10 questions on retirement visas
Whom is the visa aimed at?
Foreigners, aged 50 and over, who wish to spend up to a year in Thailand. The visa is annually renewable. Although the given name is “retirement” it is not necessary to have finished paid employment in the home country to obtain one here. However, a retirement visa does not permit the holder to work in Thailand.
What documents are required?
Provided you hold a non-immigrant visa or are renewing the retirement visa, the list includes one completed TM7 form at immigration, one passport size photo, proof of your long-stay address in Thailand and evidence of your financial position. This can be either a letter from your embassy confirming income of at least 800,000 baht annually or a letter from your Thai bank showing at least that amount in your account. You can also “pick-n-mix”, if necessary, by showing both. If you are using cash in a Thai bank, you need to photocopy the ID page of the bank book as well as the last few months of transactions.
What if I don’t have non-immigrant visa?
If you have a transit stamp or tourist visa, there is a special form at immigration to convert your visa to non-immigrant status. Then you need all the documents listed in the answer above, but two sets rather than one set. Although the retirement visa costs 1,900 baht, like all extensions, there is a supplementary charge of 2,000 baht to convert a transit or tourist visa to non immigrant status.
What if I want to leave the country?
You need a re-entry permit which costs 1,000 baht for a single entry or 3,800 baht for multiple entries. If you leave the country without a valid re-entry permit, you automatically cancel for your retirement visa. But you can apply for a new one with the full set of documentation again. The re-entry permit is valid until the last day of your current visa. Re-entry permits do not extend visas.
Do I need police clearance?
Not for this visa issued in Thailand. However, the immigration bureau does run police checks on all visa holders. As in all countries, a visa can be cancelled at any time by declaring the holder Persona Non Grata. If you commit a crime in Thailand or are found guilty in a Thai court, cancellation of visa and deportation are likely consequences. Individuals wanted by Interpol or by their first country authorities may also be deported. Individuals who are deported from Thailand are frequently black-listed and cannot return to the country.
Do I need to report my address?
All aliens are required to report their address every 90 days after entering the Kingdom. If an alien leaves the Kingdom before the 90 days are completed, he or she does not need to report the address. The reporting cycle begins again after the return to Thailand: day one is the day you arrive in Thailand at an airport or border post.
Can I use foreign currency in the bank?
Most, but not all, foreign currencies are acceptable provided the cash is in a Thai bank account. US or Australian dollars, UK pounds and the euro are all OK. Bear in mind that bank accounts labelled “Fund” or “Unit Trust” are not acceptable for the purpose of a retirement visa application.
What about a married couple?
Two foreigners with a marriage certificate can apply for retirement visas with just one set of financial documentation, that is they do not need separately to prove 800,000 baht in income or deposit. In this case both partners need a non immigrant visa before applying. The marriage certificate needs to be in English or Thai or officially translated into one of those languages.
What about joint bank accounts?
Joint bank accounts are only permitted if the two signatories are man and wife with a marriage certificate. It is notionally assumed that each partner holds a 50 percent stake. For example, if the bank account totals one million baht, then each partner notionally holds 500,000 baht.
What are the most common mistakes?
The biggest single mistake is visa holders leaving the country without a valid re-entry permit. Also, individuals sometimes forget to report their address three months after arriving in Thailand and are fined a flat rate of 2,000 baht. Applicants for a retirement visa relying on 800,000 baht in a Thai bank must have maintained that amount for three months prior to application (two months in the case of a first application).
Note: The above account is written as general advice only and cannot cover every possible issue or detail that may arise at the application stage. Individual questions can be raised with officers at the immigration bureau.