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Thailand Check-in Procedures & Leaving your boat if you travel out of the country by plane

By SV Wild Fox — last modified Nov 24, 2017 10:27 AM
The only thing which is consistent with checking into Thailand is the inconsistency. This article deals with Ao Chalong but much of it will be relevant to Satun and Krabi. By Anthony Swanston, SV Wild Fox.

Published: 2017-08-18 00:00:00
Countries: Thailand

If you intend to leave Thailand without your boat, ie foreign travel, you need to be careful. If anyone checks in as either captain or crew then complications arise.  If you check in as a passenger then you may come and go as you please.

The acid test of a passenger is that you will have a standard departure card stapled into your passport and life is simple.  Some yachts have suggested that it is possible for everyone to check in as a passenger but this is unconfirmed, however, due to the Thai inconsistencies it may on occasions be possible.  Ask, it is worth a try!

If you are either captain or crew you will have an A4 piece of paper folded into your passport.  If, in advance of your arrival, you have obtained a 60 day visa (extendable by another 30 days) then when you arrive you will get a stamp WD30 and no A4 paper.  That stamp means you are good to go but if you have the A4 paper then you must either pay a bond or change your status.

PAYING A BOND

Go to Immigration in Phuket.  Google maps finds it as Phuket Immigration.

There is a window making photocopies (easier to make them in advance).

Next to it is the office for visa extensions (sometimes very crowded).

Next to this is an office marked Vessel Control (until recently this office had no sign on it).

The staff inside vary.  The young lady I dealt with could not have been nicer nor more helpful.  But I have heard different reports.

When the transaction is complete you will have a different piece of paper in your passport.  This should be removed by Immigration at your departure airport.  If it is not removed by them you may have trouble in recovering your bond as they have to send this back to Phuket.

Basically you pay a bond of 20,000 BHT (in cash only) which is returned when you come back into the country but you have to go back to Immigration, get a cheque and then take this to Immigration’s bank and change it for cash (less a fee of 500BHT).  A lot of hassle.

It is much simpler to change your status.

CHANGING YOUR STATUS

In the same Vessel Control office change your status to passenger.  Pay a one off non- returnable fee of 2,000BHT. You will need a copy of your ticket out of the country and a copy of your passport.  The clerical process involves about 15 minutes.  (My helper used rubber stamps 17 times).

Some people think that this 2,000BHT fee is a bribe, but this is an official process.

You will end up with a standard departure card and a new piece of paper in your passport which will be removed by Immigration at your departure airport.

THIS NEXT BIT IS VERY IMPORTANT AND FREQUENTLY OVERLOOKED

When you return to Thailand you must go back to Vessel Control and have your status returned to either captain or crew as you will have re-entered Thailand as a tourist.  And a tourist cannot work on a boat either paid or unpaid (work can involve as little as hosing down the decks).

Good luck!

Anthony Swanston
SV Wild Fox

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Sue Richards
Sue Richards says:
Nov 24, 2017 10:27 AM

Reported by Martina & Reinhard Moedl:
Following information which might be interesting to other sailors (October 2017):

Our yacht flies Malaysian flag, my wife and crew as well as myself are Austrian citizens, we both have one year non-O visas for Thailand.

Coming from Terengganu, Malaysia, we cleared in at Koh Samui (my wife as a passenger). In Koh Samui I tried to get information about the requirements for departing to Europe by plane whilst leaving the yacht in Thailand. Immigration on Koh Samui was unable to give me any information and told me to ask at Customs. Customs explained several times (including the boss of the desk-officer), that there is no requirement. They said, "Just take your luggage and travel home“.

After arriving in Koh Chang, we contacted Laem Ngop Immigration office. Here we were told about the correct procedure which is as follows:
- Bring ALL required documents to the Immigration office - in paper-copy (Passport, contract with marina, plane ticket incl. return-flight).
- Pay a deposit of THB 20.000 which will be refunded on your return to Thailand back at the Immigration office.
- I received an envelope which I had to hand over to the Immigration officer at the airport on departure.

Everything was clear, smooth and without any needs of discussion.

BTW:
The Harbour captain in Koh Samui wants to get paid a "personal fee“ of THB 500 for each clear-in / clear-out. Negotiation therefore is required, don´t pay more than THB 200, better zero, off course

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