Whether you’re in Thailand’s Northern Rose as a permanent resident or, like the rest of us ‘aliens’, here on a ‘Temporary Stay’ or ‘Long Stay’ entry permit, odds are you’re gonna have to call upon Chiang Mai Immigration at some stage. Be it for a Visa Extension (Tourist/Tourist Visa Exemption, Education, Business or on medical, volunteer, marriage or retirement grounds) [TM.7]; a 90 Day [TM.47], Housemaster [TM.30] or Change of Address [TM.28] Notification; a Residence Certificate; a Re-entry Permit [TM.8]; or to ‘Transfer Stamp [current visa/exemption] to New Passport’.
And since December 2016, visa services for most nationalities have been handled by Chiang Mai Immigration’s ‘One Stop Service’ centre in Building A of Promenada Resort Mall. Being out of town, not the most convenient of locations but at least parking’s a breeze; not to mention whiling away an hour (or several!) with a spot of window shoppin’ or lunchin’ at Rimping bistro waiting for your queue number to be called. Well, enjoy it while it lasts because all that’s about to change…
As it happens, the immigration setup at Prom was only ever supposed to be a stopgap. And lo, it’s just been officially announced that Chiang Mai Immigration will be moving back to their Provincial site on Sanambin Road, a stone’s throw from the Airport. Except now, the place features a shiny new three-storey immigration building which is due to open its doors to foreigner kind on Monday 24th September 2018; and apart from those week days which happen to be a Thai national holiday, keeping the same working times between 8:30AM and 4:30PM Monday to Friday.
Seeing as there’s already a sign up, Visa Extensions for sure will be dealt with in the new immigration building (on the 1st [ground] floor, to be precise). Exactly which other services will be available from day one is still sketchy though it seems pretty safe to assume the whole shebang. Plus, the online queue booking system is on the cards to be brought back; fingers crossed, it’s a darn sight more reliable than the last!
What was the old immigration office on site has since had something of a makeover and now services mostly Burmese, Cambodian and Lao migrant workers. Gone is the coffee stand that was alongside but shaping up right next to the Police Residence at the back of the compound is a cafeteria. Needless to say, passport style photos and copying facilities will also be up for grabs. Even the visitor’s parking has been upgraded with roughly 25 car bays (some of which are marked for the handicapped) and many more spaces for motorbikes; other options include plonking your vehicle at Central Airport Plaza mall or in the parking lot at Chiang Mai Airport (free for motorbikes and 20 to 40 baht for 1 to 3 hours or 100 baht for 4 to 12 hours for cars); else, across the road from immigration at either the PTT filling [gas] station (no charge for 30 minutes then 100 baht a time) or the overflow parking at Pimantip Leisure Avenue [Spa & Massage].
Then again, because the Airport Road’s infinitely better served by public transport than the San Kamphaeng Road to Promenada, you could always leave your own wheels at home and, for a base fare of 60 baht plus 5 baht per kilometre, get to the immigration office by firing up the Grab ride-hailing app on your mobile device. Or cheaper yet at just 10 to 30 baht for a single journey, hop whichever of the white city bus (route B2), pink Khwan Wiang bus, blue RTC Chiang Mai Smart Bus (routes R2 and R3) or the Baan Tawai Transport Service minivan getting off at either Central Airport Plaza mall or, slightly closer, the Airport itself then hoof it the few minutes to the immigration office.
Though this is the latest info on the move, it may be subject to change in the coming days so keep up to speed on developments through the Chiang Mai Immigration Bureau’s own web pages or the likes of the Chiang Mai Forum on Thaivisa.com.
So do you welcome Chiang Mai Immigration relocating or not? How will it affect you personally? What would you like to see at the new immigration office? And do you reckon Promenada Mall’s days will be numbered once immigration pulls out? Have your say in the comments section underneath!