Thailand Elite Visa Review: What You Should Know Before Applying

Have you heard of the Thailand Elite Visa?

It was introduced in 2003 after the Thai government approved the Thailand Privilege Card project proposed by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.

It’s the most convenient visa to live in Thailand with.

How convenient is it?

In short, you can get a five- to 20-year visa straight away without having to deal with paperwork or visit the immigration office.

It’s also an underrated visa since people ignore it after hearing about the 500,000 baht application fee.

So, let’s take a closer look at the Thailand Elite Visa, including the benefits you get, packages you can choose, restrictions, and application fee.

You can fill in the form at the end of the article to apply or learn more about it.

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Residence Program

Thailand Elite visa is a residence program allowing you to stay in Thailand from five to 20 years without having to worry about your visa conditions, paperwork, and extensions.

The Thailand Elite visa comes with various privileges, including access to airport pick-up services, privilege passport lanes, airport lounges, visa assistance, golf club memberships, and discounts on various services in Thailand.

The Thailand Elite Visa is run by Thai Government and aims to attract affluent visitors, businessmen, investors, and expats to stay in Thailand long-term. 

Who is it for? 

The Thailand Elite Visa is for anyone who lives or regularly comes to Thailand but doesn’t want to deal with Thailand’s bureaucratic visa system.

This includes digital nomads that don’t want to do visa runs, retirees who don’t want to be stressed with the new complicated regulations that have been regularly introduced, or investors or business people who need to fly in and out of Thailand several times a year. 

Benefits

Let’s take a look at the benefits that come with the Thailand Elite Visa. 

Long-Term Stays

The best part about the Thailand Elite Visa is that you don’t need to worry anymore about your visa. You can stay in Thailand for at least five years straight without having to do border runs or repetitively abusing tourist visas, which can result in later bans. 

As of now, visa options for Thailand are quite limited for long-term stayers. There are a lot of people who can’t get a visa just because the Thai Government doesn’t have a suitable visa for them.

This is especially true for digital nomads. This group of people is having problems getting a legit visa. They aren’t employed by a company. They can’t get business visas. And they aren’t qualified for the SMART visa, which is the new visa that was first expected to be a visa for digital nomads.

Another group is those who want to retire in Thailand but haven’t reached the age requirements or other conditions required by the retirement visa.

There’s also another group like investors or a business people who need to visit Thailand many times a year and find none of the current visa options suitable for them.

Alternative State Quarantine Booking Assistant

Because of COVID-19, all foreigners coming to Thailand are required to book an alternative state quarantine before they can get a Certificate of Entry. 

The Elite Visa program will give you a list of alternate state quarantine (ASQ) locations, including prices and partnered hospitals. You can tell them which ASQ you want and they will book it on your behalf. 

This benefit is really useful since it’s a challenge to book ASQs yourself. They are quickly fully booked, and you need to individually contact each of them yourself through LINE or email.v

Visa Assistance

Another great benefit of the Thailand Elite Visa is the visa assistance that can get you out of the bureaucratic system in Thailand.

Thailand is a land of paperwork. Everything you need to apply, renew, or extend your visa, you need to prepare at least five different sets of documents from various organizations.

Long-term visas normally require much more than that.

Then, you need to visit the Thai embassy or the immigration office early in the morning and spend at least half a day there.

In addition, visa regulations change frequently. For example, a retirement visa now requires you to have health insurance, and you need to put 800,000 baht in your bank months before applying for the visa.

For the Elite Visa, you only need to give a copy of your passport to the Elite Visa agent. They will handle everything for you.

Then, you can fly to Thailand and meet the agent who will take you to a privilege passport lane, where they will affix your Elite Visa to your passport.

You can get the Elite visa right at the airport when flying in or out Thailand.

If you are already here in Thailand, you still need to go to the immigration office. Again, you will meet the visa agent who will take you to a privilege passport lane, and handle everything for you.

The visa should be done within 30 minutes instead of spending at least half a day at the immigration office.

Once you get your visa, you won’t need to worry about it anymore. Also, the regulations of the Elite Visa barely change.

Because of the visa assistance benefit, there’s a group of people who go for Elite Visa despite being eligible for other long-term visas. They just want to avoid lines and the stress of dealing with visas.

Note that you still need to do 90-days reporting with the Elite Visa. But you can drop your passport at the agent’s office and let them handle it for you. 

Airport Services

The Thailand Elite Visa program comes with airport services. The elite visa agent picks you up right inside the gate and escorts you to the fast-track lane at immigration. You can’t get this service from a normal airport transfer service.

You also get access to airport lounges in both departure and arrival halls at Suvarnabhumi, Chiang Mai, and Phuket airports.

Discounts

Originally, the idea of the Elite Visa was raised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand to bring high-end visitors to Thailand. Therefore, the Thailand Elite Visa program has partnered with many travel related service providers throughout Thailand.

These partners are golf associations, hotels, travel agencies, department stores, cooking schools, and even Muay Thai camps.

By showing your Thailand Elite Card, you immediately get discounts for you, your family, and your guests. 

Thailand Elite Card

You will get a Thailand Elite card once you are approved for the Thailand Elite visa program. It’s like a membership card. You can use it to get all the benefits from the Thailand Elite Visa program.

You will get this card once your Thailand Elite visa is approved. 

Other

With the 20-year visa package, you can play golf and have spa treatments 24 times a year free of charge at any golf associations or spas that are partners of the Thailand Elite program.

In addition, you can get one free health checkup a year and also have access to a member contact center who can provide support for anything you need while living your life in Thailand.

You also get access to the Thailand Elite Visa support center.

Restrictions 

You can’t get a work permit with the Thai Elite visa. Legally speaking, without a work permit, you can’t do any activity that generates income in Thailand. However, you are still able to hold company shares or invest.

You can still buy a car, invest in a condo, open a bank account, and get a driving license with it

Requirements

Everyone can apply for the Thailand Elite visa. You don’t need to find a job like with a business visa, reach a certain age like with the retirement visa, or marry Thai like with a marriage visa.

The only thing you literally need is the application fee, which should be paid in full during the application.

Other requirements are:

  • You need to obey Thai laws.
  • You need to have a passport that isn’t Thai.
  • You can’t have any criminal background in any countries.
  • You haven’t declared bankruptcy. 
  • You aren’t of unsound mind, incompetence, or quasi incompetent.
  • You haven’t overstayed your Thai visa more than twice in the past

Costs

Cost are the main requirements of the Thailand Elite Visa. The application fee for the cheapest program is 500,000 Thai baht–around $16,500. It gives you a five-year visa and other benefits mentioned above.

Although the number seems high, it isn’t as high as you may think. 500,000 Thai baht for a five-year visa means you pay 100,000 baht per year or 8,333.33 baht per month.

If you aren’t eligible for a long-term visa in Thailand and need to do a visa run, you need to pay around 10,000 Thai baht on average for a three day, 2 night trip to a nearby Thai embassy outside of Thailand. And each visa runs gives you 90 days here, all for around 3,300 baht per month.

It’s definitely cheaper. But it doesn’t count the time you need to spend traveling back and forth. Or the stress you need to deal with at immigration offices.

In addition, visa run aren’t entirely legal. Thailand can ban you from abusing it.

You won’t need to do border runs anymore with the Thailand Elite Visa. 

You can opt for an education visa by taking a Thai language course. However, this option is now only available to those who seriously want to learn Thai. You need to attend classes regularly every week.

And you need to take a Thai language test at the immigration office when extending your education visa.

With the application fee starting at 500,000 baht, the Elite Visa isn’t for everyone. But it’s a convenient choice for those who can afford it. 

Membership Packages

You have seven different packages to choose from. All packages come with visa assistance, airport services, discounts, and the Elite card.

Their main differences are the amount of years you get and other privileges like golf, spas, health checkups, and airport transfer services.

Here are the top three most popular Elite Visa packages. They are the most valuable in terms of the amount of money you need to pay and the years of stay.

Benefits/ProgramEasy AccessFamily AlternativeSuperiority Extension
Year5 years10 years20 years
Fee (VAT included)500,000 baht800,000 baht1,000,000 baht
Additional Family Member700,000 baht 
Short Haul Transfer Service (within 80 km from airport)*24 times/calendar year

*For international flights only.

Is it worth It?

The answer totally depends on you. If you‘re able to afford 8,333 baht a month and live hassle-free with this visa, then it’s totally worth it with all the conveniences you get.

On the other hand, if you’re eligible for other long-term visas and don’t mind dealing with paperwork and the bureaucratic system, then the Elite Visa isn’t for you.

Is it Legit?

Thailand Elite Visa is totally legit. The program itself is run by the Thai government. 

Can I Enter Thailand with an Elite Visa During COVID-19?

Elite Visa holders are now allowed to enter Thailand. You can see the full requirements and procedure on how to fly to Thailand during COVID-19 from this article

In addition, Elite Visa holders will get additional support from the Elite Visa program, including booking an alternative state quarantine

You cannot have the Elite Visa affixed to your passport overseas. If you come from abroad, you will get a confirmation letter from the Thailand Elite Visa program. After that, you can use this letter to apply for the Certificate of Entry. 

Once you are in Thailand, you can have the visa affixed to your passport after the 14-day quarantine. 

If you are already in Thailand, you can get it done at the immigration office. 

Please note that the Thailand Government has a quota on how many Elite Visa holders can fly to Thailand at the moment. This means that even if you have been accepted into the program, you might not be able to immediately fly to Thailand. 

Based on the information we have so far, the Elite Visa program is negotiating with the Thailand Government to increase the quota. And it seems like it’s going well.

Do I need to have health insurance?

As of now, you don’t need to have health insurance in order to apply for the Elite Visa.

Do I need to have proof of funds?

Similar to health insurance, you don’t need to show any proof of funds. As long as you can pay the application fee in full and don’t have a criminal record, you should be able to get the Elite Visa without any problem.

Elite Visa Experience

An Expat Den reader just successfully got the Elite Visa for himself and wanted to share his experience to other readers.

“The process of applying for and getting approved for the Elite Visa was super smooth. Once you send in your elite visa application they forward it to immigrations for a background check. They told me the background check would take 2-3 months. In my case I received the approval letter one month after sending in the application.

From there they sent me instructions on how to settle the payment for the visa. Two days after making the payment I received a payment confirmation and was able to schedule an appointment with Thailand Elite at Chaengwattana Immigration. I met the Thailand Elite staff outside the immigration office where they picked up my passport. I waited outside and within 20 minutes they returned my passport with the visa affixed.

Overall the process was very convenient. The Thailand Elite staff speak very good English so it’s easy to communicate with them. Lastly, the fast lane service at the airport is a nice little bonus.”

Applying for the Thailand Elite Visa

You can apply for the Thailand Elite visa anywhere. All you need to do is to send a soft copy of your passport to the Elite Visa agent. Then, they will work with Thailand’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the consulate from your country to do a criminal background check.

Once it’s done, you need to transfer the application fee, wait a few days, and then get your Thai Elite Membership ID number.

After that, if you’re in Thailand, you can go to the immigration office, meet a visa agent, and get the Elite Visa right away.

If you’re outside of Thailand, you can fly here either on a visa exemption or a tourist visa, meet the Elite visa agent, and get the visa directly at the airport.

The whole process takes around three months. But it’s often much faster than this. In certain cases, it even takes less than two weeks.

You can even do it while on a connecting flight from Thailand to another country.

Your Elite visa duration will start after you receive the approval letter, you the application fee in full, and receive the welcome letter.

The process of applying for the elite visa is very easy and straightforward. It’s the most convenient visa option in Thailand.

Now, on to You

You can fill in the form if you want to apply or find out more about the Thailand Elite Visa. An official representative of the Thailand Elite Visa program will get back to you shortly.

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34 comments
  1. Hi, I have a question.
    Currently, I have education (ED) visa from one of the Thai University and I am now in Bangkok, Thailand. If I want to change Elite Visa, do I need to go outside Thailand?

    For Elite Visa fee, If I want to apply standard package, Can I pay Yearly or Monthly?

    1. You can stay in Thailand and apply for the Elite visa. The visa fee must be paid in full before you can get the visa.

  2. Hi am from Madagascar can i get that card and do i need to aooly for tourist visa before bording?
    Airline will refuse bording witout a visa

  3. I’m currently in country enjoying the generosity of the visa amnesty. It’s August 30th. If I apply while in country, I suspect acceptance would not come until after 26 Sept and amnesty expiration. If it could be completed, great, but if not—and I do not wish to exit the country—would another type of visa serve as a holdover until my Thai Elite Visa was granted?

    Also, is there any way an application for someone currently in Thailand could be expedited?

    Thank you for any information you can provide.

  4. Can you tell me if I would be able to pay my Elite Visa fee with my credit card? I would love to get the points as well. Thank you.

  5. i am currently in Thailand with a B visa no working. my visa will expire on November 5. Can
    i get Thai visa before then so I do not need to leave the country?
    Thank you

    1. It’s possible to get a visa issued before that date. You can fill out the form above to get in touch with the Elite visa representative and have all of your questions answered or get started with applying the Elite visa.

  6. Hi, apologies for this stupid question, do you allow South Africans to apply for the Elite visa? And is it THB800 000 per person. What do you consider a retirement age?

    1. It’s possible for South Africans to apply for the Elite visa. Cost depends on the program that you choose. And you can apply for the visa no matter how old you are.

  7. If I obtain an Elite visa, does the start date begin on the date of receipt of the visa in the UK or on the day of my arrival in Thailand when using the visa for the first time. Sorry if it’s a silly question, but it’s important because as I understand things – the Elite Visa holders are still not permitted to enter the Kingdom, but probably will be in the near future, so I obviously don’t want to waste the allotted time on my visa if I am unable to use it. Thankyou.

    1. The starting date is when you get a welcome letter from the Elite visa program. However, currently they know that you are unable to enter Thailand yet. So, they give an additional 6 months on top of the duration period if the payment is made before Sep 30, 2020.

  8. It literally means that the elite visa holders are unable to enter Thailand yet.

    According to the above comment in your article, is it pointless to apply for the elite visa currently until Thailand lifts ban on foreign visitors?

    We’ve purchased a condo in Rawai, Phuket and are eager for entry asap. We’re USA citizens stranded in Malaysia since their lockdown took effect on Mar 18th. We came here from Phuket after the 30 day stay under social pass.

    1. Yes, as of now, even the Elite visa holder is unable to enter Thailand. But I believe that more details on the how the Elite visa holder will be able to enter Thailand should be released soon since Thailand Government officially allow that.

      You can wait until we know more on the requirements. But please do note that the elite visa application process takes around 1-3 months.

  9. I’m from Egypt and i need a visa to enter Thailand. Should i apply for a tourist visa and travel to Thailand first ,or can i get the elite visa right away from my country?

    1. Unfortunately, currently Egyptian is unable to get the Elite visa. It’s one of the restricted countries for Thailand Elite program. However, this may change in the future.

  10. I’m looking at Samui to retire are there golf and spas there affiliated with the elite visa? Also is their an agent on the island

    1. Not specifically – but I would recommend reaching out to see if any open questions can be handled by e-mail or phone. My experience with law firms and agents in Thailand is that you’ll find the most capable ones in Bangkok and few exceptions aside (e.g. property issues), I’d go with Skype/phone with a Bangkok company over an in-person ‘local’ one outside of the capital.

  11. thank you for this. What is the average fee charge by the agent who process the Thai Elite visa for us? And is there any other legal fee that we have to pay to get the visa?

    1. You don’t have to pay any fee to the agent. You would have to pay for the membership fee and that should be all.

  12. If I understand correctly. When you have an Elite visa, you still need to report every 90 days. This is done by a visa agent to take the burden off one’s shoulder. Does this mean that each 90 day reporting will cost 1 900 baht? Or is this fee included in the Elite package?

    1. Hey Gabi,

      Yeah, you still need to report every 90 days even with the Elite Visa. It’s called 90-day notification. You can ask the visa agent to do that or do it yourself.

      And you don’t need to pay for the 90-day notification no matter which visa you are holding.

  13. Hello.If I apply for a ThaiElite visa in the Uk before my trip to Thailand would I still need to apply for a 30 day visa to allow me entry into Thailand to collect the Elite visa?
    Sorry for the stupid question.

    1. We asked some info from the Elite Visa representative on your case. And here’s their answer:

      “If applying from outside of Thailand a client would provide us with their completed application, high resolution passport quality jpg photo, scan of data page in their passport, scan of any current Thai visa and/or recent entry/exit stamp into Thailand. We submit these details to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and after their visa has processed, we will receive their approval letter (this is essentially just a request for payment). Our client then transfers funds to the Thailand Privilege Card company and in about 3-5 business days receive their welcome letter. Once they receive their welcome letter they can book an Elite Personal Assistant to meet them at their gate at Suvarnabhumi airport upon arrival. The assistant will escort them to immigration fast track where they will have their Elite visas affixed. So, there is no need to apply for a visa in advance if applicants nationalities allow them to receive a visa exemption of a visa on arrival. Those applicants who need a visa to enter Thailand must acquire a tourist visa in advance of arrival into Thailand to have their Elite visa affixed at Suvarnabhumi. ”

      Hope this helps!

  14. 5 year Elite requirements & privliiages..

    1…Do I need to have Thailand health insurance coverage ?
    2..does the Elite include a multi entry visa ..?
    3…Do I need to report to immigration each 90 days or yearly ?
    4…Can I drive with my foreign drivers license

    1. Hi Peter,
      To your question:
      – Nope, you don’t need to have health insurance for the elite visa.
      – The Elite Visa is a multi-entry visa itself.
      – Yes, you still need to do the 90 days reporting. But the Elite visa agent can do that for you as well.
      – If you want to drive in Thailand, it’s better to get IDF or a Thai driving license. Since you already have the driving license from your home country, it’s quite easy to get a Thai driving license. You can find out more from this article: https://expatden.com/thailand/thai-driving-license/

  15. If you have a minor conviction from over 30 years ago that would stop you from applying for elite visa

  16. It seems that there are two 20 years different cards.
    One at 1 M is called Xuperiority extension,
    one at 2 M which is full package.

    If the first one is called “extension”, it does logically means that you have to get already one card before that one isn’t it ?
    Or do I understand wrongly, and I could opt for this 20 years card at first ? I don’t need at all the reductions and other prestations of the full package anyway.

  17. Hello, thanks for this clear presentation. But are you sure of the fee for the 20 years Elite card ?
    I red on some other pages that the price could be 2 millions bath, not 1 million. It’s a huge difference, so please confirm.

    1. There around 7 types of Elite visa in total. And there’s one option allowing you to stay here for 20 years for a one-million baht fee. And there’s also another option that you give you 20 years in Thailand but coming with 2 millions baht. But it also comes with other privileges.

  18. Too bad the Thai government rips off foreigners with their crazy rules and fee’s. Just think how much more money their country would take in if they did not cause so much hassle and scare folks away.

    1. Thailand has a difficult path to residency and citizenship – more so than many other countries. However, in terms of permission to stay in the country, it’s a lot more lenient than other places I stayed in. Something like the Elite Visa simply doesn’t exist (or, at least not legally and at that price) in pretty much any country I visited so far.

      In addition, Thailand has a lot of exceptions when it comes to taxing worldwide income, making the tax burden for a lot of expats a lot lower than in many other countries with a ‘more systematic immigration system’. Yes, the country has a bit of extra bureaucracy, but sometimes it also works in your favor.

      Staying in a country other than your home country always tends to come with a bit of extra hassle. There are some countries who have taken pretty big steps in reducing that (e.g. Georgia, Estonia) and I would hope that bigger countries will follow. For now though, I still think that Thailand is in the more ‘lenient with long-term visitors’ category.

  19. You have to do a 90 day report, you only get a 2 year driver licence with a 5 year visa. You still need to get an immigration stamo each year costing 1900 baht if you stay in Thailand for a year

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