at my passport stamp before leaving the immigration desk. Instead it was probably the next day, after I’d slept for several hours catching up on lost sleep, that I bothered to look (out of curiosity) at the stamp in my passport.
It was then that I’d noticed something interesting about my stamp… The entrance date was correct, but the “valid until” stamp said December, 2015…
A year later??? That can’t be right!? As I started to research information on tourist visas for Thailand, I quickly realized that a mistake had been made. Tourist visas if entering by plane are ONLY valid for 30 days. If entering by land I believe it is only 15 days. To get more than 30 days, extensions must be made and paid for.
Well, at first I was a bit panicked about this incorrect stamp but nothing online seemed to address my issue. All the visa problems were related to stamps giving LESS than the proper time allotted, never once did I run into anyone saying they were given MORE.
Perhaps that was due to people not wanting the outside world to know they had been “granted” longer than legally allowed… In any event, I was still worried about what to do in the several weeks that followed and almost did a border run within the 30 days, but the more I spoke with fellow tourists (some who had been there for months on end with proper extensions) it seemed that it really wasn’t a big deal. There was no special stamp for 30 days vs. extended stays, so I thought no biggie!
Everyone (seasoned Thailand travelers) seemed in agreement that there wasn’t even a special visa stamp for year applications. So needless to say, I simply blew off making border runs and figured I would deal with it whenever I was ready to leave Thailand.
So the day came, about 9 months later, that I was ready to leave. Up to the border patrol in Tammalang Pier I strolled with my ticket in hand for Langkawi, Malaysia. I passed over my passport to the seasoned employee… All seemed well for a few seconds… Then his eyebrows furrowed.
I was asked to step out of line and into the back where I was basically scolded for my mistake. I tried to reason with them saying it was one of their own people’s fault for giving me the wrong stamp, but really when it came down to it (and I knew this already) it was my own fault. So I was given two choices. A) Pay the maximum fine for over-staying my visa (20,000 baht) or B) Go to the Police station.
Needless to say I picked A!! I wasn’t even going to test choosing option B, lol!! But the only problem then was that I needed cash! I only had about 70 baht on me, so I basically begged for and borrowed a motorbike, drove myself into town, got the max allowed out of an ATM (20,000 baht), drove back, paid my fine, got a lovely full-page stamp in my passport outlining the infraction (stating boldly my mistake in full detail), finally got my exit stamp, and boarded the ferry to Langkawi Malaysia.
It was kinda humorous at the end there as when I had to return to the main immigration desk hours later (after paying the fine) I ended up with the same officer who caught my mistake. When I approached, he just gave me a jovial smile and shake of the head. I had to chuckle at that and smiled. No hard feelings 🙂 At least I wasn’t asked never to return to Thailand! I paid my fees and got straight with the law.
So I’ve learned my lesson, which I’d actually seen written several times in visa blog discussions: ALWAYS CHECK YOUR STAMP BEFORE LEAVING THE IMMIGRATION DESK!!! Avoid future hassles!!
As for the money, if you really think about it, it’s probably the same amount I would have had to spend in border runs and legal extensions of my tourist visa anyway. C’est la vie!
That’s my story and my warnings!!