Visa requirements in Thailand are currently a great conversation piece at all the local bars throughout the Expat community. Since the September 2006 Coup, the Government has clamped down on all types of visas. The good news if any, is that the requirements for a
“retirement” visa have remained pretty much in tact.
Most Foreign persons arriving from Western nations enjoy a “visa on arrival” status. There is nothing you have to do except show up. This visa on arrival is the crux of most of the talk, due to the fact that many Expats have lived for many years on this 30 day visa. The government has now imposed a “three time” limit so this is messing with many minds. Until this change, many just went to the nearest border crossing, stamped out of Thailand, into the neighboring country, turned around, stamped out of the neighboring country and back into Thailand for another 30 days. This has now ended after the third stamp. HOWEVER, this law is based on the “visa on arrival” visa. If you go to a bordering country that either has a Thai Embassy or Consulate, you can request a 60 day tourist Visa. As this is a visa issued outside Thailand it doesn’t count on the three stamp rule. The current cost is 1000 baht. It normally takes the Embassy or Consulate a day to process, so you end up spending the night somewhere outside Thailand. The typical crossings are Hat Yai in the South to Malaysia, Nong Khai in the NE, to Lao PDR, or flying to Singapore, Hong Kong, Cambodia or Penang.
The Government has also discontinued one year visas for Non-Immigrant Status with multi-entry stamp. Currently if you are holding a non-immigrant visa and apply outside Thailand for another, you are only given a 90 day single entry visa. (cost is 2,000 baht) Therefore you end up going out every 90 days to apply for another non-immigrant visa. This is normally done if you are holding a work permit or applying for one. You MAY NOT get a work permit holding a tourist visa.
This whole visa issue is the new government trying to tighten the very lax visa structure in the past. It’s not out of line with other countries and the persons complaining most are Expats that have become accustom to the easy status they enjoyed for so many years. Times are a changing and Thailand is just coming up to speed. Think about what your home country expects of a Thai National traveling there or trying to stay past THEIR visa!!
NOTE: If you want a fast, cheap and easy visa run, try Ranong, 4 hours North of Phuket. Take a boat to Kawthaung, Myanmar, and return in an hour or two. For the best visa service and BEST FOOD in Ranong go to Saporn’s Hideaway: http://www.sophonshideaway.com/
They can also make hotel reservations for you. Visit their site
Now, back to the Retirement visa: Very easy to obtain with little hassle. You basically have to prove to the Immigration officers that you can afford to be there and will not be a burden on the Thai Government. The easiest way is to show them a Thai bank account with 800,000 baht (about 20,000 US dollars). This money should have been deposited for a couple months prior to your application. After you get your visa, you can immediately withdraw the money. Every year you will have to renew, showing the 800,000 for the next year. They are basing this on 65,000 baht per month of income. You can even show a combination of income and bank account. In other words if you have a pension coming in of say 1,500 dollars (54,000 baht) and a bank account with the difference (65,000 – 54,000 = 11,000 X 12 months =132,000 baht) you’ll be approved. Or any combination thereof. This is the best deal going. The only drawback is the fact that you are not “supposed” to work. But you’re retired anyway, right!! Just remember, this is Thailand and as any person living here will tell you, anything is possible.