There was a story in The Nation newspaper the other day about some tourists being refused entry to Thailand as they didn't have sufficient money to fund their stay. To be clear, this doesn't really affect genuine tourists who come just for a few weeks holidays. In my opinion, Immigration are cracking down on people who are pretending to be tourists while really working or doing some other illegal activity. These people come and go very often and their passports are full of entry stamps. But, you should be aware that by law, the Immigration official can ask you to show proof of funds if he or she is suspicious. The following is a Q & A on this topic prepared by the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
UPDATE: I've updated this blog by adding Q5 to the end
Q1: Is it true that tourists entering Thailand must be able to prove that they have adequate finances during the stay as currently being widely reported in local and international media?
Yes, this is true, according to the Immigration Act of Thailand B.E. 2522 (1979), foreigners who fall into any of the 11 categories are prohibited to enter Thailand. This includes “having no appropriate means of living following entry into the Kingdom,” which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has clarified that tourists entering Thailand must make sure that they are in possession of a passport valid for at least six months, and a round-trip air ticket.
In addition, holders of tourist visa must be able to prove that they have adequate finances equivalent to at least 20,000 Baht per person or 40,000 Baht per family. For on-arrival-visa tourists, they must be able to prove that they have adequate finances equivalent to at least 10,000 Baht per person or 20,000 Baht per family.
Q2: Why did the news about this inspection of tourists’ financial status by Thai Immigration Officers only emerge now?
Thai Immigration Officers normally conduct random inspection of tourists’ means of living upon arrival at all ports of entry. If tourists are not able to prove that they have adequate finances, the officers will then consider case-by-case whether to allow the entry. The random inspection will not take place after the tourists have been granted an entry and have passed through the Immigration checkpoints.
Q3: What would be considered appropriate preparation for tourists planning to visit Thailand?
Generally, a foreign citizen who wishes to enter the Kingdom of Thailand is required to obtain a visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or a Royal Thai Consulate-General.
But nationals of 42 countries (to see list, visit: www.mfa.go.th) are eligibleto travel to Thailand, for tourism purpose, with the exemption of visa and are permitted to stay in the Kingdom for a period of not exceeding 30 days.
In addition, Thailand has granted temporarily visa fee waiver and reduction for visas on arrival for tourists from 21 countries until 31 August, 2017. This will mean that travellers applying for tourist visas at Royal Thai Embassies or Thai Consulates abroad will not have to pay any fees for entry visas, while the fees for visas on arrival have been reduced from 2,000 Baht to 1,000 Baht per person. (To read more visit: www.tatnews.org, search for “Thailand extends visa fee waiver scheme for tourists from 21 countries”)
Tourists must also make sure that they are in possession of a passport valid for at least six months, a round-trip air ticket. Holders of tourist visa must be able to prove that they have adequate finances equivalent to at least 20,000 Baht per person or 40,000 Baht per family. For on-arrival-visa tourists, they must be able to prove that they have adequate finances equivalent to at least 10,000 Baht per person or 20,000 Baht per family.
For more information on Thailand Visa, visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ website at www.mfa.go.th
Q4: Why Thailand, which is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, should be too strict on tourists wanting to enter the country to enjoy the many unique tourism experiences?
Thailand, as many other world’s popular tourist destinations, is facing the problem of overstay foreign visitors. Therefore, from 20 March, 2016, Thailand has imposed a strict re-entry ban on foreign visitors who overstayed in the kingdom, according the Order of Minister of Interior, No. 1/2558, Subject ‘Classes of Aliens Ineligible for Admission to the Kingdom of Thailand.’The Order cited that a number of aliens, or foreign visitors, who have temporary permission to stay in Thailand have overstayed beyond their permitted date, thus placing the safety of people and national’s security at risk. (To read more, visit: www.tatnews.org, search for “Thailand to reinforce re-entry ban on overstay foreign visitors”)
Thailand recognises the huge importance of tourism, and tourist safety is an on-going priority for us.The government will implement whatever measures necessary to ensure Thailand’s reputation for hospitality and safety for all.
Q5: "These days, people don't like to carry so much cash around with them. They prefer to pay with plastic like debit or credit cards. Does Thai Immigration insist on seeing cash or will plastic cards do?"
This random inspection only aims at tourists who may appear as not being able to cover their travel expenses during their stay in Thailand. Thai Immigration will take into consideration all possible facts or information provided by the tourists before making an informed decision whether to grant an entry.