Covid Extension

As a US citizen, you can enter Thailand for 30 days, visa exempt. And, after a visit to immigration, you can extend your stay for another 30 days. Last year, however, Thailand still had many Covid restrictions in place and as such, was freely granting 60-day Covid extensions. We were having such an enjoyable time that we decided to stay a little longer. All one needs to do is fill out the proper paperwork, pay the fee, and immigration would stamp you for another 60 days. So they say…but the reality was a little different.  

The Covid extensions had expiration dates; in other words, they would grant you 60 days, but the government would say that after a certain date, no more extensions would be granted. So, we decided when we intended to go home and counted back 60 days from then and headed to immigration. We dutifully filled in the mountain of paperwork and waited our turn and handed over our money. The immigration officer called me up to her window and handed me my passport with its new stamp. Rather than extending my stay, she had stamped me for a 15-day extension. Which made the date that we would need to leave Thailand SOONER than the original date before we had applied for the extension! She told me that all we needed to do was return to immigration in 15 days, fill in the paperwork again, pay the fee again, and she would give us the remaining 45 days. However, the day we would have to go in was the final day that Covid extensions were being granted. In other words, the immigration office would be an unholy zoo, filled with people trying desperately to stay in the country, but had waited until the last possible minute to do something about it. Sigh…We really did not want to be in that situation, so ended up returning to the US before the 15-day stamp expired. We resolved to secure non-O retirement visas when we returned so that we wouldn’t have to mess with immigration again.