TM30 vs Tourists & Expats

One of the greatest bugbears of expats living in Thailand is a lack of reliable information when it comes to issues surrounding travel and immigration issues. In the time when visa runs were still the norm for tourists who wanted to stay longer than 90 days in Thailand, it was always difficult to know the safest vs most cost-effective option. Could I reenter again by land again this year or should I take a flight back from Malaysia this time? It was entirely possible to ask the same question to multiple immigration officers for clarification and receive a different answer each time.

Thailand is notorious among the ASEAN nations for having a complex and costly visa application process for foreigners - especially those retiring or wishing to stay long-term in the country for other reasons. The visa-on-arrival system for tourists works well, but any foreigner who has lived in the kingdom for longer than a few months knows the anxiety of submitting a Thai visa application at an embassy in another country. Even with all the correct paperwork, photo copies, photos and fees paid, it can be difficult to truly relax in the 24 hours before getting your passport back with the new visa inside. In Penang, hearing celebrations coming from the offices of visa agents handing back passports is not unusual. Even with your new visa in place, problems at the border are not uncommon. Being granted or denied entry can seem up to the discretion of the immigration officer you meet at the border that day, rather than being based on a set of clear rules and requirements.

For the reasons above, Thailand did not have a reputation for being a place that is easy to enter or stay for the long haul. Then came the confusing TM30 requirements, like a bureaucratic zombie that wants to feast on what remains of people's brains after going through the visa application process. Adding another layer of worry and admin was not a popular decision with foreign nationals who had already had to jump through hoops to secure their Thai visas.

Having to declare their whereabouts anytime people were away from their main homes in Thailand was too much to ask of some people when added on top of the other visa requirements.

Many also made the point that criminals won't declare themselves, so the whole exercise is pointless and intrusive to law-abiding people. Thankfully things are now getting easier with the introduction of apps to replace the ineffective government web site. Great news for Thai tourism.

Last update: 2022-01-21 07:24


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