Thailand has recently come under scrutiny for a 40 year old immigration law that requires foreigners to deal with the nightmare that is the TM30. The TM30 is a document that landlords must fill out whenever a foreign tenant takes residence on their property. Every time the foreigner leaves his or her accommodation for more than 24 hours, a new TM30 form must be filled out by the appropriate home owner.
The real issue with the TM30 is that it takes a long time to submit. If you plan on taking all of your documents directly to immigration, you could be looking at hours of waiting time. If you try to deal with the online option, you might have to deal with weeks of waiting before you can get the necessary log in information.
Immigration officials have assured the public that wait times for online log in information should decrease. Col Thatchapong Sarawanangkul from Immigration Division 1 estimates that new wait times for online submissions should be down to one week.
Regardless of the controversy surrounding the TM30, there are still people who argue that the frustration of dealing with reporting your residence is nowhere near as difficult as what Thais have to deal with when living in other countries.
The only fair comparison to make is in regards to how and when immigrants must report their addresses. I looked at a few countries to see how they handled this, and here’s what I found.
The United States of America
Foreigners who are admitted to the United States are issued a Form I-94 which requires the foreigner to list an address. Tourists might include the address of a hotel or a relative.
If you are staying in America for less than 30 days, you don’t need to worry about reporting your address. However, if you’re staying in the country for over 30 days, you are required to submit a change of address form within 10 days. If you don’t submit a change of address, you can be fined a maximum of 200 USD and imprisoned for up to 30 days. It’s worth noting that there is a provision in the law which states that if you can give reasonable evidence that you were unable to submit your paperwork, the fee and jail time can be waved. The United States government even acknowledges its own incompetence in regards to managing all of the change of address submissions.
The report can be filled in online or mailed in to the appropriate address.
The United Kingdom
Foreigners living in the UK do not have to report any changes of address unless they stay in the country for over 6 months.
Foreigners living in the UK for longer than 6 months are encouraged to submit changes to their address as they could receive important updates about their visa in the mail. There is no clear penalty in place for not reporting a change of address.
The report can be submitted online.
There are no legal requirements for submitting changes of address in Australia, unless you are dealing with an undecided visa. You are encouraged to submit a change of address to stay updated in regards to your visa status.
A change of address can be submitted online or through the mail.
All foreigners in Korea are expected to submit a change of address within 14 days of the move. Failure to comply could mean a fine of around 80 USD.
A change of address can be submitted online, in person, or through the mail.
China’s policy regarding a change of address is surprisingly similar to Thailand’s. All foreigners are expected to submit a change of address within 24 hours of their move. Hotels are used to taking care of this for you, though apparently some hotels outright refuse foreigners (ostensibly for this reason). The fine for not properly reporting is around 280 USD. Many commenters online are skeptical of the Chinese government’s ability to share information regarding address changes, so it’s unlikely that you would ever be caught for not reporting.
A change of address can be submitted in person at a local police station.