Intrusive new immigration form causes expat dismay in Thailand

Published:  20 Apr at 6 PM
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Expats living in Thailand were shocked by the unveiling of a new immigration form requiring details of their social media habits, frequently used shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, details of their cars, bank accounts and other strictly personal information.

The new requirement surfaced a few days ago on local forums, and was at first regarded by regular posters as a hoax or misinformation. Subsequently a popular English Language media website published an article confirming the genuine origin of the three-page form and its questions.

Written in English, the form, in addition to the usual requirements of name, address, age, nationality and passport information, requests the expat’s occupation, full names of both parents, full foreign address details, car and /or motorcycle license plate number, make, model and colour, details of all social media sites used and details of regularly visited shops, restaurants, bars, pubs, hospitals and other public venues.

It continues with a request for full details of one Thai person and one foreigner who can be contacted by police in case of an emergency. The foreigner named must allow his occupation to be stated. Details of expat bank accounts held must also be stated on the form.

It seems that, at present, only one district immigration office in Bangkok is using the form when expats arrive to do 90-day reports or extend their visas for a further term. According to the Irish Independent newspaper, the new form is the product of Deputy Commissioner of Immigration Bureau (Crime Suppression) Maj.Gen. Chatchawan, who told local media the questions should cause no problems to expats not intending to commit crimes.

According to the General, an increase in numbers of foreigners entering Thailand has been linked to an increase in crimes known to be committed by foreigners. The form was initiated to benefit national security, he added, saying that information given will help the authorities track down criminals and terrorists.

However, Human Rights Watch Asia Director Brad Adams believes the form will alienate tourists and foreign investors, all of whom play a vital part in the country’s economic progress. Rights groups are also expressing their concerns, saying that civil liberties are being infringed. The General has stated that filling in the forms is not mandatory, but expatriate feelings expressed on local internet forums indicate genuine concern and a degree of distrust in the wider expat community.
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