Beawander

Beawander

[bee-won-der]
noun
  1. The documented wanderings of Bea. Mostly to let her family and friends back home know she’s still alive, but partly so she can remember herself. 
Save Time Extending Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai

Save Time Extending Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai

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7 min read

It was my first time extending my 60-day tourist visa for another 30 days. 

Even though I went through all the posts on FB groups and read blogs that talked about it, I still wasn’t exactly sure how to go about it.

The rules may change the next time I need to do this, but at least I have the current one documented so we can refer back to it.

So, this is how it went down:

I went there with a friend around 1:15 pm on January 10 (Thursday), I didn’t get out until 4:30 pm. 

Holy smokes, I was EXHAUSTED! 

But not stressed though. I’m not a last-minute person, so I went to extend it 3 weeks before I needed to. Don’t worry, those 30 days get tacked onto your initial departure date regardless of when you extend it (before it expires).

If you overstay your visit, it’s an extra 500 baht per DAY and you’ll probably get on their naughty list. It happens, but try not to.  

If I were to do it again, this is how I would fast-track it. 

Oct 2019 Update

I went to the immigration office on a Tuesday morning around 9am. I was in and out in 20 minutes, there were only 2 people ahead of me – it was amazing!

Basically, I followed these steps exactly, prepared everything ahead of time and it worked like a charm!

I ask my awesome landlord at Mata Apartment to print out the paperwork and photocopy the pages I needed to bring with me.

She was extra caution and gave me my TM30 confirmation print out as well as a copy of my lease agreement. The officer didn’t ask for either of these documents. 

**Changes: Although I didn’t experience this personally, my friend’s application form (from the print out below) was rejected.

She was asked to fill out the “new” form, which is only available at the immigration office.

Apparently, same questions with slightly different layout.

Step 1: Ready the Paperwork

Below are the documents Immigration needs to process your visa extension.

Highlighted in RED are the ones you can prepare beforehand. This way you can just show up with all your papers, ready to exchange for a number.

  •  Your Passport
  • 1900 Baht – I’d recommend giving exact change if you can
  • Signed photocopies (initials are fine) of your:
    • Main Passport Page – the one with your picture
    • Current Thai Visa
    • Back and Front of T6 Departure Card – the one stapled in your passport that you filled out when you arrived in the Kingdom
  • TM7 Form – download it HERE
  • 1 Visa Photo – the form asks for 4 cm x 6 cm but they’re quite lenient

*I had a print out of my TM30 from my landlord but did not need to submit it with my application. Probably because my landlord filed it online and the officers were able to check.

If you don’t have the luxury of preparing ahead of time, it’s OK – keep reading. Step 3 will save your ass.

Step 2: Getting to Immigration Office via Grab

BEFORE you leave your apartment, you might want to bring these with you:

  • a pen
  • bottle of water
  • a book to read / something to do while you wait

You may have your own mode of transportation – tuk-tuk, scooter, songthaew, but I prefer getting a grab. 

170+ baht from the West Gate of The Old City – why so expensive?! Nope, ain’t paying that…47 baht is way more reasonable!

original price old city to immigration office 174 baht
old city to airport plaza with coupon 47 baht

Here’s how to hack Grab:

1) Use a Nearby Destination Instead

Don’t put ‘Immigration Office’ as the location you’re going to. Even the gas station across from the Immigration Office is expensive. Instead, use CentralPlaza Chiangmai Airport and just walk 5 minutes south. 

When in doubt, follow other foreigners. 

Do the reverse when you’re heading home. Walk 5 minutes back to the Airport Plaza and leave from there instead. 

2) Use a Coupon

There’s usually some promotion going on each month. Take advantage!

Step 3: Trade Paperwork for a Number

If you prepared the paperwork beforehand, good for you! 

Walk into the office, past the sliding doors and hand in your application.

The officer should check your papers before giving you a number in the queue.

If for whatever reason, you didn’t fill it out right and they didn’t catch it during the initial check, don’t worry.

They will call you by your full name and country over the PA system.

number in the queue chiang mai immigration office

No problem, it’ll just take a bit longer!

Here’s what you need to do:

A) Take a TM7 form in the bin that’s at the entrance of the immigration office.

You don’t need to fill it out right now.

outside immi office where tm7 forms are

B) Get your passport photocopies (9 baht) and visa picture (100 baht) across the street.

Right across is this white building is – it’s actually a spa and massage place. Follow the ‘photocopy’ signs. Attached on the right side of the same building is Tian Visa Services. 

Your photocopies will come out black and white, which is fine. Each copy is 3 baht x 3 pages = 9 baht. Remember to sign or initial these copies! 

They use their mobile phone to take your visa photo. You can smile “only a little bit.” You’ll see the picture after they take it. If you don’t like it, ask for a retake. I did!   

Wait 5-10 minutes for them to print and cut to size for you. You’ll get 6 photos for 100 baht, but you only need 1. Keep the rest for your next visa extension.

That’s a total of 109 baht.

C) While you’re waiting, fill out the TM7 form…you’ll be indoors with AC. They even have a glue stick so you can glue your photo to the form.

When you’re all done, hand in your documents for a number!

Step 4: Download Happy Queue

It’s a mobile app that estimates the time until your number will be called. 

The app is quite simple. After you change it to English, just scan your QR code and you will see the estimated time.

At first, I thought it displayed how many minutes were left…I was wrong. I realized this much later than I’d like to admit…

As I sat there doing nothing, I observed that each ticket takes about 5~ minutes to process. So if you have 12 people ahead of you x 5 minutes, that’s roughly 60 minutes.

At this stage, all you can do is wait…You could eat at the Vegetarian Society closeby, get a massage or facial, practice your Thai, read a book, or go shopping at the Airport Plaza. I swear time goes by a lot faster when you’re doing something! 

We went across the street to where the gas station is to take a look around and buy something to drink.

There was a Dim Sum place, Cafe Amazon, Public Restrooms and a 7-11. We opted for 7-11. 20 baht for a 1.5L of water and a mini Crunch chocolate bar, how can you go wrong?! 

Before we knew it, it was time to head back to the Immigration Office.

Step 5: Get Called Up

Watch the TV screen for your number and the corresponding counter you go to.

Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take photos inside the office, so I can’t show you what it looks like, but I’m sure you can imagine.

The officer didn’t ask me any questions. He just told me to look in the camera, so they can take a picture for their record.

He then asked me to wait. I went back to my seat. 2 minutes later, they announced my name over the PA system and I got my passport back with the receipt.

via GIPHY

Step 6: Check Before You Leave

You only need to check two things:

1) Did they give you the right extension date?

Open up your passport to check that they gave you 30 days. The formula is

[initial departure date] + 30 days = [new departure date]

For example, my new departure date is February 1 + 30 days = March 3

FYI – you don’t need to book a trip out of the country beforehand. They didn’t ask to see any proof of departure. In fact, I was waiting to get my visa extended before I book my flight out. 

2) Did you get your change back?

If you gave them 2000 baht, there should be 100 baht stapled to your blue receipt. 

That’s it! Easy peasy, right?

Again, it was my first time doing a visa extension, so I’m sure there are other tips, tricks and hacks that I’m unaware of. If you know of any, please share 🙂 

6 thoughts on “Save Time Extending Tourist Visa in Chiang Mai”

  1. Hi Bea Wander! Thank you so much for such a detailed article. My wife and I followed your instructions step by step and get our 30 days Tourist visa extended here in Chiang Mai in about 30 minutes. And we use the money we saved (~100 THB) on Grab using your advice to almost cover for our lunch :-).

    That being said, we could have probably done it under half an hour if we would not have ran into a small issue: the TM7 Form we printed from the link you are providing was out of date. So we had to fill out a brand new form once we spoke to the officer upon our arrival to the immigration office. Between the unnecessary queuing and having to fill out the form again we might have lost 5-10 minutes. (Note: both old and new forms have the same information for you to fill out. The difference was just the layout so filling it again was pretty easy).

    We wanted to call out so you and your readers don’t feel surprise if they ran into the same issue once the arrive at the immigration office. Maybe once the “Immigration Bangkok” site you are linking the TM7 form from caught up, things should be back to normal…

    • Thanks for your kind words 🙂

      Yes, I had a friend who told me that her print out wasn’t accepted and she had to fill out the “new” form (with the exact same questions on it) at the office. I went a week after her with a filled-out “old” form in hand and no questions were asked. So, maybe it depends on who the officer is that’s checking the paperwork…but good point, I’ll update with this info~ Thanks!

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