This is a guest post by Nick. He’s a digital presence consultant living in Asia.
The extension. When you enter Thailand as a tourist you’re going to either have a Tourist Visa (known now as the SETV or METV) or a 30-day visa exemption stamp at the airport (some countries might get a 15-day stamp at land borders, G7 countries get 30).
If you want to stay longer then you need to apply for an extension.
But, what do you do and where do you go?
Renewing your permission to stay in Bangkok is at Chaeng Watthana immigration, which is north of the city. It’s about 30 minutes’ drive from Mo Chit. You’ll need your passport, a photocopy of your ID page, a photocopy of your arrival card and your entry stamp (and a photocopy of your visa page if you have one), information about your address and your phone number, as well as the 1,900 Thai Baht fee.
I came in from the UK on a visa exemption stamp (a lovely purple stamp at the airport) and I wanted to extend my stay for 30 days.
So, I had two choices:
- Head to immigration to get an extension of 30 days (1,900 THB., circa $50USD)
- Head to an embassy/consulate outside of the country to get a single-entry tourist visa (around $40 + trip expenses [could be $100-500 depending on which country])
I’ve been to quite a few countries in the region and I didn’t really want to spend a ton of time outside of Thailand, so I decided to head for an extension.
What you need when you go to immigration:
- 1,900 THB for the extension
- 300-500 THB for transport
- 3 hours (to get there, get the visa, and get back)
- A photocopy of your passport ID page, your current stamp (& visa if app), and your departure card (known as your TM 30)
- 1 passport-sized photo
- Your completed application form*
- A pen (important if you don’t want to hang around)
- Your current address in Thailand (if staying at a hotel then write it down)
- Your mobile/cell number
- Remember to dress ‘respectfully’. I chose to wear jeans and a t-shirt, but some people were in shorts and flip flops. (If they did that in other countries then they might not be admitted to immigration.)
*I chose to get my photocopies at the immigration centre (at 2 THB a copy) and I picked up an extension form from the lady at the immigration counter.
I’ve gotten extensions before, but I’ve never been to Bangkok immigration and I’d heard stories of it being busier than renewing at the Chiang Mai immigration office – when I went there last year it was a good few hours of a trip. I hoped for better.
I’m staying in the Whatthana area of Sukhumit in Bangkok, so the best route for me was to take the BTS to Mo Chit. It’s easier and cheaper than taking a taxi in my opinion, especially in the early morning when I was going. (I always try to avoid ‘rush hour’ in SEA.)
I went last Friday and I knew it would be busy as the following Monday would be closed for the King’s birthday and it was December (I’ve always experienced busy periods at any immigration office in December & January).
The BTS skytrain was packed and I wasn’t surprised. It was 42 bhat and a 30-min journey, and I was happy once we’d got to Siam as that’s when the mass exodus came from people exiting the train. I got a seat!
Heading out of Mo Chit BTS, I headed down, across the bridge (over the main road) and turned right. I’d noticed a few taxis waiting there for fares, so I guessed that’d be my spot.
Luckily for me I got a taxi driver who knew exactly where the place was. I asked him “Chaeng Watthana immigration kap?” He said he knew where it was, but like I usually do I confirm for a second time with any taxi where we’re going: “Chaeng Watthana immigration 1, Soi 7, ha?”
He said that he knew exactly where it was. Great stuff!
The fare was just over 100 baht. Don’t forget to ask “Meter kap” (“Meter ka” if you’re a girl) when you get into a taxi. And, if the taxi is waiting there with his engine off he’s less likely going to want to use the meter for a ‘falang’.
Once there, I headed downstairs as I needed to get some copies of my passport then headed back to the cue; within 10 minutes or so the queue had grown to a monster with around 80-100 people there (from the 40 or so).
Once they opened the doors, at 8.30am prompt, we all went through.
Process when you’re there:
- Walk through the door and get a ‘tourist extension form’ from the desk on the right
- Head through into the main hall and queue for a ticket number
- Get your ticket and head to section K. This is at the back of the hall (around the other side)
- Sit down and wait for your number to be called (the announcer will say. ‘Now serving K 26 at counter 26′)
- Meet with the immigration officer and the helpful volunteers to process your application
And then the immigration officer said: “Oh Mister! You overstay one day! Why you do that?”
“Erm…. Yeah…… I thought it was today. I made mistake.”
“okay, okay, I charge you more. 500 baht.”
I knew this already and I wasn’t at all bothered. I just knew that yesterday I wouldn’t have made it to the office in time with traffic and all.
6. Wait for 20-30 minutes for your name to be called.
7. Receive your passport (they will tell you of your new extension date and staple your change to your receipt)
Then head home or venture downstairs to have something to eat/drink.
Down a floor from Division 1 (same building) there’s ATMs, grocery stores and places to eat. So, if you’re applying for a different kind of visa then there’s a few places to spend your waiting time.
How long will the whole process take?
For me, it took 60 minutes to get there, just over an hour there, and 50 minutes to get back. So, if you give yourself 3 hours then you shouldn’t have a problem.
How much longer can I stay in Thailand?
You’ll either have a tourist visa of 60 days validity or a visa exemption of 30 days (I have no idea about those countries with a 14-day VOA), you can extend either of these for 30 days at an immigration office by giving them the required documentation and 1,900 THB.
Want to stay even longer?
You can extend a further time for 7 additional days for 1,900 THB. Then you need to exit the country. (If you’re technical then this extension is a rejected extension of 30 days, but Thailand give you 7 days to leave the country. The stamp looks the same though.)
Oh, and another reminder to tell the taxi driver to put the meter on. My driver on the way back forgot possibly since he was an old dude, but no matter I knew it would be no more than 120thb even with traffic.
Did this help you? When are you thinking of entering your period of stay in Bangkok, Thailand?