In Thailand, a controversial new immigration form first introduced in April in Bangkok, and then Phuket in May, is now reportedly in use in more locations. Thai law authorities are justifying the form – which asks for extensive personal information – as being necessary to enable them to better track foreigners in the country.
The widely criticized Foreign National Information Form asks foreigners to provide such information as bank account details, social media accounts, frequently visited places and the license plate number of any car or motorcycle they have.
In addition to Bangkok’s Immigration Division 1 office and the One-Stop Service Center at Chamchuri Square, local media reported the form was now also being used at Jomtien immigration in Pattaya and the Samut Prakan immigration office, and was being “rolled out nationwide”. Samut Prakan is a neighbouring province of Bangkok.
Talk of the controversial new form has been circulating among Thailand’s foreign community for weeks, with lingering uncertainty as to whether the form is mandatory and to whom it specifically applies.
Local media has reported the form was for longer stay visitors, including visa extensions, 90 day reports and re-entry permits. Tourists would not be required to fill out the form at their point of entry to Thailand.
Deputy Commissioner of the Immigration Bureau’s crime suppression unit, Maj Gen Chachaval Vachirapaneegul, was quoted by media in May as saying it was mandatory for foreigners to fill out the form. He had earlier been quoted as saying the form was not mandatory.
“If a foreigner doesn’t want to fill in their information by themselves, they will be questioned for our records anyway. If they don’t fill in the form, we will suspect their reason,” said Chachaval.
Chachaval did add that people would not be forced to supply information about their social media accounts.
Among the information asked for in the Foreign National Information Form is:
- Full name, date of birth and passport number
- Full names of father and mother
- Full address and telephone numbers in home country
- Full address and telephone numbers of residence and workplace in Thailand
- Social media accounts and email address (optional)
- Make of car/motorcycle, along with model, colour and license plate number
- Frequently visited places such as clubs, restaurants, shops, hospital
- Emergency contact details (one person of Thai nationality and one person of foreign nationality)
- Bank account details like bank, branch, account name and account number (only required for certain visas)
The top of the form states: “This form shall be used for making record of information of every alien entering and staying in the Kingdom of Thailand and shall be submit with Notification of Residence for Aliens (section 37, 38 of Immigration Act, B.E. 2522), or 90-days Notification, or Extension of Stays (all purposes), or Re-Entry Permit, or in all cases involving alien labors”.
Along with this is the warning: “Providing false information to an officer, shall be punished under [the] Penal Code”.
The Immigration Bureau reasons the Foreign National Information Form is necessary because, in the past, immigration lacked information about foreign nationals living in Thailand when problems happened. The updated information to be gathered by the new form would help immigration catch foreigners faster.
Understandably the introduction of the form has caused concern among the foreign community in Thailand. Foreigners say it is intrusive to their privacy.
Those wanting to know more about the situation concerning the Foreign National Information Form can try contacting a Thai law firm in the kingdom, particularly one with Thai visa service among its areas of expertise. One such long-established international law firm in Thailand is BSA Law, which is well positioned to provide valuable advice on such situations.
BSA Law offers a range of legal and financial services to the foreign and Thai communities with expertise in tax consulting, accounting and auditing, Thai labour law, Thai law in general, corporate law, contracts, property, intellectual property, insurance, investment, Thailand work permit and visa matters and starting a business in Thailand.