Over the years I’ve been living in Thailand, I’ve met many western expats who have retired here. Thailand is a much cheaper place to live and retiring here is easy. If you’re still outside Thailand but planning on retiring here soon, getting a retirement visa (otherwise known as a ‘non immigrant O’ visa), so you can live in Thailand, isn’t that difficult either. You just have to follow the rules and make sure you get all of your paperwork in order before you apply, as well as meet all the financial requirements. Read on to find out how to apply for a visa to retire in Thailand, and exactly what paperwork you’ll need to do it.
Apply For and Get a Multiple Entry Tourist Visa Before Arriving in Thailand – First of all, before coming to Thailand, you’ll need to apply for a tourist visa in your home country. Make sure you get a multiple entry tourist visa, which will end up being valid for 6 months once you get to Thailand. That will give you plenty of time to apply for the retirement visa once you get to Thailand. With the six month tourist visa, you’ll initially be given 60 days stay in Thailand and then be able to renew it for another 30 days at the local immigration office in Thailand. After those 30 days, you will have to leave Thailand (you can go across the border into Cambodia, or fly to Malaysia for a couple of days) and then come back and reactivate the second entry on your visa. This will give you another 60 days in Thailand with a second 30 day renewal. Total of days with this type of visa is 180, which should be plenty of time to allow you to get your retirement visa in Thailand.
Documents Required to Apply For and Get a One-Year Retirement Visa in Thailand – Once you’re in Thailand, you will need to apply for your retirement visa (non immigrant O) before the 180 days on your tourist visa expires. Before applying, these are the things you will need:
Your passport, with photocopies of every page
The Departure Card that was given to you when you entered Thailand (should be stapled in your passport), and a photocopy of this card
A bank account in Thailand with at least 800,000 baht in it, or proof of monthly income of 65,000 baht, or a combination of the two bringing your total up to 800,000 baht. You will also need proof that you have met this financial requirement, for example certified copies from the Thai bank of your bank book and bank balance, or a copy of your social security check.
You must also have with you your bank book from your Thai bank, a medical exam (which you can get at any hospital for as low as 100 baht), and three 4×5 centimeter photos with a white or blue background (make sure you dress nicely for these photos too, as appearance is very important in Thailand).
Where to Apply For the One-Year Retirement Visa in Thailand – You will need to take all this paperwork down to either a law office in Thailand or to the main immigration office in the area of Thailand you’re living in. You can apply for the retirement visa (non immigrant O) yourself but, honestly, I recommend you do it through a law office, as they do know what they’re doing. Thailand also is very fluid in how it grants retirement visas, so one minor mistake can cause you to be denied the visa. Most legal offices charge less than $600 to take care of all filing all the paperwork and dealing with immigration. You, then, will only have to go to the immigration office once when you pick up your retirement visa which, in my mind, is well worth the $600.
Retirement Visas in Thailand Are Renewable Every Year – Unlike many other countries, Thailand does not make getting a retirement visa a permanent thing. Once you have one, it’s only valid for one year and then you’ll have to get it renewed (submitting all the paperwork again). So, again, better to go with a law firm and they can take care of the renewal too.
Getting a retirement visa (non immigrant O) in Thailand sounds like a hassle and, yes, it can be. Overall though, living in Thailand you get used to the annoyance of having to get visas every year (even while wondering why the government is so backward on how they issue visas!). Even with the hassles of getting a visa though, it’s worth it, as most people I know don’t regret retiring in Thailand for a second and I doubt you will either. Happy Retirement.