BANGKOK, 22 July 2019: Thailand’s Immigration Bureau is enforcing a 1979 law that requires foreigners to report within 24 hours a change of address even for a single night away from home.
Thai Visa.com, a popular channel for providing information to expats staying in Thailand, quoted Naew Na newspaper considered “an official mouthpiece for the bureau’s statements and updates.”
For tourists who are staying in hotels, the daily reporting is the responsibility of the hotel or guesthouse front desk staff, usually through an online service connecting them to the Immigration Bureau.
However, in the case of foreigners staying at a private home, or with friends who rent or own a house, the landlord must report their presence to the bureau within 24 hours by filing a completed “TM30” form.
The law has been on the books since 1979, but up until last year, only hotels and guesthouses were obliged to provide the immigration bureau with details of all guests staying at their properties.
But since mid-2018, foreigners residing up-country discovered they too needed to report to immigration every time they returned to their residences after a stay elsewhere in the country or overseas. They need to report within 24 hours, and the rule applies even for a single overnight absence from their registered address.
It immediately impacted on thousands of foreigners who travel routinely to Bangkok or other destinations in Thailand or beyond from their residences upcountry. Failure to report within 24 hours of their return resulted in fines. The fine stands at THB800, but could go as high as THB2,000.
It is incorrect to assume that living in Bangkok exempts you from this particular law as the Immigration Bureau is demanding the rule be followed strictly across the country.
Apparently, the strict application of the TM30 rule is causing long queues at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.
Technically, you can register online with the bureau and subsequently report online to save making the physical trip to the bureau’s office.
However, a reliable source said the website, compatible only with Chrome and Explorer browsers, often fails and therefore cannot always be trusted as a reliable, foolproof channel for reporting. Visa service agencies charge around THB250 to report on behalf of a client.
Acting head of Thai Immigration Lt-Gen Sompong Chingduang told Naew Na newspaper he was applying the TM30 law vigorously to make sure house owners and hoteliers report the whereabouts of all foreigners.
Part of the 1979 Immigration Act covered under section 38 states:
“House owners, heads of household, landlords or managers of hotels who accommodate foreign nationals on a temporary basis who stay in the kingdom legally, must notify the local immigration authorities within 24 hours from the time of arrival of the foreign national.
“The notification of residence of foreign nationals is made by the manager of licensed hotels according to the hotel act, owners of guesthouses, mansions, apartments and rented houses using the form TM30”.
(Source: Naew Na and Thai Visa.com)