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ResourcesVisa & Immigration LawThailand Immigration LawA New Passport and a New Name Doesn't Fool Thai Immigration

A New Passport and a New Name Doesn't Fool Thai Immigration

Transcript of the above video:

In this video we are discussing a topic which I don't bring up very often but it is something of interest and there was some recent news that I thought really fully encapsulated this issue. It also encapsulates many of the ways in which Thai Immigration enforcement procedures if you will, are improving to the point that things that could happen not even all that long ago, it is no longer really even possible to fool the system as it once was. 

What am I talking about? Well if you are around a water cooler with any foreigners that live in the Kingdom or you are out having drinks with someone or dinner, you may encounter somebody who says "well if you ever have a problem in Thailand, leave the country get a new passport, change your name, come on back in!" Most people are joking when they say this but there was a time and this also could be said for virtually any country on earth, there was a time that yes, before digital technology came into play, computerization etc., there was a time when paper documentation was really the foundational documentation from which Immigration and Customs Authorities made determinations with respect to foreigners entering any given country. The Kingdom of Thailand was no different and so there probably was a time when it was possible for somebody who had an issue be it with Immigration or perhaps with the Thailand legal system or something, they could leave, get a new passport, maybe change their name in their home country; now they have got a new passport, they have got a new name, they come back in and everything is fine and dandy; perhaps!

That is no longer the case here in the Kingdom and a recent article from the Nation, nationmultimedia.com, the article is titled: Immigration Intensifies Crackdown on Traffickers. There was something of an aside at the end of this article that I thought was noteworthy. Quoting directly from the article: "separately the Immigration Chief said an Israeli man convicted for dismembering his wife and dumping her body parts in 2004 has been caught in Sa Kaew, Arunyapratet District. The man, now 49, was sentenced to life in prison in December 2004 but was released on a royal pardon after 7 years and deported back to his homeland. At the time of his latest arrest, Sompong said, his name was different in his passport. The Immigration Police said he confessed he had changed his name so he could return to Thailand after having failed four times under his old name”. Four times under his old name! “He said his love for Thailand brought him back and also because he feared for his life in Israel, Sompong said. The Immigration Chief said he will be deported soon.” 

This is noteworthy. I don't know exactly what triggered someone finding this individual but I suspect the increasingly sophisticated technological nature of the Immigration apparatus here in Thailand had a lot to do. I am not certain if biometrics came into play, although I have a suspicion it probably did, and there also may have been things like facial recognition etc. that might have been used. That being said, it might have just been for lack of a better term, good old-fashioned police work.  Whatever, the individual in question was apprehended and just because that individual had a different name in their passport didn't really protect them particularly and as noted, it seems like they tried four different times to try to return and were thwarted at each go. 

Where am I going with this? Well, Immigration has not quite fully implemented biometrics yet but I think by the end of 2019 that is a sure bet. We are going to see biometrics being implemented across-the-board, I would presume, at all border crossings and Immigration checkpoints within the Kingdom and for that reason I think it is a pretty safe bet that we are no longer going to see the numbers of folks who are able to circumvent the system through things like the methodology of simply leaving, getting a new passport and changing their name, as again it is not really easy to fake fingerprints, retinal scans, facial recognition technology, and as we have commented on another videos there are people that have already tried. They have been quickly caught, especially at airports, and turned around and deported.  

So we will keep you updated on this topic but it is safe to say that Thailand, especially through use of biometrics, is no longer going to have quite the pourous nature at entry points, at Immigration checkpoints, as they once did.