Are you considering to move to Thailand? Part 1

Living in Thailand
Screen shot from the website of the Thai Immigration


Are you considering to move to Thailand for work or just for pleasure / retirement? Then I am sure you have been doing some research about the options to be living in Thailand. And you might have been reading something about trouble for foreigners living in Thailand in regards to TM30. Well before I go into the other pro's and con's of moving to Thailand I will first discuss this all TM30 hype. Because I think there is a lot of talking without reasoning about it. Next time at "Are you considering to move to Thailand? Part 2" the pro's and con's of living in Thailand.

Remark : Based on information available on 31 August 2019

What is TM30 actually?

The short story : TM30 is a form to notify the immigration of Thailand that a foreigner is staying at a certain address. And this notification has to be done within 24hr of arrival at that certain address. This is stipulated in Section 38 of the Immigration law of 1979. Due to a loop-hole in combination with the Hotel law this TM30 was until now (2019) never enforced. But with an amendment of the Hotel law the loop-hole was gone and immigration has been starting to enforce this Section 38. Why? That actually does not matter. It is just a fact everybody has to deal with.

As a matter a fact any foreigner who stays more as 24 hours at a place out of the province where he/she was staying must report there and must report again when coming back at his/hers original place.

Who has to do the notification (TM30)?

Very simple, the house owner, house master, hotel owner, etc. Only he/she is responsible for it. Only he/she can officially pay the fine for not doing this. But discussing this with the Immigration Officer might not be in your personal interest. But with all papers from the house owner (copy ID card + copy house book + signed Power of Attorney) anyone (incl. the foreigner himself) can do the TM30.

Remark : It seems that also a person who rents a house can register at the Immigration System as "renter of house xxx". So that would maybe solve the problem of a person who has many house out for rent to foreigners.

Remark : TM30 reporting has to be done at the Immigration Office but the Immigration Police is part of the Royal Thai Police. And in theory you can also do the TM30 report at the nearest police station. Some Immigration Offices even recommend that as not all provinces have an Immigration Office (but they working on that). So some people would have to travel a few hundred km to go to an Immigration Office. But that would be too far? But what is too far? 10km? Or in my case about 70km?

What do I think of TM30?

Well strictly thinking about it of course I think it is a good idea that a country knows where all foreigners are staying / living. And mind you there are a lot of foreigners living in Thailand. But in practice I think this is not a very friendly & useful way of implementing this need. But on the other hand who knows what the real purpose of TM30 is? This Is Thailand. And that is something I will discuss in my next episode of "Are you considering to move to Thailand? Part 2".

Who does it effect?

Tourists? Well all the people who say it will effect tourism in Thailand, stop kidding yourself. As 99.9% of the tourists will stay in a hotel, homestay or guesthouse and the owner / manager  will do the TM30. And even if the hotel does not do it, no problem for the tourist as 99.9% from the tourists will never go to an Immigration Office. So they will never be bothered with the lack of the TM30.

But foreigners living here ... yes they are effected by the TM30. So that includes foreigners in Thailand working, on retirement, studying or living with their Thai wife or husband. For people living in the house of their wife it is very easy. Their wife registers at the local Immigration Office as house owner and gets an username / password for the Online Immigration System. With that she can login to the system of Notifying Residence of a Foreigner. Doing that takes about 2 minutes. Yes it makes you feel like a criminal but it is actually not a problem to do.

But not all foreigners are living in a house of their wife. Example a Thai person has 20 condo's in Bangkok and rents them out to foreigners. And this foreigners are traveling in/out Thailand and/or in Thailand. Theoretically ever time a foreigner comes back home at his/her condo the owner has to do a TM30 for that foreigner. But how does this condo owner or house master know that a foreigner did come back home? Very impractical in this situation. There are 2 solutions. First the condo owner does not care and does not do the TM30. As he/she will never go to immigration they can also not be bothered with the fine. Second solution is just not rent out anymore to foreigners.

There are a few other groups or situations that might create a problem. Example you are living in Bangkok and go to your family-in-law in Nakhon Nowhere to stay there for 3 days. The house owner will have to report you by law.

Or a hill-tribe family living in the remote mountains of North Thailand have their relatives coming over from the USA (a lot of Hmong migrated to the USA) for New Year party. While living in a village without good roads or electric they will have to report their family staying with them. Joking? Unfortunately not.

So actually I think that at this moment, with the current enforcing of the law, only a very small group of people is getting a problem with the TM30. Well besides the immigrations police itself as it must create a lot of work for the Immigration Police. But the future might bring more surprises as This Is Thailand.

Not doing the TM30

Now you could think, what the heck I not do the TM30! And the house owner also not wants to do the TM30. So what? Well at a certain moment you might need to go to the Immigration Office to extend your stay in Thailand. And then there is a problem. Because without a proper TM30 been done your extension can not be done. How to solve this? Just pay the fine that actually the house owner should pay. Interesting because i.m.o. that would technically be illegal.

Be aware that Immigration Police can see where you have been registered (TM30). So you are living in Bangkok, go a weekend to Chiang Mai. The hotel will register your TM30. You come back home and forget to do the TM30. Next time at the Immigration Office they can see that you have been away and did not re-register again.

Are wel all created equal?

Yes but enforcement from each provincial Immigration Office is not equal. That means some Immigration Offices will only care about the TM30 being done when you come from outside Thailand. Others might be strict (it is a money maker) and fine the house owner when you came back after a weekend to Chiang Mai. And again other Immigration Offices do not care at all about the TM30. But as this is not official of course they well never announce that or put that in writing.

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