Telling Thai Immigration Police of change of addressBy Garry | February 1st, 2009 | Category: Visas | No Comments »
Having moved house, the law in Thailand says that foreigners must advise the Immigration Police of their new address within 24 hours of the move. The same time span applies to even tourists moving from one hotel to another, although usually the hotel takes care of that.
There’s been a lot of debate amongst expatriates about the feelings of criminality that the address registration system causes, particularly the 90-day re-registration requirement imposed on anyone who has stayed continuously within the kingdom for that length of time. I prefer to think of it as, at least someone knows where I am, and how to contact me, if there is an emergency for which I must be contacted.
Registering my address at the British Consulate, annually, actually feels like more of a burden, because I expect British “administrative efficiency” to keep my last registered address on file until told by me that I have changed residence – a bit like the old style of British driving license that only needed updating if you relocated or passed the test for an additional vehicle class, rather than the new one that needs renewed every 10 years – far too “big brother” for my liking.
I wasn’t sure what to expect trying to inform the Chiang Mai Immigration Police that I had changed address. Although I have religiously informed them of my address in the prescribed manner every 90-days for many years, and completed the annual visa extension correctly, I was at my last address for over 7 years and prior to that had not bothered with change registrations, because they were not being enforced.
But we live in a new era and the oddest of antique laws get pulled out for a dust-off and a crackdown periodically, so off I trotted to Mahidol Road, which is the last bit of the road heading out to Chiang Mai Airport.
The first thing I discovered is that the address change registration is not handled by the visa extension desks (in the building on the right, next to the cafe) in the Chiang Mai Immigration compound, but is done in the building on the left as you come through the gate. This is the one where the 90-day address registration used to be handled until some time last year. Great. No queues.
The process is simple enough. Complete a form that looks similar to the 90-day address registration form, plus one that will be familiar to anyone with a work permit – the columned form similar to the household list for adding or removing from a “tabian baan” or to the employee list for a company. Sign each where indicated and watch in bemusement as no less than five different rubber stamps are delicately applied to the bottom tear-off slip (which you are supposed to retain in your passport), and job’s done in under 3 minutes. You’ll need to show your passport at the same time as handing over the forms.
Smile, wai, and say “thank you” in Thai, and you’ll get the same back from the charming young lady at the desk, complete with a delightful “all done, sank you mister” in English. Give yourself a mental pat on the back for successfully negotiating a “hurdle” of bureaucracy without hassle, and without a fee, and scarper quickly.
Another painless mission to the halls of the Royal Thai Immigration Police in Chiang Mai. I’ve no idea why a vocal minority complain about having to deal with them. My other annual reasons to visit them are usually just as stress-free as this one was.