Unlike foreign tourists who cross for free, Cambodians pay $5 and Thais pay $2.50, in addition to the official visa fees already paid, when crossing the border in Poipet, citizens claimed and a police official confirmed Tuesday.
Pich Saran, Poipet checkpoint police chief, said Tuesday that there is no requirement to pay the unofficial fee, but travelers too lazy to personally fill out immigration forms and get their passports stamped at the counter pay a “service fee to those who help them.”
If border passers go to the immigration counter themselves, they need not pay the fee to police, he said.
“It is not a requirement, but it is a nice fee for the police,” said Pich Saran, adding that the police are far from home and lack enough money to live.
Cambodian national Nim Sothea, who crosses the border regularly to work in Thailand, said Monday that he managed to cross the border without paying after he refused to comply with the practice that he said was a demand not an offer.
Nim Sothea said that Cambodians are asked for a fee of 100 baht ($2.50) by Thai police and another 100 baht by Cambodian police, while Thais pay the Cambodian police but not the Thai police.
“We should not be required to pay 100 baht to Thai police, because we already pay $25 for the visa at the Thai embassy,” he added.
Fellow traveler Suon Pheakdei, who traveled earlier this year to the US Embassy in Bangkok to apply for a visa, said he should not have paid the unofficial border fees, but “I did it because I was in a hurry and did not want to argue over it.”
Suon Pheakdei said he had a valid Thai visa and had filled in his own immigration forms, but Cambodian police still demanded a fee before stamping his passport.
However, he would refuse to pay Cambodian police next time, he said, and resented the double fee from Thai authorities.
“I have paid $25 for a Thai visa,” he said. “Why do I need to pay the Thai police?”