Thousands of long-term foreign expats expressed frustration over the tighten enforcement of a 40 years old law, the TM30 law in Thailand. Some people reported the TM30 was introduced in 2005 with the Hotel Act but expanded from hotels to residential buildings in the Kingdom. But I will have to say it was introduced in 1979 because that’s on the official Thai immigration website.
According to the long-term expats, the recent tighten enforcement by Thai immigration for the TM30 report is to punish honest foreign expats more than criminals.
What is TM30 form?
They are supposed to be submitted by every property owner housing non-Thai national in less than 24 hours after the tenant’s arrival inside Thailand. Your landlord is supposed to fill out and submit the TM30 form, but if the landlord is not available. You can do it on behalf of the landlord or property owner.
It can be one of the following:
- If the non-Thai national is staying at a Thai friend’s house
- Staying in their own condo in Thailand
- Staying in a co-own resident in Thailand and you have the yellow tabien baan, according to report
- Staying at a hotel, but the hotel is supposed to submit this for you
If you are a tourist on holiday, your hotel will do this report for you. You will not know about any of this, and this TM30 is mainly for long-term expats living here. Even for many of them, they probably never had any issues with this, and it is one of those things they only heard from the news.
These property owners must hand the TM30 form to the authorities whenever their non-Thai national tenants return. Anyone in Thailand that offers accommodation to any non-Thai national needs to comply with this TM30 report or face fine.
Property owners or their tenants can face huge fines ranging from 800 to 2000 baht if they are caught. That’s the keyword if you are caught.
The number of Thai expats that have protested against the TM30 immigration form so far is about 6,000. It is rather unusual to have migrants come out in the open as they did in protest of this regulation.
Meanwhile, Immigration Bureau chief Police Lt Gen Sompong admitted some problems need to be addressed to improve understanding of the regulation among landlords.
Pol Lt Gen Sompong said many of those who provide accommodation to foreigners are unaware they are required to report their tenants’ whereabouts to authorities. He also noted that many private homeowners choose to ignore it, while hotel and guesthouse owners are more familiar with the process.
However, Pol Lt Gen Sompong stressed that the TM30 process would continue to be enforced in the future, despite the problems.
1979 immigration act and what’s next?
The Immigration office in Thailand has said that all it has done is to forcefully apply sections 37 and section 38 of the 1979 immigration act, which is intended to watch immigrants in Thai soil and “strengthen security.” BTW, in 1979, there were maybe one or two million foreigners, most of that wherefrom southeast Asia. I doubt there were more than 100,000 western foreigners living in Thailand 40 odd years ago.
In 1979, thousand of refugees fleeing the Vietnam war from Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam. I think this is where this law came about, of course, they might have modified this TM30 report along the way.
In my opinion, it is almost certain, however, that the petition will fail. Even with the complaint by the local Thai property owners because of the hassle in submitting info of their activities. It is hard for me to believe that the nation’s laws will be changed because a few expats complain of inconvenience. If changes will be made, they will be minor and may take a long time. The only hope is to reduce the fine under 500 baht or to relax the law like in the past 40 years or both.
For now, the pain of Section 37 and 38 is still an apparent cause of displeasure. The internet is flooded with complaints and reports of expats, and some are more affected than others, particularly those whose work requires that they move a lot around the country. Since owners of hotels and landlords are responsible for reporting migrant activity in their properties, tourists are free from the trouble.