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Retiring in Thailand

Thailand is still the destination of millions of tourists drawn to its tropical beauty, its hospitable people, and world class services.

Tourists not only go to Thailand; they keep coming back, and many return to live here permanently.

The warm climate, healthy eating habits, and laid back lifestyle practiced by the Thai people will add quality years to your life.

Retiring in Thailand is not as hard as you think, and listed below are some frequently asked questions regarding living and/or retiring in Thailand.

Retirement Visa – Non Immigrant O-A Type

Any person who is 50 years old or more can apply for a Non-Immigrant O-A visa before arrival in Thailand. It will be valid for one year, and can be extended within Thailand for up to one year at a time.

Application in your home country is often simplest with application often approved and returned the next day when applying in person at the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate. It is possible to apply for the visa if you are staying in Thailand on a tourist visa, however the application process must be made outside Thailand at a Thai embassy in say Malaysia or Singapore.

On arrival in Thailand retirement status must be applied for at a local immigration bureau.

Once you have your non-immigrant visa the requirements for a one year retirement visa are as follows:

  • Have a non immigrant visa (see above) issued from the home country or a Thai embassy outside of Thailand.
  • Have a Thai bank account with a deposit of 800,000 THB ( put in your Thai bank account 2 months before applying ) or monthly income of 65,000 THB ( show pension or income) or a combination of both.
  • Be 50 years of age or older when applying for the visa.
  • Have a clean criminal record both in Thailand or country of origin.
  • Hold a medical certificate indicating good health, and free from disease.

Documents required

  • Passport with at least one year’s validity.
  • Three copies of the visa application forms
  • Three passport-size photographs not more than six months old
  • Personal information sheet
  • Financial certificate
  • Clean criminal record certificate ( not older than 3 months) from the applicant’s home country or Embassy
  • Medical certificate ( not older than three months )

Note: The requirements for a non-immigrant O-A visa and retirement status are subject to change, so it is advisable to check with the home Embassy or Consulate.

Once you have obtained your retirement visa it can be extended within Thailand for up to one year at a time.

You will then be required to report every 90 days to the Thai Immigration Bureau for a notification of residence confirmation stamp.

In Pattaya the office is in Soi 5 Jomtien. Fill out a simple one page document basically giving details of name, address, and passport details.
Process literally takes 5 minutes, and there is no charge.

Re – Entry Permit/Visa

It is important to be aware that if you leave Thailand temporarily within the 12 month period of your visa, you must obtain a re-entry permit on your passbook.

If you do not have the re-entry permit your non immigrant retirement visa will lapse, and you will have to go through the process of re application for the non immigrant visa again.

Currently 1,000 THB for a single and 3,800 THB for a multible re- entry visa.
Apply and receive same day at Immigration Bureau Soi 5 Jomtien Pattaya, before you leave the country.

Medical

If you have not travelled to Thailand before, you may be under the impression that good quality hospitals and the high standard of health care you are used to back home are not readily available in Thailand.

Well, that could not be further from the truth. Not only is the standard of private hospitals in Thailand very high, many have the opinion that they are equal, if not better than in many Western countries.

Large numbers of medical tourists now travel to Thailand for minor and major medical treatments, not just because of the low cost compared to the West, but also because generally there is no waiting list, and the mostly Western trained medical staff can provide the high quality of treatment needed.

The health care for foreigners is much more oriented to creature comforts, with private rooms similar to quality hotels.

Most hospitals offer emergency treatment, as well as long term care.
Pattaya has several hospitals including the highly regarded Bangkok Hospital Pattaya.

If you prefer to be seen by a local Western or Thai doctor there are numerous doctor’s rooms and Clinics around the city.

The benefit of seeing a local doctor here is that the prescribed medicine is usually available direct from the doctor’s in house pharmacy, so no prescriptions are necessary.

Dental

High quality dental services are available in Pattaya at very affordable rates.
In fact many people from other countries schedule their vacations in Pattaya to coincide with their need for major dental treatment.

All modern treatments are available, including new procedures with lazers etc.
Most dentists speak English and are highly qualified.

Thai Schools

There are a large number of International Schools in Thailand, many using UK or US. Curriculums and exams. Most have British, European, American and Thai teaching staff.

Fee’s and facilities vary from school to school. As with choosing a school anywhere in the world you will need to make initial enquiries via web pages and school brochures, then narrow your list, seek opinions of other parents if possible,or look for options on line.
Finally visit the schools before making this important decision.

Pattaya has a number of private schools including:
The Regent’s School, St Andrews International School, International School Pattaya etc.
Many schools provide boarding facilities as well as day students aged 2 to 18 years.

Bank Accounts

It is usually very easy to open a bank account with just your passport and maybe proof of residence.

You can open a Thai Baht account and/or a Dollar, Pound, Euro account.
Bank staff will usually issue your ATM card and Pin number at the same time.
Internet has also made banking easier for transferring funds from your bank in your home country to your bank here in Thailand, or you may wish to use the ATM’s for direct withdrawls from overseas.

There are many well funded and established banks with plenty of branches within Pattaya and surounding areas.

You will find the bank staff usually very helpful, well educated, and speak good English.

Owning a Car/Motorcycle

It is reasonably easy for foreigners to own a car or motorcycle in Thailand.

All you need is your passport, correct visa, and an address in Thailand certified by the local immigration bureau.

The certified document is then provided to the people you are buying the car/bike from.

New car/bike dealers are extremely polite and helpful, and will generally arrange all relevant paperwork for you including road tax and insurance.

Driving Licence

A foreigner can drive a car or a motorcycle in Thailand using an International Driving Permit, but this is only valid for 3 months.

For long term residents it is necessary to acquire a Thai driving licence.

This is automatically issued to those carrying an International Driving Permit. You will also require proof of address ( obtained from the local Immigration Bureau), a medical certificate, your passport, and recent passport photographs.

If you do not have an International Driving Permit then you will require all of the above, and have to sit a written and practical test.

Your initial Thai driving licence is valid for 12 months, and upon expirey you can apply for a 5 year licence.