Thailand Is Going To (Temporarily) Scrap Immigration Forms In Effort To Reduce Airport Lines

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In a surprise announcement, the Thai Government has advised that they will (at least temporarily) scrap the required TM6 immigration forms for foreigners arriving in Thailand in an effort to reduce wait times at the airport.

The change is expected to take place within the next week to ten days and has come about as lines at the airport to process arrivals start to increase.

Many countries such as Singapore, Malaysia and even the U.S.  have abandoned the use of paper forms in recent years and moved to entirely electronic processing.

Thailand just LOVES papers, copies, and stamps. The more the merrier and that for every little thing in daily life. Even more surprising they suddenly came out of the woodwork with this announcement.

The Bangkok Post reported about it yesterday (access here).

The government will temporarily halt the need for international passengers to fill out TM 6 immigration forms to ease passenger congestion at international airports.

Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday this would reduce the process for foreign visitors as they were already required to fill out many forms upon arrival. It will also help alleviate congestion as international arrival numbers have increased, he added.

Gen Prayut said authorities will evaluate the outcome of the announcement and consider if it needs to be revised, especially if they are unable to trace passengers. The Interior Ministry will expedite the drafting of the announcement, which is expected to finish in a week.

Deputy government spokeswoman Traisuree Taisaranakul said foreign travellers who enter Thailand by land or sea will still be required to fill out the form.

The move will save around 45.5 million baht a year in printing costs for an estimated 65 million TM 6 forms, she said.

Immigration police can still collect data on arrivals via the biometric systems at airports, while other travel data can be collected from airlines, Ms Traisuree said. Thais have not needed to fill out a TM 6 since 2017.

For now, this is a temporary measure and it could be changed back at any time if the government has some concerns about the practicality of doing away with the form. However, they’re arguing how much money this will save over the year so I’d expect the forms to be gone.

One such issue could include the archaic Thai immigration system which is still very reliant on the stamped passenger copy of the TM6 form that is normally being handed over to the immigration officer upon exit. But even more so, if you need to deal with anything immigration-related during your stay in Thailand such as extending your visa, filing a residence report, or changing your visa type the process has always asked for this stub to be presented.

I surely hope that all systems and processes have been updated and that it takes into account those new arrivals who wouldn’t have such a form in their possession anymore.

Generally speaking, this is a great move and will make it easier for travelers to arrive, just show the passport at immigration and go. How far this really makes the immigration officers’ work easier or more expedient… no idea, I couldn’t say. But considering how many people fill out such forms incorrectly and then need to fix things or do a completely new form all while holding up other people it’s probably good to abandon them wherever possible.

Conclusion

The Thai Government has decided to eliminate immigration forms for travelers who arrive by air and this measure will be implemented within the coming two weeks.

It’s unclear how other immigration processes downstream will react to this. If it’s your plan to extend a visa while in Thailand or possibly change your visa type then I’d try and hand over a form regardless (if you can find one) just to have the stamped passenger record in case it’s required.

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