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Visa Extension Chiang Mai: How to cut wait time from 3H to 20 minutes!

13 min read

It was my first time doing a visa extension in Chiang Mai, so I can extend 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.

>> Doing Mae Sai border run? Check out this guide instead! <<

So, this is how it went down:

I went to extend my visa at the immigration office 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.  

Sidenote: If you overstay within 24H at the airport, they won’t charge you, but you will get an overstayed stamp on your passport 🙁 

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

October 2019 Update

I went to do my visa extension at the Chiang Mai 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 was rejected.

She was asked to fill out the “new” form, which is only available at the immigration office. (I uploaded a scanned copy below!)

Same questions with slightly different layout.

Step 1: Ready the Visa Extension 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 (the old form) HERE or print out the scanned copy below.
  • 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.

Scanned copy of the new 2019 TM7 Form:

 

Step 2: Go to Immigration Office

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. 

‘New’ Immigration Office Location

So, you can’t extend your Thai visa at Promenada Mall anymore. The current office is by the airport 

  • Address: No. 71 Village No. 3, Airport Road, Suthep Subdistrict, Mueang District, Chiang Mai Province 50200 
  • Opening Hours: Monday to Friday from 7:30am to 4:30pm. Closed on weekends and holidays.

Plug that address into Grab and…

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!

Oct 2019 Update:

Grab has changed a bit since I was there the first time around – not so many coupons nowadays – but there’s a lot more scooter taxis. I’d get on one of those to CentralPlaza. 

Step 3: Trade Visa 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 Thai immigration officer should check your visa extension documents before giving you a number in the queue.

If for whatever reason, you didn’t fill it out correctly 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

If you didn’t prepare ahead of time…

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 the immigration office is a white building – 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 each page! 

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 in Chiang Mai.

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 App

So you know exactly when you’ll be called up, download the Happy Queue app! 

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. 

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.

If the app ever breaks, you can use this rough calculation to determine when you should be back at the immigration office to get your extended visa back. 

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.

Step 5: Get Your Extended Visa & Passport

Watch the TV screen for your number to get called 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.

Edit: The second time I went (Oct 2019), they did ask me for my local phone number. 

He then asked me to wait, so 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: Double Check Visa Before You Leave

There are two things you’d want to double, if not triple, check:

  • Correct visa extension date

Hey, everyone makes mistakes! That’s why you should check it before you leave.

Open up your passport and follow this formula:

[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 extend my visa before I book my flight out. 

  • Correct change back

If you gave them 2000 baht, there should be 100 baht stapled to your blue receipt. I always give them exact change, so I don’t have to worry about this.

That’s it! Easy peasy, right?

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

12 thoughts on “Visa Extension Chiang Mai: How to cut wait time from 3H to 20 minutes!”

  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…

    Reply
    • 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!

      Reply
  2. I did the extension today. Thanks to your article, it was pretty easy. The pre-printed TM7 form you linked to worked out, maybe they updated it online now as well. Today the office opened at 08.30, so when I arrived at 9 am it was already crowded. whole procedure took like 1.5 hours for me. The queue app thing didn’t work today. Thank you very much for this article!

    Reply
    • Awesome update, Mathias! Thanks for reporting in 🙂

      Yes, it’s high season now so I’m sure the wait times are longer now. Too bad about the app, hope the devs will fix it soon~

      Reply
  3. Hi thanks for all the info! I extended my visa exemption for another 30 days yesterday – I had to go to Promenada Mall for that. Tourist visa extensions are still being done at Immigration near the airport.

    Reply
  4. Hi, Everyone, I did almost everything recommended in this post, but it still took me about three hours to complete the process. Apparently, as of March 2nd, 2020, they have moved the visa extensions part of immigration control back to the Promenada Mall. And it is now apparently on the 2nd floor there. I arrived the immigration office near the airport around 8:30 AM, stood at the end of a long line for about 30 minutes until a volunteer (seemingly American) came by and told me that it had been moved to the Promenada. He told me how to get there and I think I arrived there at 9:00 AM and was given ticket #53 for the visa extensions, and they were only at #9. By 10:00 they reached about 29, so I figured they were moving at about 20 an hour. So I went downstairs to Annie’s Pretzels and ordered a cappuccino and had a chat with several of the expats there. I went back up at around 11:30 and they had apparently just called my number. So… they sorted everything out and I was done by 12:00 P.M. They apparently open at 9:00 AM and take a break between 12-1 PM. When you arrive, the first thing you should do is take a number before filling out an application form (if you have not done that before you arrived).

    Reply
    • Thanks for the detailed update, Paul! Much appreciated 🙂

      I think in light of what’s currently happening with coronavirus, all immigration offices that handle visa-related things will be super busy in the next few weeks if not longer…I hope everyone stays safe!

      Reply

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