Entering Thailand on a foreign passport

Travelling as a dual citizen comes with many benefits. For many Thai dual citizens, this means that your options for visa free travel are wider than those who hold just one passport. In addition, you have residency rights in both Thailand and the country of your other passport.

And when travelling as a Thai dual citizen, the general rule of thumb has been that whenever entering Thailand, you enter Thailand on your Thai passport so not to be treated as a ‘foreigner’ for immigration purposes. (See our article on ‘Travelling as a Dual Citizen‘)

From time to time however, Thai dual citizens find themselves needing to enter Thailand on their non-Thai passport. This can be for a variety of reasons including:

  • Having lost your Thai passport overseas and are unable to get a replacement from a consulate or an embassy.
  • Being an Overseas born Thai who has come to Thailand to finalise their citizenship documents including Thai house registration and Thai ID card.

Whatever the reason, you’ve only got your non-Thai passport to enter Thailand and you’ve got no choice but to use it.

What used to happen?

In the past, if you entered Thailand on a foreign passport, you would be treated as a foreigner for immigration purposes. And even if you held a Thai ID card, and then renewed your Thai passport in-country, you were subject to the time limits that were stamped in your foreign passport.

For many, that wasn’t an issue, but it was an inconvenience. It meant that one had to fly out of Thailand on their foreign passport before their visa expired, or risk having to pay an overstay fine of 20,000 baht. While there are special visa’s for Thai citizens to stay on their foreign passports, including what we call the ‘Ancestry Visa’, it still meant you had to submit yourself to immigration to be in Thailand legally.

Penalties and restrictions scrapped for dual citizens who overstay on a foreign passport 

Since August 2023 however, common sense has prevailed, bringing to an end the perverse situation of many Thais (who, for a variety of reasons) enter Thailand on a foreign passport and are treated as a foreigner for immigration purposes.

The immigration department has sent a directive to all immigration officials stating that Thai nationals who enter Thailand on a foreign passport are no longer treated as foreigners so long as they also have proof of Thai nationality.

In the event they are departing at a date that is beyond the one stated in their ‘arrival’ stamp, they only need to show a valid form of Thai ID and they will allowed to depart without penalty. The immigration officer will simply note the travellers Thai ID number next to the departure stamp.

At the moment, it appears that immigration is insisting that this ‘proof’ be an valid Thai ID card, so we suggest you come prepared with one.

So does this apply to all Thai dual citizens?

There are two main groups of Thai citizens:

  • Natural born Thai’s (ie those born to at least one Thai parent anywhere in the world)
  • Those who have naturalized as Thai citizens, or who were born in Thailand to two foreign parents with Thai Permanent Residency.

For natural born Thai’s, the Thai Constitution makes it illegal to strip natural born Thai citizens of their citizenship. As such, entering Thailand on a foreign passport is fine.

But for the second group, for the moment, the safe answer is a hard ‘no’.

The Thai Nationality Act makes it very clear that naturalized Thai citizens or those who were born to two Thai permanent residents can be stripped of their citizenship if they ‘make use’ of their non-Thai citizenship in Thailand.

As such, for these people, only using your Thai passport to enter Thailand will be essential. We discuss that issue here in our article ‘Thai Dual Citizenship, is it legal?

What do I do at the airport?

In the case that you’ve overstayed on your foreign passport, all you need to do is present your foreign passport as well as your Thai ID card.

It is essential that names in the passport and on the ID card are the same, as otherwise the immigration officer will be forced to charge you for overstaying.

Whatever the case, if you are unsure, we’ve included a copy of the memo to all immigration available for download at this link HERE.

Whatever the case, you’ll be stamped out of Thailand without issue, and assuming you’ve got a new Thai passport, you can re-enter the country on that at a future date.



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