1) Visa Rules Changed 1st May 2015, as did the attitude and helpfulness of staff at Chiang Mai Immigration Service.
2) Travel Blogs by people giving their personal experience written or dated before this time should be taken with a grain of salt. Some will tell of an easy and breezy experience, others will tell of a horror story.
It is not uncommon that once people arrive in Chiang Mai they decide that they want to stay longer. Luckily for those with a Visa Exemption (and those who have a Tourist Visa) it is possible to get an extra 30 days at the local Immigration Office for a fee of 1900 Baht.
But the Chiang Mai Immigration Office is understaffed and over worked. Some of the staff there are showing the stress of this, and are not being as helpful as they once where. Once they would tell you what was wrong with your application, suggest how you can fix it, and tell you to come back to the window to complete it. Now (some of the staff) are just rejecting your application and telling you to fix it and come back tomorrow.
For Example: A customer of ours went for an extension but did not have photocopies of his passport. Rather than be told there is a photocopying service at the back of the building, he was told “Get copies and go back in line” (another 3 hours wait). But he was not told he could do this on location, and he left frustrated.
You do not need to cue up at 6.30am
Visa Extensions are scheduled for morning
All of your Documents need to be correct
Wait time varies from 1-4 hours
You HAVE to attend in person
Visa Services can cue for you (no waiting)
Dress well and always remain polite
Most people can get 30 days Extension
A Thai Visa Extension is an additional 30 days of permission to stay in the Kingdom of Thailand after your Visa was expired. The Visa Extension can apply to a Tourist visa, and a visa exemption (the 30 days you get on arrival when you do NOT have a Visa).
Visa’s can be extended simply by visiting your local immigration office anywhere in Thailand, filling out a form, and paying a fee. Extending your visa should be done before your visa expires; you can get your visa extended on the last day without any problem (providing you have everything correctly filled out and get there on time.
Extending your Visa is a 1900 baht fee, while overstaying is a 500 baht per day fine which can lead to complications and rejections of future acceptance into Thailand when arriving or applying for a Visa.
Note: Thailand is now getting very strict on people they consider undesirable. This includes free spirited folks looking to obtain enlightenment and experience Thai culture (what we oldies call hippies). People who are obtaining Visa exemptions and doing boarders runs (now limited to 3 or 4 times) & people who show disrespect to Thai culture. This means getting angry or upset (remain polite and smile – everything is your fault). If you usually have face piercings, dreadlocks wear wife beater t-shirts (especially women wearing non modest clothing which includes cut off shorts) try to make an extra effort to dress appropriately. You are judged on your appearance as well as your attitude.
Make sure you are absolutely prepared with your documents and have your forms filled out correctly. You will need….
If it is not already obvious to you, this is an Immigration Office, you will need to take your original passport with you to show them when you obtain a ticket. If you are wanting to use a Visa Service to cue for you then you will need to hand over your passport to this service.
Photocopies of Passport
You need to provide copies of your passport for Immigration to keep. While you can obtain these at the Immigration Office, it kind of defeats the purpose of reading this if you are not going to be prepared before you arrive.
– First page (picture page) of your passport
– Current Thai visa stamp
– Current Thai visa page (if you have that)
– Departure card
The Visa Exemption Form
This can be a little tricky when filling out for the first time. here are some tips ..
If you have a Visa Exemption
The section that asks for “Holding passport or travel documents” you put in Visa Exemption and the date that you arrived in the country. Valid until is the date on your stamp (when you have to leave)
If you have a Visa
The section that asks for “Holding passport or travel documents” you put in the type of Visa (Tourist/Business) and the date that your visa was issued. Valid until is the date on your stamp (when you have to leave)
Tambon/Khwaeng = Subburb
Amphone/Khet = City (if in Chiang Mai it is Chiang Mai)
Changwat = Province (if n Chiang Mai it is Chiang Mai)
These can be found at any of the photo shops in Chiang Mai or at the Immigration center itself. Usually 4 to 6 photos sized 3.5 cm x 4.5 cm (1.4″ x 1.8″) will cost about 100 baht. It always pays (especially if you are traveling) to have spare passport photos in your wallet or travel bags.
The photo places will photoshop you into a suit and tie at no extra charge. Get this done as it goes a little way into proving you are a suitably person for immigration to allow into the Kingdom of Thailand
Full details of your address in Thailand
Not often required but sometimes asked for (especially if the officer is having a bad day or you are considered not polite by getting frustrated at the wait) A business card of your accommodations will be sufficient. A lease agreement even better.
The immigration office is open 8:30 am to 4:30 pm Monday to Friday, except on national holidays. Lunch break is from 12:00 an 1:00.
The location and buildings of the various offices around Thailand are always changing. Rather than provide outdated information I suggest you call the office at the location you are at, and get the address first hand. (or search the city immigration website
Chiang Mai Immigration Promenada (map)
Notify 90 Days (as of 20 July 2015)
Promenada Chiang Mai Immigration
192-193 Moo 2
The Visa extension process is done mostly in the mornings (with 90 day reporting scheduled for the afternoon). Many people tell you to go and queue at 6.30am to get your initial ticket.This is not always needed.
The Initial Ticket: Because Chiang Mai Immigration is usually busy, people go early and wait. These people are issued a ticket for when the office opens. Each person goes to the counter, requesting another ticket and time for the particular reason they are at Immigration.
This is not usually required (unless you waited until the last day to get your extension). 80% of the time you can arrive at 8.30 when the office opens and wait until everyone else with a cue ticket has been served and then approach the counter. You will usually get a number for that day. But because the afternoons are focused on other types of Visa Applications if you go after 10am you run the risk of being told to come back the next day.
When you approach the counter, you request the service you want and show them your passport. Be aware that if you want to get a Visa Service agent to do this bit on your behalf you will have to give the agent your original passport. They will issue you a number and you sit down and wait.
The waiting time can be anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes on a great day or 3 or 4 hours on a busy day. Remember 80% of the time you are in and out within an hour or so. As is always seems to be the case when you are on a time limit (like applying on the last day) is when you manage to find you went on a bad day.
When your number is called at the window (usually the windows on the left hand side of the counter) the Immigration Officer will ask for your passport, application form and fee. You will get change when your passport is returned to you if you do not have the correct amount. If anything is wrong, it is up to the individual officer as to how they will proceed, either telling you what is incorrect and giving you an opportunity to fix it there (such as an address or incorrect detail on the form) or giving you back your documents telling you it is wrong (and why) and to fix it and get another number. This is beginning to happen more and more often as new staff are being employed from the Army – and the Army are pretty good at training their soldiers that total compliance is mandatory. Immigration are not so good are retraining these people on customer service.
If everything is OK, you will be told to sit down, and the staff will process your application. This can take anything from 10-30 minutes. Your name and country will be called from the middle counter (you will see this happening as you are waiting) and you collect your passport (change inside if needed) and you are all done.
1) Chiang Mai Immigration is very busy and the Immigration system is going through changes that is stressing out the staff working there much more than the discomfort you may experience waiting a few hours. It is always important to be respectful to Thai people, even more so to Officials who can make or break your visit here. Dress well, always smile, be polite. Being loud, rude, raising your voice are all signs of a low class and disrespectful person. This is exactly what Immigration have been instructed to not encourage as visitors to Thailand
2) There is a Photocopy and Photograph shed located at the back of the building. You can always get your documentation completed there if you have arrived unprepared.
3) Be wary of outdated information posted on travel blogs. I made the mistake of putting off writing this type of blog post myself because there where already a number of other travel bloggers covering the process. Only to have customers following the advice of other posts online and being surprised that events took hours or had their applications rejected due to errors.