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Phuket Immigration Clearance - Updated

By Val Ellis last modified Jan 04, 2010 11:53 AM

Published: 2010-01-04 11:53:00
Countries: Thailand

Original report posted 1st September 2009

Despite proclaiming to want sailing tourism, the Thai Immigration Authorities at Ao Chalong Clearance "One Stop Shop" continue to create difficulties with yachts checking in at Phuket.

The latest difficulty observed is insisting that "all people on a yacht are crew" and must check in accordingly. Obviously, this is incorrect and should be disputed, as this means that unless you leave Thailand on the same yacht, every crew member has to lodge a 20,000 Baht cash bond with Immigration before leaving the country.

You would therefore have to return to Thailand to claim back the bond, which can be difficult. Your departure card may be stamped CREW to warn the airport and other border immigration authorities. This carries the potential risk of missing flights etc. if you try and leave the country other than on the yacht you arrived on, without posting the bond.

Be aware that Malaysian customs sometimes ask "How many on board" and enter this number as crew with no passengers so check this is correct before leaving the Customs office as it cannot be altered without major difficulties in Ao Chalong. This actually happened to the person checking in in front of me last week as his previous port clearance said 2 crew and no passengers and his passenger was due to fly out of the country shortly after arrival from Langkawi and had to post the bond. He attempted to solve the problem at Ao Chalong by both altering the document and paying a "fine", both of which were refused

To avoid this potential problem ensure that;

  1. The Malaysian Customs Port Clearance you obtain in Langkawi/Penang stipulates that anybody who is not departing Thailand on the yacht, is entered as a passenger (eg. 1 crew and 3 passengers). At least one person, normally the Captain/Owner, must check in as crew and lodge the bond if not leaving on the same yacht.

  2. Make sure you have the corresponding number on the Thai "Crew List" which is part of the Thai Immigration check in documentation.

Our thanks to David Lourey for sending us this information

Further Information Received on this Subject - Posted 3rd January 2010

We recently arrived in Phuket on our boat and checked in at Ao Chalong having sailed from Langkawi. At the time we had planned to stay for 4 or 5 weeks before leaving.

We had to make an unplanned departure by air 2 weeks after arriving, and went to Phuket town to pay our bonds as we were both listed as crew. The immigration officer spoke good English and told us that as we had arrived on a Tourist Visa, even although we had come by boat and checked in as crew at Ao Chalong, we did not have to pay the bond as we were "tourists".

We hope to return to Phuket in about 3 to 4 weeks, but in any event the airport departure was uneventful.

Additional clarification from Gordon

I should have specified that I obtained my "Tourist Visa" at a THAI Consualte before arriving, i.e. I was NOT a visa on arrival.

Hope this clarifies my situation. Basically if you plan to leave the boat in Thailand, arrive on a 60 day pre-obtained tourist visa (which are free at the time of writing) and you can leave without paying the bond. If you you have not used all 60 days - I didn't know this when I left - you can try and get the immigration at the airport to stamp it so you can use the balance of visa days on return.


Thanks to Gordon Millar for sharing this information.