Retire in Thailand: Non-Immigrant O Visa Options for Over-50s

img-featured-retire-thailand-non-o-visa-over-50

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Share

If you are 50 years old or older, Thailand has a category of visa that allows you to stay for periods longer than the typical 30-day tourist visa. Known as the Non-Immigrant O visas, this article will look at three variations:

  • Non-Immigrant Visa O
  • Non-Immigrant Visa O-A
  • Non-Immigrant Visa O-X

Each of these visas will be explained in detail so you can better understand your options for staying in Thailand long term. Other variations of this visa are available for other purposes, for example supporting a Thai dependent, volunteering at a nonprofit, receiving medical treatment, or awaiting judicial proceedings. This article will focus solely on the three most common age-based visas listed above.

These Non-Immigrant O visas are often referred to as “retirement visas” because of the minimum age requirement of 50 years. Also, none of these visas permit employment in Thailand of any kind. For information on work visas, click here. You will also see and hear these visas referred to by shortened names: Non O, Non O-A, and Non O-X.

These visas allow for the recipient to reside in Thailand for at least a year. The Non O is a 90-day visa that can be converted into a 1-year visa in Thailand. Alternatively, you can apply directly for a one-year Non O-A visa in your home country and skip the 90-day Non O. The Non O-X is a longer-term visa offering up to a 10-year stay.

All three of them require the visa holder to demonstrate in two ways that they will not become a financial burden to Thailand. First, by proof of financial viability, either by maintaining a minimum balance of funds in a Thai commercial bank or by providing proof of monthly income in Thailand, including pension or social security payments. Second, by showing proof of health insurance coverage which is valid and accepted in Thailand. This coverage must specifically cover COVID-19-related expenses.

As with most countries’ immigration procedures, the longer the stay, the more assurances the authorities will want from you in the way of documents and records attesting to your financial stability, good character, and good health. For instance, applying for the initial 90-day term of a Non O visa is a straightforward process through your home country’s Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate website. However, extending these initial 90 days to the full year requires more complicated documentation and processes.

Let’s take a look at each of the three visas individually.

Non-Immigrant Visa O (Retirement)

The Non O visa offers an initial 90-day stay in Thailand. You can apply for the visa in your home country through a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate website or in person. It is also possible to apply in Thailand at an Immigration Bureau office if you enter the country as a tourist. However, we do not recommend applying in Thailand because it requires additional applications, extensions, and expenses.

Application in your home country should be made at least 15 days prior to your scheduled departure for Thailand. In addition, you should give yourself time to submit your passport to the Thai Embassy or Consulate for the visa stamp. The Thai Immigration Bureau has informed us it is not accepting electronic evidence of visa issuance on arrival, meaning you must have a physical stamp in your passport. You should also check with your local Thai Embassy or Consulate website for the latest fees and processing particulars.

Once on the website, you will see a link to a short application and declaration form. You will also need to upload digital copies of:

  • The biographic page of your passport (with at least six months remaining until expiration)
  • Two passport-sized photos
  • Flight confirmation
  • A recent bank statement from your home country showing a balance of at least US$700
  • Two copies of a health insurance policy covering you in Thailand, including COVID-19 -related coverage, with a coverage limit of at least US$50,000

Once you receive preliminary approval via the website, you will bring or send your passport to the embassy/consulate along with the nonrefundable fee (approximately US$150 for a multiple-entry visa) and a self-addressed return envelope. Once the visa is stamped in your passport, you’re ready to go.

Note: If you are applying from your home country, you should not travel to Thailand until you receive a physical Non O visa stamp in your passport. Thai Immigration will only accept a visa stamp in a passport and will not accept electronic verification that a Non O visa was issued by an embassy or consulate.

Extending the 90-day Non O visa to a full year

After arrival in Thailand and completing the current COVID-19 entry requirements (e.g., testing and/or quarantine), you can focus on extending your 90-day Non O visa to a full year. The first step is to establish your financial resources. This involves opening an account at any Thai commercial bank and depositing THB800,000. You’ll need to maintain this balance for two months before applying for your extension. You can also begin depositing your pension, social security, or other income into your Thai bank account.

If you have already been in Thailand for a while and have a Thai bank account, there is an alternative to depositing THB800,000 and keeping it there for two months, but it requires planning well in advance. You can establish your financial resources by depositing at least THB65,000 a month for 12 months prior to applying for the visa extension. You can then supply a letter from your bank establishing this deposit history and balance, and get your extension on this basis without needing to tie up THB800,000.

After two months and with your financial resources established, you will be ready to process a one-year extension with the Thai Immigration Bureau main office in Bangkok or the nearest Provincial Immigration Office wherever you reside in Thailand.  Because you will be asking to stay in Thailand for an extended time, the Immigration Bureau will look more closely at you and your documents. It’s always helpful for the first extension to confer with someone experienced in the process and, if you don’t speak Thai, to bring someone along who does, particularly if you reside in a more rural province.

Here’s what you’ll need to apply for the Non O visa extension. Be sure to sign each page of any document you submit.

  • The completed application and acknowledgement of your obligation to be truthful
  • A copy of your passport (biographical page, visa stamp, departure card)
  • Proof of residency (rental agreement, utility bills)
  • Proof of financial capability: [1]
    • Same-day letter from your bank verifying a balance of THB800,000 for two months (banks charge about THB200 for this service)
    • Copy of your updated bank book showing the required balance
  • Two passport photos (4 cm x 6 cm; wear a collared shirt with white background)
  • Hand-drawn map of the location of your residence
  • Fee of THB1,900

Note that once your visa has been extended, you are required to report your residency status to the Thai Immigration Bureau every 90 days. 90-day reporting involves submitting the TM47 form in person or online to the nearest immigration office or, if none is near, police station. Also note that you will need to apply for a re-entry permit to maintain your visa status if you ever travel outside of Thailand, including to your home country.

Non-Immigrant Visa O-A (Long Stay)

You have to apply for the one-year Non O-A visa in your home country at a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate. Because you’re asking to stay in the Kingdom for a full year, you will need to establish your financial resources, good character, and good health before the visa is issued. Your application will also require review and approval from the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. This process can take six to eight weeks, significantly longer than the Non O application, so plan your travel accordingly.

We advise that you not travel to Thailand until you receive your Non O-A visa stamp in your passport. Thai Immigration will only accept a visa stamp in a passport and will not accept electronic verification that a Non O-A visa was issued by an embassy or consulate.

Annual extensions, 90-day reporting, and the need for re-entry permits are essentially the same as with the Non O visa described above.

Here are the additional application requirements for a Non O-A visa:

  • A certificate from your home country’s national law enforcement agency (e.g., US FBI) establishing your clean criminal record. You should also not have a criminal record in Thailand.
  • A medical certificate stating that you are free from the following diseases: leprosy, tuberculosis, drug addiction, elephantiasis, and third-phase syphilis
  • A health insurance policy with coverage for one year and a coverage limit of THB3,000,000 including COVID-19 coverage

The primary benefit of the Non O-A visa is the initial full-year term. The downsides are the increased time and complexity of the application process, additional expenses for the health and criminal history documents, and the need to be reviewed by two Thai government agencies, with the risk of rejection if your health or criminal history have any blemishes.

If you’re not in a hurry, have an unblemished record, and already have or plan to purchase robust health insurance, this may be the right visa for you. Otherwise, the Non O visa process described above will allow you to get to the Kingdom sooner with less expense and hassle.

Non-Immigrant Visa O-X (Extra Long Stay)

The Non O-X visa is a 10-year visa for those aged 50 or older. It is issued for an initial term of five years and can be extended for a second five-year term. It is only available to citizens of Australia, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States. You can apply in your home country through a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate or in Thailand at the Immigration Bureau. The requirements for demonstrating good character and health are substantially the same as for the Non O-A visa described above. The most important differences are with establishing financial resources.

The financial bar for the Non O-X visa is higher than for the Non O and Non O-A visas. To apply for the Non O-X, you will need to show a balance of THB3,000,000 in a Thai commercial bank. Once in Thailand, you will need to establish financial capability with Thai immigration every year by maintaining a minimum balance of THB1,500,000. Alternatively, you can deposit a monthly income of at least THB150,000 in a Thai commercial bank for one year and then have your bank certify these deposits.

The benefit of the Non O-X visa is the long five-year term free from the need to deal with annual visa extensions. The downside is you’ll be tying up considerably more funds compared to the Non O-A, while still needing to invest the same amount of time and money in the application process. It’s also important to note that the Thai government has announced other long-term options are being developed for investors, high-net-worth individuals, digital nomads, and for certain high-skilled professionals. Therefore, it may be worth waiting for these visa options to be finalized by the Thai government before committing to the Non O-X at this time.

Tips for a Successful Outcome

Share

Mark Friedman

Managing Director of Baan Thai
Mark is a member of the California Bar and a 1987 graduate with honors from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law.

Follow: