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.
Likewise, under Section 38 of the same act, the “master, the owner or the possessor of the residence, or the hotel manager where the alien, receiving permission to stay temporary in the Kingdom has stayed, must notify the competent official of the Immigration Office located in the same area with that hours, dwelling place or hotel, within 24 hours from the time of arrival of the alien concerned. If there is no Immigration Office located in that area, the local police official for that area must be notified.”
“It must be done because it’s the law. It’s the law in many countries,” Col Kathathorn said.
Col Kathathorn explained that in order to re-report an address, the foreigner must come to Phuket immigration offices, in Phuket Town or in Patong, in person and provide their passport, a filled-in TM30 form and a letter of authorisation – or literally a power of attorney empowering the foreigner to register details on the landlord’s behalf – if the landlord is not present.
“If it’s the same address as they were previously staying, the foreigner does not need to bring the rental contract proving their rental of the residence. We will have that information in the system,” Col Kathathorn noted.
“If you have this letter (of authorisation from the landlord), the landlord does not need to come to immigration,” he added.