Retirement Visa (Non Immigrant O Visa), the new rules and requirements in Thailand
Thailand is one of the most popular retirement destinations in the world, with a superb all-year-round climate, a large expatriate community and excellent healthcare provision. If you are looking to retire in the Kingdom, the best means of doing so is obtaining a Retirement Visa for Thailand. It is a form of Non-Immigrant O Visa, which allows people over the age of 50 to live long-term in the country, assuming that all the criteria are met.
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Where can I apply for a Thailand Retirement Visa outside Thailand?
If you meet the Thailand Retirement Visa requirements outlined below, you can apply for the visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate in your home country before you travel. Alternatively, and something that is becoming increasingly popular with those turning retirement age whilst in the Kingdom, is to apply at the Thai Embassy or consulate in one of Thailand’s neighbouring countries such as Laos, Myanmar or Cambodia.
The first Retirement Visa for Thailand that will be issued will be a Single-Entry Non-Immigrant O (Retirement) Visa which will be valid for 90 days. During this initial 90-day period, the applicant can apply for a Thai Retirement Visa renewal at their nearest Royal Thai Immigration Department, which for most people in Bangkok is at Chaeng Wattana. The Thai Immigration will then issue a Retirement Visa, granting an extension of stay for up to 12 months. Although the new visa will again only be a single-entry visa, it is possible to apply for a re-entry permit (see below), which will allow you to re-enter without needing to renew your Retirement Visa for Thailand.
Applying for a Retirement Visa in Thailand
If you are a passport holder of one of the 21 countries that can enter Thailand with a Visa on Arrival or 30-day exempt stamp, applying for a Retirement Visa for Thailand is relatively straightforward as long as you meet the Retirement Visa Thailand requirements. As the process can take up to three weeks to be completed, you will need to apply almost immediately if you have entered the country using a 30-day exempt stamp. The application would need to be submitted to your nearest Thai Immigration Department.
What are the Thailand Retirement Visa requirements?
Of course, the requirements for a Retirement Visa in Thailand are quite strict but are not designed to prevent anyone genuine from living in the Kingdom. Below is a list of the conditions which must be satisfied to obtain a Retirement Visa or indeed a Retirement Visa Thailand renewal:
- The main restriction for the visa is that you must be 50 years of age or above
- Some financial requirements must be satisfied, which include meeting one of the following:
- Have at least THB800,000 held in a Thai saving or fixed deposit account for a designated period of time, which is currently three months before the application. For a Thailand Retirement Visa Renewal, this is again three months before the application, but also it must be held for three months after. A letter and copies of your bank book will be required to confirm that this is the case
- Alternatively, if you have a monthly income of not less than THB65,000 per month, this would be acceptable. Please note, most embassies are now unwilling to issue letters guaranteeing that you receive this level of income in your “home” country, so you may wish to look at alternative methods of proving this to be the case. A copy of an entire year’s bank statement showing the monies going into your account regularly should suffice. It is also essential to point out that a holder of a Thai Retirement Visa is NOT permitted to work in the country. It is also possible to have a combination of savings held in a Thai bank account and an incoming with the total being not less than THB800,000 per annum with again proof being required
- In exceptional circumstances, usually, only for a Non-Immigrant O-A visa, the Thai Immigration may also request police clearance and a medical certificate before granting the visa
What health insurance is required for a Thai Retirement Visa?
Some new Retirement Visa rules for Thailand were brought in and now require that new applicants and those looking to renew their Retirement Visa for Thailand to have mandatory health insurance that will cover the duration of their stay in Thailand. The MINIMUM level of cover required is no less than THB40,000 outpatient treatment coverage and no less than THB400,000 inpatient coverage.
Although there was initially an amnesty for those looking to renew their Retirement Visa in Thailand, it is now something that is being more rigorously enforced. Health insurance can be obtained from local providers such as Pacific Cross, BUPA, or many major insurers. However, this insurance may only be valid until the age of 70, with restrictions also in place regarding starting ages. Expatriate insurance designed specifically for expats often allows members to remain in the scheme regardless of age so long as they joined before a specified age, typically 75. Virtually all policies will NOT cover pre-existing conditions.
Are there any new rules regarding Thai Retirement Visa Renewal?
For those looking to renew their Thai Immigration Retirement Visa, the rules are the same for the initial application. The new Retirement Visa rules for Thailand only relate to the extended period of monies being kept in the bank after application as already outlined and regarding mandatory health insurance. The process for Thailand Retirement Visa renewal is quite strict, particularly regarding the financial requirements, as the authorities are aware that circumstances can quickly change.
We would strongly advise that when the time comes to renew your Retirement Visa in Thailand that you consult with a professional immigration advisor who can advise you on the rules at the time. Unfortunately, all immigration rules are subject to change without prior warning, and there is no requirement for any notification to be of these changes. However, as we have a long-standing professional relationship with the Thai Immigration office at Chaeng Wattana, we are usually one of the first to know about any changes and can advise you accordingly.
How to apply and Thailand Retirement Visa Requirements
It is worth noting that although it is possible to apply for a Thailand Retirement Visa while you are in Thailand, often immigration officials will not permit this if you have either Tourist Visa or a 30-day entry stamp. Therefore, we would suggest making your first application in your home country or a neighbouring country to satisfy the Retirement Visa Thailand requirements. If you do this, you will be issued with a 90-day Non-Immigrant O (Long Stay) Visa.
Once you have your first Non-Immigrant O Visa, you can then apply for a Thailand Retirement Visa Renewal here in Bangkok. To do this, you should:
- Be in the last 30-days of your 90-day visa as applications for a Thailand Retirement Visa Renewal before this time will not be accepted
- As above, you will need to provide proof of address as well as income or proof that you have THB800,000 in a Thai bank account with all the supporting documentation
Suppose you are applying for a Thai Immigration Retirement Visa (Non-Immigrant O-A) outside of Thailand. In that case, copies of all of the above will need to be supplied to either a Royal Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate. However, we would strongly advise that you check with the embassy/consulate first as some are unable to issue a Thailand Retirement Visa.
Retirement Visa Thailand Renewal
It is worth pointing out that when you renew your Retirement Visa for Thailand, you will be required to go through the same process as with the original application and be subject to the new Retirement Visa Rules in Thailand. It is, therefore, essential that you have the required money in your Thai bank account and that the funds are cleared well in advance of the three-month deadline. In addition to all the documentation outline above, you will also need to include a complete TM.7 Form and having THB1,900 in cash (the current Thai Retirement Visa renewal fee).
For most people, as part of their Retirement Visa Thailand requirements, they will be required to report to a Thai Immigration office every 90 days. Although the process is easy to complete, it can be inconvenient attending the immigration office in person. For this reason, many people prefer to file their report online or by post. However, not surprisingly, there is a level of mistrust completing the process in this manner, so ask an agent such as ourselves to complete the reporting on their behalf.
If you are not in the country when your 90-day Reporting is due, you should have an exit stamp in your passport, but for this, you will need a Re-Entry Permit (see below). Your 90 days will resume once you re-enter Thailand.
90-day Reporting can be completed 14-days before or up to seven days after the reporting date. However, failure to report after this period will result in a THB2,000 penalty and should you be arrested, the fine will increase to THB4,000 and could result in jail time and be added to the Immigration “blacklist” which could hinder visa applications in the future.
Many types of long-term Thai visa are single entry visa which means that they are effectively cancelled when you leave the country. However, by applying for a Re-Entry Permit either at the Thai Immigration Department or the airport, you will be allowed to re-enter Thailand on your existing visa without invalidating it. Re-Entry Permits can be Single-Entry or Multi-Entry, the latter being preferable for frequent travellers.
10 Year Retirement Visa Thailand
The Non-Immigrant Visa – Retirement (O-X) is suitable for those aged 50 or over who wish to stay in Thailand (without working) long-term. The visa is effectively two five year visas and is only available to passport holders from the following countries: Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.
The rules regarding applying for this visa are considerably stricter in terms of the financial requirements, but in all other ways, it is the same as with the standard Thai Retirement Visa. The 10 Year Retirement Visa for Thailand requires applicants to have a minimum of THB3 million in a Thai savings or fixed deposit account OR at least THB1.8 million in a Thai savings or fixed deposit account and an income of THB1.2 million or more per annum. A balance of THB1.5 million must be retained in the bank account for the duration of the visa.
Why use a professional visa company?
Applying for a visa in any country can be stressful, and with a Thai Retirement Visa, there is the potential for individuals to be denied an extended stay in Thailand. At Thai Visa Expert, we will ensure that you have all the correct paperwork and can liaise with immigration officials on your behalf. We have an established and trusted professional relationship with Thai Immigration and know what is currently required, thus increasing your chances of your visa being accepted the first time.
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