If you buy purely for investment, you might be fine with tourist visa or visa exemption, to occasionally check on your property and use up that complimentary owner stay. However many new homeowners are looking to stay here long term. Let’s explore your options.
Holders of normal passports of 64 (as of 2022) countries can enter Thailand without a visa for up to 30 days (Korea, Brazil, Peru, Argentina, and Chile get 90). There are certain conditions for visa exemption:
- The visit must be strictly for tourism purposes
- You must have a confirmed return ticket
- It’s also necessary to prove that you have funds of at least 10,000 THB/person during your stay in Thailand
- You are limited to 2 visa exemption entries per calendar year if you are entering Thailand via land or sea border (an exception would be Malaysia citizens entering via land border - they can get unlimited 30 days exemptions). There is no such limits if you are entering by air.
Countries that are eligible for visa exemption:
- Argentina (90 days)
- Brazil (30 days and 90 days)
- Cambodia (14 days only)
- Chile (90 days)
- Czech Republic
- Hong Kong
- Korea (30 days and 90 days)
- Myanmar (14 days only)
- New Zealand
- Peru (30 days and 90 days)
- San Marino
- Slovak Republic
- South Africa
- United Arab Emirates
- United Kingdom
- United States
Visa on arrival
Nationals of 19 (as of 2022) countries are eligible for visa on arrival. This visa is issued for 15 days.
- The visit must be strictly for tourism purposes.
- The passport must be valid for at least 30 days.
- You must have a confirmed address for your stay in Thailand (it can be a hotel or apartment).
- You must have a confirmed return ticket.
- It’s also necessary to prove that you have funds of at least 10,000 THB/person or 20,000 THB/family during your stay in Thailand.
Fee of 2000 THB is payable for visa on arrival.
Note that this visa is only available if you arrive by air to one of Thailand’s international airports.
Countries that are eligible for visa on arrival.
- Papua New Guinea
- Saudi Arabia
This is a 60 day visa issued for tourism purposes. The visa can be single or multiple entry. The validity is 3 or 6 months respectively. When you are staying in Thailand under Tourist visa you can extend it for another 30 days in local Immigration Bureau.
Long term options
This type of visas is available for people over 50 years old. In order to qualify for this visa you need to meet one of the following requirements:
- Have at least 800,000 THB in Thai bank account under your name. The money have to be in your account for at least 2 months before making an application.
- Have monthly income or pension at least 65,000 THB.
- Have a combination of annual income, pension or money in Thai bank adding up to at least 800,000 THB
To obtain this visa you need to first get an initial 3 month visa called Non-immigrant O visa. After 60 days you can apply for retirement visa.
Retirement visa needs to be extended annually, proof of funds needs to be submitted every time.
Officially known as a Non-Immigrant ED Visa. This visa allows foreign nationals over 12 years old to study in Thailand on a recognized full-time educational course. To be considered full-time, the student must attend at 100 hours of classes for every 90 days of visa. The school and course must be recognized by the Thai Government.
Holder of education visa is entitled to stay in Thailand for 90 days. This period can be extended up to 1 year from the day they enter Thailand.
Officially known as Non-Immigrant O Marriage Visa. This visa is intended for foreigners who are married to Thai nationals. Apart from valid marriage certificate, you also need to show either proof of funds in the amount at least 400,000 THB in Thai bank, or monthly income at least 40,000 THB (or combination of money in bank and annual income totaling at least 400,000 THB).
Like for retirement visa, you need to apply for 3 months Non-immigrant O visa first, and then convert to marriage visa.
Marriage visa is renewable annually.
While marriage visa itself doesn’t allow you to work in Thailand, it does allow you to apply for work permit.
Officially known as Non-Immigrant Visa B (Business). This visa is for foreign nationals intending to do business, work or undertake investment in Thailand.
This visa can be single- or multi-entry:
- 90 Days Non-Immigrant Visa (Single-Entry) - allows a single visit up to 90 days.
- 1-Year Non-Immigrant Visa (Multiple-Entry) - allows multiple entries during 1 year period (however single stay duration still cannot be over 90 days).
Note that the above applies for the scenario of doing business in Thailand, not employment. Visa itself doesn’t give you right of employment in Thailand - you need to get work permit. However in most cases it’s necessary to get business visa first in order to apply for work permit.
In case of employment you need to apply for business visa from your home country under employment category (the employer will sponsor the visa). Then once you came to Thailand, within the first 90 days of your stay work permit application will take place. Once you obtain the work permit, you can then apply for 1-Year Non-Immigrant B visa extension at your local immigration office. The 1-year visa and work permit will then be extended annually.
A new visa program launched in 2018 and aimed at attracting highly-skilled professionals and investors in priority industries, including:
- Next-Generation Automotive
- Smart Electronics
- Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism
- Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Food for the Future
- Automation and Robotics
- Aviation and Logistics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Medical Hub
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Human Resource Development in Science and Technology
- Environmental Management and Renewable Energy
There are 4 types of SMART visa:
- SMART Visa “T” (Talent). Aimed at highly skilled professionals in the targeted industries.
- Science and technology experts in targeted industries
- Salary over 100,000 THB/month (over 50,000 THB if you will work for a startup or you are a retired expert who has endorsements from a relevant agency)
- Employment contract with remaining validity of at leastv1 year
- Employing companies being in the targeted industries
- SMART Visa “I” (Investors). Investors in technology-based business in the targeted industries
- Minimum direct investment of 20 million THB in technology-based business in one of targeted industries, individually or through a venture capital company
- Business you are investing in must be using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and in one of the targeted industries
- SMART Visa “E” (Executives). Senior executives in technology-based companies in the targeted industries
- Holder of Bachelor’s degrees or higher with work experience in one of relevant fields over 10 years
- Salary over 200,000 baht/month
- Employment contract with remaining validity over 1 year
- High-levels executives in senior management positions working for companies using technology in manufacturing or delivering services and being in the targeted industries
- SMART Visa “S” (Startup). Technology-based startup entrepreneurs in the targeted industries
- Must set up a company in the targeted industries in Thailand within 1 year with at least 25% ownership or being a board member
- Participating in an endorsed incubation, accelerator program or a similar program/or obtaining joint venture with or being endorsed by a relevant government agency
- Must make a deposit of at least 600,000 THB in Thai bank or in your country of residences, which has been held for at least 3 months
- Must have health insurance for the duration of your stay in Thailand
- SMART Visa “O”, for the family members (dependents spouse and children) of one of the main SMART Visa holders above
SMART visa offers a number of benefits compared to other programs
- Visa can be issued for up to 4 years (as long as your work contract lasts that long)
- You don’t need to apply for work permit to work in an eligible company
- You only need to report your stay to immigration every year (as opposed to usual 90 days)
- You don’t have to apply for re-entry permit if you are traveling abroad
- Your spouse and children over 18 years old are allowed to work in Thailand without having to get a work permit
In order to obtain SMART visa your relevant qualifications (depending on the visa type these may include academic qualifications, certificates, endorsements, publications, research projects, proof of previous employment) need to be submitted via SMART visa website and verified by government first (note that most of these qualifications aren’t needed for SMART visa type O).
Application and renewal fees for SMART visa are 10,000 THB.
Thailand Elite visa
Thailand Elite is a special long-term visa privilege program allowing stay in Thailand for 5, 10 or 20 years (depending on specific package selected) in exchange for a membership fee.
Thailand Elite program is operated by Thailand Privilege Card Company Limited - wholly-owned subsidiary of Ministry of Tourism and Sport. In order to get the visa, you must purchase one of Thai Elite Privilege Card membership programs.
These visas are categorized under Tourist visas (Privilege Entry Visa “PE”) and is issued as 5 year renewable multiple-entry visa (meaning that 10 and 20 years packages consists of 2 and 4 five-year visas respectively).
Thailand Elite visas have a number of benefits:
- Thailand Elite visas are 5-year multiple entry visas with 1-year extendable duration of stay (which means that you can stay in the Kingdom uninterrupted for up to 5 years under single visa, however if you aren’t leaving the country for a year you need to extend your stay for another year; in case of 10 or 20 year visas, you also need to renew visa every 5 years)
- Thailand Elite staff can represent visa holders in Immigration Offices in major destinations for 90 days report
- Thailand Elite holders will receive expedite passport and immigration processing when arriving to Thailand
- Thailand Elite card holders will be offered multiple additional benefits and privileges, which, depending on specific program, can include use of exclusive airport lounges in select airports, limousine service, annual health check up, special discounts in selected hotels, restaurants, shopping venues, assistance with opening bank account and getting Thai driver license, complimentary spa treatments, complimentary golf green fees and more.
Thailand Elite visa cost starts from 600,000 THB, depending on specific program. You can learn more in our dedicated article.
In 2021 Thai government also introduced Thailand Elite Flexible One visa, which is a 5-year old visa granted to buyers of units over 10M THB in select condominium projects, however the lineup of available projects is quite limited.
Long Term Resident Visa
LTR is a new visa program that started on September 1st 2022. The visa focuses on attracting affluent people and top talent in targeted industries.
The following categories of people are eligible for the visa:
- Wealthy global citizens: at least $1,000,000 in assets, minimum investment of $500,000 in Thailand (property is one of the options), personal income at least $80,000 per year for the past 2 years
- Wealthy retirees: personal income of at least $80,000/year at the time of application; alternatively, if the income is below $80,000/year but no less than $40,000/year, applicants can invest at least $250,000 in Thailand
- Work-from-Thailand professionals: personal income of at least $80,000/year in the past two years (or $40,000/year and either masters degree, intellectual property ownership or series A funding). At least 5 years of work experience in the relevant fields of the current employment over the past 10 years. Must be employed in a public company or private company with good standing (3+ years of operation, 150M USD income over last 3 years)
- Highly-skilled professionals: employment in targeted industries, personal income of a minimum of $80,000/year in the past two years (or $40,000/year and either Masters degree or above in science or technology, or relevant special expertise); at least 5 years of work experience in the targeted industries (except for applicants with a PhD or above); no degree or income requirements are applicable in case of employment by Thai government agencies
- Spouses and dependents of the main applicant under the above categories.
Holder of LTR visas will received the following privileges:
- 10 years renewable visa permission to stay in Thailand (it’s initially granted for 5 years, and can be extended for 5 more if the qualifications are upheld).
- Immigration and work permit facilitation services at One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit
- 90-day report extended to 1-year report; exemption of re-entry permit
- Multiple re-entry permit
- 17% Personal income tax for Highly-skilled professionals
- Tax exemption for overseas income
- Permission to work in Thailand (Digital Work permit)
- Exemption from 4 Thais to 1 foreigner employment requirement ratio
- Fast Track Service at International Airports in Thailand
You can read more in our dedicated article on Long Term Resident Visa.