My Friend got Refused Entry to Thailand (Feb 2017)

So the other day I told you how I was allowed back into Thailand after having a number of tourist visas in my stamp (you can read about it here).

I don’t work in Thailand but just use the country as a base to travel as I’m semi-retired.

Just this week my friend who is a New Zealand national was denied entry at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Offical reason for refused entry: he did not have sufficient funds to enter the country on his visa.

In his passport they stamped that he was refused entry because he did not have on his persons 20,000฿ that he needed with his visa. He was holding a METV visa that he had used once.

According to what I have read online and been told by a friend who is well read on visas, you can only be rejected entry into Thailand if you do not have proof of funds for travel or they suspect you to be working here illegally.

For a METV or SETV you must show 20,000฿ or 10,000฿ for a visa waiver.

These are the grounds they can reject you.

He had credit cards with money on there but he was not allowed to withdraw, they moved him to a holding room where he was asked to pay his for ticket back to his home country.


He does not work in Thailand but had been here for 1.5 years traveling and they deemed that he was working here.

He has a lot of money (in relative terms, he makes $50k/yr+) and would never even think about working in Thailand illegally as a teacher, in a hotel or anything else.

Since he could not show enough evidence for travel (he had no travel itinerary and only 2,000฿ to his name) they assumed he was working illegally in Thailand.

He also had no onward ticket out of Thailand.

Should digital nomads be worried?

If you’re not working illegally in Thailand I don’t think you will have any problem visiting on holiday for a prolonged period of time.

I know some people will say if you work online while in Thailand, you’re working illegally but it’s been mentioned enough times that officials are worried about people taking jobs that Thais can do, and not remote digital nomads.

If you’re coming in on a tourist visa please remember that you need to have on your persons at least 20,000฿ or more as that is the requirement of the visa. You should also have your travel plans for show and have an outward ticket out of Thailand.

If you don’t have that then you don’t pass all the visa requirements and officials are within their right to deny you entry, as happened with my friend.

Another article: I spent 42,000฿ in January, here’s what my budget breakdown for Bangkok in 2017.

What have your experiences been lately when coming to Thailand on a tourist visa? I have heard a few more stories like these where people were questioned about their time here and whether they were working here illegally or not.

If you have a friend who may find this useful, feel free to share this article so more people know what paperwork and documents they need to bring when traveling into Thailand.

You can learn more about being a digital nomad in Bangkok here.

46 thoughts on “My Friend got Refused Entry to Thailand (Feb 2017)

  1. Frank
    1 March, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Well almost happened to me lately too and I am on the marriage visa. They didn’t wanted to let me in because I have been here for a while (was lazy didn’t leave Thailand just was 1 day jumping in and out the country. This is the reason why I am going back to my country probably for year. Well the only victim will be my gf son who doesn’t know any other father than me. So yeah you should in fact be worried.

    1. 1 March, 2017 at 1:28 pm

      Sorry to hear that Frank. I am also thinking about making this my last entry for maybe 6 months or so, don’t want to rent a long condo only for them to say sorry I cannot enter and I must go to my home country.

      My friend is thinking about leaving too although he like me had has zero problems yet.

      1. Frank
        1 March, 2017 at 1:51 pm

        Yeah Harvie. Fwiw it wasn’t even about the visa issue etc but the share amount of visas (and I was lazy was going to Laos maybe if I mix it up it would be different) I mean I just write to warn people not to be like me (I used to be LOL Thai visas and was super reckless about it in a way. I had like 4 Tourist visas in Thailand one ED visa and now marriage visa (tbh this was the reason I married my GF so we could stay together because we can’t really take her son to my country due to language barrier etc.) I mean I just want to say that people shouldn’t get reckless (e.g. if you look at forums like 2+2 etc. people look at the marraige visa like an auto let in to Thailand but it is not the case.) I mean it seems they crack down on people that stay here long time because long stay=you work here in their eyes (well you get the money somehow ,right?) Just be careful people mix it up don’t stay more like 1,5-2 years (and that’s even a stretch) otherwise you might end up like your friend.

        1. Derek Casanares
          2 March, 2017 at 2:59 am

          Kids learn new languages fast.

        2. Reader
          2 March, 2017 at 6:29 pm

          Raising another guy’s kid? Dude I hate to break it to you, but you’re a cuck…

  2. Reader
    1 March, 2017 at 4:14 pm

    I think anyone making more than 25k USD a year is better off in the Philippines these days.

    Thais obviously don’t want long term tourists / digital nomads and visas are a huge hassle.

    If Cambodia wasn’t such a shithole and the girls ugly as sin, most long term tourists would move there in a heartbeat as well.

    1. 2 March, 2017 at 2:57 am

      The only issue with the Philippines is it’s not very nice to stay (Manila) outside BGC, also it’s hard to reach other countries in SEA as most are at least a 3hr flight or more. It is my #2 choice.

      1. Reader
        2 March, 2017 at 5:42 pm

        Yeah outside of BGC and mall connected condos (i.e. Rockwell), it’s not a nice place, but Bangkok isn’t either for the most part.

        Mostly no sidewalks, often rubble fields and peasants dressed like bums in front of your condo.

        If you Uber everywhere it adds up as well and removes the pricing edge when compared to Barcelona for example, with the only edge being that thai girls are more bearable than spanish girls.

  3. bkkyolo
    2 March, 2017 at 2:08 am

    Almost happened to me also in late January, after a visa run in Cambodia. And they did not ask anything about money, they were mostly screaming at me : YOU WORK THAILAND YOU WORK THAILAND ! I had bank statements, some cash, they did not even want to see it. They let me in with a warning after calling my landlady that confirmed I do nothing wrong and pay a rent higher than their salaries.

    My piece of advice :

    Do not leave all your possessions in Thailand. I had 99% of my things there, just a few shirts and my laptop in my bag on me. They wanted to deport me to Europe, in winter, I would not even have a piece of clothes for cold weather. I also had a motorbike worth 30k, I would’t be able to sell it from outside Thailand, even with someone’s help. Before it happened I was planning to buy a big bike… Do not sign any long-term rental contract, as you might lose deposit etc.

    If possible leave long gaps regularly between the visits, or maybe choose another country and do a 3month/3month rotation. That way if they still have a quarter of a brain they will understand that you don’t work illegally in their beloved country. That’s pretty much my plan now.

    I am quite sure that they had some sort of big meeting with a big boss telling them to intensify the controls and deport more people. Hopefully they will realise that by doing that they shoot a bullet in their foot and they hurt thai economy big time, and it 6 month or so it will be open doors again. Let’s hope also that some day someone will explain them the concept of being a digital nomad, as for now, working from home and earning money that way is something from another world to them.

    1. 2 March, 2017 at 2:58 am

      Thanks for the story.

    2. Reader
      2 March, 2017 at 5:49 pm

      >Hopefully they will realise that by doing that they shoot a bullet in their foot

      The reason why the 3rd world is the 3rd world is because people lack common sense, planing abilities and intelligence in general. Otherwise there would be no reason for us to be there.

      Just look at Singapore. Everything is crazy expensive and local girls just want millionaires or ripped studs with top tier genetics on the down low. This leaves 95%+ as bitter harpy cunts whose part time job is busting guys balls for fun.

      The day the Hull consulate shut down no questions asked 1 year visas a few years ago was they day I stopped living in Thailand permanently. The Phillipines, Cambodia and even China are just so much easier.

  4. 2 March, 2017 at 5:09 am

    And they are continuing handing out free visa’s! Wonder whats up with those? Just came back myself but no problems at all. Immigration was rather nice!

    1. 2 March, 2017 at 5:25 am

      Yeah most people are getting in fine but there’s the odd story now and then of someone being held up. This is why I made the blog post to let every one know to carry 20,000b on them at the airport and to have an outward ticket.

      1. Evan
        15 April, 2017 at 8:48 am

        Hi Harvie I will be visiting Bangkok by the end of this month with a friend its basically a short visit like 3 or 4 days. I wanted to know if I bring 10k Bht per head will I be denied entry even if we’re carrying the return ticket with us? I’m an Indian national​ this is the very first time I’m flying out of my country. And will it be a better idea to carry the thai visa with me or visa on arrival be a better idea? Thanks in advance.

        1. 15 April, 2017 at 9:02 am

          If you have the 10k and onward ticket you will be fine. I think Indians get a visa on arrival waiver so there is no need to get a visa.

    2. Reader
      2 March, 2017 at 6:26 pm

      I think it’s mainly targeted at Chinese people, who can’t be bothered to pay 2000 baht to go to a 3rd world country that’s slightly nicer than what’s available in Hainan / Yunnan.

  5. Mr.Eder
    2 March, 2017 at 5:10 am

    Working online from home is not only from another world for Thai people, I am sure the Thai government is more aware of this phenom than other governments around the world ,most people in Europe including German government are not aware of this, hence there is no tax regulations digital nomads can stick to in many countries of origin. But thats another story. If possible try to live in your home country. And make 2 or 3 months holidays every year. Which you spend in Asia/Thailand.

  6. Neil
    2 March, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Where are you guys getting caught up? I’ve been across to Laos and Cambodia on a Multi Entry O visa without any hassles the last 6 months.

  7. 2 March, 2017 at 6:42 pm

    But will the owners rent out apartment for just couple of months?

    1. 3 March, 2017 at 3:14 am

      You can find short term rentals and month to month, they usually cost a lot more unless you know the city really well.

  8. bareBKK
    4 March, 2017 at 6:06 am

    Does the 20k in cash have to be in baht, or is it ok to have the equivalent in USD cash?

    1. 4 March, 2017 at 7:12 am

      Equivalent is fine but I always have it in THB.

  9. noname
    8 March, 2017 at 12:26 pm

    This is not anything new and its been going on for over 5 years. It’s totally random and rare. I believe you just made this story just so you can bring in visitors to this site. UNLESS you have proof that they are asking to every visitor that’s coming into Thailand in these certain circumstances, then this article is just useless and you’re just driving in readers to your site.

    1. 8 March, 2017 at 12:34 pm

      Every story I write is to bring people to my website, why else would I write? The advice I give is sound, bring the correct paperwork and you should be fine 🙂 .

  10. Tim
    23 March, 2017 at 2:00 am

    Why does everyone else have it in for the poor old Cambodian girls? I think they are as cute as.

    1. Jehro
      5 June, 2017 at 7:28 pm

      Was there recently myself, and yes a lot are f#4@*&g hot, but then again if someone doesn’t find’em cute, it saves one from doing stupid things anyway.

  11. Tim
    23 March, 2017 at 2:11 am

    As for the visa situation. It is surprising that the Thais haven’t got a grip on this years ago. I first travelled to Thailand in the early 90s and it was touristy then but there wasn’t the huge floating foreign population like there is now. It felt much more exotic and the people were friendlier. I think the Thais have become jaded with foreigners in general. While most of these foreigners are probably more or less respectable there are a lot of pretty scummy people hanging around it seems to me.

    I also think the internet and blogs are becoming a problem. The Thais are very self absorbed and self contained so seem confident about their own culture and not that interested in foreign media (poor english skills don’t help) but surely it is only a matter of time before they become more widely aware of all the PUA/sex/Thai girls are easy blogs out there. In most other societies it would raise a media storm and put farang in the dog house.

  12. SG
    30 March, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Let’s say my finger slipped while photoshopping a flight confirmation e-mail, and then it [accidentally] showed a flight OUT of the country in a few months time and I were to print that off and then that paper somehow wound up in front of the officer if he asked for it, think that would that work as proof of intent to exit the country?

    1. 31 March, 2017 at 4:30 am

      Should be fine.

    2. Jethro
      5 June, 2017 at 7:37 pm

      Why would you use Photoshop, I could open my confirmation mails (Amadeus) with Word. Much easier. I had the same thought already, but refrained from doing so, all they have to do is putting your booking code into the computer, and if it doesn’t show, you can be sure to be denied entry. I used to book a rather expensive Thai ticket, where cancellation fee was 1000 THB only. Nowadays they raised it to 2000 or 3000 cancellation fee. Now I book AirAsia for 2000-3000, and if possible I’ll take it when time comes for another visa. It takes some planning ahead.

  13. bill
    17 April, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    Yeah that shouldn’t happen on a METV, especially since you already showed your income an stuff to get the METV…I mean the purpose of the METV was to get rid of people not having enough money to be here and replace the tourist visa with triple entries with tougher requirements, once you get the METV, they shouldn’t asked you jack shit about money since you already showed you had about $7,000 for 6 consecutive months in yr acct just to qualify, I think it was more of the immigration officer not knowing their job, the METV is meant for you to leave the country multiple times with no hassle

    1. 18 April, 2017 at 4:28 am

      Yes, Bill you would think that but there have been other reports of people not being able to get in with a SETV or METV, crazy.

  14. thibault
    27 April, 2017 at 11:28 pm

    so. proof of online income. will be fun for all those working in illegal fomains,like porn. look, officer, this site belongs to me. a tissue perhaps?

    1. 28 April, 2017 at 4:19 am

      Luckily for me I have diversified income streams lol.

  15. Adam
    6 May, 2017 at 6:08 pm

    Happy to find this thread. I got refused entry yesterday, well I think it was yesterday! Got sent back to the UK. I asked to go to KL or Cambodia, they said because I am British must go home. I was very stressed and emotional yesterday. I am not at my parents house near London. I still rent a condo in Bangkok and all my stuff is there. I have been doing the in/out method but usually get the 2 month visa from Cambodia. They said I was working illegally and they couldn’t let me in this time.I was sat in a room with immigration officials who told me I should try entering through a regional airport where they are less strict. I am also thinking of getting a new passport now I’m in the UK.

    My question is, does anyone know if my past entries will still be recorded. I will have a new passport and new number, there will be no stamps in my passport but is the old number linked to my new one internationally. I assume Thailand just have an internal system so they will record my entries on my new passport number which of course will be clean.

    Anyway, Thanks

    1. 7 May, 2017 at 5:05 am

      Hey Adam,

      What was the official reason for rejection? What did they put in your stamp? Did you have the 20,000b on arrival? Also when you were put in the detention room did you fight back or argue your case? Having a new passport should be fine I think.

  16. Adam
    7 May, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Hi Harvie,

    Too many times in and out was the reason, they thought I was working illegally, just wanted to make an example of me. They didn’t listen to anything I said, I was very calm, a bit shell shocked to be honest. I pleaded just to be let in this time so I can sort out my condo and get my stuff etc. They said this is the same situation many people are in and they have to send me back. The guy said he wouldn’t put anything in my passport, which he didn’t, but I still have all the visas and entry stamps and a record of entry with that passport on the system. So I’m thinking a clean passport will at least mean I go in with no stamps in my passport and I’m sure it’s not linked to my old one on every countries system, they will just see a new passport.

    1. 7 May, 2017 at 11:51 am

      Damn, did they ask you to show proof of onward travel or proof of funds or holiday plans?

  17. Adam
    8 May, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Yep and I had a ticket to KL as well! not interested at all. He just kept saying “It is not correct, I can’t let you in this time” Like I say, looking back now after a few days I think I had no chance. They saw the stamps in my passport and decided to make it difficult for me. I’m in the UK now, getting a new passport which will take a week, then going to get a Visa from the embassy in London, should be no problem getting back in later this month.

    1. 9 May, 2017 at 4:03 am

      That’s interesting, which country did you come from and how many days were you out the country? I am doing a visa run soon, wonder if I’ll get the same treatment.

  18. 9 May, 2017 at 7:18 am

    A friend that got denied a couple months ago, then got back in by using the fast. Google ‘bkk airport fast track immigration service’. Only costs $30, a rep meets you as you get off the plane, takes you through the fast lane that Thai Elite card holder use. Their presence can help to make you look less like an illegal worker.

    Also, avoid Cambodia, it’s stereotyped as the country illegal workers / poorest expats use, and avoid going to the same country too many times, and avoid short trips. What I do is mix up the countries (Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, not Cambodia), stay out 2 – 3 weeks at least each time, and that way I did a whole year without even having a visa. Google ‘jspill 9 visa exemptions back to back’ for my stamps.

    Having said that some airport IOs right now will deny you no matter what, even if you have 20k baht cash and follow the strategy above, so other methods are to come in via land border, Nong Khai has a car lane, if you hire a taxi from Vientiane to Udon Thani for $60 or so, it’ll take you through the car lane which anecodotally just waves people through without much scrutiny. Even the pedestrian lane is pretty relaxed too. Or fly to Malaysia and come in via train.

  19. Pplover
    27 May, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    So too many visits to Thailand is now frowned upon even if you have the money, ticket ets?

    I work a few weeks at a time and then a few weeks in Asia, often Thailand, so have loads of Thai stamps. Hope this is not going to be a problem. I have two passports so might have to try alternating them each visit.

    1. 27 May, 2017 at 1:12 pm

      I think it’s fine if you’re going in and out a few weeks at a time, they are targeting people who stay 3 months at a time for the space of a year or more.

      1. Pplover
        27 May, 2017 at 1:46 pm

        Quick reply!

        Because of my pattern of work I can only stay for a month at a time max so I should be OK then. I just get a feeling that the Thais are really getting sick of foreigners to some degree. Only a gut feeling. Might be totally wrong. But the place does seem to be getting overrun by farang and other outsiders. When I first visited Thailand I was struck by polite and friendly people were. Now I often get slightly bad vibes as a foreigner.

  20. Ping
    28 May, 2017 at 1:46 pm

    Guys, sorry to be a drag, but what do you expect? Schengen country immigration officers do the same when they see non EU people obviously just hopping in and out of the country(ies) every 90 days. You may not be technically breaking the law,but you’re certainly skirting the intention of it. So you really ought to be prepared when they finally say No.

  21. Ragnvald
    10 June, 2017 at 4:08 am

    Don’t expect a relaxation or waiving of rules just because you come from a western country. Thailand is a sovereign state entitled to enforce their immigration laws. When we Asians visit your countries we are advised, reminded and compelled to observe to the letter the terms of a visit visa and the consequences of violating them. Enforcement of immigration rules might be somewhat inconsistent in this part of the world and that won’t change overnight. That’s the bitter pill to swallow.

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