Countless US expats have chosen to retire in Thailand. In recent years, the country has become a preferred retirement destination to many. This stems from its low cost of living, tropical climate, world-class medical facilities and of course, low crime rates. Retirement in Thailand requires an individual to secure a retirement visa. Known as the Nonimmigrant category “O-A,” this is one of the few retirement visas offered in Asia.
Retirement visa options
The Thailand retirement visa can be obtained in two ways. This is through visa conversion or filing a formal application at the nearest Thai embassy or consulate. Depending on one’s situation and preference, applicants may choose which of the two options can specifically address their needs.
- Visa conversion – As the term “conversion” connotes, it is the process of shifting into a new visa to serve yet another purpose. Under this option, a potential retiree initially applies for a Non-immigrant category O visa. Upon entering Thailand, holders of this visa type may change it to O-A category under Retirement in order to facilitate long-term stay in the country. Oftentimes, many tend to misunderstand this process as applying for a new visa inside Thailand. However, this is not what occurs in this situation. Visas, for whatever purpose they serve, are applied outside the receiving country and conversion is way too different from that.
- Formal application – US retirees may also submit a formal application outside Thailand. Here, they simply need to go to the Thai embassy or consulate within their area. In this case, they can directly apply for the Thailand retirement visa. Once issued, they can have a longterm stay in the Land of Smiles.
- Important considerations of the Thailand retirement visa. If the application or conversion of the US pensioner is approved, there are important aspects that they must always remember.
- First, retirees cannot work in Thailand. Retirement equates to leisure and relaxation. As such, visa holders cannot engage in activities that are otherwise interpreted as a form ofemployment.
- Second, they must satisfy the financial requirement. Retirees must have a total of THB 800,000 in their bank account or a monthly pension of THB 65,000. Or, they must show that the combination of their current deposit account and monthly income amounts to THB 800,000. The failure to comply with this condition makes them ineligible for the visa.
- Third, should they wish to leave Thailand, they must secure a re-entry permit. The Thailand retirement visa allows its holders to have a year of authorized stay in the country. Ifthey leave without the re-entry permit, their visa will be considered void and can no longer remain for a year in the country.
- Last, retirees are obliged to report to immigration officers or police every 90 days.
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