Turns out that a lot of what we read online and we’re told when researching how to extend our Thailand visas in Phuket wasn’t fully up to date – so we thought we’d run through how it worked for us.
Firstly, the administrative office in Patong only deals with certain enquiries and isn’t open very often. All applications for visa extensions must be processed at the passport office in Phuket Town. It’s near to the port and easy to get to from the old town – precise location on the map below.
When we arrived I was also surprised to see that the offices have a dress code. Picture below but essentially as it’s an official place of business they don’t like people to wear shorts / strappy tops etc. I had no idea this was the case so that’s exactly what I rocked up in, it wasn’t a problem and no one said anything but I felt a little awkward. On reflection it may also have had an effect on later events… of which more later!
You need to walk round to the left hand side of the building where you’ll find a small office that deals with the applications. If you grab a couple of forms and pop to the information desk there are a couple of really friendly guys who speak great English and will help you out with what you need and will answer any questions. We were instructed to each fill in a copy of the 2 page form, which asks for the usual passport / visa details as well as confirmation of the address you’ll be at for the rest of your stay.
Once filled in you’ll need to submit this with:
1 passport picture
1 photocopy of passport picture and details page
1 photocopy of Thailand entry stamp in passport
1900 THB (although bring some extra cash in case…)
There’s a small office next door to the main one that has a photocopying and passport photo service. Photocopies are a couple of baht each and passport pictures (taken on a digital camera against a white wall and printed) are 180THB for 8. We have a couple of other Visa applications in the next couple of months so this didn’t seem too bad.
Once you’ve sorted all of this out the friendly information guys will check your paperwork for you to make sure it’s all correct and you’ll receive a ticket with your number. For us even though it was busy we were called immediately and sat down with the immigration officer. There are 2 desks for people looking to extend their visas beyond 90 days and 2 desks for people just doing regular extensions.
It was at this point that things got a little strange. We were due to pay 1900THB for a 30 day extension. This may differ for other nationalities but we were informed that it’s 30 days as standard – not the 7 days that many older reports state.
Our immigration officer reviewed our paperwork and asked us for some more details. Namely some documents and proof of identity belonging to the owner of the apartment we were renting. Needless to say we didn’t have any of this with us. We tried to explain that it was an AirBnB and not a private rental to no avail. It was looking like we weren’t going to be able to extend our visa when the guy sighed and said that as a special deal he would stamp us in for another 30 days if we paid an extra 300THB each. I believe this may have been our first experience of a bribe in South East Asia although of course I could be wrong and it might be that if you’re in an apartment / residential address then you need more paperwork…
After a few more attempts to explain it was an online booking and we wouldn’t have any of the details he’d asked for, we figured we’d just pay up and save the hassle. Sure enough, after around a 10 minute wait we were presented with our freshly stamped passports and everything was done.
Overall despite the dodgy extra fees it was all really simple and straightforward – so we paid a total of 1900THB for the visa, a 300THB random fee, 180THB for passport pictures and a couple of THB for our photocopies.