Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Thailand to create long-term retirement visa

By: Stephen Frost, Bangkok International Associates

Bangkok International Associates is a general corporate and commercial law firm

Thailand has for a long time had a retirement visa available. It is shortly to launch a long-term retirement visa, possibly to come into effect in August 2017, hoping to attract more foreign retirees to the country. In this article, we examine the existing law, the new proposals, and comment on them.

The existing retirement visa: The existing retirement visa concept is relatively simple in its requirements, as follows:

  • – It is valid for one year renewable
  • – A retirement visa may be applied for by a person of any nationality, aged over 50
  • – The applicant must have savings of not less than 800,000 Baht in a bank account in Thailand, or income of not less than 65,000 Baht per month, or a combination of the two totaling 800,000 Baht (the savings/income thresholds are halved if the applicant is legally married to a Thai spouse)
  • – A re-entry permit is required if the applicant wishes to exit and re-enter Thailand during the term of the visa
  • – 90-day reporting of address is required by the applicant
  • – No health insurance requirement
  • – No requirement for police criminal records check
  • – If the applicant wishes to work then the retirement visa must be given up and an application for a non-immigrant visa made and a work permit.
New long stay retirement visa: This will be subject to the following requirements:
  • – It is valid for a term of five years, extendable to 10 years
  • – It may be applied for by a person aged over 50 who is a citizen of the following 14 countries only: Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Japan and Australia.
  • – Applicants must show a minimum of 3 million baht in a Thai bank account, or a combination of 1.8 million Baht savings and annual income of not less than 1.2 million baht. The 3 million baht must be kept in the bank for a period of one year, but may be reduced to 1.5 million under certain conditions.
  • – Criminal background checks are required on all applicants
  • – All applicants must maintain health insurance in Thailand from a Thai insurance company with outpatient coverage of a minimum of 40,000 Baht and inpatient coverage of not less than 100,000 thousand Baht
  • – A re-entry permit required if the applicant wishes to exit and re-enter Thailand during the term of the visa
  • – 90 day reporting of address is required by the applicant
  • – If the applicant wishes to work then the retirement visa must be given up and an application for a non-immigrant visa made and a work permit.
Comment: Several matters merit comment:
  • – The ordinary 12-month retirement visa has lower savings/income requirements, and no requirement to take out health insurance, which may be problematic for those aged over 60 or with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • -– Regarding both visas, if the applicant wishes to work, even on an unpaid basis, or for a charity or foundation, or to teach English language to schoolchildren, a non-immigrant visa and a work permit must still be applied for.
  • – Neither visa carries a right to purchase a limited amount of land on which to build a home, as land ownership is in general still prohibited to all foreigners.

Given the comparative ease with which an ordinary 12-month retirement visa may be obtained, the lower income requirements and lack of requirement for health insurance, one wonders how popular this new long-term retirement visa concept will prove to be in practice.

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