A Short and Simple Guide to Retiree Visa Thailand: Rules and Requirements (Updated 2024)

how to get a retirement visa in Thailand

Have you been thinking about retiring in Thailand? Wondering what the requirements are to get a long-term visa?

In this post you’ll find out what financial requirements you need to meet, and which documents you need to present, to qualify for a Thailand retirement visa.

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What is it?

The Thai retirement visa lets qualified retirees who are at least 50 years old and meet the specific financial requirements to retire in Thailand initially for up to one year.

After that, once you are in Thailand, you can extend your stay every year as long as you continue to meet the financial requirements.

Options

There are mainly three types of retirement insurance:

  • Non-immigrant O: It’s the most popular type of retirement visa since there’s no health insurance requirement. When applying outside of Thailand, you initially get a 90-day stay. After that, you can come to Thailand and extend your stay for 1 year.
  • Non-immigrant OA: With this visa, it initially allows you to stay in Thailand for 1 year. However, you need to have health insurance to apply for or extend your visa extension.
  • Non-immigrant OX: It’s known as a 10-year retirement visa, available to certain nationalities. Read our specific guide to the non-immigrant OX visa section below for more information.

In our opinion, unless you are eligible for the Non-immigrant OX visa, getting a Non-immigrant O visa is the best option. It has the same requirements as a Non-immigrant OA, but you don’t need health insurance.

Requirements

To get a retirement visa in Thailand, there are five main requirements you need to fullfil:

  • age
  • financial requirement
  • health insurance
  • criminal record
  • prohibitive disease

Let’s take a look at each one individually.

Please note that the requirements for each nationality can be different and subject to change. Certain Thai embassies may also have different requirements.

Age

To apply for a retirement visa in Thailand, you must be at least 50 years old.

Financial Requirements

To qualify for non-immigrant O or OA visa, you’ll need to show one of these three financial documents:

  • copies of your bank statements showing a deposit of the amount equal to and not less than 800,000 baht in your bank account or
  • copies of bank statement showing income of not less than 65,000 baht per month or
  • a combination of a deposit account and a monthly income totaling at least 800,000 baht

If you go with THB800,000 option, please note that the money need to be in your bank account at least 2 months before the visa application or extension.

Health Insurance

This section is for a non-immigrant OA visa only.

Since April 2019, there’s a new regulation requiring you to have health insurance. The new regulation is officially confirmed on October 31, 2019.

Insurance requirement keep changing all the time.

Right now, here’s what you need: 3,000,000 baht coverage in order to apply a non-immigrant OA visa. 

You can get Luma Long Stay Care plan to get an affordable health insurance plan that passes the visa requirement. If you need something comprehensive, check out the new senior plan from Cigna Global.

Criminal Record

You should have no criminal record in your home country and in Thailand

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Prohibitive Diseases

You should have no prohibitive diseases, which the Thai Embassy lists as Leprosy, Tuberculosis, drug addictions, Elephantiasis, and Syphilis in its third phase.

Required Document

First thing you’ll want to do for applying the retirement visa is to prepare your required financial documents and all of the following:

  • an application form, which can be picked at the immigration office
  • passport with at least six months validity and two blank pages on both side.
  • 4 cm x 6 cm photos taken in the last six months
  • an updated bank passbook
  • a bank letter confirming your funds not less than two months from the date of application*
  • a health insurance certificate (you do not need this if you apply for a non-immigrant O visa)
  • a police/background check certificate

*To get a bank letter visit the bank branch where you opened your account. Tell them you need an official bank letter stating that you had the funds in your account on the date two months out from your application date.

The letter usually costs a few hundred baht, depending on your bank. And it can be done on the same day, usually within an hour.

The bank letter is valid for 7 days, and the balance in your bank book must match that of the bank letter. This means that after you obtain a bank letter, you MUST NOT deposit or withdraw money from your bank account.

If you apply from within Thailand, you will need additional documents, including:

  • A copy of your passport, including the information page and all pages related to Thailand visas, such as the visa stamp, extension of stay, and eVisa (if you have it).
  • A copy of the departure card (TM6)
  • A copy of TM 30 (residence registration)

Normally, you will need two copies of each document. You should also sign all copies and include your name on them.

Sometimes, you may also need two copies of every page in your bankbook as well as your rental contract.

Each immigration office, Thailand Consulate, and Thailand Embassy may require different documents. Therefore, you should contact them in advance to determine the exact documents needed.

Application Process

The application process at each immigration office in Thailand, as well as at Thailand Consulates and Embassies, is generally the same.

Here’s what you need to do:

  • Make an online appointment (if you are in Thailand, you have the option to walk in).
  • Go to an information desk to get your queue number and have your documents checked.
  • Proceed to an immigration office’s counter when your queue number is called.
  • Prepare for a short interview. The immigration office may also inquire about your job prior to retirement.
  • If everything is satisfactory, the immigration officer will accept your documents and inform you of when you can collect your visa.
  • The processing time is approximately 15 business days, although this can vary depending on the specific immigration office, consulate, or embassy.

Please note that sometimes an immigration office may request a Thai name and phone number for reference. Therefore, it’s best to prepare this information in advance.

Where to Apply

You can apply for a retirement visa either in your home country (in some cases) or in Thailand.

Outside Thailand

If you’re applying for your retirement visa outside of Thailand, in general, you’ll be applying for a non-immigrant OA visa.

It allows you to live in Thailand for one year straightaway and can be extended from within Thailand every year thereafter.

You’ll need to bring the same documents listed above with you to the nearest Thai Embassy in your country.

If you don’t have a Thai bank account yet, it is possible to get a financial statement or a proof of income from your home country.

Nowadays, Thai embassy tend to issue a 90-day non-immigrant O visa instead. If this is the case, come to Thailand, immediately open a bank account, and transfer 800,000 baht to Thailand right away in order to fulfill the financial requirement.

But don’t be surprised if you the embassy tells you they don’t issue this type of visa to foreigners, as not all of them do.

Inside Thailand

If you start your application in Thailand, in most cases, you need to apply for a non-immigrant visa O before you extend your visa in Thailand that allows you to stay in Thailand for 1 year.

You’ll be given 90 days in the kingdom. And after your first 60 days, you can extend it.

If you go with this method, after you get a 90-day retirement visa, you need to immediately open a bank account in your name and transfer 800,000 baht into Thailand right away.

This way, you will have the money two months before you can extend the visa.

Bangkok

If you are in Bangkok, you can go to the Division 1 Immigration Office in Bangkok.

Here’s the Google Maps link to Division 1 Immigration Office in Bangkok. It’s known as Chaeng Watthana office or CW in short.

Here’s the physical address:

  • 120 Thanon Chaeng Watthana, Khwaeng Thung Song Hong, Khet Lak Si, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10210

Just bring with you all of the documents listed in this section and the above requirements section.

Chiang Mai

If you are in Chiang Mai, you can go to Chiang Mai Immigration Office. It’s located near Chiang Mai International airport. Here’s the physical address: 71 Sanaam Bin Road, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand.

Phuket

If you are in Phuket, there’s Phuket Immigration Office. It’s conveniently located in the center of Phuket. Here’s the address: 482 Phuket Road, Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket 83000 Thailand.

There’s also another immigration office in Patong. But that’s mainly for a short-term stay such as extending your tourist visa or visa exemption, or a 90-day notification.

Other

There are 58 immigration offices throughout Thailand. Here’s a map to all of them. Please note that it’s best to apply or renew your retiree visa on your local immigration office. If you go to another immigration office, they may not allow it.

How to Show Proof of Funds

Showing proof of funds can be a headache for retirement visa applicants.

The most straightforward way to show adequate funds in Thailand is to open a bank account in the country and leave THB800,000 there for two months before applying for or extending your visa.

*Note that as mentioned above, the required balance differs between each type of retirement visa.

Once you open your bank account, you’ll have to get a financial statement showing the required amount. You can get this statement for a few hundred baht at any of your bank’s branches.

Alternatively, you can contact your embassy and request an income affidavit, showing that you have a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht, including pension.

Keep in mind that not all embassies can provide an income affidavit. For example, the US embassy no longer issues it.

What if You Can’t Open a Bank Account in Thailand?

It can be a challenge to open a bank account in Thailand if you’re here on a tourist visa.

However, as long as you have a retirement visa, you shouldn’t have any problems opening a bank account in the country.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to get a retirement visa from your home country. You can use a financial statement from your home bank as proof of your income when you apply for your retirement visa at a Thai embassy in your home country.

Once you’re in Thailand, you can open a bank account and manage your funds as mentioned in the above section. 

Changing a Tourist Visa to a Retirement Visa within Thailand

If you enter Thailand with a tourist visa or on a visa exemption, you can apply for a retirement visa within Thailand.

The entire application process and the required paperwork are similar to what’s mentioned above. After applying, you will receive a retiree visa valid for 90 days. Subsequently, you can extend it for a one-year extension of stay and repeat the process annually.

This option is increasingly popular as it does not require a health insurance certificate.

However, if you choose this route, you must have a Thai bank account before arriving in Thailand. Additionally, plan your time wisely, as it may take up to 15 business days to obtain your visa.

What’s the Easiest Way to Get a Retirement Visa?

Many people find it easiest to enter Thailand with a tourist visa or visa exemption and then convert it to a retirement visa. This is mainly because it eliminates the need for a health insurance certificate, which can be challenging to obtain.

However, this option is not feasible for everyone, as it requires having a Thai bank account, which is difficult to secure without a long-term visa. (Therefore, some people opt to use an agent to assist in obtaining a Thai bank account).

In our opinion, obtaining a retirement visa is quite a straightforward process, as long as you have the correct paperwork, regardless of the option you choose.

Single-Entry or Multiple-Entry?

When applying for a retirement visa, you’ll have two options when getting your non-immigrant OA visa: single-entry or multiple-entry.

Single-entry

A single-entry is for anyone who doesn’t plan to leave Thailand.

If you do, whether for leisure or in an emergency, you must apply for a re-entry permit. Otherwise, your visa will be cancelled immediately after you exit Thailand.

Multiple-entry

A multiple-entry visa lets you leave and enter Thailand as you wish. So if you know that you’re going to come and go quite often while living in Thailand, your best bet is to get a multiple-entry visa from the start.

Keeping Your Retirement Visa Active

After you get your visa stamped into your passport, there are two main conditions to keep your retirement visa active:

  1. you shouldn’t let your balance drop below THB800,000 for three months after you get your visa.
  2. you should maintain at least THB400,000 at all times

Otherwise, you will not be able to extend your visa.

Renew Your Retirement Visa (Visa Extension)

When your visa is about to expire, you’ll need to extend it at any of the immigration offices in Thailand. The process and paperwork are the same as when you first applied.

There are two things you should keep in mind:

  1. your bank balance needs to be more than THB800,000 at least two months before the visa renewal.*
  2. If you come to Thailand with a Non-OA Visa, you need health insurance to renew your retiree visa. On the other hand, if you come to Thailand with a Non-O visa, then you don’t need health insurance.

*If you don’t want to leave that much money in your Thailand bank account, then there’s another route you can take. You can show that you have at least THB65,000 going into your bank account every month.

You do it by sending money to your bank account in Thailand each month. If you want to save on transfer fees and exchange rates, you can open a Wise Multi-Currency Account, convert your local currency to Thai Baht when rates are good, and then transfer into Thailand.

Once you are done, you will get a 1-year extension of stay permit based on retirement stamp on your passport.

When Should I Renew My Retirement Visa?

You can extend your extension of stay permit based on retirement 45 days in advance before it’s expired.

And it’s not recommended to start your extension process if you have less than15 days before the permit expires.

Otherwise, you might not have enough time for adjustments if Thai Immigration asks for more documents.

90-Day Notification

Whether you apply inside or outside of Thailand, you’ll have to do 90-day check ins at Thailand immigration after your visa has been approved.

Visa Restrictions

Retirement visa holders are prohibited from engaging in any type of work.

Other Retirement Visas

Here a few other options you have if retiring in Thailand is in your radar.

Ten-year Retirement Visa (O-X)

The ten-year Thai retirement visa lets affluent retirees from 14 countries stay in Thailand for up to ten years.

Here are those countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Finland, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and United States.

It is renewable every ten years.

The requirements for this visa are a little different. You’ll need the following to qualify for non-immigrant OX ten-year visa:

  • 3 million baht in a bank account, untouched for at least three months from your application date or
  • 1.2 million baht in a bank account and 100,000 baht monthly income. After you are in Thailand, your Thai bank account should have at least 3 million baht untouched within a year.
  • health insurance that provides you with at 400,000 baht IPD coverage and 40,000 baht OPD coverage (non-optional)

The application process is the same as applying for a non-immigrant O visa.

Thailand Privilege Card (Elite Visa)

The Thailand Privilege Card program, previously known as the Elite Visa, isn’t technically a retirement visa. But it’s a valid option for affluent foreigners who wish to stay long-term in Thailand and avoid visa runs and extensions.

Depending on the membership package, qualified foreigners can stay in Thailand for five to 20 years.

The best thing about the Thailand Privilege Card is that it significantly decreases the time and headaches of dealing with paperwork and immigration officers, and it keeps you updated with the everchanging retirement visa requirements. 

You also don’t need to keep having 800,000 baht in your bank account all the time.

Many retirees now go for this route even if they are eligible for the retirement visa.

However, this program is not available to everyone, as there is a membership fee involved. The fee starts at 900,000 baht for a 5-year visa, and for a 15-year visa, it is 2,500,000 baht.

To find out more, read our Thailand Privilege Card review.

Marriage Visa

If you’re married to a Thai national, you can get a non-immigrant visa O based on marriage from the Thai embassy nearest to you or in Thailand at an immigration office. The financial requirements are a little easier to manage.

So this visa is great for those who don’t have enough funds to get a retirement visa.

Now, on to You

That’s how you get yourself a Thailand retirement visa. The process itself is straightforward if you meet the financial requirements and present the right documents.

So be sure to double check the list above and contact your local Thai embassy or Thai immigration office.

If you’ve made it this far and still aren’t sure which visa you should get, feel free to get in touch with us and tell us what you need.

John Wolcott is the global editor for ExpatDen. He's a New Jersey native who now lives in Bangkok with his wife and two daughters.
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