There are four main ways to apply for long stays in Thailand, as an individual, particularly if you’re over 50 (in the case of the ‘retirement’ visa).
• Non Immigrant O and OA visas, better known as the ‘retirement’ visa
• The Elite Visa program
• The newer Long Stay Resident Visa
• There’s also Smart Visas which may apply to some people who still want to work in Thailand and is applicable to 13 different industries.
aka. Non Immigrant O and OA visas. This visa option has been around for decades and is the most popular, and cheapest, way for many people to retire long-term in Thailand. But, with this visa, you cannot legally work.
1. Applicant must be at least 50 years old and meet one of the following financial requirements…
• A 800,000 baht security deposit in a Thai bank account for 2 months before the visa submission
• A monthly income of 65,000 baht
2. Applicants will need the following documents…
• A security deposit of at least 65,000 baht is required, with an updated bank book or passbook
• A bank letter stating that the money was deposited into the account from an overseas source for at least 2 months
• A letter from your country’s embassy in Thailand confirming your monthly income
• A 12 month bank statement showing a monthly deposit of 65,000 baht into a Thai bank account
3. You’ll also need a police clearance, indicating that you don’t have a criminal record, a medical certificate and health insurance.
Here’s a link to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website in Thailand with more info about non-immigrant ‘retirement’ visas.
• A ‘retirement’ visa is a non-immigrant O Visa or Non-Immigrant OA Visa that has been extended.
• The visa can be used for either a single or multiple entries.
• This is a long-term Thai visa that allows the holder to remain in Thailand for an entire year, with the possibility of extension (some extend for multiple years or even decades)
Applying for a ‘retirement’ visa outside of Thailand
You can begin the Thai retirement visa application process from your home country, or from any country that has a Thai Embassy. If you want to apply for a ‘retirement’ visa outside of Thailand we recommend making an appointment to visit your nearest Royal Thai Embassy and asking lots of questions to better understand the process and requirements.
Or you can apply in Thailand, which is usually easier.
Here are some of the documents you’ll need…
• Passport with validity of not less than 18 months.
• 3 copies of completed visa application forms.
• 3 passport-sized photos (4 x 6 cm) of the applicant taken within the past six months.
• A personal data form.
• A copy of bank statement showing a deposit of the amount equal to and not less than 800,000 Baht or an income certificate (an original copy) with a monthly income of not less than 65,000 Baht, or a deposit account plus a monthly income totalling not less than 800,000 Baht.
• In the case of submitting a bank statement, a letter of guarantee from the bank (an original copy) is required.
• A letter of verification issued from the country of his or her nationality or residence stating that the applicant has no criminal record (verification shall be valid for not more than three months and should be notarised by notary organs or the applicant’s diplomatic or consular mission).
• A medical certificate issued from the country where the application is submitted, showing no prohibitive diseases as indicated in the Ministerial Regulation No.14 (B.E. 2535) (certificate shall be valid for not more than three months and should be notarised by notary organs or the applicant’s diplomatic or consular mission).
• In the case where the accompanying spouse is not eligible to apply for the Category ‘O-A’ (Long Stay) visa, he or she will be considered for temporary stay under Category ‘O’ visa. A marriage certificate must be provided as evidence and should be notarised by notary organs or by the applicant’s diplomatic or consular mission.
You can apply for the ‘retirement’ visa yourself or, if you wish to avoid, or don’t have time, for the paperwork (and there is plenty of it), then you can alternatively engage the services of a properly licensed visa agent. In this case, we would suggest getting a recommendation from a friend or doing some homework before engaging a visa agent or paying them for their services. In most cases, a good visa agent will help smooth the process and provide you with a good result.
If you wish to tackle the ‘retirement’ visa process yourself we would recommend making and appointment with you nearest Thai Embassy (if you’re outside Thailand) or a Thai Immigration office (if you’re inside Thailand), before you do anything.
Thailand Elite program
Unlike the O and OA visas, the Thailand Elite program allows you stay for between 5 and 10 years. But the costs are higher, but also some additional privileges that may suit some people.
Thailand Elite is a state enterprise which offers membership programs that are exclusively designed to provide a privileged visa to foreign businessmen, investors and long-stay guests who want to maintain a secure, longer stay in Thailand. The “Thailand Privilege Card Company Limited” was founded on August 29, 2003.
Programs run from the Elite Easy Access Membership which is for 5 years and has an upfront cost of 600,000 baht, all the way up to the Elite Ultimate Privilege Membership, which is for a stay of 20 years and will cost 2 million baht. There are many program in between, including programs for families too.
This is the ‘pay and forget’ option where the additional costs smooths over much of the paperwork and hassle of some of the other long stay visa options.
Read more about the options involved in the Elite Visa program HERE.
Long Term Resident Visa
The new Long Term Resident Visas provide a range of options for high-value investors or retirees. There are four categories of visa here, including opportunities for spouses and family. These new visas provide additional flexibility and may be an option if your plan is to work or retire before you are 50.
Read more about Long Term Resident Visas HERE.
These visas are for people wanting to work long term in Thailand and is specific to 13 industries. It may be suitable for people who describe themselves as digital nomads.
Read more about Smart Visas HERE.