Thai Retirement Visa
October 7th, 2010
What is the The Non-Immigrant Visa “O-A” (Long Stay) Visa
The Non-Immigrant Visa “O-A” (Long Stay) is a visa for people that are aged 50 years and more who wish to stay in Thailand for a period of not exceeding 1 year without the intention of working.
Employment of any kind when you hold a Visa O Retiree is strictly prohibited. A stamp apposed near the visa on the passport of the beneficiary generally confirm this stipulation.
In 2009 27,649 foreign citizens have applied for a one year retiree visa. Only 301 applications have been rejected by the immigration.
A process in two steps
The process is normally in two steps:
The first step
You may chose between two options to accomplish the first step as follow:
1st Option will be to apply for a 90 days Visa “O” Non Immigrant at the Thai Embassy or consulate of the country of your nationality or the country where you have your residence at the time of the application.
2nd option you are not obliged to apply for a 90 days Visa “O” Non Immigrant at the Thai Embassy if you are a national from a country which citizens benefit of the Visa Exemption privilege.
Instead you may chose to come in Thailand without a visa and the file an application with the immigration office for a change of visa.
However you would have to do so within 9 days after your arrival in Thailand. Once your change of visa has been approved by the immigration you can then apply for a one year visa.
We recommend you to use the first option because while it oblige you to make a trip at the Thai embassy of your country of residence before to come into Thailand the process for the extension to a one year visa will be smoother.
The second step
Once you have entered Thailand you will have to apply for the one year extension of your visa at the immigration office of your location.
Note that you will have to wait to be in Thailand for 60 days before to file your application at the immigration office
Conditions of eligibility
To be eligible for this type of visa you will need to fulfill the following conditions.
Especially you must
(1) be at least 50 years old or more
(2) not be prohibited from entering the Kingdom as provided by the Immigration Act B.E. 2522 (1979).
(3) have no criminal record in Thailand and the country of the applicant’s nationality or residence.
(4) have the nationality of or residence in the country where applicant’s application is submitted
(5) Not having prohibitive diseases ( Leprosy, Tuberculosis, drug addiction, Elephantiasis, third phase of Syphilis) as indicated in the Ministerial Regulation No. 14 B.E. 2535.
You will have to provide the following documents: -
(1) Passport with validity of not less than 18 months. -
(2) 3 copies of completed visa application forms. -
(3) 3 passport-sized photos (4 x 6 cm) of the applicant taken within the past six months.
(4) 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.
Note: When you are applying for the 90 days Non Immigrant Visa “O” at the Thai embassy, and if you do not have yet a Thai Bank account you may instead provide a statement of your bank in your country of origin to justify that you have more than 800,000 THB in saving.
Note: When you fill your request for extension of stay at the Immigration Office you will have to provide evidence documenting that you have transfered money to Thailand showing a total of not less than 800,000 THB (less if you combine it with a pension but in this case saving + pension must reached more than 800,000 THB per year).
The first year the money must been deposited in Thailand at least 60 days before you go at the immigration office to apply for your visa O. When you renew your visa o you will have to transfer the money to Thailand at least 90 days before you apply for your one year extension renewal. The required amount must be left untouched during the validation period of 60 or 90 days. Therefore transfer more than the requested amount for your living expenses during this period. Immigration Officers now require visa o applicants to sign a form attesting that they have been notified that they will have to deposit 800,000 THB at least 90 days before the renewal of their visa.
Note: When you file your application for the one year extension based on the monthly income you will have to provide a certificate from your Embassy in Bangkok confirming that you have a pension or a monthly income of 65,000 more per month. You have to apply for this certificate prior to go to the immigration office. Please check with your embassy in Thailand on how to proceed to do so. Indeed not all Embassies have the same income evidence requirements.
(5) 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).
Note: While this document requirement is mentioned on the Ministry of Foreign affairs web site it is not yet necessary to provide this document nor at the Embassy when applying for the visa neither at the immigration when applying for the one year extension
(6) 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).
Note: While this document requirement is mentioned on the Ministry of Foreign affairs web site it is not yet necessary to provide this document at the Embassy when applying for the visa.
Note: You will however be required to pass a medical visit with a Thai doctor and to obtain a medical certificate before to apply for your one year extension at the immigration office
One Year Visa Extension
Providing that you fulfill all the conditions and provide all the documents required you will be granted by the Immigration a one year extension and permitted to stay in Thailand for 1 year.
Note: The one year extension period is calculated from the date of first entry not from the date of approval
Note: If you need to travel out of Thailand during the one-year extension period and leave and re-enter the country without losing your visa you are required to apply at the Immigration office for re-entry permit (single or multiple) before departure. If you leave the country without a re-entry permit your 1 year extension shall become void.
At the end of the 90-day uninterrupted period of stay , you must report to the immigration officer of your residence area and report again every 90 days during your stay in Thailand. The 90 days period is calculated from your last actual entry (if for example you travel frequently in and out you recalculate the 90 days from the last time you enter Thailand)
Prior to the end of your extended visa period you may file an extension for another one year extension period. Documents and requirements are roughly the same than described above.If you apply for a renewal period based on a minimum 800,000 THB into your saving account you will have to transfer the said amount at least 90 days before filling for your renewal. The said amount must be left untouched in your bank account during the period of renewal.
If your spouse is not eligible to apply for a retiree visa on her own she may obtain a Visa O relative which visa may also be extended for a period of one year. A marriage certificate must be provided as evidence and should be notarised by notary organs or by the applicant’s diplomatic or consular mission.
Note: This post is an excerpt of Rene Philippe Dubout next book: “How to Invest Safely Into Thailand” to be published in January 2010
About the Author:
The author Rene-Philippe DUBOUT is a lawyer since 1990 when he was admitted to Geneva bar (Switzerland). He practiced as a litigator there for 10 years until he moved to Thailand in 1999. In 2002 he founded with a group of Thai lawyers Rene Philippe & Partners Ltd a local law firm that specialized in Cross Borders Investments and Real Estate. He has been lecturing in several Thai Universities and a speaker to numerous conferences and seminars. He is the author of a must read book:”How to Purchase Real Estate Offshore Safely: The Case of Thailand”.