The news follows Thai Immigration Bureau Commissioner Nathathorn Prousoontorn announcing the policy shift in an notice issued yesterday (Aug 9).
However, that notice followed a command issued by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha last month ordering immigration officials at each international airport in the country to improve to their work practices to make them “more effective and faster to reduce passenger jams”.
That order, issued by Government House as the result of a Cabinet meeting, was signed off by PM Prayut and issued on July 18 – and marked “Urgent”.
“Regarding the notice issued by Lt Gen Nathathorn, Thai passengers will soon be exempt from filling in the time-consuming white cards with blue text, known as the TM.6,” Phuket Immigration Chief Col Kathathorn Kumthieng told The Phuket News this morning.
“This notice will be brought into effect at Phuket International Airport on October 1, 2017,” he added.
All foreigners will still be required to complete the TM.6 cards, though a new redesigned version of the card Arrival/Departure Card will be introduced, also on October 1, Col Kathathorn noted.
Although redesigned, the new version of the TM.6 still requires foreigners to provide details such as name, age, home address and purpose of visit – and asks foreigners to state their income by selecting bracketed amounts.
The form must be completed by law, and in Thailand providing false information to a government official is punishable by criminal law.
“The purpose of the new TM.6 form is to solve the problem of long queues. It makes it easier and faster for immigration officials to check foreigners’ information,” Col Kathathorn explained.
“Meanwhile, we have already requested four automatic passport screening terminals to be installed at Phuket Airport. Once installed, these terminals will also help to speed up having Thais cleared through immigration, and speed up queues generally,” he added.
Of note, minutes of a Cabinet meeting held on January 17 this year noted that the Ministry of Tourism and Sports and the Ministry of Interior, among other “relevant offices”, were reviewing the prospect of having automatic terminals clear foreigners arriving in Thailand.
If the panel reviewing the concept supported it, the two key ministries were to propose the idea to Cabinet, said the minutes.