How to get a 10-year retirement visa in Thailand

Are you a retiree wanting to live in Thailand? Did you already retire in Thailand years ago, and are sick of having to deal with retirement visa renewals every year?

Have you been saying for years the Thai government needs to make it easier for people to retire in Thailand?

If so, you will be thrilled to know the Thai government has just instituted a new 10-year retirement visa that, if you qualify, could suddenly make your life so much easier.

So, what is this 10-year visa for retirees in Thailand, where do you go to apply for it and how do you get it?

Like everything else in Thailand, it is not that simple. Yet.

How do you qualify for the 10-year retirement visa in Thailand?

According to Thai Immigration, there are certain qualifications you must be able to fulfill to be awarded a 10-year retirement visa.

These are:

  1. You must be over the age of 50.
  2. You must be from one of 14 countries — Denmark, Norway, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Finland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Canada
  3. You must have at least 3 million baht in a Thai bank account, or have a provable overseas income of at least 100,000 baht per month.
  4. You must have health insurance cover which pays out at least 10,000 US dollars
  5. You must not have any pending criminal convictions or charges.

It is likely you will probably also have to show your residence yellow book (tibean bahn), or  proof that you are the owner of a condominium or a rental agreement. And, of course, there will be the usual slew of photographs.

If you can meet all these qualifications, however, you can now apply for the 10-year retirement visa in Thailand.

Related: Answers to questions retirees ask before moving to Thailand to live

Although, technically, it is not a 10-year retirement visa at all (well, come on, this is Thailand). Instead it is a 10-year visa that has to be re-applied for every five years, as the government wants to make sure you continue to meet all the stipulations throughout its term.

Still, a five-year retirement visa for Thailand that is easily renewable is still much better than the current one-year retirement visa you have to reapply for every year.

How to apply

As is usual in Thailand, when something new is implemented in a government office, it can take weeks before half the people who work there even know it exists.

Such, apparently, is the case for the new 10-year retirement visa. As, even though the visa went into effect as of last Friday, 11th August, quite a few people at various Thai Immigration offices have not heard of its existence.

It is also not yet listed on Thailand’s Immigration Department website.

In fact, according to Khao Sod English, even though Lt. Gen. Natthathorn Prohsunthorn the commander of the Thai Immigration police has announced the existence of the new visa and is pushing for people to apply for it, many staff at various Immigration offices around the country have still have not heard of it and do not know how to help any retiree who shows up in their office and asks for it.

That being said, Lt. Gen. Natthathorn Prohsunthorn says it can be applied for at any provincial immigration office or, if you are in Bangkok, at the Chang Wattana Immigration office and that, if you are interested, to “just go ahead and submit the application”.

Which, in other words means, go to Chang Wattana or your usual provincial immigration office and ask for the right form.

Then wait for them to tell you they have no idea what you are talking about. In which case, you may want to show them a copy of this Khao Sod English article as, yes, they did indeed interview Lt. Gen. Natthathorn Prohsunthorn via phone this week.

** My personal recommendation is wait for a few weeks until word gets around, unless you absolutely have to have a new retirement visa now, and then head off to Immigration and give it a shot.

Will the one-year retirement visa disappear?

Of course, when something new is implemented, there are always worried foreigners in Thailand who think the other visas they are currently eligible for may now be stopped.

Will the current one-year retirement visa for Thailand disappear, for instance?

Honestly, that is not likely.

After all, Thai Immigration officials are not stupid. They know how many tens of thousands of foreign retirees have currently retired in Thailand, but who may not have a spare 3 million baht lying around to leave in a Thai bank account. Or, if they do, may not want to have that much money in a Thai bank account.

So, it is highly unlikely the one-year retirement visa for Thailand will disappear, as that would mean a mass exodus of thousands of foreign retirees from Thailand. Retirees who would take their monthly overseas incomes with them when they left.

** This is currently all the information available about the new 10-year retirement visa for Thailand. I will update this article as more information is released.