Jake and I just got back from our Thai visa run to Penang, Malaysia and Penang far exceeded my expectations. I have heard horror stories of half or full day long lines and paperwork at other consulates, but applying for our non-immigrant B visa in Penang was very fast and easy.
The Royal Thai Consulate in Penang is open Monday through Friday from 9am-12pm, and from 2pm-4pm.
If you are applying for any non-immigrant visa, make sure you will be in Penang for at least 2 business days, the first day to drop-off your passport and apply, and the second day to pick up the visa (same day pick-up is available if you are applying for a tourist visa). The consulate is closed on both Malaysian and Thai public holidays so make sure to check holiday dates and plan your trip accordingly.
Make sure you have all of your paperwork, and always check the latest requirements as they can often change. EFL and SEE TEFL took care of our visa paperwork for us, so I can not offer much help here other than to tell you to check and re-check the requirements. This document from the Penang consulate outlines exactly what type of visa you will require depending on the purpose of your trip to Thailand, and what documents you need to bring to apply for each type of visa.
When you arrive in Penang, make sure you exchange enough money, as the visa fee must be paid in Malaysian Ringgit. Also note that the power outlets in Malaysia are different from the US and Thailand (although the same as the outlets in Britain), so remember to bring along an adapter!
Getting to the Royal Thai Consulate
The Royal Thai Consulate is located at 1, Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, 10350 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. The phone number is +60 4-226 9484.
We took a cab to the consulate on the first day, which ended up being a waste of money (cost about 25 Ringgit from our hotel). The walk back was not bad, as long as you map it out on Google maps ahead of time so you know where you are going (about 30-40 minutes to our hotel, Kimberley House, and completely free).
The Kimberley House staff recommended we take the 101 bus (info on the 101 bus route found here) which would cost only about 1.40 Ringgit per person, but it would still take about 40 minutes to get there from downtown.
If you can drive, our recommendation is to rent a motorbike for the day (~30 Ringgit/day) so you can get to the consulate in about 10 minutes (again, map it out ahead of time so you know where you’re going), and then you have the freedom to go anywhere in the city and see the sites for the rest of the day. We used AM Sinar Enterprise and they were wonderful to work with.
Day 1: Passport drop-off
You can apply for your visa only between 9am and 12pm. We arrived at the consulate just before 9am and only about 10 other people were waiting for the consulate to open. Right at 9, the security guard opened the gate and we lined up to sign-in before walking over to the main window to collect the appropriate application.
The application for the non-immigrant B visa is fairly straightforward, but it helps to have your address in Penang (current address), proposed address in Thailand, and address of your sponsor in Thailand (found on the bottom of your recommendation letter stating your employment) handy. You will also complete a passport pick-up slip with basic contact information and your passport number.
When you have completed the application, line up at the main window to hand in all of your forms and pay the visa fee. For a single-entry, non-immigrant B visa, the cost when we applied was 300 Ringgit (approximately 2,517 baht, or $70 USD). The consulate will keep your passport and relevant documents, and you leave with your passport slip. We were told to return back the next day at 2pm.
We really took our time completing the application, and we were still out of there in less than 45 minutes.
Day 2: Passport pick-up
We had the next morning to continue exploring Penang (more on Penang coming soon!) before arriving back at the Royal Thai Consulate a bit before 2pm.
Right at 2pm we were allowed to line up (this line was much longer than the previous morning’s line) to collect our passport and visa.
When we reached the window we exchanged our passport slip for our passport, now complete with a new non-immigrant B visa to allow us an extra 90 days in Thailand, and to apply for a work permit. We left by 2:08pm…the pick-up process took a mere 8 minutes.
This 90 day non-immigrant B visa will be extended to match the duration of our employment contract once we receive our work permits (our school can apply for our work permit now that we have the correct visa to allow us to work).
I will keep you updated on our visa extensions, 90 day reporting, and other visa and immigration logistics as they come up over the next few months. I am by no means an expert, but if you have any questions about your own Thai visa run to Penang please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’m happy to help!