Everything You Need to Know About Visa Runs

A visa run, also known as a border run, is a common practice among foreign citizens who work or live in a country where it is difficult or impossible to extend their visa. By briefly leaving the country and then returning, they can effectively “reset the clock” on their allowed period of stay.

A visa run may be required in some situations to activate a new visa or update a person’s immigration status. A person, for example, may need to leave the country and then return quickly in order to activate a newly issued work visa before they may legally begin working. In general, visa runs play a significant role in the immigration process for many foreign nationals.

What is a visa run?

A visa run is a trip that is taken specifically for the purpose of renewing or extending a visa. This typically involves leaving the country where the individual is currently staying, and then immediately returning in order to reset the clock on their visa. Visa runs are often done by people who are living and working in a country on a short-term visa and need to leave and re-enter the country in order to continue staying legally.

Vietnam,Thailand,Cambodia,Laos & Indonesia are good examples since they grants passport holders from several countries a 30-day visa-free stay in Thailand. If you fly out of the country and receive an exit stamp in your passport, you can reenter the country to reset the clock and obtain another 30-day extension.

Why people do visa run

People do visa runs for a variety of reasons. Some people may be living and working in a country on a tourist visa, and need to leave the country and re-enter in order to continue staying legally. Others may have a work visa that is about to expire and need to do a visa run in order to extend their stay. Some people may even do visa runs as a way to travel and explore new places while also maintaining their legal status in their current country of residence.

Types of visa run

Border run

A border run is when an individual leaves the country they are currently staying in and crosses a nearby border in order to renew their visa. This type of visa run is often done by people who are living and working in a country that shares a border with another country. For example, someone living in Vietnam on a tourist visa may do a border run to Cambodia in order to renew their visa and continue staying legally in Vietnam.

Island hops visa run

An island hop is when an individual leaves the country they are currently staying in and travels to a nearby island in order to renew their visa. This type of visa run is often done by people who are living and working in a country that is an island or has nearby islands that are considered separate countries. For example, someone living in Réunion Island on a tourist visa may do an island hop to Mauritius in order to renew their visa and continue staying legally in Réunion Island.

Other types of visa run

There are many other types of visa runs that people may do, depending on their specific circumstances and the countries they are living in. Some people may do a visa run to a third country, rather than just crossing a border or island hopping. Others may do a visa run to a country that offers visa-free entry, in order to renew their visa without having to actually leave the country they are living in.

Downsides of Visa Run

While visa runs may be seen as a way to extend a person’s stay in a country without going through the formal process of applying for a long-term visa, they can also have several downsides.

Costly & Time Consuming

One downside of a visa run is that it can be time-consuming and costly. The traveler must plan and pay for a trip to a nearby country, which can take several days and require booking flights, hotels, and other travel expenses. This can be especially difficult for people on a tight budget or with limited time available for travel.

High Risk

Another downside of a visa run is that it can be risky or uncertain. Depending on the country where the traveler is staying, there may be strict rules about how long a person can remain in the country without a valid visa. If the traveler is unable to renew their visa on a visa run, they may be forced to leave the country abruptly, which can be disruptive and stressful.

Additionally, some countries may view visa runs as a way to circumvent immigration laws and may take a dim view of travelers who engage in this practice. This could lead to difficulties when trying to enter the country in the future, or even result in the traveler being denied entry or deported.

Unpredictability

Visa runs can be unpredictable, as individuals may encounter unexpected delays or other issues. This can be especially true when traveling to countries with uncertain political climates or unstable governments.

Pranav Das at Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary,Bali

The Process of a Visa Run

Determine if a visa run is necessary

Before doing a visa run, it is important to first determine if it is actually necessary. This will depend on the type of visa you have, how long you have been staying in the country, and the specific rules and regulations of the country you are living in.

Choose a destination

Once you have determined that a visa run is necessary, you will need to choose a destination to travel to. This will typically involve choosing a nearby country that offers easy entry and exit, and that will allow you to renew your visa.

Make travel arrangements

The next step is to make travel arrangements to your chosen destination. Find the most cost-effective technique of obtaining a visa. There might be inexpensive flights available, or you could take the bus.

One Last Secret Tip

Check with other travelers who have recently completed similar visa runs—blogs & Facebook travel groups are fantastic source of up-to-date information about each border crossing throughout the world. Most people search only on Google & YouTube when it comes to Visa related info but to be honest Facebook groups are gold mines for visa related information.

My Experience with Visa Runs in Bali

As a budget backpacker, I always try to stretch my money as far as possible when traveling. So when I arrived in Bali for a month-long stay, I was bummed to learn that the initial tourist visa was only valid for 30 days. I wasn’t ready to leave paradise! But I discovered a handy trick called a visa run – leaving the country briefly to reset your visa. This allowed me to extend my Bali trip without the headache and expense of a formal visa extension.

I’ll share my first-hand experience with visa runs from Bali to popular spots like Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. Read on for everything you need to know to plan your own Bali visa run adventure!

Weighing My Visa Extension Options

When I realized my 30 magical days in Bali were coming to an end, I started researching visa extension options. I could apply for a formal extension, but that required multiple trips to the immigration office, letters of support, proof of funds, etc. As a backpacker watching my budget, I wasn’t thrilled about the idea.

The other option was a visa run. This simply meant hopping over to a nearby country for a couple days to get a fresh tourist visa stamp when I came back to Bali. No paperwork or government offices – just a mini side trip! It sounded way more appealing than spending hours at the immigration office.

After comparing costs, a visa run was also the cheaper choice. Extending my visa formally would have cost at least $100-200 USD. Visa runs to places like Malaysia or Singapore start at around $150 USD, including flights and accommodation. The decision was easy – I booked my visa run!

My Bali Visa Run Experience in Kuala Lumpur

For my first Bali visa run, I chose Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Flights were cheap and I was excited to see the Petronas Towers and eat amazing Malaysian food! Here’s how my visa run went down:

Booking My Flights

I compared flights on AirAsia, Malaysia Airlines, and Malindo Air. AirAsia had the cheapest fares at around $150 USD roundtrip. I booked a direct flight from Bali, leaving early in the morning and returning late evening 3 days later.

Pro tip: when doing a visa run, stay at least 2 nights so you have proof for immigration that you’re a genuine tourist. I packed light with just a backpack to save baggage fees.

Exploring Kuala Lumpur

I stayed in a hostel near the Petronas Towers and spent 2 full days exploring. The Towers were even more impressive in person, towering over the city with gleaming silver facades. I also wandered through bustling Chinatown and visited the colorful Hindu Batu Caves.

The food was a highlight – I had outstanding Indian, Chinese, and Malay dishes. And Kuala Lumpur had an amazing urban energy while still being affordable. It was a great city for a budget traveler!

Returning to Bali

After an awesome time in KL, I caught my return flight back to Bali. I made sure to get exit stamps when leaving Malaysia and entry stamps when I landed in Bali. This provided proof I left Indonesia and re-entered.

Just like that, I had reset my 30-day visa for another glorious month in Bali! It was so much easier than applying for a formal extension.

My Second Bali Visa Run to Singapore

A month later, it was time for Visa Run Round 2! This time I chose Singapore for my visa run destination. Here are the highlights:

Booking Flights

I compared flights on Jetstar, Scoot, Singapore Airlines and AirAsia. Jetstar had the best rates around $140 USD roundtrip. Again I booked a direct flight and stayed 3 days/2 nights.

Seeing the Sights

I explored Singapore by foot and public transit. Gardens by the Bay was an amazing green oasis with epic supertree groves and magical dome conservatories. I also enjoyed free attractions like Jurong Bird Park and Botanic Gardens.

Getting around was easy with the efficient MRT system. Though a pricier city, Singapore had good hostel options and I loved the mix of cultures – Chinese, Indian, Malay, and British influences.

Back to Bali

After another successful bali visa run through Singapore, I flew back to the Bali hustle and bustle. I had my refreshed visa and 30 more days to enjoy paradise!

Tips for Your Bali Visa Run

Based on my first-hand experience, here are my top tips for a smooth visa run from Bali:

  • Check passport validity – Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months from your dates of travel.
  • Book refundable hotels – In case your plans change, book accommodations you can cancel.
  • Get entry/exit stamps – This is essential for validating your visa run. Don’t forget!
  • Stay 2+ nights – This shows immigration you’re a legitimate tourist.
  • Print confirmations – Have printed proof of onward travel and hotel bookings on hand.
  • Research visa rules – Indonesian visa regulations can change. Always check current requirements.
  • Fly direct – Book direct Bali-visa run destination flights if possible. Easier logistics.

Start Planning Your Bali Visa Run!

Visa runs allow you to extend your Bali trip on a budget and see a new destination along the way. I highly recommend the option for long-term backpackers like me. Whether you choose Kuala Lumpur, Singapore or somewhere else nearby, you’re in for an easy visa renewal and mini adventure! I hope my visa run stories and tips help you start planning your own Bali getaway. Happy travels!

The legality of visa run depends on the specific laws and regulations of the country in question. In some countries, visa runs are perfectly legal and are commonly used by tourists and other foreign visitors to extend their stay. In other countries, visa runs may be considered a violation of immigration laws and can result in fines or other penalties.

To avoid visa runs, certain countries have established regulations such as limiting the duration of visitors in the country without a visa and the amount of time spent outside the country before their visa can be reset.

In the Schengen region, for example, visitors are only allowed to stay for a maximum of 90 days within a 180-day period. This means that if a visitor stays in the region for 90 days, they must leave and not return for another 90 days before they are eligible to be reenter. This rule is intended to ensure that visitors do not overstay their visas and to prevent them from staying in the region for extended periods of time without proper documentation.

In addition, some countries do not reset the visa clock when a visitor returns after traveling to a neighboring country. This policy can be frustrating for visitors who are planning to spend time traveling in and out of the United States. If they visit a neighboring country and then return to the United States, they will not be granted a new period of stay and will only be readmitted for the remaining days of their initial entry. This can be especially challenging for visitors who are trying to make the most of their time in the United States and want to see as much of the country as possible.

Another Example is Thailand which allows different number of visa renews for visitors based on how they arrive in the country. Visitors who arrive by land from neighboring countries are allowed to have only 2 visa renewals of stay in a year than those who arrive by air. This policy may be intended to encourage tourists to fly into the country, which can provide a boost to the country’s aviation industry. It may also be a way to ensure that visitors arriving by land are properly screened and accounted for, as they may not go through the same level of security checks as those arriving by air.

Final Words

Doing a visa run can have some potential advantages, such as allowing an individual to continue staying legally in a country for an extended period of time. However, there are also some potential disadvantages to consider, such as the time and money required for travel. It is important for individuals to carefully weigh the pros and cons of doing a visa run before making a decision.

Pranav Das
Pranav Das

I’m Pranav Das, Indian Travel blogger & Reputation Management Expert by profession and lover of world cultures, languages, souls, mountains, oceans, and wild spaces.

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