Thailand border crossing and permit


Staff member
May 26, 2013
Source: Operation Long Drive

(Haydon's opinion)

First and foremost, Mrs Thip did a wonderful job in arranging our permit and insurance. The customs lady complimented us on our paper work and it just eased the whole process. Photocopies are required of the paperwork - 2 copies of the permit, insurance, driver's passport, and car registration document (domestic).

The Pakse, Laos/Thailand border was extremely hassle free. Exiting Laos was a 20 minute procedure with minimal fuss and not even a car search.

Upon entering Thailand, we were directed to queue number 2 which is for private cars and buses as oppose to queues 3 and 4 for trucks and caravans. This was a good sign. (If you are wondering about queue number 1 its for motorbikes and wheel barrows.)

After visiting the immigration officials in the first window, where we handed in a copy of each document and the driver's passport, we then proceeded to the customs office which is the second window. Again, we handed over all the documents and they inputed all the vehicle data onto the database. We were told this will make it easier for any future crossings. Up until this point, no one had looked at or checked the vehicle inside or out and all the information from the permit had now been entered onto the database.

We then proceeded to a standard search of the car and we were free to enter Thailand. In my opinion, based on what we have seen at the border today, if you can get the permit from one of the agencies by whatever means, you will be able to enter Thailand. You can see pictures of our vehicle as a reference to see what they visually class as a car from the outside. Our agency asked for photos of the inside of our vehicle to confirm it was not a campervan/caravan. We asked Mrs Thip to refrain from showing the photos to the DLT unless specifically asked. This is what, again in my opinion, will make or break your application for the permit. If you are willing to submit slightly "creative" photos of the inside of your vehicle to gain your permit, I don't think there will be a problem at the border, as at no point did the DLT who issued the permit see our vehicle or the customs official, who let us and the vehicle in, see the photos we had submitted to the DLT. Yes, it's a gamble, but it's up to you if the juice is worth the squeeze.

I feel this method will only work for vehicles that are on the borderline between being a campervan and a car. After reading the DLT website in English and Thai, we came to the conclusions that the more exemptions the DLT have to grant, the less likely you are to get your permit. Our process was eased by Me-An being bilingual and having good communications and rapport with Mrs Thip. Being rude and the use of foul language to Mrs Thip, as some travellers have done, is not going to increase your chance of getting the permit. She is bound by the laws made by the DLT and cannot work miracles. We know the situation is frustrating but letting your frustration out on the only person who can help you is not wise and is only going to give overlanders a bad name. (Thankfully, they were not British.)

(Me-An's fact)

Border crossing process

The Laos/Thailand border is 42km from Pakse. The road was really good but be sure to keep 20,000 kip to pay for the toll at the end otherwise you can pay in Thai baht.

In true Laos style, the border was pretty relaxed. Be sure to stop at the customs office next to the metal barrier with the stop sign. They waved us through and we had to come back. We handed over our green customs paper we were given when we entered Laos and as our ICMV was stamped on the way in, we handed that over to be stamped out too.

We then drove to the main building on the left where there was a sign for departure immigration and went to window number 4. Our passports were stamped out of Laos.

Just by the exit barrier, we stopped and went to see the officials under the hut. Most of them were more interested in practicing their English with Haydon than wanting to look at our documents or the car. A lady took down the driver and the car details, briefly looked at the stamp in our ICMV and we were free to go.

Entering the Thai side, we were waved through by a customs officer to join the number 2 queue. We went to the first Windows and handed over a copies of the permit, car registration (domestic as this was already in English), driver's passport, and insurance. The officer looked at the paper and asked for 200 baht processing fee, (no receipt was given, but we had seen that other people had also paid) he then stamped the driver's passport for immigration purposes. The passengers will have to go through immigration in the building on the right. As a member of the G7 country, we were given 30 days under the visa exemption.

At customs, the second window of queue number 2, we handed over copies of the documents again. The car and driver details were input onto the database and we were given 2 documents back, one for customs and one for immigration, both were to be retained and handed in on exiting Thailand.

After a brief search of the car by military looking officials, we were free to go. We were asked whether you could sleep in the car and we thought, given the difficulties with campervans, it was best to say no.

Permit application process

Please note, the DLT seems to be changing the rules on a daily basis at the moment so this is our experience only. It would be best to check with your agent to see what are the latest requirements.

We started the application process while we were in China as we were asking for an exemption on one of the new rules i.e. entering and exiting at a different border, the approval process was going to take 30-45 days. I feel that the more exemptions you require (motor homes, over 3.5t etc) the earlier you should apply.

The documents we sent in were as follows, all copies

  • Passport for all drivers
  • Domestic and international driving licences
  • Car registration (domestic)
  • An MOT certificate or any other certificate confirming the roadworthiness of the vehicle.
  • A letter to the DLT explaining how we wanted the permit and why we are requesting an exception to be granted and proposed itinerary (it had to be handwritten for some reason)
  • Photos of the outside of the car

Mrs Thip also later requested a photo of our engine number and the photos of the interior of the car as mentioned above.

Then Mrs Thip did the rest. When we entered Laos from China, we got in touch with Mrs Thip again. She told us that things have changed slightly and that the DLT wouldn't issue the permit until 3 days before we would like to cross so we confirmed the date with her again (5 December 2016). We were in constant contact with Mrs Thip from around the 28 November so that if there were any issues, she could let us know sooner rather than later. Mrs Thip did request a notarised copy or translation of our car registration document but we explained to her that it was impossible for us to get this document at that point as we were 500km from the British embassy in Laos. We asked that she explains to the DLT that the application for the permit was launched before the document was required and she was able to get the permit without this document.

We received news from Mrs Thip on 2 December that the permit has been issued. She then emailed us scanned copies of the permit and insurance which we used for the border crossing.

Source: Operation Long Drive