What you can expect applying for a Thai Visa in Vientiane, Laos

thai consulate in Vientiane panoramio

Above: Thai consulate in Vientiane on a very quiet day (photo credit panoramio.com)

This is not a detailed post explaining how Thai Visas work. I still get a headache trying to get my head around the rules. It is about what you can expect stepping into the Thai consulate in Vientiane, the amount of people you’ll encounter, and the process you’ll be ‘led’ through. It’s not a day in the park and you should come prepared. It was a whole lot different than the very organized process we went through obtaining our first Thai Visa in Prague 4 months ago.

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Firstly, the Thai consulate in Vientiane is not at the same place as the Thai Embassy. If you click Thai Consulate in Vientiane, Google will come up with a map showing the embassy (on Avenue Kaysone Phomvihane). The Consulate, where you have to go for the Visa, is located No.15 Ban Ponesinuan, Bourichane Road. The best thing to do to get there is to take a taxi or tuk tuk, it’s an about 15 minute drive from Central Vientiane. Our hotel listed the cost as $7 US to get there one-way. We paid $15 US for the tuk tuk driver to take us there, wait the approximate 3 hours it took on the first day, and then drive us back. But you don’t have to pre-arrange the return; you’ll see lots of tuk tuk drivers around the consulate waiting to pick up any visitors who come out.

Website of the Royal Thai Embassy in Vientiane

You’ll need two days to get your Thai Visa. The 1st day to apply, the 2nd day to pick it up.

Applications take place between 8:30 – 11:30am. When you arrive you may be shocked by the number of foreigners there. We were told that the busiest days are Monday and Tuesday where there can be as many as 600 to 700 people getting their visas processed. On our day there were less than that but it was still an incredible number of people.

Try to get to the consulate before 8:30. Get there as early as you can. Prior to coming into the grounds of the consulate, you’ll see men outside offering application forms for the visa. Ignore them, they charge 100 Baht for the form. You can get one inside the consulate for free. Or you can print it out beforehand (see here for the form) and fill it out before you arrive. This is the best option.

Once inside the consulate grounds you have to join the long queue. It will eventually lead to a table where two men will be working. They’ll give you an application form (if you don’t have one) as well as a number (looks like a slip you get at the bank. Don’t lose it!). They’ll also check that you have proper documentation; a passport with at least 6 months remaining before expiry, two (2) photos, and a photocopy of your passport. You should also make copies of your current/expiring Thai Visa (if applicable) as well as your Lao Visa. They’re not mentioned anywhere as required documents but on the day we went we were told they were required.

If you don’t have the photos and/or photocopies, you will be directed to the 2nd floor of the consulate. There a man will take your photos and print them out for you. They also have a photocopier and the same man will make the photocopies. Make sure you have money in bahts. And prepare yourself for disorganization. As I say in the paragraph above, better to organize those copies beforehand so you don’t have to use these services here.

So you have the application form filled out, your two photos attached, and all the photocopies I mention? Coming back downstairs you get in one of the lines for Visa Application. I’ve read some blogs where they say that applications are handled by your number. There was no such organization on this day. Just get in line. There were 3 lines and it didn’t take too long, maybe 20 minutes. The man behind the glass will make sure your application form looks good, will staple your photocopies, and will keep all these documents along with your passport. Think you’re finished and you can leave? The worst part is coming up.

You have to pay for your Visa (in our case 1000 baht for a single entry visa valid for 60 days). But you don’t pay the man who you just gave the application to – he will direct you to the other building for payment.

You enter the other building and you see a few hundred people milling around or seated.  The idea is that they call your number, you pay for your visa, they give you a receipt and you leave. But expect to wait for a long time before that happens and be ready for a lot of jostling; the problem here is that 1) there is only one counter that collects the money, 2) you can’t hear when your number is called (the lady behind the counter speaks into a microphone but it is barely intelligible). The screens above the counter don’t work or are not used and serve only as decoration. So visa applicants end up getting closer and closer until it is basically just a crowd milling around the counter.

Great! They’ve called your number, you got through the crowd milling around the counter, and have paid. The lady has given you a receipt. Keep this receipt, it is what you will show the next day to pick up your visa. You can now leave!

The above took us about 3 hours.

Below: Crowds milling around counter area.

Crowds at Thai Consulate

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Pickup for Visas happen the following day between 1:30 and 3:30pm.

Again, try to show up early. They actually open the gates up around 1pm.

Important: when you come through the gates a man will give you a piece of paper with a number on it.

You then walk back into that big room where you paid for the application the preceding day.

Again, don’t expect this to be organized and do expect the usual milling around the one counter where you’ll be given back your passport/Visa.

Pickup will be by the number given you when you walked in the gate. The lady behind the glass will start with numbers 1-20, 21-40, 41-60 etc. The problem is that as she’s serving the first lot everyone else is getting closer and closer. There are no lines. And she won’t have finished with the first bunch of people before calling the next…so you might have number 15 and still be ‘in line’ (I use that loosely) when she calls out 21-40 and those people start jostling in. It’s a mess and we saw a few disagreements and almost a fistfight.

It took us about 90 minutes by the time we walked out with our passports. Within each passport was our new Thai Visa.

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So there you have it. Not a fun experience and something that could be made a lot easier with a bit of organization.

Note: We thought we could ‘extend’ our Thai Visas in Vientiane and were unsure of the paperwork. In actual fact, what we went through was a whole new Visa application granting us 60 days for 1000 Baht. You can extend a current visa in Thailand by showing up at a local immigration office; extending costs 1900 Baht and you only get 30 days. If we had less than 30 days remaining in our stay in Thailand this would be something we could have considered.
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So our tips for anyone going to Vientiane for a Thai Visa? 1) Come prepared with your paperwork, 2) Be prepared mentally that the process is time-consuming. The plus side is that you might meet some interesting fellow travellers (we met a very nice girl from Bhutan) and you’ll have to stay at least one night in Vientiane – a relaxing city with some great cuisine. It was for us a pleasant surprise.
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The above was our experience. Any feedback on other people’s experiences would be greatly appreciated both for ourselves and other readers of this blog.
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Comments

  1. Thank you for this information! Very helpful!

  2. There should be a committee out there that scours the internet and ensures royalties for anyone who posts useful material like this. Thanks for the update, I’ll be in Vientiane tonight.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Bradley, I hope your experience goes more smoothly than ours!

      • hey guys!
        was wondering what the chances of being rejected for a 60 day visa is>?
        did the immigration ask many questions?

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Hi Mike – no, no questions. as long as you have what I listed then you should be fine. In my opinion this whole visa thing just a complicated cash grab.

          • James green says:

            Cheers for this frank i was just refused my metv today so i only got a single entry and my return flight is 6 months away so i have to get a stamp from inside thai immigration extending 30 days then i have to do what you did in laos.
            Did you get a visa on entering laos and how much did that cost?

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            Sorry James for the late response, have been travelling.
            It’s been a few years since I wrote the post and as you can see some things have changed. Prices have probably changed too. For the Lao Visa this is what I came up with browsing the internet: https://www.travelfish.org/visas/laos (ie. anywhere between $30 and $44 US)
            The whole thing really is a pain isn’t it? Honestly, when you consider the cost of leaving the country every 2 months, getting a visa to enter another country, and having to stay at least one night – I wonder if it is worth it versus just extending that visa internally every 30 days? Do you know how much that costs? I’m a little rusty on all that at this point.

  3. Vanessa says:

    Hey! My boyfriend and I have been to Vientiane a bunch of times-I wish we had found your article before we went! Thanks for your help. I will be better prepared for my next trip. 🙂

  4. Hey! hi! what a great article, i was wondering, is there any chance to get rejected because of your nationality? i mean, i couldn’t get visa in my country cause i didn’t meet one of the requierements, i have money i earn working independent, and the travel agency said it needs to be paid by a company so there is a legal proof of my money’s origin, are there any requirements to apply for the thai visa? or just filling the papers and paying the money? could you please link me the application form? it doesn’t load. is there maybe a chance to be rejected? they don’t ask anything special? like where you gonna stay in thailand? (not a problem actually) or having going out tickets? or stuff like that? they just give it to you? no matter where you’re from?
    please, i beg you, give me a way to contact you, this information is really helpful, and it might be my only way to be with my girlfriend in thailand.
    thanks beforehand for your help and answer, this is my hope, i really hope you can help me out.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Juan,
      I’m not an expert on actual Visa rules and they’re constantly changing, so I don’t want to give you out of date info. But I found this:

      1. Tourist Visa Waiver (visa exemption), no visa required prior to commencing travel to Thailand.

      Countries which get 90 days: Brazil, Chile, Peru, South Korea (not possible to enter via any Land border), Argentina.

      G7 Countries get 30 days: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, USA and United Kingdom.

      Bilateral Agreement, Countries get 30 days: Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Russia and Vietnam.

      Countries which get 30 days at Airport and 15 day stamp at land border: Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Brunei, Belgium, Czech, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Kuwait, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, New Zealand, Oman, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Slovak, Slovenia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey and UAE.

      2. Countries which get Visa on Arrival at certain ports of entry in Thailand, however it is NOT possible to obtain Visa on Arrival to enter Thailand via any Thai/Cambodian Checkpoints: Andorra, Bhutan, Bulgaria, China, Cyprus, Ethiopia, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Romania, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan.

      3. Other country’s passport holders must obtain Visa from a Thai diplomatic post abroad prior to commencing travel to Thailand.

      ——

      So you should see where you fit on that country list. Depending on your passport you may have to arrange for a Visa to enter the country.

      I got the above from this website: http://www.thaivisaservice.com/visa-rules They have an email address there and this is their specialty – so if you have any problems/questions you should write them.

      Good luck!
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Is Bratislava worth a day trip from Vienna?My Profile

  5. thank you so much for your answer and your help, what a nice and fast response, this information you give me actually puts me back in the first place i was before, cause my country doesn’t fit in any list, except for the last one, “3” meaning maybe no way for me to get it if it isn’t in my own country, that makes me really sad, but gotta keep hope, i’m gonna keep checking yours and more information, there must be a way… i hope so
    thank you so much for your help, good luck on your trips and enjoy your adventures! thank you so much.

  6. Just went today. Was a total mess. I had downloaded a form online but they told me I needed an original one which has writing on both sides. So I had to rewrite everything. If you go to the building on the left there’s a desk that does photocopies, pictures etc. You can pay them 50 baht and they ll stamp your filled out forms and you jump all the queues. Just go straight to the place where you give your passport and they ll give you a receipt to come to pick up your passport the next day!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thank you very much Joe for taking the time to write this up, I’m sure it’ll be helpful to others.

      It was a couple of years ago for us and everyone seems to have a different story…but the one constant is that it’s “a total mess”.

      Thanks again 🙂
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Lady, can you please shut the F*ck up?My Profile

  7. I’ve done this exercise several times in Vientiane, but just to make sure I haven’t forgotten anything you article points out every procedure perfectly. Much appreciated and to any first timers make sure you wear a hat or take an umbrella and plenty of water as Vientiane can get very hot and sticky.

  8. Just a correction on the payment for the visa, now you pay on the next day, when you collect the passport. Also it’s paid to the Windows in the open air area. Again the
    they use the number, that you were given when you gave your visa application formforms. So basically it’s the quicker you join on day one, the quicker you get your passport, on day 2.
    Happy happy. Still 1000 bath. Don’t forget the 1300 bath to get into Laos.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks very much Chris. Sounds like they’re streamlining the process somewhat…
      The whole thing is a bit of a pain isn’t it?

  9. I arrived on a Tuesday morning at 0815. The visit section opened at 0830 and I was finished at 0850. There were only about 30 other people there. Passport pickup at 1330 the next day. Very quick and easy now but told that they are very busy on Mondays.
    Daniel recently posted…Flying Split to Munich on LufthansaMy Profile

  10. Thank you for writing this post! By any chance do you know if it will be open on fridays? The website says it will be open but I’ve been doubting whether it will be open or not ever since I read on other blogs that it was closed on fridays.

  11. Good stuff, thanks! I’m going tomorrow so this is useful!

  12. I was in an out in under an hour on both days. Nice and easy!

    P.s. sorry for the typo above.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hey, that’s fantastic! They’ve really improved things. Thanks Fred!
      PS. Did you have a chance to explore Vientiane? If so what did you think of it?
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…August 31 Newsletter – Sevilla, Brazil and the Olympics, Crazy people, and on having a post go ViralMy Profile

      • I don’t know what’s going on with my spelling! I blame autocorrect 😉

        This is actually my second time there. In all honesty, Viantiane isn’t for me. Coming from my cozy Chiang Mai; Viantiane is more expensive, the tuk tuk drivers are incessant and so are the ladyboys. I love Buddha Park though!

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          Oh no, those crazy ladyboys! 🙂 We actually quite liked it, some nice dining in Vientiane.
          That’s quite the trek from Chiang Mai. My mom used to live in CM, I think she actually crossed over into Myanmar to get her Visa renewed…but maybe rules have changed because I remember she could do it on a single in/out day trip.

  13. Just did this a week ago and this blog was a GREAT help!

    The digital numbers on the screen outside are working now and the loudspeaker calling the numbers is very clear. Numerical order so you’ll be first in line on day two if you were first in line on day one. So, it’s not neccessary to arrive early on day two, in fact you can arrive late and go straight to the counter.
    Warrick Shannon recently posted…7 Reasons to buy the Canon 50mm f1.8My Profile

  14. I wonder if you could help me please Frank? I’ve been in the kingdom for 6 and a bit months now which includes the 30 days on arrival, 60 day tourist visa (at Savannakhet), 30 day extension (at Amnat Charroen) and a 90 day non ‘b’ (at Savannakhet). I got the ‘non ‘b’ as I was teaching as a volunteer in Yasothon province. Unfortunately the school could not keep me on even as a volunteer as I require a work permit, and with no degree it is not possible to get the work permit. Now that non ‘b’ is 19 days away from expiring and I was wondering is it possible to go to Vientiane (I have now moved to Nong Khai) and get another 60 day tourist visa? Or will they say, sorry, your time is up? Thanks for your time..cheers!

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Terry – honestly, I really don’t know. This post was more about the personal experience, the Visa rules are for the most part over my head and I dare say you’ve by now had more experience that I’ve had dealing with Thai Visas.
      But I’m not sure I understand why they would reject you – I’ve know people who live there and they do the in/out all the time with no hassle.
      You know what? I have a friend living in Nong Khai (actually it’s Bart at Macky’s Riverside Restaurant in Nong Khai- if you’re there you should visit and he’s super friendly). Mentioned here on my guide to Nong Khai. Anyway, I’ll forward on to him and maybe he’ll have some input. If so will post here the soonest he comes back to me..
      Frank (bbqboy)
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…A month in Sevilla (Spain): observations, experiences and thoughtsMy Profile

      • Thanks for that Frank. Yes, I don’t see why they should reject me, I just realised I can go to the local immigration office in NK and ask them, and I’ll try to get to Macky’s restaurant, not sure where that is, but shouldn’t be too hard to find. Again, thanks for your help and keep up the good work.

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          No problem Terry. Yes, I just wrote Bart actually with your question and I’ll let you know if I get an answer. But I know that he’s also familiar with the people in NK’s immigration office (another alternation, which costs a bit but saves you a trip, is an extension which I believe you can arrange for 30 days).

          I’ve always thought the whole Visa thing was a money grab. I don’t know how many people they actually reject…

          Macky’s restaurant right along the promenade in the center. We loved to sit there when the night market was going on.
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          • I might see if I can do that, the 30 day extension, and the Laos visa fee is a rip-off (and 1 full page less in the passport) also. Will be going down to the Tha Sadej market later today so I’ll look out for Mackys…cheers again!

          • Frank (bbqboy) says:

            I sent you a private email Terry. But just in case, what I got back from Bart:

            Regarding your friend, he should have no problem getting one or two or even three additional tourists visas in Vientiane. But, eventually they will cut him off. During my first year here that’s what I did but it reached a point at which they said No More and that’s when I got my first retirement visa. Encourage him to stop by the Kitchen and I’ll tell him what I know, the rest is up to him.

            Long story made short, there are a lot of undesirables hiding out in Thailand, there are millions of unregistered immigrants working in the country, and the government is becoming more and more concerned about terrorists coming from other countries; sooooo it is not getting easier but it can be done.
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  15. Thanks Frank,
    I spoke to Bart about an hour ago. Very helpful and lots of info. Enjoy your time in Spain you lucky devil!

  16. Such a helpful post.

    Did the Thai embassy or Immigration in Bangkok ask to see an onward air ticket? I’ve heard some people have been getting asked.

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks Jeremy.
      No, never had any such demands. It sounds like they’re really starting to clamp down if they’re asking questions like that…

  17. It will be my second time applying for a Thai tourist visa at Vientiane. Do you know if I might be denied of second visa for applying once again?

  18. James green says:

    So glad i googled and got this page thanks to everyone for their input its put my mind at ease i went to get my metv today and was refused so i got a single entry and have to get it stamped at thai immigration to gain an extra 30 days then i have to go to laos to get another tourist visa but the woman in liverpool thai consulate said i have to go to Savannakhet to get it is this correct or can i just go to vientianne

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Thanks James. Hope you see the other reply I left above…feel free to update when you’ve done your 30 day extension (how much does it cost and how many times can you extend? I’d be curious)

  19. Great info here. Keep up the good job.
    Best Regards

  20. Hey,
    Great blog.

    I will be on the way to Vientianne on Wednesday..This is my second time in Thailand(both visas I get in my country) and now first time after being here 3 months I will go for tourist visa to Laos, so 1st time will go there so would like to clear something..

    1) Lets say in theory something going wrong and you rejected(I know its maybe I ask to much..but its important to sty another 3 months..so wanna be sure ),is it possible to go and give a try in Savannakhet, or or no need even to try because they have evidence so no logic to try in another city?

    2)When there in embassy ..what is best to write down as purpose of visit..should go in detail or only write down “tourism”..and what to write down with occupation(position and employer) because I will continue to work when I am back to my country ..but now dont have contract..is it smart to write down that I am working in that company..that important or not?

    Regards,

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Hi Bo,
      I’m not an expert on Visas as I say in the 1st paragraph. But my opinion:
      1) I’m sure all will be fine, but if ever it doesn’t, then I don’t think Savannakhet would be any different as I’m sure all is computerized. But I don’t think you would have this problem.
      2) I would stick to tourism. I always find (anywhere I go) that the more you tell them, the more complicated it gets. Tourism is the answer for most and I would stick to that.
      Hope that helps.
      Frank
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…The 4 places on our “Expat base” shortlistMy Profile

  21. Thx Frank, I will be there first time so I am asking quastions like this..after I red your blog I feel more relex ..so thx for that and your last answer..

  22. One quastion ..I dont know it is important..but what to write down about Occupation..job and employer..because I amnow here few months and will continue probably with that company..should I write that infos down or I should write down something else?

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Bo – you can write your employment that you have back home, that won’t change anything. Or are you talking about a job you have in Thailand? (if it is in Thailand then you should not write anything if you are writing your purpose as tourism).
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…The 4 places on our “Expat base” shortlistMy Profile

      • No , its not job in Thailand , I am here only to enjoy hehe..
        I mean I dont have job in my country now when I am here but I will work there again in few months ..
        So they ask in visa application form about :

        Occupation(specify present position and name of Employer)________

        So it is smarter to write down my former company name and position or I should only write down my profesion and thats enough?

  23. Thx..and it was everything fine, no problems like you said(some people there already third time). And because of new king(I guess) normal tourist visa(1000Baht) was for free, and it will be free until February.

    P.S. They ask for passport picture with white background ;).

    Good luck to everyone.

  24. Brian Gygi says:

    HI, I just submitted my application, which was relatively smooth compared to what is described above. On the ground outside was a tent setup with a long line of applicants. I didn’t have the visa form, so I grabbed one (they have a desk where you can fill out the forms) and filled it out on line. I also made a copy of my Lao visa. The line moved rather quickly, and after about 25 minutes I gave my materials to one of two clerks, who gae me a number and told me to come back tomorrow at 1:30. No paying the first day. So I was in and out of there in about 40minutes. Makes me worried that something bad is waiting tomorrow…

  25. Christian Rayburn says:

    I have just been to the consulate.
    I prepared everything beforehand. I had two 3.5cm x 4.5cm colour photos. I had my Laos stamp copied at the hotel. I already had my passport picture page copied. I got the application form from my hotel, Lalco AR. I walked to the embassy at about 9:30am and got there around 9:50am. I walked in and handed my papers to a woman at a table under a tented section, right in the centre. She took my documents and stuck my photos to the application. She handed me a ticket number 401 attached to a form telling me to collect 30 June 2017. That was it. 2 minutes. Walked back to hotel and I was drinking coffee by 10:15am.
    Now I am worried I did something wrong. I’ll go back tomorrow and see if I did it correctly. If not, it’s a long weekend in Vientiane!

  26. Such a nice and Helpful Article i am happy to reach you and Read your article. i share your article on my social media accounts and also bookmarked because its very helpful for me thanks for publish.

  27. $15 (almost 500 baht) for a tuk-tuk driving 3 km, waiting for 3 hours (doesn’t matter so much in Asia and isn’t necessary anyway, as there are tuk-tuks near the Consulate too), then driving 3 km back? Are you serious? He must have made a huge party for all his friends later on that day!
    As I remember, the proper price after bargaining is 15000-maximum 20000 kip (60-80 baht, $2-2,5) one way. And it’s still too much, travelling 3-4 km by Uber X (car) in Chiangmai costs merely 45-50 baht ($1,5).

    Will be in Vientiane applying for Thai visa in a week or less, as last time I did visa there was in 2010, but don’t think Lao (as well as Thai) prices have changed much since then.
    Never remember being there for 3 hours as well, nor I remember any huge amounts of people. Either I’ve been very lucky (3 or 4 times in a row) or maybe just because I came quite late (after 10), because never did care at all if I stay for another day in Vientiane (in fact, mostly I stayed there for several days and/or went to Vang Vieng).

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      As I’ve mentioned Dmitry, this was back in 2014. I’ve seen from the different comments that they’ve speeded up the process since then.
      Price seemed to be going price at the time after having asked at the hotel and looking online. I also mention that a return booking is not necessary.I have no idea what it would be now but good for you if you managed to save some money.
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Hiking Vidova Gora from Bol. Brač Island, CroatiaMy Profile

  28. Hi everyone, so many rules have changed, I just want to confirm: they now (19 October 2017) do single entry visa 60 days (30 days extension) in Laos only? and the only other option for long term tourist stay is a 6 month visa but needs to be applied from the country of residence only, am I correct on this?
    My mom is on retirement visa in Thailand. Am I legible to apply for Non-Immigrant Visa in Laos for 90 days as a dependant?
    for the single entry: do they require return ticket? Proof of accommodation? Proof of bank statement of a certain amount? We just arrived on a stamp, need to stay at least until January 23rd. Thanks so much!

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