BANGKOK, 27 March 2019: Thailand’s Immigration Bureau wants to introduce stiffer fines for households, guesthouses and hotels that fail to report the presence of visitors on temporary visas who are staying at their premises.
The Thailand News Agency reported the move Tuesday, which was then published on ThaiVisa.com.
TNA reported that the Immigration bureau was proposing much stiffer penalties for failing to report foreigners staying at addresses across Thailand.
According to the TNA report the applicable law was first introduced in 1979. The law requires homeowners and accommodation operators to register the presence of foreigners staying on their premises overnight.
While hotels comply with the law by submitting an online daily guest register to the police or immigration office with passport details, private households rarely bother to go to the trouble of reporting foreign friends staying at their homes. But it leaves them open to fines when the law is robustly applied.
There are niggly contradictions on how the law is applied that could disadvantage
For example, foreign residents officially domiciled in provincial cities, who visit Bangkok on holiday, or business for more than 24 hours, must report to the immigration office closest to their home on their return to their registered address.
This causes considerable inconvenience to foreign residents in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phuket and many other provincial cities where immigration officials apply the letter of the law for the first time in decades.
However, foreigners living in Bangkok escape the inconvenience for no other reason than there are too many of them living in the capital. Apparently, they don’t need to report to the immigration office in the capital when the return from a weekend holiday up-country.
Why is there an exception to the rule in Bangkok? Officials privately say there are just too many foreigners living in Bangkok and if reporting was enforced the Immigration Bureau offices in the capital would face a crisis. They just couldn’t cope with the thousands of foreigners reporting they were back in Bangkok.
However, in other cities where there are fewer foreigners, the Immigration Bureau scrupulously applies the rule.
Reporting the whereabouts of foreigners who are travelling on temporary visas in the country is now seen as a tool to counter terrorism and improve safety.
The Immigration Bureau is proposing tougher jail terms and fines as hefty as THB10,000. According to TNA, quoted by ThaiVisa.com, “the penalties would be even stiffer for hotels and other establishments that harbour migrants for financial gain or profit with jail terms of up to five years and fines of THB100,000 for failing to report.
In addition, stiffer penalties are in the pipeline for airlines that permit individuals to board planes and enter Thailand without having onward travel confirmation.
(Source: TNA, Thaivisa.com with additional TTR Weekly reporting)