Thinking of retirement life in Koh Samui, Bangkok or Phuket? Last week, the Thai government approved a plan to offer 10 year visas to affluent foreign nationals.
Every day at CurrencyTransfer.com, we help expats transfer money to Thailand. So, by popular demand we’ve prepared this full visa guide and what it means to your Thai Baht capital requirements.
Why is the Thai government issuing these visas?
The new plan aims at replacing the one-year, renewable visas, and seeks to promote medical and wellness tourism in line with the government’s policy. It is estimated between 1.3 million and 1.8 million medical tourists visited Thailand in 2015.
According to government spokesperson Sansern Kamkamned, ‘‘this practice, which follows international standards, is to ensure safety and security for both the tourists and the country.’’
At the moment, getting a retirement visa gives foreign nationals no direct guarantee of a right to stay. Expats need to go through the bureaucracy of renewing their visa every year and visit the Immigration Bureau every three months. The plan is likely to reduce overall visa fees.
How long are the visas and who can apply?
The Thai visas will first be issued for five years, with a renewal option for another five.
Which countries are applicable?
From reading minutes of last week’s government cabinet meeting, we can see that long stay, multiple entry Thai visas will be offered to citizens of 14 countries, including: Norway, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, France, Finland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada.
Is there a cost?
There is an application fee of 10,000 Thai Bahts.
What are the age requirements?
Foreign nationals aged 50 and above. Critics of the new plan say that the visa will exclude all but the most affluent of applicants.
What is the reaction amongst Expats in Thailand?
In general, there has been mild enthusiasm around the plan to issue 10 year visas, albeit there is slight cause for concern as to how many would be applicable.
There are also concerns around compulsory health insurance and feel there are areas of the new plan which have yet to be addressed. Those taking advantage of the visa are required to have health insurance that covers hospital stays and yearly coverage worth in excess of $10,000 US Dollars.
The devil is in the detail, and most expats want to hear more about the fine print.
How many Thai Bahts need to be held in a Thai Bank account?
The 10 year Thai visas, so long as they earn at a minimum 100,000 Thai Bahts per month or can prove they have 3 million baht in the bank (66,150 British Pounds at the time of writing).
The three million Thai baht must be untouched for 12 months in a time deposit, and cannot withdraw more than 50 percent. Proof must be shown that monies was spent in Thailand for, amongst other things: local property, medical and tuition fees
We’ve spoken to British Expats in Thailand who are concerned about the capital requirements. Some even going as far as to say they predict a large repatriation of foreigners from Thailand.
When will the plan be implemented?
Having approved the plan, it is now being sent to the Ministry of Interior Affairs for implementation. No date has been confirmed.
Establishing a dedicated Thai Baht Currency Desk
To conclude, it seems the government’s view is that they are perfectly content in housing foreign nationals, so long as they have adequate financial muscle to set up shop and live in Thailand.
At CurrencyTransfer.com, we are seeing unprecedented levels of Thai Baht money transfer enquiries. As such, we’ve set up a dedicated Baht desk in London to help Expats meet the new levels of capital requirements.
Make a Thai Baht Money Transfer or call our dedicated desk on +44 207 096 1036