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Cruising the Gulf of Thailand: How Customs Rules can vary

By SY Infinity V — last modified Feb 04, 2014 01:21 PM
Note: This report is currently "out of date" as Customs Rules in Thailand changed as of 1 January 2014. Under the new rules, the boat can stay only as long as the permit-to-stay issued to the yacht’s captain remains valid. This may be 15 days, 30 days or up to two months, depending on whether or not the visa was issued by a Royal Thai Consulate or Embassy. Permits-to-stay issued to captains with tourist visas may be extended at Phuket Immigration only once for a period of 30 days.

Published: 2013-05-05 23:00:00
Countries: Thailand

Cruising the Gulf of Thailand: How Customs Rules can vary

Koh Samui: © Wikipedia

For latest news about the new Thai Customs rule - see Thailand: New rules for boat stays

Report

It seems that the actual Thai Customs legislation states that a vessel coming into Thailand is actually only deemed to be able to stay for 60 days initially, which generally matches a tourist visa, but can be extended up to 6 months.

Therefore Phuket being quite progressive about their marine industry have decided to give the 6 months straight away before any extensions are applied for, and you can go well beyond 6 months there.

However if you check into Thailand elsewhere, such as Koh Samui, you may or may not get 6 months. You may get a Customs official who sticks to the letter of the law and only gives 60 days and then you have to apply for an extension to get the 6 months. This is problematic if you wish to sail across the Gulf and not stay around Koh Samui.  At that office you may have to politely ask if you can have the 6 months, but you are not actually entitled to it automatically.  You may want to point out that some officials do grant this in the Koh Samui office and could this be extended to you, but remember, do not cause any loss of face to the official as this will not get you anywhere.

If you check in near Bangkok they stick to the 60 days vehemently.  So Koh Samui is the better option for the Gulf.  We checked out of Khlong Yai near Cambodia and cannot give any information as to how they regard check in, given they rarely get boats coming in they may go by the book.

We checked in at Koh Samui, got the 6 months and then sailed the islands and across to Pattaya and Koh Chang, checking out at Khlong Yai with no problems and so had a great time in the Gulf during the SW/NE season as the weather dictated.

For those who wish to read the actual Thai Customs page (in English) see this link:
http://www.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/custen/individuals/importing+personal+vehicle/importingpersonalvehicle+

The only issue with checking out at Khlong Yai is the Customs office is 70 km from Trat, well away from where the other officials are, so we hired a car shopping at the big Tesco at Trat on the way.

From there we sailed back to Malaysia and Borneo, avoiding Cambodia and Vietnam as taking a yacht to these areas is still complicated and expensive in government fees.

Bec
SY Infinity V

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