The Thai government now requires that all mobile phone users in Thailand using a Thai SIM card must register their phone numbers. The mandatory deadline is July 31, 2015. You can go to any shop of your mobile phone carrier — True, AIS, or DTAC — or else you can go to a service counter at many 7-Eleven, Tesco Lotus, or Big C retail stores. The government has mandated that the stores offer this service for free.
For registration of your Thailand mobile phone SIM card and number, you will need to provide the following:
- Your full name
- Your SIM card’s mobile phone number
- Your passport if a foreigner, or your Thai ID card if a citizen of Thailand
You must show up in person. You cannot register over the internet.
To check the status of your mobile phone, just call *151# and you will get an SMS message back on the status of your phone’s SIM card registration. This code is universal inside Thailand, i.e., works no matter which carrier you are using — True, AIS, or DTAC.
People have said that they thought their phone was already registered but found out it was not, until they checked the status of their SIM card registration by *151#. In another article on THAIMBC, I had advised people to go ahead and register their prepaid SIM card phone number so that if they ever lost their phone, they could get a new SIM card for that phone number. Such a person reported that *151# revealed that they still needed to register their phone’s SIM card.
The mandatory registration started on February 1, 2015, as required by the Thai government’s National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC). At the time, there were approximately 90 million prepaid SIM cards, of which only about 6 million had been registered. One may assume that all postpaid / billed SIM cards would not require registration, but I still recommend you check by the *151# code.
After July 31, 2015, phones which are not registered will still be able to receive incoming calls but will not be able to make outgoing calls, nor use data connections, not send SMS messages to other users.
If you travel outside of Thailand, you should make sure you register your SIM card while you are still in Thailand. Overseas Thai SIM card users are apparently not exempt from this requirement of showing up in person to register their mobile phone number.
This is not the first time that the government has announced this requirement, but in the end it was not enforced after all. The previous time was in 2005.
The problem is that SIM cards are distributed and sold by a wide variety of kiosks and shops which do not have the ability to register the phone numbers. The NBTC has said that it will create an app to allow users to take a photo of the SIM card together with the user’s foreign passport or Thai ID card. That, of course, raises privacy issues. Do you trust the security of the NBTC servers or all staff who have access to this information? I would suggest that you go register your passport number at a store, instead of providing a color photo of your passport and all the other information on it, despite it being slightly less convenient and not instant gratification of use. If you are buying a new phone, then I suggest you either test it with a registered SIM card provided by the shop or else buy and register a SIM card in advance.
Tourists who buy a SIM card in Thailand should take it with them when they depart, so that nobody else can use or sell their mobile phone number for abusive purposes. Likewise, if your mobile phone is ever stolen with a registered SIM card, you should report it immediately to disable its use.