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.
If you don’t then you will be doing a “visa run” every month like thousands or tens of thousands of other foreigners. For those of you not acquainted to the term visa run it is a trip outside of the country to get your passport stamped. It is time consuming, costly if you have to do it every month and just a nuisance.
When I first considered retiring to Thailand I read about the visa runs and I wondered what I could do to avoid doing that. Well all you have to do is to get yourself a Retirement Visa. It normally takes 4-6 weeks to obtain from the time your completed application and fee is sent to the Royal Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate.
The requirements include a criminal check where you will probably have to pay a small fee to get the local police to check you out and then issue a form. The other requirements include a medical certificate from your physician saying that you do not have Aids, TB and a few other communicable diseases. Along with my application I submitted a letter from my bank stating that I had considerably more than the amount required by the Royal Thai Governement which if I remember correctly was 400,000 baht or about $11,000 U.S.
When it come time to submit your application it will be in the form of an original and and 3 copies which have to be notarized and a fee of approximately $120. payable to the Royal Thai Embassy. It is all mailed to them by courier with a prepaid return envelope.
If things go well you will get your passport returned to you within 4-6 weeks with the Retirement Visa inside. It takes a page and looks like it was stamped on the paper.
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.
Now I have read that the age requirement is 50 and I have also read that the age requirement is 55 for the Retirement Visa. As far as I know and I have a retirement visa and I applied when I was 54. So I believe the age requiement to be age 50.
The total cost of my retirement visa was about $300 Canadian. That includes the fee to the Royal Thai Government, fee for criminal check, fee for notarizing the forms, prepaid courier to Royal Thai embassy, prepaid courier for return courier from Royal Thai embassy, and gas for 2 trips to the police station, gas to the lawyer, gas for trips to bank, and miscellaneous. But when you look back after you have the retirement visa the fee you realize is well worth it.
Things to Remember:
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. You will have to re-apply for a new retirement visa.
The retirement visa is self-renewing. So long as you leave the country once a year and go to Immigration faithfully every 90 days it appears that the visa will last forever. By leaving the country this may only involve a trip to Myanmar by bus or car and getting your visa stamped during a short day trip and then returning to Thailand.
So thats it. Fairly simple but what I learned is that you should not believe everything you read on the internet about the retirement visa. For example I have seen on a number of ocassions the age requirement being shown as 55. There are other things that I noticed and which we pass on to our clients when we advise them about the process and get into the details.
The Immigration office in Chiang Mai is located very near to the airport. For the routine visits every 90 days go to the buidling on the left side as you drive in. For re-entry permit go to the buidling 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 here 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 website, 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 incompetant 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 whinning 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.
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