Further to the recent news that mobile phone users in Thailand must register their SIM cards, according to the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission, the methods and rules for registration are *slowly* becoming clearer, but thousands of people are still confused about what it means in practice.
Registering SIM cards in Thailand
Thai Tech and news outlets such as the Bangkok post recently reported that anyone who has purchased a prepaid mobile phone SIM card in Thailand must “register” their personal details with their mobile network before July 31st. Everyone seems confused and rightly so, as even though the dates are clear, nobody seems to know how to check if you are already registered (best to assume not), as well as complications if you are abroad during the registration period.
Here’s a little clarification on a few of the details, but we will update the information as we learn more.
The new rules come into effect on February the 1st, after which users will have 6 months to provide their personal details (name, ID, and of course the phone number in question) after which they will not be able to use their SIM. If you are a foreign citizen resident in Thailand, you will need to take your passport to register at any of the “subscriber information registration points” setup at Big C and Tesco Lotus, as well as 7-11 stores. It will also be possible in the near future to register at Krungthai registration point, but the date has not been officially confirmed yet.
Last year, the independent SIM card resellers were told to use a mobile app to register the user SIM cards. Using the app, the salesperson would take a picture off your SIM card and your subscriber ID and it would be sent to NBTC for “safekeeping”, both for new and existing users to register their numbers at any shop with the ‘2-snap’ logo. However, the app (which could be downloaded by anyone) was exposed to have lots of security issues. It’s not yet clear what method of actually sending the details to the operators will be used at the aforementioned outlets, but that’s their problem, not yours.
If you are abroad between now and 31st of July, it appears that you will not be able to register by phone or the Internet, as it would impossible to prove who you are without showing your ID in person. We will monitor this closely, as it would be convenient if an Internet/fax/telephone registration method was available for such scenarios. With tens of millions of people needing to register, we doubt that anything other than turning up at a registration point will be accepted.
Tourists who come to Thailand for a holiday and purchase a prepaid SIM card will simply need to show ID at the point of purchase in order to qualify as ‘registered’. This means a passport (valid for at least 6 months, which it should be anyway if you just travelled here) in order to register your SIM card.
Even if you have previously provided such information when you bought a SIM card in Thailand, it’s highly likely that you are not registered because the mobile operators seem to have completely ignored or failed to implement the proper registration procedures.
How to register your prepaid SIM in Thailand
We are still waiting for official word on the process of mandatory SIM registration in Thailand. As alluded to earlier, there has been talk of an app where users can register and perhaps the authorities will think of some other way of ensuring that mobile phone users can easily register their prepaid SIM cards between now and 31st July.
Regardless of what is planned for the registration process, as it stands currently, the easiest way to register your SIM card is to visit the local store of mobile network provider.
Jonathan, one of the writers for ThaiTech recently registered his prepaid SIM card at the Dtac store in Hua Hin.
Jonathan’s situation was that he needed to replace his old SIM card with a new nano SIM for his Google Nexus 6.
As part of this process, he also asked the staff member if he could register his prepaid SIM card. In order to register, Jonathan gave the Dtac staff member his passport who then proceeded to input his details into the computer. The whole process took no more than 5 minutes.
Even if you think you already registered your SIM card when a similar policy was rolled out by a previous government several years ago, we’d still advise that you go into the local store of your network provider to double check your phone is actually registered. Alternatively, you could always try calling the customer service numbers below, but good luck with that.
Seriously, if you are unsure about this whole process, visit your network provider at their local store to check the status or your prepaid SIM.
Contact details of mobile operators in Thailand
Here are the customer service contact details for the mobile operators in Thailand:
AIS: call 1175 from your mobile, or +66 2299 5000 from abroad.
DTAC: call 1678 (press 7 for English) from your mobile, or +66 2202 8000 from abroad.
True: call 1331 from your mobile, or +66 89100 1331 from abroad.