Extended Stays: Ins and Outs of Visa and Border Runs in 2024

Extended Stays: Ins and Outs of Visa and Border Runs in 2024

Are you a traveler, a digital nomad, or an expat who wants to stay abroad longer than your visa or visa-free period allows? If yes, you may have heard that certain countries allow a visa run for foreigners. Although this practice is common among people willing to extend their stay without violating any immigration rules of the destination country, visa and border runs are not always cheap or legal. 

What are visa and border runs?

A visa or a border run is a brief trip out of the country and back in order to restart the clock on your allowed period of stay, where it would otherwise have expired. Used interchangeably, the terms visa run and border run still have some nuances depending on the context and purpose. Generally, a visa run refers to obtaining a new visa from a consulate or embassy in another country, while a border run implies re-entering the country on the same visa or an exemption stamp. However, both terms essentially involve crossing the border and coming back.

For example, if you are a British citizen who wants to stay in Thailand for more than 30 days, which is the maximum period allowed for visa-free entry, you have two options:

  1. Do a visa run, which means you have to go to a nearby country, e.g., Malaysia or Cambodia, and apply for a tourist visa at a Thai consulate or embassy there. This will allow you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days, which can be extended for another 30 days at an immigration office in Thailand.
  2. Do a border run, i.e., go to a border checkpoint and exit and re-enter Thailand on the same day. With this option, you’ll be able to stay in Thailand for another 30 days. Mind that the trick may be repeated indefinitely.

Visa and border runs: strengths and weaknesses

Depending on your situation and goals, both visa and border runs have distinct advantages and disadvantages.

They offer increased flexibility and freedom for travel and extended stays abroad, allowing you to tailor the duration, location, and timing of your visit according to personal preferences and budget constraints.

In contrast to the intricate and time-consuming procedure of applying for long-term visas, visa and border runs are generally more accessible. With reduced documentation, fees, and processing time, this method proves appealing if you seek a hassle-free extension of your stay. It lets you circumvent specific restrictions like taxes, mandatory health insurance, or language proficiency tests.

Beyond these logistical benefits, visa and border runs come with opportunities for exploration and cultural immersion. Furthermore, the potential for networking is substantial, offering connections with fellow travelers, digital nomads, and expatriates. These interactions may well unveil new possibilities for work, business ventures, or educational pursuits in the visited countries.

On the other hand, visa and border runs can be costly, especially if you have to do them frequently or travel far. You may have to pay for transportation, accommodation, food, visa fees, and other expenses. They are also sometimes risky, especially if you act illegally or irresponsibly. If you overstay your visa or visa-free period or violate the immigration laws of the country you visit or re-enter, fines, penalties, or deportation are likely to follow. Besides, in some of the countries or border areas you visit, these practices are also associated with scams and fraud.

To complicate matters even further, visa and border runs can be uncertain, especially if you rely on them for a long-term stay. You may face changes or challenges in the visa or immigration policies of the country you visit or re-enter as well as personal and professional issues.

Your visa and border run opportunities in 2024

These will vary with each visited or re-entered country, as well as your nationality, passport, and visa status. Some states may have more lenient or generous visa or immigration policies than others, and vice versa. Plus, don’t forget that their bilateral or multilateral agreements with other jurisdictions may affect your visa and immigration options.

Below, you will find the states that offer visa and border run opportunities in 2024:

  • Thailand: One of the most popular destinations for visa and border runs, Thailand offers visa-free entry for up to 30 days for citizens of 64 countries, and tourist visas for up to 60 days for nearly everyone. With its multiple border checkpoints with Malaysia, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, where visa and border runs can be done easily and cheaply, Thailand also has some associated limitations and risks, including the requirement to show proof of onward travel, the possibility of being denied entry, and exposure to scams or crime in some border areas.
  • Georgia: With its visa-free entry for up to 365 days for citizens of 98 countries, and e-visas for up to 90 days for nationals of 66 states, Georgia is another popular jurisdiction for the above purpose. In Georgia, they have several border crossings with Turkey, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, where visa and border runs are both quick and affordable. However, Georgia is not free from certain associated limitations. Here belongs the requirement to register with the Revenue Service, the possibility of being subject to tax obligations, and exposure to political or security issues.
  • Panama: In Panama, your visa-free entry will last up to 180 days and tourist visas expire after 90 days, provided you are from a qualifying country. Its border crossings with Costa Rica and Colombia provide convenient and cheap visa run possibilities. Associated risks include the requirement to show proof of sufficient funds, chances of being denied entry or fined by immigration authorities, as well as exposure to violence or corruption in certain districts close to the border.

Are you interested in doing a visa or border run? Maybe, you would like to learn more about visa or immigration options for your destination country? If your answer to any of the above questions is affirmative, go ahead and contact International Wealth! Our seasoned experts will guide you to the right solution for your needs. With the experience and knowledge we have in the industry, you’ll achieve your travel goals sooner than expected. So, contact International Wealth today to make the best decision for your future!