UPDATE 6 Oct: Please note a comment made by Shane below that reinforces the fact that Immigration are increasing their application of this law so it’s not just a theoretical piece of advice. Read on:
This is a post that at least informs you about a subject that you might not be aware could apply to you. Do with it what you will but from my reading this is an updated law that is being more rigorously enforced and might catch you out at some stage. The extent of more enthusiastic enforcement struck home when I had a reader of this blog wrote to me recently detailing a situation he found worrying:
I want to ask you about an odd occurrence that just happened at my finances house in xxxxxxx. A police came by her house today and asked if she had a farlang boyfriend and where he stayed when he was in xxxxxxx. She said I stayed there but only a few days at a time. What I want to ask is he told her that when I fly into Udon Thani, I must go to their immigration service at the airport and notify them I have arrived, how long I am staying and where I will be staying. I have traveled throughout Thailand and the only time I have to do this is when I arrive at Bangkok at Thai immigrations. I have flown into many of the Thai regional airports and none, including Udon Thani, have written requirements or instructions notifying people traveling on tourist visa to “sign in”. This is very concerning to me and I want to understand if this is a legal requirement. Hopefully you can shed some light on this issue.
I have to say that unfortunately I couldn’t shed light on the issue and it was only when someone pointed me to the legal requirements around the lodgement of a TM30 form that it all made some sense. If you haven’t heard about the obligations to report your residency other than events like 90 day reporting, it is explained very well on several internet sites and I will try to pull out the basics and include the links where you can read more.
As I always state I am not an expert in just about everything so don’t ask me difficult questions 🙂 I am only opening up the Thai immigration world a little more, which often seems to work as a disincentive for expats and the vast amount of money we inject into local economies.
My previous understanding, and I suspect that of many others on the subject, of reporting current residency is well out of date because I associated it only with the paperwork hotels, guest houses etc did when I stayed with them plus of course normal visa reporting requirements. From 2016 the law states that all properties that have non-Thai nationals living on their premises must register their details with Immigration or a police station within 24 hours. An extract from HERE below:
Who has to Register?
When it was originally written, the hotel act specifically excluded properties having less than four rooms for rent from having to apply for a hotel license in order to operate.
This allowed private properties consisting of condominiums, homes and guest houses falling under the required number of rooms to avoid the expense and trouble of applying for a hotel license. It also exempted them from having to obey other provisions of the Hotel Act which were designed for the hotel business and didn’t really apply to them.
The lack of enforcement meant that virtually nobody except hoteliers knew that the law applied to everyone providing accommodations to foreigners.
This has all changed. Under the new expanded law, this non-enforcement loophole has been closed and anyone who offers accommodations must register their foreign guests with the immigration department.
Ongoing non-compliance can be costly for the private property owner. Fines are around 1,600 Baht for every instance of non-registration and can add up quickly as guests come and go.
Long-term tenants usually find out they have not been registered when they pop down to immigration to do their 90-day check in, or a visa renewal. So, if you’re on good terms with your landlord and want to avoid trouble for both you and them, you might want to warn them before you make your next trip to immigration.
The situation that may catch out many is when in your mind you are living in your own home or partner’s home long or short term, and therefore have no need to report your residency other than say 90 day reporting under your O/OA Visa (retirement) etc. Remember that under Thai law it is your Thai wife/partner who is the house owner and you are merely resident, whether temporarily or permanently and therefore it is their responsibility (read your responsibility if it’s a wife/partner as you’ll most likely be paying the fine) to ensure the reporting requirements are fulfilled. As stated HERE and copied below:
If the foreigner is my husband, I still report the immigration? Yes. No matter what who stay with you, if they are foreigners and hold any Thai visa, you must report the immigration by yourself within 24 hours since they arrive on your property. Otherwise, you will be fined.
If my foreigner friend comes to stay with me in a short time, do I report the immigration? Yes. No matter what who stay with you, if they are foreigners and hold any Thai visa, you must report the immigration by yourself within 24 hours since they arrive on your property. Otherwise, you will be fined.
If the foreigners stay in somewhere else (hotel in or out of the country) and they come back to stay with me, do I report the immigration? Absolutely, yes, you must report the immigration within 24 hours after they stay with you.
The requirement to lodge a TM30 even after a short trip away was reinforced in a recent article in the Phuket News HERE with extracts below:
PHUKET: The Chief of the Phuket Immigration Office, Col Kathathorn Kumthieng, has confirmed that all foreigners registered as living in Phuket must re-report their address to immigration after being registered as staying in a hotel within Thailand, even for just one night.
The confirmation follows complaints from long-term expats that they were fined B2,000 for not re-registering their home addresses after travelling within the country.
“By law, it is a requirement to register your address within 24 hours after being registered elsewhere, such as at a hotel or a guesthouse,” Col Kathathorn told The Phuket News this week.
“This is because the hotel or guest house will have to register you, also by law, as residing somewhere other than your residence. So when you return to your residence, you must inform immigration,” he explained.
The same also applies for foreigners living in Phuket who leave the country and return, say for a weekend trip to Singapore.
Col Kathathorn played down concerns for honest, law-abiding expats.
“Although it is the law, if it’s a short stay, for example a day or two, and nothing happens to prompt officials to check then there usually won’t be a problem,” he said, for stays away from home within the country.
“However, if you become involved in an incident and become a suspect in a case for example, not re-registering your address will be a big problem. So it’s better if you do.”
Regardless, although the overall effect for most foreigners caught not re-registering their address each time on returning home to Phuket might be deemed negligible, foreigners will be liable to a B2,000 fine for each infringement and the incident will remain on their immigration record.
Col Kathathorn explained that the requirement for foreigners to re-register their address in Thailand, even if they have lived at the same address for many years, derives from an archaic immigration law, specifically Section 37 (2) of the Thailand Immigration Act of 1979.
As always the actual application of the law as it applies to foreigners can be a bit vague and dependant on which office is involved.
Comments on the farang forums like these next couple are common and don’t give a clear indication of what action we should be taking:
So after 11 years they decide to enforce the law? As I read it it doesn’t appear to be my problem as it’s the responsibility of the person named on the Blue Book to notify them. Failure to notify them is a 1,600 Baht fine.
How the xxxx are house owners supposed to know this stupid law if it’s not made public? I’ll have to get the missus to phone to see how long she’s got to register me.
As far as I’m aware this law hasn’t been enforced in Immigration Division 4 so there’s a lot of individuals around Korat, Buriram and Surin going to get caught out.
Or this one from a guy based in Chiang Mai:
Now no immigration office EVER cared about this form until Chiang Mai started fining people 1,600 baht (Tony – now 2,000 baht) for failure to have filed it. In fact, up there you can’t even apply for an extension of stay, file a 90-day report OR get a re-entry permit up until you were fined and filed it.
The rule is written where the landowner must report a foreigner within 24 hours of them taking up residence. Needless to say, many people who’d been getting yearly extensions of stays from the same immigration office using the same address year after year were vexed that this old rule was being enforced. Especially that the foreigner was being fined It was designed for thai landlords (hotels & guest hou Now no immigration office EVER cared about this form until Chiang Mai started fining people 1600baht for failure to have filed it. In fact up there you can’t even apply for an extension of stay, file a 90 day report OR get a re-entry permit up until you were fined and filed it.
The rule is written where the landowner must report a foreigner within 24 hours of them taking up residence. Needless to say many people who’d been getting yearly extensions of stays from the same immigration office using the same address year after year were vexed that this old rule was being enforced. Especially that the foreigner was being fined for what is in reality the property owner’s responsibility.
Right now Bangkok doesn’t care a bit if you’ve ever filed on, but more and more immigration offices do. I think Bangkok IS gonna start caring because when I was out at Chaengwattana last week there were two big stand-up placards right where you walk into the 90 day reporting room which outlined the TM.30 filing procedure.
My advice to anyone would be down-load the form (print it on 2 pages), take it with you to the immigration office the next time you’re there. Also take along signed copies of the land owners thai i/d and their listing on the thai house book of that address and FILE the form.
There is some debate if it has to be re-filed every time you come back even if you travel inside thailand, OR if it’s just if you come back from outta country..
It’s a cluster xxxx right now, BUT the fines people are getting are real and they add up to a TON of money.. I would say if you try to file it and get fined, MAKE them write you a receipt..
I’m not going to repeat what’s already on the internet. This is only a heads up to my readers as a courtesy. I am required to lodge a 90 day report later this month and will ask the question at Udon Thani Immigration, who are an excellent and helpful bunch. As far as I know I/Gaun have a TM30 registered but I have stayed elsewhere since then so technically I/Gaun am in breach of the requirements and could be fined. I will report back.
I hope this has been helpful and I know some of you will have additional information and feedback that might be helpful for me and others so PLEASE comment on this post. I am open to being corrected on any aspect of this subject as I am learning along with others.
Thanks for reading.