Well, today is our 3 month anniversary of being in Thailand!! Yea!! It’s also the day I needed to extend my Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai. Opposite of Yea! (It was not bad, read on…)
In Thailand, one of the most common visas is the “3 month tourist visa” that you obtain from a Thai Embassy/Consulate outside of Thailand prior to your entry into the country. Without one, you get a 30 day entry stamp instead. You may recall our Laos Visa Run episode, where (I) obtained a “Two Entry” Tourist Visa successfully, thanks to our local Italian/Canadian friend (hero), Gino. That basically meant that I have two – 3-month visas, back to back. Nice.
When you get the 3 month tourist visa, what may NOT be obvious is that you will get an entry stamp that expires in 2 months after entry. You’ll get the third month by putting in an extension at the local Chiang Mai Immigration Office.
Here’s a step-by-step checklist of what you’ll need to do (I promise it’s not 100 steps, as in the Laos post).
- Pick up your forms ahead of time, as in any other day before you actually submit the form. You can walk in, and to your right, you’ll see 3 trays, look for the “Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom.” Pick up a couple, just in case you mess up.
- The form is fairly self-explanatory, with your passport number, address, type of visa you currently have (Tourist, in this case), arrival/departure card number, and your phone number. Write in “30” for number of days you want to extend.
- You’ll need ONE passport sized photo. It just saves time to glue it on yourself ahead of time.
- You’ll need one copy each of the following passport pages: a)main page w/pic, b) page with departure card, and c) page with your visa stamp.
- If you forget to make copies, the little restaurant behind the Office also has a copy center, for 2 Baht/page, quite reasonable. You can do this while you are waiting for your number to be called.
- Now that you have your paperwork done, let’s go to the Immigration Office! You can go on your visa expiration date, assuming it doesn’t fall on a weekend. If you go after your expiration date, you’ll pay an “overstay” fine of 500 baht per day (will need to verify with a second source).
- Get there early, between 7-7:30am. The doors open between 7:30-8am, and you’ll pick up a blue, laminated card with a que number from a display inside the entry. That’s not the official number, but the number you’ll need to get your official que number (via an ATM-ish machine) from an attendant who will show up between 8 and 8:30am, when things start to get going.
- The official number is needed because all visitors are sorted into the type of visa you carry. Since I was amongst the first 10 to arrive (number 9, baby!), I was actually #002 in the Tourist visa line. Getting “007” would have been cool, too.
- You’ll see horse-track like scoreboards everywhere, and look for your specific number to be called (some start at 501, 201, etc. depending on the counter). Once gent next to me freaked because he had #210 after seeing my #002.
- Then, drop off your passport+documents at the correct counter. The official will look over your documents, collect them, and collect the fee, which is 1,900 Baht (as of today). I got a receipt and change back, so don’t sweat if you forgot to bring exact change.
- Then, sit and wait. The middle of the front counter is the pick up area, and it’s often difficult to make out your own name being called, so just check once in a while to see if it’s ready.
- Once you’ve picked it up, you’ll see a new stamp with a new visa expiration date. Pick up a mint from the candy bowl, and that’s it!
Fairly painless, only 12 steps! Hmm, should have called it “Twelve step program for…” oh never mind. I was out of there by 9:15am. All because I got there early and beat the rush. It was a Friday, and I’m not sure which day would be ideal – guessing beginning of the week, but probably irrelevant if you get there early enough.
On various local forums, many people commented that they had a good experience with the CM Immigration Office, and I agree. Over all, people were friendly, and the first attendant (the que guy) speaks good English if you have any questions.
Oh, and guess who I ran into there today? Our fabulous Mr. Gino!! You’ll probably see familiar faces if you go repeatedly, once you’re on the same “Visa Schedule.”
On behalf of Mr. Gino, “Ciao!” and “Bon journo!”