TEN COMMON MISTAKES

CONFIRMING DOCUMENTS

Some people will tell you that the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs will confirm the authenticity or truth of a document signed by your embassy in Thailand. In fact, the Thai Ministry simply confirms the signature of the officer in your embassy, not the veracity of the document itself.

FOREIGN WIFE

A foreigner applying for a retirement extension in the old days could include his foreign wife in the application without the need for additional income or bank deposit. Not anymore. The foreigner and his legal spouse must separately provide proof of income or bank deposit worth 800,000 baht. Some immigration offices will accept 1.6 million baht in a joint Thai account.

YELLOW BOOK

Contrary to speculation, there is no national checklist for including a foreigner’s name on the yellow (house) book which then qualifies the farang to have a “pink” Thai ID card. Some local authorities require the passport and birth certificate to be validated in the country of origin, but not all. In some areas, the pink card is automatic but others claim they are not issuing them at the moment.

LAST SEVEN DAYS

It is no longer possible to receive an extension of stay once the foreigner has received the final seven days permission in his passport. The final seven-day extension means that the passport holder must leave the Kingdom at the end of that period. For example, it is not possible to receive a one-year retirement extension of stay under those circumstances. You must leave the country.

COURT PROCEDURE 

Unlike most court systems in the world, there is no word-by-word transcript in court trials in Thailand. Instead, the presiding judge will speak into a Dictaphone every few minutes and give a summary of what he or she has heard. Full court proceedings, including the summary, are available after the trial is completed.

PAUPER’S CREMATION

Embassies will try very hard to find next of kin or friends who will pay for a cremation locally in Thailand. But if, at the end of the day, nobody can be found to provide the funds, the Thai state takes the responsibility to organize what is known as a pauper’s cremation which is obviously very basic. In rare cases, bodies are handed over to the Sawangboriboon Foundation (or equivalent) and are buried.

GAY MARRIAGE

Recent reports that Thailand now allows same-sex marriage or civil partnership are not true. The state does not recognize these unions for official or legislative purposes. However, a will leaving possessions or cash to a same-sex partner will usually be honored by the judge deciding “probate”, provided there is no substantial legal challenge from other aggrieved relatives.

TM30

This immigration form has created a great deal of controversy on social media in particular. Contrary to what some people claim, the TM30 is interpreted differently in immigration offices. Thus some immigration offices demand the form when registering for 90 days, others insist one-year visa holders are included. But you will only know your situation by checking locally. Best of luck!

PRISONERS’ RIGHTS

Foreign prisoners in Thai jails often have special requests – reading glasses, vegetarian diets, medical problems, etc. – but the decision on all these matters is at the discretion of the prison governor. Although reasonable requests from individuals are usually met, the technical position is that embassies can request special consideration.

WORK PERMITS

There is a persistent misunderstanding that voluntary work by a foreigner does not require a work permit issued by the Department of Labor. In fact, the alien labor act of 2006, as amended, precludes all work whether paid or rewarded, or not. Teaching English as an unpaid volunteer or helping out in the wife’s shop may, or may not, create problems with the Immigration Bureau.

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