Dynamic young retirees from all over the world are looking at Thailand as a land of opportunity to enjoy a peaceful, luxurious and affordable retirement.

Whilst on its face, the Thai retirement visa may seem like the natural route, those that consult with professionals are often advised to walk away from the retirement visa and instead opt for one of the various types of Thailand Elite Visas for a multitude of reasons.

After years of experience in the immigration industry, notably in Thailand, Harvey Law Group has come to the same conclusion and has in fact taken a step further to become an approved agent for Thailand Elite Visas.

The purpose of this article is to shed some light on some of the key reasons why we believe Thailand Elite Visas are generally more attractive than retirement visas.

1. Long term validity of the visa brings certainty and peace of mind

Retirement visas only have a 1-year validity period. This means that every single year, the applicant has to visit the immigration department to renew the visa and to go through the hurdles again and again, from digging up documentation to being interviewed by immigration officers. Not only does this inconvenience and spoils ones retirement which is meant to be stress free but, it means that every year the applicant is in the uncomfortable position of wondering if the visa will indeed be renewed or if they will have to go back to their home country. This will also mean annual extra costs.

On the other hand, the Thailand Elite membership have a validity period between 5 and 20 years, depending on the specific sub-scheme the applicant signs up for. While the visa validity is of a year, the visa will automatically be extended for another year each time a member exit and re-enter the Kingdom of Thailand and so until expiration of the membership. This means that members will enjoy long term peace of mind, free from burdensome administrative duties with the freedom to travel around the globe without having to worry about being physically in Thailand every year to renew their visa. In case a member stayed in Thailand for a period of over a year, a visa renewal at a Thai immigration office will be necessary. All Elite packages include the assistance of an Elite Personal Assistant for the first renewal which ensures a smooth and easy processing.

2. Fast processing

On average, the Thailand Elite Visa applications are processed within 4-5 weeks. Applicants are often happily surprised with how little documentation is required to apply. Requiring only a passport copy, a completed application form, and a photo - this is one of the most convenient and easiest programs to apply for.

In contrast, retirement visas take substantially longer to process, averaging 12 weeks - and often taking much longer due to the time required to gather supporting documents and liaise with immigration officers in order to receive a decision. In addition, annual renewals are known to take just as long as all the necessary documentation needs to be updated and resubmitted. Hence, a fair amount of anticipation, planning and patience is required to ensure many minimum conditions are met, including:

  • evidence to show at least THB 800,000 in a local Thai bank account; or evidence of revenue above THB 65,000 (per month and for a period of 12 months). A combination of the two reaching the amount of THB 800,000 annually is also an option;
  • evidence of suitable health insurance;
  • police clearance certificate; and
  • medical certificate.

3. No mandatory health insurance

A key point for many retirees is that no medical insurance is required for the Thailand Elite Visa. As it is mandatory to provide insurance coverage to be eligible for the retirement visa, the applicant may end up spending more on insurance cover than they would to apply for the Thailand Elite Visa.

In addition, retirees for whom medical insurance is a priority often fund the Thai Elite Maxima Health sub-scheme under Thailand Elite Visa suitable, because it provides health insurance and a 5-year Thailand Elite Visa for as little as THB 1,500,000.

4. No age restrictions

The retirement visa is a no-go if you are under 50 years old, as they do not accept applicants under this age. There is no such restriction under the Thailand Elite Visa which is accessible to all regardless of age.

5. Conciergerie assistance

The 90-days reporting requirement to the Thai immigration is necessary for both the Thailand Elite Visa and the retirement visa. However, with Thailand Elite Visa, the applicant can simply drop their passport at the Thai Elite office right in the heart of Bangkok, get it back the next day, and avoid the crowd and queue of the immigration office - whereas a retirement visa holder must satisfy the reporting requirement in person. 

6. Luxurious benefits

Thailand Elite Visa holders also enjoy exclusive and luxurious benefits such as spa, golf, and shopping discounts. In addition, Thailand Elite Visa holders get the luxury of having access to a personal assistant to help with government and administrative applications for example, when an applicant wants to obtain a driving license.

Official agents to Thailand Elite can assist in selecting a suitable package. Harvey Law Group has been an authorized agent of the Thai Elite program since 2013.

If you would like further advice on the Thailand Elite Visa or other residency visa and citizenship by investment programs offered, contact experienced immigration lawyersat https://www.harveylawcorporation.com/contact/.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.