The world we live in is changing quicker than ever. While that can make things hectic and hard to keep up with at times, it’s also opening up new and exciting opportunities for people reaching retirement age. For many previous generations, the fantasy of living out your retirement on a beach in an exotic part of the world has been a luxury for only the most fortunate among us. Getting a retirement visa in Thailand is not only within reach for a larger subset of people, it’s often a much more affordable alternative to retiring at home.
With a warm climate, an inexpensive cost of living, beautiful scenery, and happy citizens, Thailand is a country that attracts retirees from all around the globe. With a large expat community, health care that’s as good or better than what you find in most western countries at half the cost or less, and all sorts of sights to see, it’s a country with a lot to offer for retirees. All you have to do is get your visa and get there.
What is the Best Retirement Visa Thailand Offers?
Commonly referred to as a “Thailand Retirement Visa” by expats and travelers, a One-Year O-A (“Long Stay”) Visa is a type of visa issued to applicants over the age of 50 that allows them to stay in Thailand for a period of one year at a time. Using a Thailand Retirement Visa, you can qualify for multiple entry travel into Thailand, and it can be renewed inside of Thailand each year as long as the requirements are met and as long as you report to an immigration office every 90 days to check in. It grants a foreigner the opportunity to open a Thai bank account, as well as to apply for permanent residency after renewals.
The Thailand Retirement Visa is a fairly inexpensive visa that’s not too difficult to qualify for. There are multiple paths to qualifying, and once it’s acquired it offers lots of personal freedom in a fantastic country to retire in. Here we’ll be looking at a few different ways to qualify for the visa as well as the process for qualifying and applying.
What are the Requirements for a Thailand Retirement Visa?
There are a few different paths available to retirees looking to acquire a Thailand Retirement Visa. The requirements are different depending on which of path you plan on going, but as retirement visas go, they are all fairly simple and headache free.
The first potential path to a Thailand Retirement Visa is to qualify based on income. An applicant will qualify if he or she can show that he or she makes 65,000 THB per month via a pension or other regular income from a source outside of Thailand (as of the writing of this article, that’s about about $2,100 USD).
A second potential path to qualify for a Thailand Retirement Visa is to do so on the basis of savings. To meet this requirement, all an applicant has to do is to maintain a Thai bank account with a minimum of 800,000 THB (as of this writing, about $26,000 USD). This can be a fixed deposit account or a savings account, and cannot be linked to the stock market. The applicant has to show that they have 800,000 THB or more each year when applying for renewal of the visa. When initially applying, these funds must have been in the retiree’s Thai bank account for at least two months, and upon renewing each year, they must have been there for three months.
The third means of qualifying for a Thailand Retirement Visa is through a combination of savings and income. If the total of your savings and income is over 800,000 THB, you will qualify this way. So if you have a pension or other form of income that totals 200,000 THB, your Thai bank account would then only need a balance of 600,000 THB to reach the necessary total. In order for your pension to qualify, you will need to provide an officially stamped letter from the consulate or embassy of your home country verifying the value of the pension. You can get such a letter by contacting the embassy and providing the relevant documentation by mail or in person.
As an alternative means of qualification, a retiree who is married to a Thai citizen may apply for a Thailand retirement visa on the basis of his or her marriage. In this case, the applicant would provide a marriage certificate along with other materials which will be listed below.
The Non-Immigrant O Type Visa
Before you can get a Thailand Retirement Visa, you will start with a 90-day non-immigrant O type visa. Using this visa, you can enter Thailand multiple times as long as you re-enter before the 90 days has expired.
Applicants for this visa will need the following:
- Must be 50 years of age or older at the time of application
- Must not be prohibited from entering the Kingdom under the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979)
- Must have no criminal record in either Thailand, or the country of your nationality or residence
- Must submit in a country where you hold nationality or permanent residence
- Must show letter from Thai bank signifying deposits to meet financial requirements
Prior to having a non-immigrant O Type visa, you can enter Thailand for up to 30 days visa exempt, or with another entry permit such as a 60-day tourist visa, and once you have proof of address and a bank account with the necessary finances, you can transition from your tourist visa to a non-immigrant O Type visa.
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The Retirement Visa in Thailand
Once you have your non-immigrant O Type visa, it’s time to start getting things in order for your retirement visa application. This visa will allow you to reside in Thailand for a period of one year and to come and go as you please. While you cannot work in Thailand on a retirement visa, you are able to earn an income from elsewhere, such as from an online business.
In addition to these materials, an applicant must not have a criminal history in either the country of their residence, the country of their citizenship, or in Thailand. If applying from outside the Kingdom of Thailand, notarized copies of a police clearance may be needed to prove a lack of criminal history.
If applying outside the Kingdom of Thailand, you will also be required to provide a notarized medical certificate issued in the country from which you are applying, proving you don’t have any prohibitive diseases (leprosy, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, third stage syphilis, or drug addiction/alcoholism). The certificate must be dated within the past three months.
If a spouse will be accompanying you and he or she does not qualify for a Thailand Retirement Visa, he or she can be considered under a Category O visa or a Dependent visa. In this case, you’ll have to provide a notarized copy of your marriage certificate. If the spouse does qualify for a Thailand Retirement Visa, naturally he or she will have to apply for one as well.
The application can be submitted at the Royal Thai Embassy or at the Royal Thai Consulate-General in the your home (or resident) country, or you you can submit it at the Office of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok, Thailand.
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The Re-Entry Permit
You can apply for your Re-Entry Permit at the same time you apply for your visa, or you can do it once you are living in Thailand, but until you have it, you won’t be able to leave and re-enter Thailand. If you leave the country without a Re-Entry Permit, your Extension of Stay will become invalid.
The terms “Extension of Stay” and “Re-Entry Permit” are commonly mixed up, but it is as simple as this: Extension of Stay refers to the amount of time you are allowed to remain in Thailand, Re-Entry Permit refers to whether you can leave and come back. Your Extension of Stay will be one year at a time, and before it expires, you will always have to either renew it or leave the country. Naturally your Re-Entry Permit will only allow you to re-enter if your Extension of Stay is still valid at the time of re-entry.
You can purchase a single re-entry permit for 1,000 THB if you’re only looking to make one trip out of the country. If you want to be able to travel in and out of Thailand anytime you wish, you’ll need a Multiple Re-Entry Permit, which you can purchase for 3,800 THB.
To get a Re-Entry Permit, whether single entry or multiple entry, you will need the following:
- Your passport with your valid visa
- Copies of the photo page, the visa page, and your immigration departure card
- A copy of the extension stamp page
- A 2″ by 2″ passport photo taken within the last six months
- A Re-Entry Permit application (form TM.8), provided at your local Thai Immigration Office
- The purchase fee (1,000 THB for single entry, 3,800 THB for multiple entry)
Reporting Every 90 Days
While the Extension of Stay on your Thailand Retirement Visa will last for one year, you will be required to Thai Immigration Services once every 90 days. If there is no immigration office in your residence area, you may alternatively report to the police station. If you don’t keep up with this, you will be fined 2,000 THB plus 200 THB for each day you fail to report, and you could be denied re-entry, so it is very important to always stay on top of this.
Each time you report, you will bring the following:
- Your Passport
- A copy of the passport page with the most recent visa stamp
- A copy of the page with the passport’s expiration date
- Copies of your arrival card and departure card
- A TM.47 (a form notifying Thailand of a foreigner’s intent to stay more than 90 days)
- Proof of address (see below)
Proof of Address
When providing Thai officials with proof of your current Thai address, the necessary documentation will vary depending on the type of lodging. If you own property, such as a condo, you will need a copy of your Freehold Title Deed. If renting a home, you will be required to provide your rental contract. If you are staying in a hotel or a guesthouse, a personalized letter printed on headed paper will do.
Recap: Retirement Visa Thailand
A Thailand Retirement Visa is for retirees age 50 and over and requires the following:
- A non-immigrant visa
- Three copies of your completed visa application forms
- Three passport photos (4cm x 6cm) taken within the last six months
- A Foreign National Information Form
- A copy of a bank statement showing a deposit meeting the requirements of the visa
- A letter of guarantee from the bank (must be an original copy)
- A TM.7 Application for Extension of Temporary Stay
- A TM.6 (Departure Card)
- A passport with a validity of at least 18 months from the date of application
- A fee of 5,000 THB
Ready to Enjoy your Retirement in Thailand?
Once you’re in Thailand with your Thailand Retirement Visa, it won’t take long to get settled into the new routine. The reports to immigration every 90 days and the annual Extension of Stay application will become a small price to pay for the relaxing lifestyle, the low cost of living, and the better and cheaper healthcare. Thailand is a beautiful country, and a fantastic place to enjoy your retirement.
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Ian Bond is a private banking senior executive with over three decades of experience in wealth and asset management with Goldman Sachs, Credit Suisse, and Citigroup. He has built major businesses on four continents.
Despite his professional responsibility for assets over $100B and revenues over $1B, after the 2008 crash Ian was personally going broke. Within five years he destroyed his debt, became an expat in 2014, and built multiple streams of income to fund his imminent retirement. Ian is also the founder of MyRetirementRehab.me created to help other executives and professionals rehabilitate their finances and make a prosperous, enduring retirement a reality.