If you are going to retire to Thailand and if you are over 50 years of age you should obtain a Retirement Visa. It's that simple.
That is what I wrote several years ago.
If you asked now me what I think about that statement I would say it applies to most of the retiree's but not all.
There are other ways in which one can stay here long term and one does not even need to be over 50 years of age or have 800,000 Thai baht in pension or savings or combination of the two to qualify.
It used to be that people would do the famous "visa run" and stay here for years and all that changed several years ago. Now you have to show a pension of at least 800k Thai baht or deposit at least 800k Thai baht into a Thai bank and keep it there for 3 months untouched
deposit the shortfall in cash ..
eg. if your pension is 500k Thai baht a year then you have to deposit at least 300k Thai baht into the bank account.
It used to be fairly straight forward but several years ago they .. Immigration.. Government .. someone decided that they did not like foreigners staying here long term by doing visa runs. So they limited the number of visa runs and required retiree's applying for Retirement Visa to come up with pension or cash or combination of the two and leave the cash portion in the bank for 3 months untouched.
When I look at what incentives there are for people to retire here I don't see any.
Retiree's cannot even bring household effects from what I understand and even that is not clear cut.
And several years ago when I analyzed the visa options I decided to apply for the Retirement Visa in Canada. I obtained the Retirement Visa from Royal Thai Embassy in Ottawa, Canada and with that I could book a one way ticket to Thailand rather than requiring a return ticket. So a bit of a savings there.
Now Immigration prefers that retiree's apply here in Chiang Mai and again it would be nice to see this on a website and make it clear cut and understable including what you are allowed to bring and not allowed to bring here as a retiree who is planning on staying long term. Make Sense??
So now you may as well apply for the Retirement Visa here in Chiang Mai if this is where you intend to live.
The process is simple enough and I wish the requirements would not change yearly and I also would like to see some incentives for people to retire here.
After all take away 18,000 plus retiree's from Chiang Mai and you may as well put a closed sign on may businesses from bars, restaurants, real estate and home builders.
The requirements include a criminal check where you will probably have to pay a small fee to get the local police station in your home country to check you out and then issue a form. The other requirements were a medical certificate from your physician saying that you do not have Aids, TB and a few other communicable diseases. From what I understand the medical certificate is no longer a requirement.
The key requirement is at least 800k Thai baht in pension or savings of a combination of the two.
Also you need to show a bank account with the 800k Thai baht or shortfall deposited if your pension does not amount to more than 800k Thai baht a year. And in order to have a bank account the rules changed there also..
Now you have to show a rental contract in order to setup a bank account and of 3 bank branches we went to only 1 branch was aware of this and the other 2 told us we could not setup a bank account.
Income requirements is the most important item when it comes to the Retirement Visa requirements. Then the police clearance from home country and then bank account with monies deposited IF your pension is less than 800k Thai baht and to open a bank account you need a rental contract.
Now come here to Chiang Mai and rent accommodations long term and deposit 2 months security deposit and for some reason if you do not get your Retirement Visa say goodbye to your security deposit on your accommodations which could range from 10-40k Thai baht.
And with the items I mentioned above a completed Retirement Visa application along with current photo's and the fee for the Retirement Visa as well.
Photo can be taken at Immigration office in Chiang Mai at small office inside Immigration premises and also they can make photo copies of documents as well.
If you are submitting a Pension Letter I believe it has to be notarized by your Embassy.
If things go well you will visit Immigration in the morning and have the approved Retirement Visa around lunch time.
After that you are required to go to the Immigration office every 3 months and fill out a form showing your current address and phone number. It takes about 10 minutes and they attach part of the completed form into your passport and then you are all set for another 90 days. Much better than a visa run. Visit on the 90th day or slightly before and if you visit them after 90 days you will pay fined.
Now the age requirement for the Retirement Visa is 50 years. It used to be that if you had a million US dollars in the bank and are 48 years old you could not apply for the retirement visa. Make Sense?? Some people do not come here to stay long term because they are under 50 years of age and do not know of other ways of staying here long term.
It used to be that if one bought a house or condo or puts 3 Million baht in a bank account that one would receive a year long visa.. and we believe they are still calling it Retirement Visa. Upon verifying with Immigration office here in Chiang Mai we understand that the amount required is now 6 million baht.
So one can put 6 million baht in the bank and get a Retirement Visa and lose about 10,000 US a year in interest income
Sound fair to you??
The Retirement Visa used to be pretty straight forward but rules do change and there are other ways in which one can stay here long term without the Retirement Visa.
We explain all the visa options to our clients and let them decide which they prefer..
and there are times where a Retirement Visa is not possible and not the best option and can save money by getting yourself another visa.
In fact there is a new visa option just recently available here in Chiang Mai and we have recommended to our clients..
due to limited availability we do not offer all the details on our website.
There are ways to stay in Chiang Mai long term without being 50 years of age or meeting the Retirement Visa financial requirements.
After explaining the best visa option for our clients we help them with the process and this includes booking accommodations before they they arrive. We provide detailied information and tips to our clients about all the aspects of how to live here comfortably and affordably.
For some clients we explain relationships with Thai ladies and where best to find a nice Thai girlfriend as many of the retiree's coming here are single men who want to retire here but not live here alone.
After you have your Retirement Visa and should you decide to leave the country you must obtain either a re-entry permit (single entry or multiple entry). I believe that the single entry permit cost me 1,000 baht or about $25 U.S. If you leave and do not obtain a re-entry permit then say good-bye to your retirement visa.
Before the retirement visa expires it is a matter of applying for a new Retirement Visa. Now this time around you do not need the police clearance or even the medical certificate and just complete the application, provide the current photo's, pay the fee.
You would still be required to visit Immigration offices in Thailand every 90 days to provide them with your current telephone number and address and also you would be required to leave the country at least once a year (could be any neighboring country for a brief visit), and remember to obtain a re-entry permit if you intend to leave Thailand.
Note: With the recent changes to Immigration policy the the money money must now be in the account and remain in the account for 90 days before application or renewal. This is one of the new rules for Thai visa's and you should be aware of all the changes and how they will affect your decision to stay in Thailand or to retire to Thailand.
A person married to a Thai is eligible for a three month Non-Immigrant Category B visa, extendible up to one year. Proof of 400,000 baht ($10,000) in a Thai bank, or foreign income or pension to the value of 40,000 baht per month is required. The 400k income is total of husband and wife and be careful as to wife's earnings as not all jobs as acceptable to Immigration.
Our process can be all inclusive from advice on visa, all types of detailed information on moving here, offering and booking accommodations for you that you pre-selected and then helping you settle in quickly.
The Immigration office in Chiang Mai is located very near to the airport. For the routine visits every 90 days go to the building on the left side as you drive in. For re-entry permit go to the building on the right hand side. They have a small restaurant and a area where photocopies can be made and photos taken more towards the back of their property.
Staying on the Visa topic note that citizens from 57 countries can enter Thailand without charge for 30 days without a visa. These countries include U.S.A., U. K., Australia, South Africa, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada as well as most European countries.
Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your planned departure.
A tourist visa is good for 60 days and can be gotten through a Thai Embassy or consulate in your country. This can be done by mail. The cost is $25. Once issued, the visa must be used (started) within 90 days of the date issued. The visa is invalid upon departure from Thailand even if the visitor hasn't stayed 60 days.
There are other types of visa but generally they don't apply to visiting Thailand for a holiday.
Overstaying your visa is a serious matter and should not be taken lightly. On the one hand, you can clear up an overstay when you leave Thailand by paying your fine at the airport- 200 Baht per day with a maxiumum of 20,000 Baht.
On the other hand, you can be subject to arrest even if the police stop you for something else. Being arrested is fairly common and it is extremely unpleasant.
In addition to fines and detention, it is possible to be deported and black listed. That could mean that you can never return to Thailand.
The Thai Government realizes that seniors make great visitors. That they have the money and that they can stay longer. Unfortunately in my opinion they do not realize that seniors particularly men want someone to share their lives with and at times come here for the affordability, climate and also for the Thai ladies who are seeking marriage minded men.
If the Thai Government wanted to encourage seniors to spend more money and more seniors to come here to Thailand to retire then they should change the home ownership laws. From what I understand foreigners can own condo's but not houses. So what happens is that the farang (foreigner) comes here and meets a lady and they develop a long lasting relationship. The farang decides to buy a house and has to put it in her name. Being a smart and cautious farang he has to figure out a way around the existing home ownership laws just in case the Thai lady gives him the boot. So they put the house in her name and she signs a long term lease allowing him to stay there for almost nothing. It works and most farang-Thai couples do it this way. But is this necessary? Come on now do you want farangs to come here to retire or not?
What I think is a great deal is that of coming to Chiang Mai for medical treatment. This can be major dental work, a hair transplant, a heart operation, or liposcution or breast enhancement for the females. The costs here are so much less and the treatments performed by qualified physicians that it is a good idea to come here for a vacation and get this medical treatment performed and then return home with money in your pocket from what it would have cost you back home for the medical treatment. As I write on another page in the web site, I wish I had known about this sooner as I would have taken advantage of this and had 3-4 Free Vacations to Thailand by now.
If there is something that is particularly annoying to me it is the quality of the health care back home. In my case that is Canada. I can remember when a trip to the doctor involved a short wait and you were treated promptly and effectively. Now I find that you make an appointment, wait an hour to two hours after your scheduled appointment time to see the doctor who is always behind schedule because they want to maximize their earnings and then they get you to keep coming back when they don't have the slightest clue what ails you or how to treat you. When a specialist needs to be seen it takes 1-2 months wait and then you find out how incompetent your physician really was when the specialist diagnoses the problems and prescribes the treatment after seeing you for only 10 minutes.
It might sound like I am a complainer. Well I can be at times. And if we don't complain when we have reason things will not get better on their own.
So there you have it information about the Retirement Visa, some details about other Visa's, and some whinnying about health care and about property ownership laws here in Thailand for home buying farangs. Well no place is perfect and there are a few things that irritate me and which I cannot understand but so is life.
I do urge anyone coming here to retire to obtain a Retirement Visa.
We can help you with the process whether you want to apply when you are back home or apply after you decide to make this home.