The TM30 reporting for foreigners living in Thailand is reported to be causing severe problems for long term expats in Thailand since March 25th this year when it appears that the 1979 provision began to be more rigorously enforced by immigration authorities. A nationwide campaign was launched by expats in Northeastern Thailand in July seeking changes to or the scrapping of TM30 as well as immigration reform. Since then, Thai police have suggested that the reporting requirement is essential to national security and to combat an increased threat from a growing numbers of foreigners arriving in Thailand and engaging in criminality as well as heightened concerns about terrorism.

The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce has revealed that it has submitted proposals to the government for the easing of the ongoing hardship caused by the TM30 reporting requirement for foreigners in Thailand. The umbrella body representing foreign chambers of commerce in the kingdom through its Chairman Stanley Kang has also revealed that the influential Guillotine Unit tasked by the government with streamlining administrative processes to make doing business in the country easier, has recommended the abolition altogether of TM 30 reporting.

Stanley Kang is the Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce who has made a submission to the Thai government on TM30 fearing it could hamper Thailand’s business-friendly image abroad. The proposal includes ways to minimise the disruption caused by the measure but the body is also asking for deeper reform of immigration law in the long term.

The Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand (JFCCT) has revealed that the body has submitted proposals to the Thai government urging a rethink on how the controversial TM30 reporting form is being applied in Thailand in the short term and deeper reforms to Thailand’s immigration laws and regulations on a medium to long term basis.

Chairman of the Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in Thailand comes out in support of moves to ease the impact of TM30 and deeper immigration reform

Stanley Kang has revealed that his body has suggested ways to make TM 30 reporting more practical and user-friendly so that it does not impede the tremendous progress Thailand has been making in recent years at becoming an easier place to do business. He also stressed that his organisation was cognizant of the need for national security. ‘While no-one would wish to remove tools which can effectively prevent harmful criminal behaviour, this particular form does not seem to be the best way to do this as it relies on self-disclosure. Also many cases, for example, those with work permits and business visas are already well covered,’ he was reported as saying this week as he disclosed details of the organisation’s initiative to find a solution to the issue.

Petition launched in July by expat group

The current TM30 reporting requirement has sparked an online petition organised by a group of expatriates in Thailand’s northeastern region which has spread throughout the country. The group garnered 5,000 signatures in the first few weeks of the campaign that was launched online at the end of July.

Meeting at the Foreign Correspondent Club heard police chief explain the need for tighter security

A meeting at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Bangkok that took place in mid August heard senior Thai immigration police officer Police Major General Patipat Suban Na Ayudhya, the commander of police immigration division 1 and other policemen explain that the law was necessary to protect Thailand from a surge of foreign criminals who in recent years have entered the country along with tourists and become deeply involved with criminality.

Foreign Chambers of Commerce concerned about the impact on Thailand’s business-friendly image

This week, the Foreign Chambers of Commerce Chairman Mr Kang pointed out that the tighter enforcement of the reporting regulation is impacting the long term expat population in Thailand including business people, those with work permits, long term students as well as those who are retired. The reporting requirement which in theory places the onus on the landlords of premises or accommodation where foreigners are staying to report, in practice falls upon the foreigners who since the law has been applied have been called upon to pay fines of ฿800 up to ฿2,000.

The TM30 form needs to written up and submitted if a foreigner is staying at a location for more than 24 hours. It is understood that the law which is provided for under the 1979 Immigration Act had not been widely applied until March 25th this year, the day after Thailand’s General Election.

Canadian who organised the petition says he was responding to requests from local foreigners to help

The main organiser of the July petition, Canadian lawyer Sebastian Broussean who runs a law firm in Nakhon Ratchasima called Isaan Lawyers, told the packed public meeting at the Foreign Correspondents Club last month that he had been approached by other expats in the local area who were having difficulties with the stricter implementation of the TM30 regulations. He explained to the audience that his firm was not involved in processing visas for foreigners in Thailand nor did the tighter enforcement impact him personally as he has permanent residency but said he felt compelled to do something.

Debate has raged on the national press and among the grwoing expat community in Thailand

Since then, the debate has been aired extensively on the national press but there also have been reports that the Thai police are continuing to implement the regulation on a far stricter basis. There are reports that the impetus for raising the issue stems from increased complications encountered by long term expats in Thailand renewing their annual visas as the TM30 form is now essential.

At the public meeting at the Foreign Correspondents Club, one of the immigration police officers explained to the expats who attended that filing the form was quite easy to do, similar to informing a spouse of your whereabouts.

Chambers of Commerce executive acknowledged the security concerns of Thai authorities

The Foreign Chambers of Commerce Chairman this week specifically acknowledged the real security concern behind the drive to enforce the immigration TM30 regulations. However, it has pointed to the hardship it causes to expats in Thailand particularly as the regulation also makes it more difficult for foreigners to travel from place to place in the kingdom due to a requirement to report any interprovincial travel if the foreigners stays for over 24 hours.

Hampering efforts to improve Thailand’s improving reputation as a place to do business

Mr Kang has expressed particular concern that the new law is harming Thailand’s reputation as an easy location to do business in. He is worried that the TM30 controversy raging among foreigners may be undoing some of the progress the current Thai government has made in recent years which has seen Thailand ranked 26th out of 190 world economies for ease of doing business in 2018, an improvement of 22 places and quite a remarkable achievement.

Key government task force has reportedly recommended culling the reporting requirement

Significantly, Mr Kang said that the Guillotine Unit set up by the Thai government in 2017 to do away with burdensome regulations and red tape in business has recommended that the TM30 reporting provision be scrapped. ‘We understand that the Guillotine Unit has recommended the removal of TM30 in the interests of the Thai economy and ease of doing business. JFCCT supports this,’ he was reported as saying this week in the Bangkok Post.

This powerful task force within the government has already streamlined many business-related functions for firms such as the need for a company seal, changes to labour laws, tax audits and online reporting.

Further reading:

It’s a hard station for Thai police and foreigners should understand better the job they do to keep order

Thai expats launch website to campaign for easier immigration reporting rules for visa holders