Thai Immigration Etiquette

It’s always surprising when Westerners show up at Thai immigration like they’ve just stumbled off the beach or when Westerners talk rudely to immigration officers. These things won’t get you any extra help from immigration officers in Thailand.

To stay on the good side of Thai immigration officers, here are a few things to keep in mind the next time you’re at immigration.

Be Prepared

There’s nothing worse than waiting for the person in front of you to fill out their paperwork at the immigration officer’s desk because they didn’t prepare properly. Imagine this scenario from the immigration officer’s end. They probably have to go through this dozens of times per week.

To ease the amount of work on the immigration officer’s end, prepare all your paperwork ahead of time. They’ll be pleased, and that could mean a better experience for you.

Dress Politely

You don’t have to show up to the Thai immigration office in a three-piece suit, but wearing a button-down shirt and some pants is a good start. In the Thai immigration officer’s eyes, you’ll look more professional and worthy of helping.

Avoid wearing shorts, t-shirts, or clothes with holes in them or that reveal too much skin. If possible, wear closed-toe shoes—not flip flops.

Remain Calm

Unfortunately, not all officers follow one strict code of enforcement at immigration. One officer may tell you one thing and another officer might tell you something different, even when you’re there for the same reason. But don’t show frustration. In the end, you won’t win.

Remember, the immigration officer in front of you has your fate in their hands. If you upset them, they won’t help you. Even raising your voice just a few octaves could seem threatening to an immigration officer.

Show Respect

You might not agree with the immigration system in Thailand, but it’s not yours to change. If you don’t like the way things work, don’t express those opinions to immigration officers.

Your lack of respect for the system, authority, or hierarchy in Thailand won’t win you any friends.

If you follow these three tips, you’ll have an easier time during your next visit to the Thai immigration office.