What is a Visa Run?

A visa run has become a common term among frequent travelers, especially in the expat and digital nomad communities.

The procedure allows travelers to visit countries for extended periods of time, without breaking their destination’s visa policy.

Find out what a visa run is, and how to do one in the future.

Visa Run Definition

A visa run is a process when a traveler goes through to stay for longer than their original visa allows. It involves leaving the country you wish to stay in, so you can re-enter with a new visa on arrival.

The length of a visa run depends on the visa policy of the country the traveler wants to return to.

Sometimes a visa run is simply crossing, then re-crossing the border without spending any time in the other country. In other circumstances, you may have to stay in the other country for a certain period of time before returning to your destination.

Typically, travelers do visa runs to bordering or close countries, but you can technically do a visa run to anywhere in the world.

How does a visa run work?

When you leave for your visa run, immigration officially stamps your passport out of the country. Your passport is then stamped again when you enter the new country.

When you return to your original destination, you enter with a new stamp from that date. This means that your date of arrival starts again from day 0, not counting the time you spent in the country previously.

This method of gaining more time in a country is legal, providing the visa policy of that nation allows it.

Can I Do a Visa Run?

Before you do a visa run, you must first check the country’s visa policy.

Some countries allow international visitors to leave and return immediately. Other governments state that travelers must be out of the country for a minimum amount of time before returning.

Certain visa policies may also have limits on the number of visas a traveler can have in succession.

Once you are sure that the country legally permits visa runs, and you have checked if you must wait to return, you can plan your trip.

How To Do a Visa Run

A visa run is a simple process. There is no preparation needed, apart from organizing travel from and to the country of origin.

Travelers must ensure that they leave before their visa expires, to avoid overstaying. Usually, the visa holder exits the country close to the expiry date. This way they can use up most of their visa days, before getting a new one.

You can exit and return from any air, land, or sea border. Providing you are stamped in and out of the country, it does not matter from which crossing.

When you re-enter, you should be given a new visa on arrival and stamped back in. Your length of permitted stay then starts again from that date.

Visa run examples

Thailand is one of the most popular countries for visa runs, as many travelers end up wanting to stay longer than the permitted 30 days.

A typical visa run from Thailand is flying to a neighboring country, such as Vietnam or Cambodia. Travelers can also cross the land border by bus or train.

Other travelers take the opportunity to travel further for an extended period of time, rather than re-entering straight away.