Passport Requirements For Canadians Entering Thailand and Why Everyone Is Wrong About 6-Month Requirements

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It’s Sunday evening, 15-hours before our Monday departure to Thailand, and my wife and I discover that my passport expires exactly 10 days short of 6-months from our date of departure. Huston, we have a problem. After discovering this, I was quickly reminded (rather informed) that most countries require a minimum validity of 6-months on a passport before they will give you the stamp you need to set foot on their soil. Panic. Seriously panic. Time to obtain a new passport? 24-hours—won’t cut it. Cost to re-book flights? Over $3,000—not happening. We’re screwed. Or are we? After almost a dozen hours of online research, it turns out I know more than the Canadian, USA, or UK Government and Embassy websites do.

If you review almost every site on the Internet you’ll find a consistent theme: “your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand”. I scoured forums, embassy sites, government travel sites, airline sites, called multiple airlines, tried calling the Canadian Embassy in Thailand (they were closed of course as was the Thai Embassy in Canada) and almost every single place I looked, it was clear that I wasn’t going to get into Thailand. Everywhere except a few vague references to some recent change in entrance requirements (who knows what that means or how valid it is).

I reviewed the following sites with the following results:

The Vancouver Royal Thai Consulate General

Reference Linkhttp://www.thaicongenvancouver.org/cms/index.php?option=content&task=view&id=12

Quote: “Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months”.

Royal Thai Embassy – Ottawa

Reference Link: http://www.thaiembassy.ca/en/visiting-thailand/visas/types-visas-periods-stay-fees/tourist-visa

Quote: “Passport, travel document or certificate of identity with validity not less than 6 months”.

US Government Travel Site

Reference Link: http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_1040.html

Quote: “…but your passport must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your entry into Thailand.”

Royal Thai Embassy in London

Reference Link: http://www.thaiembassyuk.org.uk/?q=node/188

Quote: “Passport or travel document must be valid for at least 6 months after the date of first entry”.

Various Forums

Sample Reference Link: http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/439848-passport-less-than-6-months-left/page-2

Sample Quote: “Thailand requires 6 months validity for entry. Other countries have their own requirements. but most common is 6 months.”

After almost 6-hours of intense online research I stumbled across two sites:

The Star Alliance Visa And Health Requirements Page: http://www.staralliance.com/en/services/visa-and-health/

and

IATA Thailand Passport Visa, Health, and Travel Documents Page: http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/TH-Thailand-passport-visa-health-travel-document-requirements.htm

Both sites indicated that I was fine and that the requirements indeed were that the passport must be valid for the intended duration of stay. That’s it! So if you’re reading this, thinking about going to Thailand, already have tickets booked, or just curious what the requirements are, every site is wrong except for this one and the two above.

[UPDATE: I didn’t make it clear in the article, nor did I provide an update after the trip, so for those wondering, we made it in just fine!]

Have you had similar travel scares with Passport requirements? I’d love to hear about your story below in the comments.

  37 comments for “Passport Requirements For Canadians Entering Thailand and Why Everyone Is Wrong About 6-Month Requirements

  1. tony dadson
    October 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    Well perhaps these airline sites of yours might have a word with the thai immigration police. I was refused entry into thailand on a 60 day visa with 5 1/2 months left on my canadian passport in january of 2013. And it was the immigration computer that flagged me , not just the whim of the immigration officer.So I suggest you are wrong.

    • ryan
      December 2, 2013 at 12:28 am

      @Tony thanks for your comments. I wonder if it had anything to do with the length of your visa or if the 6-month requirement was dropped to 3-months between your trip and ours in May (it was changed recently, we know this for sure)? We had no issues and the IATA site should be pretty accurate (though of course IATA does not enforce immigration laws). We also had no issues entering Cambodia on the same passport and Cambodia shares the same immigration passport requirement timeline as Thailand (3-months).

      -RK

  2. Tanya Kononova
    November 12, 2013 at 10:16 pm

    Thanks for the post. I am having a similar issue, however I had realized that my passport will expire about a month before the trip. I am a Russian citizen however, so renewing my passport would take anywhere from 4 to 6 months!
    I had made traveling arrangements, even went ahead and got Indian visa (everyone at the consulate and third party visa processing office told me I won’t get it, after letting another person apply for me I still got it… is this luck?).
    So my question is – you are not mentioning whether you made the trip and whether anyone gave you any headache on the Thai border. Did you actually travel?

    Thanks,
    Tanya

    • ryan
      December 2, 2013 at 12:24 am

      @Tanya I just updated to post to indicate that in fact we did go and had no issues getting in whatsoever. That said, I suspect you will have issues if your passport is to be expired by the time you plan to travel to Thailand. I know here in North America we can do 24hr passport processing which might be something worth looking into in your home country. Best of luck and please let me (us) know how you make out!

      -RK

  3. Jeremy
    November 18, 2013 at 8:36 pm

    So did everything go smoothly with your trip? I have a similar situation and I just found out about this 6 month thing this morning. Im going to Thailand at the end of Jan. 2014 and my passport expires May 2014, Im currently living in South Korea and going back to the States for Christmas so I dont have time to get a new passport with these two trips.

    • ryan
      December 2, 2013 at 12:20 am

      @Jeremy Everything went perfectly smooth. While I cannot guarantee that rules or laws have not changed in the past 7-months, I can confirm that the airline (Asiana Airlines) welcomed me aboard and that Thai immigration had no concerns whatsoever. The only comment that would have indicated even a hint of concern was the ticketing agent who said: “Oh your passport expires soon!”.

      I would suspect that you’ll be just fine and hopefully the embassy and travel sites will eventually update their documentation on this matter! Do be sure to run through the IATA form I posted a link to in my post above and if it says that you’re a go, I’d feel pretty confident in heading to the airport.

      Please take a moment to post back after you’ve landed in Thailand to update me (and others) on how things go!

      -RK

  4. Molly
    December 17, 2013 at 3:52 pm

    I’m clinging to the hopes that you’ve given me in this entry, as I’m currently living in Fiji and my husband and I are planning our honeymoon in Thailand- we leave in 10 days. I was so busy organizing my husband’s visa (he’s a Fiji citizen) that I neglected to look at my own passport and it expires at the end of March 2014. I called the US embassy and it would take at least 10 working days to get a new passport, so a no go there. The IATA site says I’m clear, but thank you for giving me a little piece of mind. Fingers crossed…

    • ryan
      December 21, 2013 at 9:29 pm

      Hey Molly thanks for your note! While I’m still confused as to why IATA is the only official resource that backs this information, I’m confident you’ll get in :) Either way, comment back once you’re back from your honeymoon. Fingers crossed!

  5. Andrew
    December 21, 2013 at 9:03 pm

    Hi Ryan,

    My fiance and i are leaving for Thailand tomorrow for 10 days. We just spent a day with the family celebrating christmas as we will be overseas and my mum has told me the 6 month passport thing. Little bit stressed as my passport expires mid May 2014.

    As you mention, pretty much all sites are saying the 6 month thing except yours and IATA.

    Hopefully we’ll be fine though we a re both very anxious at the moment!

    • ryan
      December 21, 2013 at 9:31 pm

      Andrew thanks for taking the time to post about your plans. I hear you on the stress part as despite my findings, I was still a bit anxious through the stages of security, boarding, and immigration. Let us know how you do though once your trip is over.

      • Andrew
        December 23, 2013 at 3:29 pm

        Hi, Ryan

        Just thought i would let you know, that we got through with no dramas at all. No questions, concerns etc etc.
        Just about to watch the sunrise over Kata beach!

        Thanks and have a great Christmas and New year!

        • ryan
          December 23, 2013 at 8:03 pm

          Thanks for the update Andrew! This’ll likely help give some of the others with upcoming trips a bit more peace of mind. Today we booked tickets for our return to Thailand and can’t wait! Enjoy Phuket, Merry Christmas and have a happy New Year! – RK

          • Miranda
            January 4, 2014 at 11:16 am

            Yikes! I. Leaving tomorrow for Thailand from Canada- thought my passport was good until the end of June but it expires on the 10th. I’m supposed to be I’m Thailand until the 25th of January so hopefully no issues! My stomach is in knots!

          • Ryan Kononoff
            January 4, 2014 at 11:19 am

            @Miranda: does your passport expire on the 10th of January? You will definitely need at least 3-months (based on my experience) of validity on your passport from the date of arrival in the country.

          • Miranda
            January 4, 2014 at 11:30 am

            Hey Ryan-no it expires on the 10th of June!

          • Ryan Kononoff
            January 4, 2014 at 11:42 am

            @Miranda: while I make no guarantees obviously, I would imagine you’ll be okay on the passport expiration. We’ve had a few examples since my trip to confirm that the 3-month change is in fact real. Andrew did write in on Dec 23rd to indicate that he made it into the country without a hitch.

            Bon Voyage and let us know once you arrive and make it through immigration!
            -RK

    • Miranda
      January 4, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Hey Andrew-how did you make out?

      • Andrew
        January 5, 2014 at 12:37 pm

        Hi Miranda, i had no problem getting in or out, not even so much as a question from any officials.

        You’ll be fine

  6. Alain
    December 25, 2013 at 9:04 am

    I’m at the HK airport and my flight leaves in less than 8 hours.

    I was refused access to check-in for Vietnam, so I’m going to Thailand early.

    3 clerks here said Thailand wouldn’t be a problem to get in, however, after reading all I read, sort of like you before leaving, I’m really scared.

    Staying in Thailand for 12 days and my passport expires mid may !!!
    Talk about terrible timing…

    • Ryan Kononoff
      December 29, 2013 at 10:51 am

      @Alain we looked at going to Vietnam during our stay however this was one of the reasons we chose note to (they have a 6-month requirement). Same with Malaysia. Cambodia and Thailand both were 3-month requirements. Did everything go smoothly with Thailand immigration?

      RK

  7. Miranda
    January 6, 2014 at 7:15 pm

    Update for everyone-I had no issues whatsoever. Including in Russia aka my transit stop. Actually when I was leaving toronto the check in agent read the co diction to her colleague and it said for tourists the passport needs to be valid for the duration of the stay. I wouldn’t risk going with less but if anyone travels Aeroflot you can be assured you’ll be fine! Still, a nerve wracking 40 hours to say the least!

  8. David
    February 7, 2014 at 5:21 am

    Hey Ryan,

    I realised yesterday that my son’s passport expires in 5 months and 25 days and we were flying to Thailand today. All doom and gloom googling and even calling the Thai embassy until I found your blog and my hopes picked up and decided to chance it. Went to the airport today and not a word said, got to Phuket and no concerns from immigration either.

    We are British but I suspect the same rules apply to Canadians and all other Visa exempt countries. My guess is that if you need or have any kind of visa as with your first commenter then your passport needs 6 months. But if you are visa exempt and staying less than 30 days then it only needs to be valid for your trip. I expect it might get a bit more spicy at immigration if your passport expires very close to your departure date but otherwise they seem fine.

    Thanks for the reassurance!

  9. bree
    October 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Came across this site and so undecided if I take this information as gospel or fact. I’m australian and fly to thailand tomorrow for 3 weeks. To find out my passport expires in Jan 15.. I don’t know if I frantic try and get a new passport or everything will be ok?

  10. February 6, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Hey guys…I’m a citizen of Kazakhstan with Canadian permanent residency sitting on the plane to Hong Kong, and anticipating my next flight to Thailand tomorrow. I had no idea about the 6 months requirement. Air Canada attendant noted she wasn’t able to issue my boarding pass because I have less than 6 months on my passport (I have 4.5). I was planning on staying in Thailand for 8 days, then back for 4 days to stay in Hong Kong and then back to Canada. I have return tickets already purchased. She said I might have to stay in HK… I will keep you posted on what happens to me.

    • Ohm
      November 19, 2015 at 11:27 pm

      What happened in the end?
      My friend is coming to see me and he has a US passport that has 5 and a half month left counting on the date that he is arriving. I’m so worried that he won’t be able to board or get in. He is flying with Emirates and he has been coming to Thailand 3 times a year for 4 years now. I checked on IATA website and it said that it s fine for him to come.

      • Ryan Kononoff
        November 26, 2015 at 7:04 pm

        Ohm—as much as I’d love to give you a definitive answer regarding immigration questions, I’ll have to leave that to the immigration officials. That said, my experience was seamless and I had no issues both entering or leaving Thailand or Malaysia. Hope this is helpful and perhaps provides a bit of clarification.

  11. Julian
    February 19, 2015 at 6:35 pm

    It’s February of 2015 right now and I hope they haven’t changed their policy. My passport expires in 4 months and i’m wanting to go to Thailand (from Bali) for a few days to rest before my flight from Bangkok back to Canada (already booked). The two websites you’ve presented are both saying I’ll be fine so that’s a relief but I can’t help but worry whether they made the requirements stricter since the date of this posting… what do you think?

  12. Zeina
    June 26, 2015 at 12:28 pm

    Hello Ryan,

    I’m a U.S citizen planning to travel to Phuket with my family. I just figured out that my 5 year old daughter’s passport expires in November 2015.,and we plan to travel in July 2015. My passport, my husband’s Andy son’s passport have validity. Do you think we will be troubled upon entry?

    Thanks

  13. Dave
    January 1, 2017 at 1:17 pm

    Hell everybody,
    First of all thanks for this! You Save my holiday! I was panic when two days ago i realised my italian passport expires in 5months! Now im texting from Bangkok, im in! ..am i happy? A lot!

    So, resume my experience in few words: if you from a country that has right to require a visa exemption and you dont have apply for a different visa , you’ll stay max 30days you wont have troubles to get in! Even for boarding on the airplane qatar airways hasnt made problems.

    So if you get in thai with Visa exemption you can cross the border and stay max30days or at least the days left on your passport validity.

    If you want get in with any kind of Visa you must have minimum 6months left because they have to register on computer i guess.

    Thanks a lot.

    Mai pen Rai

    • Ryan Kononoff
      January 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Thanks for taking the time to add your feedback to this thread as it’s comments like yours that keep this post fresh and relevant. Now that you’ve made it into the country now kick back and enjoy! All the best!

      • Emman Martin
        July 1, 2017 at 9:39 pm

        Hello Ryan,

        This is very helpful! My wife will be travelling from Manila (with Philippine passport). We have VISA exemption to Thailand and will just stay for the weekend on July 8-10.

        Her passport will expire January 5 2018. I do hope this is still fine…

  14. Vikas Jawa
    January 8, 2017 at 12:10 pm

    Hey Ryan,

    Thanks a lot for taking the time to write and maintain this post. I went through a very similar experience – 1 day before travel – realized that my 3 yr old son’s Canadian passport was expiring in 4 months! My travel date was 25th December 2016.

    I read a lot online and 90% of that strongly suggested that I will be sent back from immigration. In fact, I also spoke to the emergency helpline of the Canadian Consular Services which very clearly stated that 6 months on the passport is necessary to enter Thailand and suggested to cancel my trip.

    I even called travel agents within Thailand who said that I wont be allowed to enter.

    Next I called the airline. The airline checked and said I would be allowed to board – no problem. They checked their immigration rules database and said it will not be a problem. However, this came with the disclaimer that final decision always lies with the immigration department

    The immigration rules database that airlines use can be accessed here – http://www.iatatravelcentre.com/. This gave me quite a bit of confidence. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the official trade association for the world’s airlines.

    After my conversation with the airline, reading your post (with the comments) and a few other links I decided that its worth the risk and decided to go for the trip. I was pretty sure that they would let me through and they did ultimately. Had a wonderful trip.

    The most relevant part that I want to share is the mail I received from “BNGKKIMMIGRATION@international.gc.ca”. This is below

    ———————————————————————————————
    Dear Mr. Jawa,

    Thailand requires 6 months of validity on passports for entry. However, this rule is sometimes waived if the passport is valid beyond the return date of the traveler’s ticket.

    Best Regards,

    Consular Section | Section consulaire
    Embassy of Canada to Thailand | Ambassade du Canada en Thaïlande
    Consular assistance | aide consulaire: bangkok-consul@international.gc.ca
    Passport and Citizenship | Passeport et citoyenneté : bngkk-passport@international.gc.ca
    Telephone | Téléphone : +66 (0) 2646-4300
    Facsimile | Télécopieur : +66 (0) 2646-4345

    ——————————————————————————————-

    So basically my interpretation of this matter based on my travel experience, all the research and the mail above is that an individual will typically not be stopped at immigration if the passport is valid till after the intended duration of stay – however, the ultimate decision lies with the immigration and if they feel that there is anything fishy/wrong with your passport or any other document, they reserve the right to send you back based on the 6 month rule. It will apply only to exceptions.

    Ryan – Your post was a big part of the reason of why I decided to go for the trip. Thanks a lot for this.

  15. Michelle Miller
    May 21, 2017 at 3:12 am

    Hi all,

    Which airlines in Asia are OK and will allow me to board with less than 6 months validity on passport?

    Please help – I’ve heard AirAsia don’t allow it.

  16. Anna
    September 11, 2017 at 8:14 pm

    Hi!

    Thanks for this post, it gave me some confidence. Last week I worried I wouldn’t get in, with my Swedish passport expiring mid-January, but I did so with no problems or comments whatsoever. I asked the guy at the baggage check-in first and he said it was just fine. I flew with Thai Airways.

  17. Paul Morton
    November 24, 2018 at 3:41 am

    Hi

    I travel tomorrow to koh samui.

    My passport expires on 04/04/2019.

    British embassy have advised me NOT to travel.

    Could you please advise. We are going for 14 days and flying with Qantas.

    Thank you

    • Ryan Kononoff
      November 24, 2018 at 5:47 am

      Based on the experience I had as well as all of the commenters below, I’d say you’re probably OK. With that said, I would suggest plugging your info into the IATA tool to confirm.

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