Residency Registration in Thailand

SAM_4415-blurAs I wrote last week, Phuket Immigration Office (and perhaps one or two other locations in Thailand) now requires foreigners to verify their address prior to applying for one-year visa extensions.

I completed this process yesterday after some difficulty.  Indeed, the easiest part was the processing at the immigration office!

Documents Needed:

  • “Registration Form for the Owner of Residence”
  • Copy of Rental Agreement between Landlord/Owner and Resident
  • Copy of Landlord/Owner’s House Registration (tambian ban), Signed
  • Copy of Landlord/Owner’s Personal Identification Card, Signed
  • Photograph showing exterior of house/apartment building showing address
  • Photograph showing door (with number) of actual apartment/condo
  • One or more photographs showing interior of house/apartment/condo
  • Hand-drawn map of the neighborhood pinpointing exact location of home

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The first document, “Registration Form for the Owner of Residence” is available at Phuket Immigration Office (now DOWNSTAIRS! – more on that in a bit).  You can fill it out yourself or ask your landlord to do it.  Technically, your landlord should sign this form but I don’t think anybody is checking at this point.

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The documents from my landlord/owner proved the most difficult to obtain, causing an almost week-long delay.  Part of the problem was that I live in a guesthouse and have never signed a lease, just paying on a month-to-month basis.  When I tried to explain that I needed a document stating the address, the date I started living there and the amount I pay in rent each month, I was met with some confusion.  I ended up photocopying a coworker’s lease and using white-out to cover his information.  I then had one of the desk clerks fill out the form using my information.  Worked a charm!

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The house registration and owner’s ID proved a bit more problematic as the person who needed to sign the photocopies happened to be in Bangkok.  At one point, it appeared that I would have to pay for his transportation back to Phuket if I wanted these in a timely manner.  Luckily, he concluded his business quickly and all it cost me was a couple of bottles of Sang Som (potent Thai “whiskey”).

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I then sketched a quick map.  I was told it had to be hand-drawn but several of my coworkers simply printed theirs from Google Maps.

Next were the photographs.  I shot about ten showing the exterior and interior of my tiny room but ultimately printed just three:

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With everything ready, I high-tailed it off to Phuket Immigration after work on Thursday, arriving about 1:30 in the afternoon.  I climbed the stairs, as always, and approached the Immigration Police Volunteers table to receive a queue ticket.  I was promptly informed that the upstairs office is now only for those wishing to extend visas; all of the “quick” processes such as 90-days notices, re-entry permits and address registrations would be conducted downstairs (in what was previously the photocopy room).  I asked if a queue number was needed down there and he told me he didn’t know as they had just changed that morning!

I then went downstairs.  It was very crowded and one official was calling out numbers.  I couldn’t see where you obtained these numbers and watched as a couple of American girls (I could see their passports) trying to tell various officials that they needed a number.  They were completely ignored partly, I suppose, because they weren’t exactly dressed appropriately (cut-off jean shorts and tank tops).  I sat down in the last row of the waiting area to watch.

I was only there a couple of minutes when one of the officials stood up from his desk and walked over to where I was sitting.  “Do you need a 90-days report?” he asked me.  “No,” I replied.  “I’m here for the residency registration.”  “Very well, I will do for you.”

I followed him to his desk and sat down.  He glanced at the top paper – a photocopy of the lease – and opened my passport.  As he began tapping my information into the computer I asked if the copy was okay or did he need to see the original (which I had with me).  He said the copy was fine.  He never even looked at any of the documents!  I did compliment him on the improvement of moving services downstairs, saying that it would make their work-life a bit easier, etc.  He was very chatty, apologizing that they weren’t quite finished with the improvements but it would help the foreigners much more…

Before I knew it, he was stamping the bottom portion of a document he printed out.  He copied the registration number onto that form as well as the “Registration Form for Owner of Residence” and then inserted the printed slip of paper into my passport.  “All done!” he announced with a flourish.  I was in the downstairs area perhaps five minutes all told. 

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Now, of course, your experience at the Immigration Office may differ from mine but it does help to dress nicely and keep smiling.  Not to mention having your documents in order regardless of whether or not they actually look at them!

Next week, a much larger stack of documents – those for the work permit renewal — will be presented at the Labor Office (I don’t believe I have to accompany our school’s staff member) and I’ll return to Phuket Immigration Office a week or two after that for the actual one-year extension process.  As long as my school doesn’t forget any of the documents they need to provide (last year, they were missing the most recent tax receipt necessitating a return visit), I should have my work permit and visa renewals completed just before the current ones expire on the 16th of December.

Fingers crossed!


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