Thai News

2020

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Thai immigration reprehensibly piles on the documentation requirements...

Good luck in getting your landlord to join you in a 2 hour virus endangering queue at immigration for an emergency visa extension


Link Here 2nd April 2020

Nine separate documents are now required for foreigners stranded in Thailand to extend their stay for up to 30 days, the immigration said Thursday.

Immigration spokesman Phakkhaphong Saiubon defended the inconvenience on the grounds of national security. New requirements include land deeds, rent contracts, and even selfies of foreigners with their accommodations, even as scenes of disarray and massive queues at immigration continue unabated.

Indeed, we are requiring more documents than usual because there are those who want to exploit the opportunity, Col. Phakkhaphong said.

Apart from the usual TM7 application, copies of their passport, and applicant's photos, the new rule requires a certificate from their respective embassies, a copy of rent contract, document confirming their stay at the accommodation, a copy of landlord's ID card and house registration, and a map showing the location of their residence.

The landlord is required to accompany the applicant in person when submitting the documents. The applicant must also take at least four photos with their accommodation to prove their residency.

It has been reported that holders of tourist visas that entered after March 1st are spared the nine document ordeal but there won't be many that qualify.

 

 

Extended visas are better than extended queues...

Thailand looks set to lighten up visa extension for visitors trapped by travel restrictions


Link Here30th March 2020
The Immigration Bureau has proposed allowing foreigners who have had their travel plans disrupted by COVID-19 to extend their visas to 30 June 2020.

Currently, Immigration is giving foreigners who are unable to fly back to their home countries or to another destination a 30 day extension of stay, providing they can provide a visa extension letter from their embassy.

The proposal was submitted to the Cabinet for consideration last week but it is not known if it will be approved.

The news comes after Immigration offices nationwide have been inundated with foreigners desperately trying to extend their visas after being left stranded in Thailand.

 

 

Stay away...

Thailand is shut to visitors


Link Here26th March 2020
Foreign visitors have been barred from entering Thailand after a state of emergency has come into effect.The ban applies to all ports of entry -- land, air or sea -- with limited exceptions for the likes of diplomats. Foreign residents with work permits are allowed to return to Thailand but there are onerous documentation requirements for a negative covid lab test and health insurance.

The emergency also means that public assembly of large groups is forbidden, as is news coverage the government deems untrue, incites panic or threatens national security. Elderly Thais are instructed to stay home except for essential trips such as to see a doctor or buy food.

Domestic travel restrictions are not nationally enacted but provincial governors can set their own rules.

 

 

No compassion: Rules is rules...

Thai Immigration will give 30 day extensions for all foreigners stranded in Thailand as long as you jump through hoops. Those that don't will be fined


Link Here24th March 2020
Thai Immigration has published an emergency document stating that 30 day extensions will be available for foreigners stranded in Thailand by the covid-19 crisis.

The most straight forward cases are for those with tourist visas or 30 day visa exempt entries.

Those on non immigrant visas still need to obtain a letter from their embassies stating that the foreigner is stranded.  For British citizens this letter may be obtained by email. See article from gov.uk

There is also a catch all extension for those that don't qualify under the above. This seem to require authorisation from a high ranking police officer though.

Update: Immigration won't let go of overstay fines

24th March 2020. See article from thephuketnews.com

Phuket Immigration Deputy Chief Lt Col Udom Thongchin told The Phuket News on 23rd March that foreigners needing to stay in Thailand, or unable to travel home, need to obtain a letter from their embassy requesting the Thai Immigration Bureau to allow them to extend their stay in the country.

If a foreigner's permit to stay is about to expire and they cannot get a letter from their embassy, or their embassy refuses to issue them a letter, we have no regulation that can help them, Lt Col Udom explained. We can only wait for any new policies to come from the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok, he said.

My advice is for foreigners to urge their embassies to issue them a letter requesting a 30-day extension. If their visas expire, they will be charged for B500 a day overstay in accordance with the law, Lt Col Udom confirmed.

 

 

Extended emergency...

Phuket Immigration to give 30 day extensions to stranded farangs as long as they jump through a hoop of getting an embassy letter


Link Here21st March 2020
On Wednesday the Tourism Minister said that he'd been discussing the problem of overstaying tourists and visitors, due to a lack of flights or border closures in their home countries, with Thailand's immigration officials. Now some immigration offices are announcing an official clemency.

In Phuket, foreigners stranded in Thailand due to the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak may apply to Phuket Immigration for a 30 day visa extension to avoid the need to travel.

The extensions will cost the standard 1,900 each. But it's not quite as simple as all that. Udom said that any foreigners seeking to extend their visas will require a letter from the embassy or consulate of their home country.

The letter must be from the embassy or consulate requesting that the Royal Thai Police Immigration Bureau allow the foreigner to stay in the country longer. It must name the foreigner and it must have the sentence that the foreigner 'is unable to travel due to the COVID-19 coronvirus situation.' It must be an actual letter, hand over with a copy of their passport at the Phuket Immigration Office during office hours.

 

 

Updated: Closed...

The authorities have closed Pattaya bars as a measure against coronavirus


Link Here17th March 2020
Thailand's public health minister and deputy PM Anutin Charnvirakul has told a press conference that the Public Health Ministry will suggest additional precautions to the government and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday, including the temporary closure of bars and entertainment venues, including nightclubs, concerts, live music venues and other venues where people congregate.

Anutin says these measure would be to help prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus , and would be based on zone-by-zone decisions by the government and coronavirus response teams.

Anutin announced several other measures will be suggested to the PM, to include potential limitation of travel for Songkran and enforced cancellation of private cultural and local festivals.

 

Update: Songkran postponed

16th March 2020. See article from nationthailand.com

A meeting of the Covid-19 Administration Centre, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, approved a motion to postpone the Songkran holidays from April 13-15 to later dates. The meeting cited the reason of increasing social distance and minimising public movement both domestically and internationally.

The new date for Songkran will be announced later.

On the topic of bar clsoures, the government agreed to close all venues with a capacity for more than 50 people, such as entertainment premises, boxing stadiums, and universities, and the topic will be discussed agaon on 17th March.

 

Update: Closed

17th March 2020. See article from thepattayanews.com

The Provincial Government of Banglamung and Chonburi have ordered, effective from March 18th, 2020, that all entertainment venues must close until March 31st, 2020.

This effects ALL bars, cinemas, sports venues, karaoke bars, nightclubs, gogos, beer bars, massage parlors, Gentlemen clubs, etc. This is regardless of the size of the venue or bar.

It does NOT effect restaurants, malls or shops which may stay open, but must ensure proper hygiene measures and at least one meter between patrons.

The Pattaya News notes this is also NOT a lockdown, people are free to move about as normal.

So now the Pattaya GoGo count stands at zero for the forseeable future.

 

 

Thailand puts the shutters up to most tourists...

No more visas on arrival and a mandatory tracking app for the rest


Link Here12th March 2020
The government has decided to suspend Visa on Arrival (VoA) for visitors from 18 countries at a meeting on March 11, chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, also head of the Covid-19 management centre.

Countries affected are Bulgaria, Bhutan, China (include Taiwan) , Cyprus, Ethiopia, Fiji, Georgia, India, Kazakhstan, Malta, Mexico, Nauru, Papua New Guinea, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Uzbekistan, and Republic of Vanuatu.

All visitors to Thailand should contact the Thai embassy in their countries prior to travel. The cancellation of visa-free entry also applies to high-risk countries ( Italy, South Korea) and Hong Kong).

Starting from tomorrow (March 12 ), all foreign tourists arriving at all international airports in Thailand will be required to download an AOT Airports application onto their mobile phones. The requirement also applies to Thai returnees from high risk countries.

Once the app is downloaded, they will have to fill in the required information - name, surname, passport ID , mobile phone number, e-mail address and present them to the immigration officials on duty . The information will be stored for 14 days after arrival.

In the case of a virus-infected person, the information given will enable related state agencies to trace contacts.

There are n mentions of what happens if a traveller does not have a mobile phone, or a current data package.

 

 

True Moves on Tesco...

Tesco Lotus sold to 7 Eleven


Link Here9th March 2020
UK retailer Tesco has agreed to sell its Tesco Lotus operation in Thailand and Malaysia for ($10.6bn) 8bn.

The supermarket chain has 2,000 stores across both countries, under the Tesco Lotus brand, and is selling them to Thai conglomerate CP Group, perhaps most well known locally for its 7 Eleven convenience store network and the True telecoms company.

Tesco revealed in December it had received interest for its Asian stores, which employ about 60,000 people, but did not reveal the bidders.

The proposed sale was unanimously agreed by the Tesco board, but needs approval from shareholders and regulators. The deal is set to be finalised in the second half of this year.

 

 

A bit of a dampener for Thai tourism...

UAE bans travel to Thailand over Chinese flu


Link Here25th February 2020
The UAE has issued a travel ban to Thailand and Iran following the outbreak of coronavirus.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement on Monday banning its citizens from travelling to Thailand and Iran due to concerns of the COVID-19 outbreak in both countries.

UAE citizens currently in these countries are requested to contact the UAE Embassy or the Ministry's call centre on 800 44444, and register on the ministry's 'Tawajudi' service.

The news comes after Kuwait's civil aviation authority also on Monday announced it was suspending all flights to and from Thailand. Kuwait also suspended flights between Iraq, Italy and South Korea.

One has to wonder why Thailand has been singled out. The official count of 37 cases is not notably high.

Emirates airlines is based in Dubai in the UAE and is often use d by European visitors too.

 

 

Location tracking changes...

Thai Immigration relaxes address reporting requirement that wasn't in force in Pattaya anyway


Link Here21st February 2020
Thailand has some tracking and address reporting laws that would be considered extreme in an Orwellian state. Foreigners are required to report their where abouts to the immigration police within 24 hours of moving to another location (using form TM28). In addition Thai hotels or accommodation owners are also required to report the comings and goings of foreigners to immigration police also within 24 hours (using form TM30).

In fact in Pattaya/Chonburi only this 2nd requirement has been enforced by the police, but with the unjust tweak that the foreigner is forced to pay the fines of the Thai accommodation owners should the TM30 not be sent to the police.

Now Thailand has announced that TM28 is no longer required. In fact Immigration has not formally revoked the requirement, just made more or less everyone exempt.

But for all the fanfare the TM30 location reporting requirement is still very much in force. Saying that immigration do seem to have relaxed on the concept of holding foreigners responsible for the failures of the property owners to comply.

 

 

A bit worrying...

Thai Government asks provincial health offices to stop publishing the numbers of people infected with coronavirus


Link Here30th January 2020
The health office in Chiang Mai said on Monday (January 27) that the Public Health Ministry had instructed provincial health offices to stop reporting the numbers of suspected and confirmed coronavirus cases and wait for the official announcement from the ministry after China announced a ban of all flight to the province after February 7.

There are 19 direct flights daily from China to Chiang Mai, according to airport authority.

 

 

Offsite Article: Forgive and forget...


Link Here28th January 2020
Full story: Thai TV Censorship...Kissing and catfights make the news whilst booze and fags are blurred
Thai TV drama series (lakorn) are very un-PC about sex and violence

See article from scmp.com

 

 

Get Smart...

Another case of Immigration police getting heavy handed over a trivial overstay


Link Here18th January 2020
Naew Na has published a new report from Pattaya in which immigration's much heralded 'Smart Car' was used in the arrest of a foreigner on a one week overstay.

In the first story Pol Col Naren Khreuangsanuk sent in his officers to the Moo 10, Nong Prue area of Pattaya where they saw a foreigner supposedly acting suspiciously.

The 'smart car' apparently equipped with a computing equipment which was used to look up the guys immigration status and found that he was on a 7 day overstay.

The Omani man was handed over to the local police for 'processing'.

 

 

Walking ATMs with a chip on the shoulder...

Old magnetic strip ATM cards will become invalid next week


Link Here10th January 2020
The deadline for switching from magnetic ATM cards to chip cards is coming closer and after January 15, all magnetic cards will become invalid, Siritida Panomwon na, assistant governor of Ayudhya, Bank of Thailand said. The new cards are also notable for requiring a 6 digit rather than the usual 4 digit PIN.

The switch was expected to be completed by the end of 2019, as 47 million magnetic cards had already been converted to chip cards, leaving some 20 million magnetic cards nationwide.

Magnetic cards holders can change their cards at any branch of their respective banks or financial institutions free of charge. Required documents are ID card, existing magnetic card and bank passbook, said the assistant governor.

After January 15, magnetic cards will be unusable at ATMs and credit card machines at retail shops. However, card owners can still make a cash withdrawal or transfer money at bank's tellers, via mobile banking and internet banking as alternatives.

 

 

Don't sweat...

The Thai prime minister has an idea. He asks people to shower less ahead of an impending drought


Link Here8th January 2020
It could be the worst seasonal drought for four decades according to the Office of National Water Resources.

Speaking to the Bangkok Post, ONWR secretary-general Somkiat Prajamwong recalled that during the severe drought in 2015 (when Thailand was under military rule), soldiers were sent to protect wells from indiscriminate pumping by local villagers irrigating their farms.

The ONWR was created two years ago to address the country's water issues and challenges, and is in charge of water resource management and coordinating policies and goals across 20 state agencies.

Thailand's dry season started in November and usually lasts through April, although this year authorities say it could go on through June. Thailand's Central region is predicted to be the hardest hit by the looming drought, focussed on the 22 provinces along the Chao Phraya River. Somkiat also predicts farmland will be affected because the amount of land for farming has risen by 3 million rai in recent years.

Last week, Bangkok's water authority said the capital's tap water was becoming saline as seawater pushed up the depleted Chao Phraya river, a source of much of central Thailand's water.

Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday urged people to turn off taps and shower less to cope with a drought afflicting northern and central Thailand.

 

 

Single use brain cells...

Thai TV blurs out another social vice. First it was booze and fags...and now it's plastic bags


Link Here4th January 2020
Full story: Thai TV Censorship...Kissing and catfights make the news whilst booze and fags are blurred
Most national retailers in Thailand have just stopped handing out free plastic carrier bags to shoppers on January 1st

In the run up to the big day Thai TV added plastic bags to their list of social vices that must be optically censored, previously guns, alcoholic drinks, and cigarettes.

Perhaps the TV companies would have more of an effect blurring out cars, motorbikes, airplanes, air conditioners and meat.

Anyway the censorship has caused much derision on social media and the Thai environment minister stepped in to support the censorship.

National Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa said it was easy for the online community to criticise this act of self-censorship by TV stations. He defended the broadcasters' "well intentioned" efforts by comparing it to the censorship of alcohol and cigarettes.

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