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By Ashley Sutherland-Winch


As an American moving to Macau, there was a lot of preparation needed to secure my visa to live in the country.  Our purpose for the big move was my husband's job so his visa was prepared by his company.  My visa required a bit more leg work and included mailing a certified birth certificate and marriage license from Las Vegas to Macau.  To give you an idea on shipping around the world, I mailed an 8 1/2 x 11 inch envelope standard US mail to Macau at the cost of $42.  It was after that trip to the mailbox that I finally released my desire to transport all of my worldly possessions with me to Macau.

The documents reached my husband fairly quickly, about 2 weeks and then everything else would be sorted out upon my arrival.  On Day 3 of my new life in Macau, my husband and I took a trip to the Serviço de Migração.  Who isn't nervous about walking into a foreign embassy to request a visa?  I'm sure not everyone is super calm and collected in this moment but I have to tell you that the Macau Immigration Office was the most clean and efficiently run office that I have ever experienced.

My husband and I are not proficient with the national language of Macau, Cantonese but so many Macanese are proficient in English.  After a five minute wait in the air conditioned Immigration office, our number was called and we met with a lovely lady who was very kind and spoke perfect English.  After taking my fingerprints and signing the necessary documents, we were finished.  Total time in immigration twenty minutes!  What a brilliant and speedy system.  It was also recommended to us that we venture over to the "Fast Pass" area of the office where we could apply to have a digital fingerprint taken for speedy passage through immigration at airports and ferry terminals in the future.  In the USA, we have something like this, but you only see signs for the service as you wait in the endless lines of weary and grumpy passengers.  Once you are through the passport control stations, you completely forget about the offer for future fast pass until your next wait time in immigration.  Vicious cycle.  But in Macau, the Immigration office is thoughtful and kind.  They want you to have a great experience and take care of all of your business at the same time.

I give Macau Immigration two thumbs up!

To learn more about Immigration Services in Macau, visit