A retirement visa is available for people 50 or over and allow for a single stay of one year with an extension inside Thailand. Apply at any Thai consulate for a Non-immigrant Visa category O-A. This is a Non-O visa pre-approved for retirement. When applying, state the reason for the visa as “To plan for permanent retirement.” When entering Thailand, permission to stay will be given for 90 days.
During the last 30 days of your permitted stay, apply at your local Immigration office for an annual extension for the purpose of retirement.
To apply using either method, you will need the following:
- Three copies of application form TM.7
- Original and copy of passport with validity remaining of not less than 18 months.
Three passport-sized photos of the applicant taken within the past six months. There is a 500 baht fee to have the photos made.
Letter from your embassy saying you wish to retire in Thailand. Make a copy of the letter; you can use it in future extensions. Immigration will accept a copy, but they want to see the original.
Verification stating that the applicant has no criminal record, issued from the country of nationality or residence. The verification shall be valid for not more than three months and should be notarized by your embassy if applying in Thailand. If applying for an O-A visa in your home country, you will need a letter from the police stating you have no criminal record and you are not wanted by the police.
Proof of a sum of 800,000 baht (or equivalent in another major currency) in a Thai bank bearing your name, or an income of not less than 65,000 baht per month or a combination of the two. For example: 400,000 baht in the bank and 32,500 baht per month income. Money in the bank must have been in your bank account for at least 3 months prior to application to prove that the money wasn’t borrowed to get the visa extension. You will need to show a bank statement or bank certified letter, not just your bank book. If applying for an O-A visa in your home country, you will need to show the equivalent amount of money in a bank in your home country. A bank statement will usually suffice.
If the applicant is in poor health or is sensitive to colder climates or has resided in Thailand for a long period, and is 50-59 years old, special circumstances may be given. The applicant must submit medical certificates and proof that he/she has lived in Thailand for a long time. Note: A medical certificate is no longer required for a retirement extension
The first time you get a retirement extension, your current visa (90 days) will be extended by about nine months, for a total of one year. Thereafter, the renewal is for one complete year periods and can be extended in Thailand at any Immigration office for 1,900 baht providing you maintain 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account or can show evidence of an income of 65,000 baht per month, or a combination of both.
The source of these funds must come from abroad, so when transferring money to your Thai bank account, it is necessary that you get a Foreign Exchange Transfer Form (FETF), formerly known as a Thor Thor 3, from your bank. If you are using foreign income as part of your financial proof, you must obtain from your embassy a notarized document indicating your annual income. This can be provided by the US Embassy for a fee of 1,200 baht. At the US Embassy American Citizens’ Services desk, fill in an “income” form and submit it for notarizing. It may be wise to take tax returns and other proof of income, but apparently, this is not usually requested by the US. The UK and Australian embassies are more likely to review income sources. (Note: you will still have to show a “reasonable” amount in a Thai bank account, probably at least 200,000 baht.)
You should not allow your bank balance to fall below 800,000 baht (assuming you are not using foreign income) until your retirement extension is approved. Once approved, unless you have funds coming from abroad, it is preferable to periodically withdraw money from this account for living expenses or Thai Immigration may suspect you are working, which is strictly prohibited. Unfortunately, being married to a Thai citizen does not reduce the 800,000 baht or 65,000 baht per month requirement.
“Make a money transfer to a Thai bank from a foreign account. No matter how much pension income you have, Immigration wants to see the bank account. Just before you go for your extension, you will have to go to your bank and tell them you need a letter to Immigration for extending your visa. It’s a pre-printed form. They need your passport with the visa stamp in it, which they will copy, and your bank book. In about ten minutes you’ll have your letter, signed by the bank officer. It cost me 200 baht.
“Get the letter copied, along with your passport and your bank book, making sure to copy the first page and all the pages with entries. I suggest you get the letter the day or so before you go for your extension; it has to be timely. In addition, you will need a letter from a doctor or a clinic. I went to a clinic on Central Road in Pattaya, with my lady as interpreter, and said I needed a letter for Immigration stating that I did not have any of the five dreaded diseases. The doctor pulled out a form, asked if I was healthy, looked at my passport and visa, and for 200 baht copied the number down on the form, along with my name, and handed it to me. No examination, no check-up. The form was written in Thai, but I assumed it was what I needed, and it was.
“Next, the American Embassy. It’s crowded and there’s no place to park, I suggest you take public transportation, or a cab. Inside there are two windows. I got in line and asked the lady for the form I needed, then went into the adjoining room and filled it out. Basically it asks you to enter your monthly income. It’s self-explanatory and very simple. I took all the W-2 forms, SS forms for the current year, and past three years. She didn’t ask for any of that. I handed in the form and in less than ten minutes the lady called my name. I went to the window and she asked me if the statements on the form I filled out were the truth to the best of my knowledge, to which I answered yes. She had me sign the letter from the embassy stating that I was a US citizen, with x amount of income every month from the U.S. government and/or other sources. It goes on to say you are applying for an extension of a current Thai visa and any assistance you can provide, etcetera. I signed it in her presence; she signed it, stamp-dated it, and that was that; 1,200 baht. Make one or two copies of the original. Keep the original for next year. They will accept a copy but they want to see the original.
“Now you’re ready to go to Thai Immigration. The one on Soi 5 in Jomtien was a snap. After I got everything together it took less than a half hour, but wherever you go, go early on Monday. They shuffle you around between three different officers, mostly women, but they were very polite, and most helpful. It cost 1,900 baht for the extension. And you have to report every 90 days.”