Forgotten amidst the coronavirus pandemic, global recession, and social-justice protests, Thailand’s infamous TM30 immigration form returned to the spotlight late Tuesday with a long-overdue change.
Foreigners on long-stay visas no longer have to file a TM30 form after every time they leave their home.
Revised regulations released by the Immigration Bureau, and quickly translated by Bangkok immigration lawyers, said heads of households, property owners, landlords and hotel managers need only file a TM30 form when foreigners check or moves in and indicate how long they will stay.
According to Newland Chase, the Bangkok arm of CIBT, a global provider of visa and immigration services, “if the foreign national travels and stays somewhere else, then returns to the premises during this notified period, the landlord does not need to submit another TM30.”
The news relieves a long-time headache for foreign expats residing in Thailand, one that created a firestorm of controversy when the 41-year-old law, ignored by immigration officials for years, suddenly began to be enforced with vigor last year.
Under the bureau’s 2019 interpretation of the rules, foreigners, no matter if they’d been in Thailand 20 hours or 20 years, had to file a TM30 form every time they left their principal residence and returned, even for overnight trips to another province.
Both property owners and expats were targeted by the crackdown, with reports of foreigners being fined thousands of baht for repeated violations of the ridiculous travel restriction or not possessing a TM30 form when trying to complete routine immigration business.
The uproar became so loud – with foreign embassies protesting alongside their constituents – that the Immigration Bureau put a pause on enforcement while it studied the regulation and also tried to build an online TM30 filing application that actually worked.
The change in regulations applies only to foreigners holding multiple-entry visas, extensions of stay or holders of single-entry visas who exit and re-enter the country on re-entry permits.
The regulatory change takes effect June 30.
TM30 reports can be made in person or on Immigration Bureau’s website or mobile app.