Recently new regulations have come into effect challenging some who want to stay in Thailand long term. Here are a couple alternatives to the O-A granted in your home country or the one year extension based on retirement granted within Thailand.
The two alternatives we will talk about here are the O-X and the Thailand Elite visas.
Non-Immigrant Visa “O-X” (Long Stay)
Who is the O-X visa for?
This visa is for applicants aged 50 years and over. This is exactly the same as the standard retirement visa.
How long does it let me stay in Thailand for?
The visa lasts for 10 years, with a maximum stay of 5 years. So potentially you could do two stays of 5 years each. Confused? Okay: so you stay 5 years, leave the country, come back again and activate the next 5 years, Simple.
Do I have to do 90-day reporting?
Yes. Like the standard retirement visa, you have to report to immigration every 90 days.
What if I want to leave the country and come back in again, within the 5-year period?
The visa is multiple entry, so you can leave and re-enter at any time.
Can I work on an O-X visa?
No. Employment of any kind is strictly prohibited.
What financial conditions are there?
You must have a bank deposit of no less than 3M Baht in a Thai bank account, or a bank deposit of no less than 1.8M Baht and an annual income of no less than 1.2M Baht. You must have this bank deposit in full for at least one year, and keep at no less than 1.5M Baht in the bank account thereafter.
Any other conditions?
Yes. You must have Thai health insurance for the entire duration of your stay. Your coverage must include outpatient treatment of no less than 40,000 Baht, and inpatient treatment of no less than 400,000 Baht.
How much does the O-X visa cost?
Around $350 - $400 (USD) per application. Applications are non-refundable.
How long does it take to apply?
The processing times are as follows:
In person : 5 business days
By mail: minimum 15 business days
This type of visa may be issued to nationals and passport holders of Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States of America with the age of 50 years old and over who wish to stay in Thailand for the maximum period of 10 years (5 years according to visa validity plus an extension for another 5 years). Employment of any kind is strictly prohibited.
1.1 Applicant must be aged 50 years and over (on the day of submitting application).
1.2 Applicants must hold passport and nationality of (1) Japan (2) Australia (3) Denmark (4) Finland (5) France (6) Germany (7) Italy (8) the Netherlands (9) Norway (10) Sweden
(11) Switzerland (12) the United Kingdom (13) Canada (14) the United States of America
1.3 Having no criminal record in Thailand and the country of the applicant’s nationality or residence
1.4 Having the nationality of or permanent residence in the country where application is submitted
1.5 Financial qualifications
(a) Applicants must have money deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand with the amount of not less than 3 million Baht; or
(b) Applicants must have money deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand with the amount of not less than 1.8 million Baht and have income with the amount of not less than 1.2 million Baht per year. Once the applicants enter Thailand, they must have accumulated money deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand not less than
3 million Baht within 1 year.
The money in (a) and (b) must be kept in bank account at least 1 year before withdrawing and, within another next year, the money must be left in the account with the amount of not less than 1.5 million Baht and can only be spent in Thailand.
1.6 Applicants must have no forbidden diseases according to the Ministerial Regulation No. 14 (B.E. 2535) which include Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Elephantiasis, drug addiction and third stage of Syphilis.
1.7 Applicants must have Thai medical insurance during their stay in Thailand (per the approval of the Office of Insurance Commission) and medical claims for outpatient must not be less than 40,000 Baht, for inpatient must not be less than 400,000 Baht.
2. Required Documents
2.1 Passport with validity of not less than six months from the date of travel.
2.23 copies of completed visa application forms
2.33 passport-sized photos (3.5 x 4.5 cm) of the applicant taken within the past six months
2.4 A personal data form
2.5 Certificate of bank deposit stating bank contact information, copy of bank book and bank statement which shows fixed deposit with the amount of not less than 3 million Baht deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand or certificate of bank deposit stating bank contact information, copy of bank book and bank statement which shows fixed deposit with the amount of not less than 1.8 million Baht deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand and certificate of annual income with the amount of not less than 1.2 million Baht (local currency equivalent) per year. (Once the applicants enter Thailand, they must have accumulated money deposited in Thai bank located in Thailand not less than 3 million Baht within 1 year.)
2.6 Certificate of criminal record clearance from the country of nationality. In case
the applicants have permanent residence in other country, they must provide
the aforementioned document from both country of nationality and country of permanent residence.
2.7 Medical certificate from the country where the applicants apply visa stating that applicants don’t have any prohibited diseases according to the Ministerial Regulation No. 14 (B.E.2535) which include Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Elephantiasis, drug addiction, third stage of Syphilis. The medical certificate must not be issued over 3 months.
2.8 Copy of evidence stating that applicants have insurance as per stipulated by the Office of Insurance Commission and health insurance of Thailand which has insurance money for outpatient not less than 40,000 Baht and for inpatient not less than 400,000 Baht.
Please check < http://longstay.tgia.org > for more information regarding the insurance requirement.
- Spouse (no age restriction) and child, age under 20 years old, can apply for Non-Immigrant O-X visa and must have the following required documents
· Spouse (in accordance with the definition stipulated in the Thai Laws) must show a copy of marriage certificate together with documents stated in 2.1-2.8.
· Child age under 20 years old must show a copy of birth certificate or proof of legitimate child and also have to submit documents number 2.1-2.4, and 2.8
3. Visa fee
350 EUR (about $395 United States Dollars) for multiple entries
(Visa fee may be changed without prior notice.)
4.How to Apply for Non-Immigrant O-X Visa (in case of applying outside Thailand)
1. Foreigners who have the required qualifications and supporting documents as stated above may apply for Non-Immigrant O-X Visa at the Royal Thai Embassy/Royal Thai Consulate-General in the country of their nationality or where they have permanent residence.
2. For Dutch nationals and the nationals of the other 13 eligible countries who have permanent residence in the Netherlands may submit an application at the Royal Thai Embassy, the Hague.
3. The Royal Thai Embassy/Royal Thai Consulate-General examines the qualifications and supporting documents and informs the result to the applicants.
4. In case that the visa is approved, foreigners (main applicant, spouse, and lawful child under 20 years old) will obtain a multiple-entry Non-Immigrant O-X visa with visa validity of 5 years
5. Upon arrival in Thailand, the immigration officer will grant the Non-Immigrant O-X visa holders the stay permit in the Kingdom for the period of not exceeding 5 years according to visa validity.
Other Useful Information
Benefits of the Non-Immigrant O-X visa holders
1) Can work as a volunteer (in accordance with the list of volunteer work as stipulated by the Department of Employment).
2) Can purchase vehicles (under the provision of laws on motor vehicles).
3) Can purchase condominiums (proceed in accordance with the Condominium Act).
- Foreigners who enter Thailand with other type of Visa/Visa Exemption may contact the Immigration Bureau and apply for Non-Immigrant O-X visa.
- Foreigners who enter Thailand with Non-Immigrant O-X visa may change from Non-Immigrant O-X to other type of Visa by submitting request to the Immigration Bureau. Spouse and child’s visa approval will be changed according to status of the main applicant. However, spouse can apply for Non-Immigrant O-X by himself/ herself if he/she meets the qualifications.
- Spouse/child who does not qualify for Non-Immigrant O-X visa may apply for other type of non-immigrant visa in order to stay in Thailand with the Non-Immigrant O-X visa holder.
- Upon the completion of 90 days stay period in Thailand, foreigners must notify the Immigration Bureau of their residence in Thailand and shall repeat at every 90 days interval.
- Foreigners must report, in person, to the immigration officer every 1 year for
the examination of the qualifications and supporting documents.
- Stay permit of the Non-Immigrant O-X visa holders may be revoked due to following conditions:
1) Foreigners do not have financial evidence as per stipulated by above qualifications such as:
- The sum of money in the bank account is less than 3 million Baht at the end of the first year of stay period in Thailand.
- the sum of money in the bank account is less than 1.5 million Baht at the end of the second year of stay period in Thailand, and/or the money in said account was spent outside Thailand.
2) Foreigners do not have insurance as per stipulated by above qualifications.
3) Foreigners pose threat to peace and security of Thailand.
4) Foreigners work without permission.
The Thailand Elite Visa
For those who’d like to skip the hassle at immigration, for those who can't deal with the bureaucracy and, let’s say, have deeper pockets than most, the Thailand Elite Visa might be a game changer.
What Is the Thailand Elite Visa?
On July 29, 2003, the Thai government passed an initiative known as the Thailand Privilege Card Project- a program enacted by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports.
The intention behind the Thailand Privilege Card Project is to generate income and revenue from foreign patrons to the Kingdom and also attract those visitors who are involved in business ventures, those who are investors and those who are looking to stay for long periods and improve the local economy.
For these visitors, the Thai government offers an ‘elite’ visa.
The Elite Visa was founded on the idea that Thailand would benefit greatly from the presence of the aforementioned visitors, while in turn offering multiple benefits for business, leisure, immigration, etc.
The scheme has gone through a number of changes, and this post will document its current terms and conditions.
Long period of visa validity
One visa is valid for 5 years regardless of the package selected. If you initially apply for a 20-year status, the visa will be automatically renewed every 5 years. This flexible multiple visa will allow you not to wait in long embassy queues and worry about administrative procedures concerning visa obtaining or renewal.
Pretty much anyone with the cash, except those without permission to be in Thailand, those who've been imprisoned in another country, and those who have been declared bankrupt at some point.
And BTW Elite Members must also be deemed sound and competent, medically. Hmm.. does that counts out most of us expats?! :)
You don't need to be in Thailand to apply. The form can be submitted electronically on the website.
As an ‘elite', you'll be granted a 5-year multiple entry visa.
Bear in mind that those registered as members are the sole recipients of the services, which means your family members won't enjoy all the benefits that you do. They do get some though.
Family members can join you through airport fast track, and benefit from the limousine service. They may also receive special discounts from shops and spas, but this will be based on the policies of the individual service providers.
The Different Packages
The Elite membership comes in several different packages, but essentially there are 6 core packages that fall under the umbrella of 4 different cards.
You can upgrade too. So if you find that your “eliteness” isn't enough and needs a boost, simply contact your assistant.
1. Elite Easy Access
– Membership validity of 5 years
– Costs 500,000 THB
– Members can be any age
– Services include: airport service, an arrival and departure lounge, short haul transfer service on international flights, discounts, call centers and government concierges
2. Elite Family Excursion (for minimum 2 persons)
– Membership validity of 5 years
– Costs 800,000 THB
– For additional family members there is a fee of 300,000 THB
– Service includes airport service, departure and arrival lounge access, short haul transfer service (4x per year), long haul transfer service (6x per year), discounts, call centers, and government concierges
3. Elite Family Alternative Package
– Membership validity of 10 years
– Costs 800,000 THB (plus an additional 700,000 THB for additional family members)
– Visa is 5-year renewable
– Services include airport service, departure and arrival lounges, discounts, call centers and government concierges
4. Elite Privilege Access Package
– The fee is 1,000,000 THB and each additional family member costs 800,000 THB
– Members can be any age and the visa is renewable after 5 years
– Services included: Airport service, departure and arrival lounges, short haul transfer service on international flights 18 times per calendar year, annual health check 1x per year, discounts, a call center and government concierges
5. Elite Superiority Extension
– Membership fee of 1,000,000 THB
– Visas that accompany this plan can be renewed after 5 years
– Services include: airport service, departure and arrival lounge availability, discounts, call centers and government concierges
6. Elite Ultimate Membership
– Membership fee of 2,000,000 THB and an annual fee of 20,000 THB
– Members must be over 20 years old
– Visa is renewable after 5 years
– Services include: unlimited airport and limousine pickup, golf / spa services 24x a year, one annual health check up, and government concierges
* The small print says: Membership is contingent upon the Company’s approval and receipt of the membership fee. The company may also disclose any and all personal information of the member. The company also holds the rights to terminate the agreement at any time.
Key Elite Member Benefits:
Here's an overview of the benefits. After I'm done listing these I'll give my thoughts and opinions regarding the Elite visa scheme - JC
Expedited Arrival & Departure
You will be greeted upon arrival by a Thailand Elite personal assistant who will take you to your car and shuttle you to a hotel or anywhere else you want to go. When departing, you'll be whisked through the check-in process and expedite passport control processing. A departure lounge is also provided for those with elite status.
Members with complimentary annual medical check ups can receive care at a number of hospitals in Bangkok, including:
Bangkok Hospital – Bangkok
Bangkok Hospital – Hua Hin
Bangkok Pattaya Hospital
Bangkok Phuket Hospital
Bangkok Samui Hospital
Bumrungrad International Hospital
Chiangmai Ram Hospital
Elite members are eligible for the following perks with Bangkok Bank when opening a specific FCD (Foreign Currency Deposit Account):
200 THB fee for fund receipt
200 THB fee for fund transfer
No minimum initial deposit
No minimum balance required
Maintenance fee waived
Invitation to become a Bualuang Exclusive Member
Becoming a Thailand Elite Member enables you to bypass long immigration lines at the airport. Thailand Elite has a priority line at immigration checkpoints and the process is facilitated by a Thailand Elite PA. Note that this service is only available in Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Phuket
You don't have to do 90-day reporting at an immigration office either. You do, however, have to take your passport to an office so that a member of staff can process it for you. You can pick up your passport again after 72 hours.
But! This service is only available in Bangkok, Chang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya.
The official line version of how this works is:
"Members have to do 90-day reporting of address every 3 months of continuous stay.
The process is as follows:
Drop passport with a completed TM47 form at our office from 09.00 – 15.00 every Tuesday.
EPL staff will take the passport with TM47 form to the immigration office on Wednesday.
Passport can be collected at the office on Thursday from 09.00-15.00."
Apparently, you will be entitled to special concierge services to facilitate dealing with both the Thai Government Sector and the Private Sector to enhance business opportunity and investment. I'll speak my mind on this in the next section.
Golf, Spa & Shopping Discounts
Complimentary rounds of golf are available at the Alpine Golf Club, The Bangkok Golf Club, the Bangpra Golf Club, the Banyan Golf Club Hua Hin, the Chiang Mai Highland Golf & Spa Resort and many others.
Elite members are also eligible for a free one and a half hour massage. You and your guests get a 15% discount on massages in Laguna Phuket, as well as a 15% discount on selected items at this spa.
Elite Members get a 10% discount on regularly priced merchandise, excluding certain items at the Emporium Department Store, Paragon Department Store and the Em Quartier.
My Final Thoughts and Opinions
My Opinions on the O-X
My first impression, when I saw “5 years” was “wow”! But then I saw three obvious points or issues and I wasn't that impressed:
1. You still have to do 90-day reporting
If this is the case, why not just get a one-year extension based on retirement for 1,900 Baht? I'm talking about the standard O-A visa (retirement visa) or the one year extension based on retirement. The extension takes me about 2 hours every year to do.
If you have to visit immigration every 90 days anyway, you might as well just extend your visa each year – as long as you meet the financial requirements for the retirement visa. Also they have 90-day reporting online now so you would not have to make a trip at all for the 90 day reporting if you didn't want to but re-apply for an extension once a year.
2. A fairly big financial commitment
3M THB in a Thai bank account, tied up for 10 years at pretty much zero interest rate really isn't an attractive proposition. Most savvy expats would balk at this idea. That sort of cash could be making 3-5% interest quite happily elsewhere!
Of course, you could always go for the 1.8m THB and 1.2m THB income (yearly) option. But even then, it's far more than the 800k you need for a standard 1-year retirement extension. Not a good deal to me.
3. Having to take out a health insurance policy
This is less of an issue if the proposed regulation goes into effect regarding O-A visa applicants also needing to comply. As of this writing the one year visa extension from within Thailand is exempt from the insurance requirement. But having said that, if possible I do recommend getting a good Thai major medical policy if possible.
Talk to my agent Loic at Pacific Cross to get details and quotes. Use this special email address to jump the long queue: firstname.lastname@example.org
My opinions on the Elite Visa
OK so you get an Elite Visa. It makes you feel good. And then what are the upsides?
Most people don't really need a 5-year visa; they usually fly home at least once every 2 years. But this might suit those who aren't very mobile and for whom it is a hassle to extend each year.A one-off payment: you get a fancy card, you don't wait in line at the airport with the common-folk, you don't have to pay for a car to the airport, you can whip out your expensive card at over-priced spas and malls.
On balance though, the real benefits are:
If you live in one of the major cities, you can avoid 90-day reporting at an immigration office (but now can report online anyways).
You can potentially stay for 5-years, because the visa is renewable in Thailand (can be rolled over – the period is 5 years).
You can avoid the hassle of complying to the financial requirements of a retirement visa or extension.
It's a way for anyone not yet eligible for a retirement visa to stay long term without visa run hassles.
And then there are those who have a ton of money, and for whom depositing 3 million THB in a Thai bank is a drop in the ocean, as long as they don't have to think about extending each year.
The 1.8 million THB and 1.2 million THB income combination is less of a commitment, and if you just want to get a visa one time (for 10 years) and have done with it — and then report online every 90 days — it's a little bit of a time saver, at least it is once a year when you'd otherwise have to extend on a O-A retirement visa.
- Remember though: not all the benefits apply to every tier. So you need to analyze the tiers before making a decision.
If you have 500k-2M Baht to spare and your kids won't mind losing this part of their inheritance, it does make life easier.
I personally wouldn't go for one unless I had the spendable income or I wasn't of age to get the retirement option. I do hate dealing with immigration, but I'm young enough to endure a queue and book my own taxi.
If I had a spare $16,000 USD (13,500 GBP) and wasn't 50 years old yet, I would consider it.
2023 Elite Visa UPDATE
I think the changes go into effect on Oct 1st. And yes it seems there will be substantial price increases.
Thai Elite Visa Set for Revamp on October 1st: Expect Price Hikes of “50-500%” Says Leading Agent
The Thailand Privilege Card Co., which manages the Thai Elite Visa program, informed its accredited agents that, on October 1st (the start of the Thai fiscal year), it would be launching an entirely new suite of membership packages in connection with the company’s rebranding plan on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the program.
Following what it characterized as a “careful consideration with all stakeholders”, it would be discontinuing all the programs existing membership packages and replacing them with new memberships on October first.
Thailand Elite Visa offerings have attracted a large number of foreign nationals from various parts of the world since it was first introduced. The availability of these visas has led to a significant improvement in the quality of life for applicants seeking entry into Thailand. This has made it a highly sought-after method among individuals from all over the world who wish to visit or reside in the country. Regrettably, every enjoyable experience ultimately concludes at some point.
In 2023, the Thailand Elite Visa program will undergo significant changes. The Thailand Privilege Card Co., Ltd. has recently announced that there will be adjustments in the pricing of the visa program. As a result, all existing packages will be discontinued starting from October 1, 2023. It's important for individuals interested in obtaining or renewing their Thailand Elite Visa to take note of these upcoming changes.
As per the new update, the following Thailand Elite Visa programs will be discontinued and rebranded on October 1, 2023 (from the https://www.thaiembassy.com/ website:
- Elite Easy Access
- Elite Privilege Access
- Elite Family Alternative
- Elite Family Excursion (discontinued on June 16, 2023)
- Elite Superiority Extension
- Elite Ultimate Privilege
- Elite Family Premium
- Elite Maxima Health