So today we exited Cambodia to Thailand via a land crossing, we had visa’s for both places, no issues there.
It’s actually quite an amusing and chaotic process when you enter Cambodia using the ‘visa on arrival’ system. But exiting should be a breeze, right? There’s an exit card stapled right in your passport. A few stamps and done, you’d think. Well, I’m here to tell you of a surprising twist that left me scratching my head.
Hubby and I both have the same passports, (Canada), visas acquired at the same time and place, (on arrival Phnom Penh), same duration, (30days). So one might think we’d undergo an identical process. Stand in line, submit passport, photo taken, move along, collect passport at next window.
Except that’s what happened for him, but when it was my turn I was electronically fingerprinted, both hands! Wha? And many others in line were too, women, men, red passports, Etc.
We’ve both been to Thailand numerous times before, (all without incident, I promise!)
So…what could it be? I’ve been scratching my head all the way to Trat wondering why they’d want MY fingerprints to EXIT the country? They didn’t take them when I entered? What could they match them to?
The bosses and head chief showed up on a surprise visit and they were just being “efficient” and were hoping for a year-end bonus.
Or you just looked cute and they wanted a picture with you.
Haven’t been to Canbie or Laos or T land since 1973.
My guess it was just random.
I’m guessing it’s something similar to the United States TSA security theater where some people are randomly selected for extra attention.
The last time I went through the local airport detector the only metal on me was the fillings in my teeth and the zipper on my pants and it dinged anyway. The attendant advised me that I had been randomly selected to have my hands swabbed for chemical residue.
30 seconds later I was strolling down the jet bridge to the plane.
My initial thought was they were under a lot of pressure to stop the trafficking of women. (Cambodia is very near the top of the list for both trafficked women and exploited children.) But a moment later I remembered I was almost 60 and probably don’t fit that profile!
I certainly agree and am leaning towards, it just being random. But that still leaves the issue of why on exiting? Wouldn’t on entry make much more sense? Two minutes later I was across the border!
Plus, I don’t even have a driver’s licence. Pretty sure I’m not in an Interpol database, so what are they hoping to match it too?
It’s been years since I was in Cambodia and have not heard of this happening before, certainly not on exiting. Thailand is set to start fingerprinting foreigners who enter, but I don’t know when that’s supposed to start – I assume you’re sure it was the Cambodian authorities and not the Thai? Surely they would not be doing it for Thailand.
I believe one idea of fingerprinting foreigners upon entering the country is in case they can match the prints found at the scene of any dastardly crime. Because after all, as many Thais will tell you, it’s only foreigners who commit crimes in Thailand.
If you passed into Trat province from Cambodia, you must have come from Koh Kong in Cambodia. Koh Kong/Trat is the major checkpoint there. I am reminded of when the wife and I passed that same checkpoint in October 2003. We had come from Sihanoukville by boat along the coast. Disembarked at Koh Kong, which despite the name – “Koh” meaning “island” – is on the mainland. By the time we and other passengers on the boat got to the checkpoint, it was just about 5pm, closing time. We were all the last people allowed through. Then we walked through that fenced-in No Man’s Land to get to Thai Immigration, which was also in the process of closing up for the day. One farang (Westerner) ahead of us was a young lad from Europe. Thailand would not let him in. The officials accused him of having a fake visa in his passport. He swore it was not fake, but Immigration were having none of it and turned him back to Cambodia. But hold on, the Cambodian Immigration was now closed, and Cambodia was locked! The wife and I made it through, and I’ve always wondered if the guy might still be stuck in that No Man’s Land.
Make a note to never let you back in, possibly. Or investigate what you’ve been up to.
They may also be concerned about people falsifying their exit - e.g. you give your passport to someone, that person exit the country, and the government thinks you left. You are now in the country illegally, but the government doesn’t know it.
Lots of good suggestions here to consider. But still I wonder, if they want to connect me to some nefarious activity I’ve been up to in Cambodia what good does it do to print me and let me leave?
Yes, it’s possible to bar me from future entry…maybe. If you’ve entered Cambodia through the ‘visa on arrival’ program you’d know how extremely unlikely that possibility is. Literally the ONLY thing they are checking is do you have the cash. And there are ten army guys doing it because none can be trusted with any money! Once any one gets $100 in his hands, another comes and takes it away. All overseen by a General! It’s hilarious to watch and remarkable that it actually works. Chaotic is an enormous understatement.
And charging people for overstaying their visas is just a cash grab in my opinion. You see it in a lot of countries, in my experience.
Yes, Thailand does levy a fine if you’ve overstayed your visa. The believe the fine is 500 baht a day for a maximum fine of 20,000 baht. In US-dollar terms, that’s about $14 a day for a maximum of $560. So if you overstay 40 days, the fine is 20,000 baht, and if you overstay four years, the fine is also 20,000 baht. If you leave on your own without getting caught, there doesn’t seem to be any problem. Just pay the fine and off you go, although they may put an “Overstay” stamp in your passport to alert authorities in the future.
However, so many foreigners have been overstaying, now they have a new policy. If you overstay and 'fess up on your own, that’s still okay, just a fine. However, if they catch you on their own, you will now be barred from reentering Thailand for anywhere from 1-10 years, depending on how long you overstayed. There are signs plastered all over Immigration now warning of this. (I see them every time I show up for my 90-day reporting.) So while they do arrest you, they usually hold you just long enough to deport you, but I think prison time is theoretically possible.
A friend of mine who ran a small school told me once that he interviewed an American for a position who had been here illegally for several years. This was about 20 years ago, long before the banning from Thailand took effect. My friend was curious and asked the guy how he managed to stay here like that. He had a Thai wife, and everything – banking, leases, just everything – was taken care of by the wife. Said if he ever did need to leave, he’d just show up, pay the 20,000 baht and be on his way. I wonder whatever happened to him. (He did not get the position, because it was a legal one, meaning he would have had to be issued a work permit from the Labor Ministry, and then his not having a valid visa would definitely have become an issue. Lots of teachers do work here illegally without work permits even if they do have a visa.)
More people overstay by accident than you’d think. I knew a guy in Hawaii who got popped at the airport when leaving Bangkok because he’d overstayed two days. He had a 90-day visa and kept thinking in terms of three months and left exactly three months after he arrived. Well, his three-month period was 92 days due to a couple of 31-day months, so he had to pay the fine for two days. I believe if you’re just a day late, they’re pretty lenient.