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11th March 2024

What are the Specific Regulations for Sailing in Thai Waters with a Foreign-Flagged Vessel?

What could be more idyllic than cruising the crystal, calm waters surrounding exotic, inviting Thailand and spending time languishing in the glorious sunshine, sampling some of the most exquisite food on Earth? If it sounds like paradise, you would not be far from the mark, and it is no surprise that increasing numbers of yacht and superyacht owners choose to head to this enigmatic location to spend some time. But what are the practical necessities and implications of arriving in Thailand waters in a foreign vessel? This article gives you a breakdown of the steps to ensure you fully comply with the rules and regulations.



Your first decision should be whether you prefer a government-owned port, open to the general public, or a privately owned one. 

  • Public ports — These are usually free of charge but can be very difficult to find, especially in high season. There are also options to anchor your vessel outside the port if full, but this is not recommended. Although Thailand is not beset by the most severe tropical storms in Asia, it does experience frequent lesser ones that can seem terrifyingly fierce. The topography of the coastline makes it a relatively calm place to weigh anchor most of the time, but there is always the chance of freak conditions that could be damaging or even dangerous to life and limb.
  • Private ports — A convenient alternative to the packed public ones, private ports offer better facilities and are less likely to be too full for you to find a spot.



Although engaging an agent to assist with checking into the country is not essential, most official forms will be in Thailand, and many officers do not speak English. It is a disappointing, if understandable fact, that wild inconsistencies in the process and associated fees are to be expected depending on your arrival point. 

  • The Q flag — On arriving outside the port they intend to enter, vessels should be flying the flag that alerts the authorities to your recent arrival. The crew are not free to go ashore until cleared, and this flag is furled. A miniature version of the host nation’s flag is considered a courteous gesture and is highly recommended. 
  • Heading to shore — The captain must complete entry formalities on shore within 24 hours. 
  • Immigration — Customs formalities must first be completed followed by the Port Authority. Clearance can be lethargic, so a distraction and a full patience quota are required. All crew members must visit Immigration on arrival and departure as they would at an airport. 

A 6-month stay is permitted, and extensions totaling 30 months. All incoming and outgoing vessels must have an Automatic Identification System (AIS) that is always switched on. Failure to do so will result in a substantial fine, although checks can be sporadic.



To learn more about us and our products and services, please take a few moments to browse Simpson Marine’s website. If you have any questions or comments you would like us to address, we will be happy to do so, and we can share details of our sensational range of yachts or provide friendly advice and guidance.

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