Immigration

One of the Thai government’s money-spinners is to charge 1,000 Baht (a little over twenty pounds) for a reentry permit to allow one to leave and reenter the Kingdom. Without a reentry permit your visa is automatically cancelled when you leave. Until recently getting a permit was a simple affair of turning up at the airport, handing over a completed form, a photograph and a pile of bank notes, then waiting about 20 minutes. Then the immigration department, in its wisdom, decided that that was too simple and closed its operation at the airport. Now one has to go to the immigration department Bangkok.

In the past the department was in downtown Bangkok and could be reached by skytrain plus a 15 minute walk. Then the immigration department, in its wisdom, decided that that was too simple and now directs applicants to its new offices in the far north of Bangkok, miles away from the nearest skytrain or metro service. In fact, the nearest bus route passes almost a kilometer from the immigration department. Fortunately, I have a car, so after a 55 minute drive I reached the department.

The building, which houses several government departments, is very striking.

Bangkok immigration department

It features what is perhaps the largest atrium I’ve ever seen.

Atrium at Bangkok immigration department

I hate to think what the cost of air conditioning such a vast volume must be. I was, however, amused to see on the top floor the offices of the government’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Organisation. Practice what you preach, anybody?

Anyway, the actual process of getting the reentry permit was pretty quick – less than half an hour – and department seems to be much better organised than before, so, despite that inconvenient location, things do seem to have improved.

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