For long-stay foreigners it certainly is an issue. The fact that by law landlords must submit the form to authorities every time their tenants return home, whether from staying elsewhere in the country or abroad, is creating a burden. Who wants a tenant that causes so much hassle for because he flits in and out of the country on business or is a retiree enjoying short-stay holidays elsewhere in Thailand? Hang on, isn’t that the type of income-spending foreigners that Thailand wants? Nevermind.
Technically, the TM30 doesn’t apply to tourists as the legal requirement is on the hotels and guesthouses, but in the booming era of home-stay platforms such as Airbnb, it is becoming an Immigration issue for independent landlords providing accommodation for tourists.
Enter the newly launched app “Section 38”, named after the relevant section of the Thailand Immigration Act of 1979, released by the Immigration Bureau. The new app might help to ease this burden, but only if it worked. (Click here )
But much worse is the requirement for foreigners to re-register their address after staying away from registered even for just one night, as required under Section 37 (c) of the now 40-year-old Thailand Immigration Act. This fun one is complied with under the TM28 form.
A 24-hour reporting period is ridiculous for long-stay foreigners, especially if they have just returned home from a business trip inside the country. Worse, for those arriving back to Thailand from abroad, this issue can be easily dealt with while clearing immigration at the airport. That failure actually makes the Section 38 app look sadly funny.
Further, the argument that bad guys will just ignore such rules at will, leaving these requirements to be suffered only by the good guys can’t be defeated.
Everyone understands the need for some registration of foreigners staying in the country – keeping in mind that it has been just one week since the major public safety scare in the capital, and especially keeping in mind the Erawan shrine bombing – but the law must be updated and the means for abiding by the law must to be dragged into the 21st Century.