According to a report on ThaiVisa.com on July 29, immigration in Hua Hin announced that “from today [they will be] enforcing the existing rule that foreigners are required to carry a valid photo ID at all times.” In an update on July 30, ThaiVisa.com then further explained that only the original passport was a valid ID as required by immigration – information that was obviously incorrect. On July 31, Thaivisa eventually set the record straight and reported they had “obtained official clarification” from a “senior official at Immigration headquarters in Bangkok” who “confirmed that foreign tourists and expats do not need to carry their passports with them at all times.”
The immigration official is quoted as saying that “tourists can of course leave their passports locked in their hotel safe and enjoy their holiday in Thailand without worrying about the need to carry their original passport … for expats living here, a Thai driving license or photocopy of your passport can be used as a form of identification. However, if Immigration Police suspect an individual to be overstaying in Thailand or being involved in illegal activity, then the individual would be required to produce their original passport promptly … if we think a foreigner is involved in illegal activity then we will of course need to see their original passport, this is normal.”
So a copy of your original passport or a Thai driving licence are fully acceptable as a valid ID and you don’t have to carry your original passport at all times! Failure to carry a valid ID may certainly still result in a fine of 2,000 Baht, and violators might face a thorough “background check” at the local immigration office, just to make sure you have a valid visa and are not on any “wanted list”. Also note: While this has been an existing (yet mostly ignored) rule for many years, it should be expected that immigration will soon start to enforce this rule nationwide.
The original report on July 29 further added: “Hua Hin Immigration is from today also enforcing the requirements that you and your landlord (condominium owner, house owner etc.) must report to Immigration within 24 hours of moving in to a new address. On your arrival card you already reported your place of stay, and if that changes you need to visit Immigration and report your new address.”
Note: If you’re a tourist, the hotel where you’re staying must report you to immigration; so this is more relevant to expats and long-stayers. Furthermore, this is basically also an existing rule which immigration is only expected to enforce nationwide soon, not just in Hua Hin. So in case you change your address in the future, e.g., you move in to another condo or house, you must now visit your local immigration office and fill a certain form notifying them of your address change. The required form can be downloaded here.
Finally, to make things even more complicated for people who don’t stay in hotels all the time, there is also another new reporting obligation applying to foreigners who visit another province (than the one where they are registered) and stay there for more than 48 hours. ThaiVisa.com reports: “In that case the reporting of the new address must be provided to the police, or the immigration, within 48 hours.” You can download the applicable form here.