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How to get a Thai visa extension from Chiang Mai

Don’t you just hate it when you have to go to the Thai border to renew your visa? Fortunately, if you are in or near Chiang Mai, you don’t need to! We had already booked tickets and were about to leave for Mae Sai to renew our visas when we found out that there is in fact an immigration office in Chiang Mai where you can get the extension. It might cost a bit more (perhaps someone can confirm or deny this) but at least you won’t have to make a full day’s trip (sometimes even a 2-day trip) to the border to get the extension. And naturally the trip to the border costs something as well! 

So, how do you get a visa extension in Chiang Mai? There are a few things you should know and it’s good to prepare in advance, or else you will be waiting in line, frustrated, all day at the immigration office. If you’re in really bad luck, you have to come there again the next day to sort it out. Here is a ”to do” list for getting your visa extensions in Chiang Mai, built upon the helpful instructions of J. GotPassport at gotpassport.org (thanks for the help!).

Note Feb 19th 2014: I’m sure this guide would be more useful if it had more photos to accompany it. If you happen to renew your visa and can take photos that help visualize…

  • How to approach the immigration office, what the surroundings look like
  • What the different forms look like
  • What the name list looks like and where it is situated

…I’m sure that first-timers would feel much more confident going in for a visa renewal. However, if you take photos inside the immigration office, try to do it discreetly. I’m sure the officials don’t like it if foreigners take pictures of their offices. :) If you want to contribute to this guide, please send the photos (or a link to them) to macandron(at)gmail(dot)com. Thanks!

Instructions in brief

As per web writing recommendations, I’ll give you the conclusion first: just the to-do points without explanation. You can use that as a checklist when going through the motions. Below this list you can find all the details and explanations of the steps.

  1. Pick up the form ”Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom” from the Immigration Office. Optionally print it from here, courtesy of Pattaya City Expats Club (Dated 2008! May have changed since!)
  2. Fill in the form. You are probably applying for a 30 day extension to a Tourist visa.
  3. Get the other necessary documents:
    1. 1 passport photo
    2. Copy of passport main page
    3. Copy of passport visa page
    4. Copy of page with visa stamp
    5. Copy of arrival and departure card
    6. 1900 baht in cash + possible late fees
  4. Grab all of the above, your passport, the filled-in application, something to read and something to eat, and head to the Immigration Office. Be there by 7.30AM so you get into the queue early.
  5. Write your name, nationality, visa type etc. on the queue sheet outside of the office. Wait for the office to open.
  6. In the office, wait for your name to be called. When called, pick up your queue number.
  7. When your number is up, bring your documents to the counter and pay the application fee to the official.
  8. Wait for your name to be called again. When called, pick up your passport and possible change from the application fee.

That’s it! Now for the long version.

Why I wrote this

We intended to stay in Chiang Mai for maybe a month and going to Laos after that. But we ended up staying in northern Thailand for two months straight and suddenly our 60-day single-entry visas ran out. We needed to get another 30-day extension so we could travel to the south for one more month. Had we known how difficult, stressful and expensive getting the extensions could be, we would have opted for the 90-day visa originally before we left Finland for Thailand. If you have that option and you think you might stay in Thailand for the full 3 months, I suggest you take it. Of course, if you are reading this post, you probably already are in Thailand and need to extend your visa. Well, maybe next time.

The Thai immigration website is horrific and application instructions on-site are very, very bad. Incredibly bad. Whoever designed that process (might be no one!) really never looked at the application process from an applicant’s standpoint. The instructions are difficult to read, spread out all over the place, and not in chronological order. For instance, on a TV screen in the lobby, some instructions appeared on how to get a queue number. Too bad queuing started long before you were able to see these instructions. Helpful, isn’t it?

The application process and especially queuing on-site is quite confusing. Even though the instructions at gotpassport.org helped us, we still made a few mistakes and the day was pretty nerve-wracking. I wrote this so others would not have to suffer like we did. I suggest you print these instructions and mentally go through the entire process before you even visit the immigration office.

Location of the Chiang Mai Provincial Immigration Office

First, you need to find the office. So here it is on Google Maps. Driving there from Chiang Mai center is very simple: just drive south along the Mahidol (Route 1141) toward the Airport Plaza. As you approach the Plaza, you can go right up a ramp or left beside the ramp – choose the left lane. Turn right under the bridge, just as you reach the Plaza. Then just drive half a kilometer – the office will be on your left.


View Larger Map

Notes before starting

  • The immigration office is closed on weekends. Make sure your visa does not expire on a weekend. If it does, you should renew your visa one or two days before that weekend (Fridays are usually busy). If your visa has already expired, you will have to pay a fine of 500 baht per day that you are late. Sometimes you might get lucky – we were 1 day late but the fine was waived. I guess the officer was having a good day. :)
  • Bring water, snacks and a book. If you make a mistake in the application process, you might have to queue for a long time. I recommend bringing water and snacks. I would also take a book to read to pass the time.
  • Dress neatly, behave politely. It is important to Thais to be dressed respectfully. In an official environment, that means long pants and sleeves. You should also behave politely, using ka and kap frequently. If there is any problem with your application, being dressed improperly or behaving impolitely will make the situation worse. Be on your best behavior and you will get on the good side of the officials from the start.
  • Important: Are you traveling as a couple? With a friend? Don’t try to share documents. As I was applying for an extension together with my girlfriend, we thought we’d save some paper and photocopy our passports, visas and arrival/departure cards on the same papers. Not gonna happen. If you are applying with a friend or your significant other and you would feel more comfortable doing everything together, remember that all papers must be handled individually and no documents can be shared between two people. You also need individual queue numbers. You can go to the counter at the same time, but they will only handle papers for one person at a time. Once the papers for one person have been handed over, they are put away for processing. If the other person is now missing any document, the application will be rejected and he/she will have to restart the queueing process. Oh and one more thing: don’t think about cutting papers in half either to save paper. The immigration office only accepts complete A4 papers.

How to apply for a visa extension at the Chiang Mai immigration office

  1. Sample application - front side. Sample courtesy of pattayacityexpatsclub.com

    Sample application – front side. Sample courtesy of pattayacityexpatsclub.com

    Pick up the form early. Go to the office one day in advance just to pick up the necessary forms. It will take a lot of pressure and stress off if you can fill in the forms ahead of time, away from the crowd, heat and noise at the office.  When you enter the parking lot, the office is to your right. As you walk into the office, on your right-hand side, there are 3 trays with forms. Look for the form labeled Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom. Pick up a few extra forms, in case you make a mistake or two on the first time you try to fill in the form. You can also print the form from here, courtesy of Pattaya City Expats Club, but note that the form is from 2008 and may have changed since then! Your best bet is to pick a form up from the office to avoid disappointment later.

  2. Fill in the form early. Filling in the form is pretty straightforward. You are usually applying for a Tourist visa and an extension of 30 days. Here is a sample form, also from Pattaya City Expats Club (thanks for providing this!): Sample form, front side. Sample form, back side.
  3. Sample application - back side. Sample courtesy of pattayacityexpatsclub.com

    Sample application – back side. Sample courtesy of pattayacityexpatsclub.com

    Prepare the other necessary documents. Pay attention here. It’s easy to forget something or try to take a short-cut somewhere (like sharing documents – see my note above for that). Each applicant will need the following:

    1. The filled-in Application for Extension of Temporary Stay in the Kingdom.
    2. Passport
    3. 1 passport photo (can be had for 70-80 baht in many places)
    4. Copy of passport main page (copy services are almost everywhere in downtown Chiang Mai)
    5. Copy of passport visa page
    6. Copy of page with visa stamp
    7. Copy of arrival and departure card (which should be stapled to your passport)
    8. 1900 baht in cash for the application fee (and 500 baht/day that you are late, if you are late, for the late fees)
  4. Head to the immigration office early in the morning. The office opens at 8AM but you should be there no later than 7.30AM so you are at the head of the queue. Don’t forget your book and snacks!
  5. Get a queue number. This is the most confusing part of the application process. There are two queues: 1) The queue before the office opens and 2) the queue after the office opens. Apparently this process can change at any time, too. If you find that my instructions are not up-to-date, please let me know in the comments. I will amend the instructions if needed.
    1. Before the office opens, there should be a paper sheet on a table next to the front door (very hazy, I know, but that’s how it is!). You should see names, numbers, nationalities and visa types (tourist, student, work, resident etc) scribbled on that paper. Fill in your name(s) as soon as you see this paper. Unfortunately we only found out about this paper half an hour after we arrived and there were already 80 names ahead of us.
    2. When the office opens (or soon thereafter), an attendant takes the paper list and starts calling out names in the order that they have been signed onto the paper. You will get a queue number based on your visa type, for instance 001 (tourist) or 501 (teacher, I think). This means that even if there were 10 people ahead of you on the paper list, if they were all student visa applicants and you are a tourist visa applicant, you will be the first in the tourist visa queue.
    3. When you have your queue number, you can sit down and relax while you wait for your number to be called. (I hope you brought a book!) There is also a cafe outside of the office where you can buy drinks and snacks while you wait.
  6. When your number is called, bring your documents to the counter. You will have to leave your passport with the official for some time while they process your application. Just hand in all the documents, wait for the official to check that everything is OK, and pay the application fee. If you don’t have exactly 1900 baht, the official will take your money and you will receive the change after your application has been processed. They will hand the change to you with your passport.
  7. Wait for your name to be called. This should take about 15-30 minutes. When your name is called, go to the counter to collect your passport (and your change, if applicable).
  8. You’re done! You should now have a new stamp in your passport giving you 30 extra days in Thailand. Enjoy!

If you found this post helpful, please leave a comment below. Thanks. :)

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6 kommenttia
  1. seda
    Kirjoitettu 4 tammi 2013 klo 15:19 | Ikilinkki

    thanks for all the details!

  2. Natarie San
    Kirjoitettu 7 maalis 2013 klo 11:35 | Ikilinkki

    So, if I have a 30 day visa can I still get a 30 day extension? This is very helpful, I really wish I would have gotten study visa before leaving x_o

    • Kirjoitettu 7 maalis 2013 klo 14:51 | Ikilinkki

      I’m not sure of the current legislation, it seems to change from year to year. You had best check with someone who has renewed their visa recently. But I understand that you can only get an extension for 50% of your original visa duration. So in the case of a 30-day visa, you can only get 15 days of extension at a time. I seem to remember that was the case a year ago for us. We had a 60-day visa originally and we got an extension for 30 days.

  3. Kirjoitettu 12 touko 2014 klo 08:25 | Ikilinkki

    Thank you for taking the time to share all of these details. Extremely helpful and much appreciated. :)

  4. Kirjoitettu 18 loka 2014 klo 12:33 | Ikilinkki

    Hey there, just thought I would add that despite all the announcements and proposed changes, visa runs are not a thing of the past. Of course you can’t stay here forever by going to Mae Sai every month anymore but you can still go there up to 3 times on a row without any difficulty.
    See here: http://www.chiangmaivisarun.com/chiang-mai-mae-sai-by-minibus/
    Just print your plane ticket if you have one already. Cheers

Kirjoita kommentti