Thai Elite Visa


Thai Elite Visa

Thai Elite Visa

What is the best Thai Visa for someone wanting to stay in Thailand? Is it the Thai Elite Visa, Thai Retirement Visa, Thailand Marriage Visa, or a Non-immigrant Business Visa? This featured article will offer a comprehensive look into the world of Thailand visas for foreigners wishing to live in Thailand.

I have been working in the field of Thai immigration for the last 12 years. I started out working the night shift in the Bangkok headquarters for Thailand’s largest network of law offices. My responsibilities were to chat with visitors online and receive telephone inquiries to guide foreigners regarding which was the best Thai Visa for their travel to Thailand. I received calls and chats from nearly every country in the world. Each night I would consult with people from around the world who desired immigration advice for their upcoming long stay in Thailand. Nowadays, I lead the customer service team for Thai Immigration in the Bangkok law firm. I often speak to 15 to 20 people a day offering immigration advice for entering Thailand.

It is interesting to note that Thai visa issuance policies change almost on a monthly basis. When I am home at night I will often read the forums and blogs trying to stay on top of the latest experiences of persons who have made visa applications for Thailand at the Thai Embassies and Consulates around the world. About ten years ago it was commonplace for foreigners to obtain a 1-year multiple-entry Thailand visa by post within their home country using an invitation letter from a Thai Company. However, Thai Embassies restricted that practice, first in the UK, then in Australia, and finally in the US for the 1-year Thai Visas.

Thai Elite Visa

The Thailand Elite Visa is a long-term visa given to the Thailand Privilege Card members. It is categorized under Tourist Visa (Privilege Entry Visa “PE”) allowing residency in Thailand along with benefits for a period between 5, 10, or 20 years depending on the chosen package in exchange for a membership fee.

  • The Thai Elite Visa is a 5-year renewable multiple entry visa with an extendable 1-year length of stay per each entry.
  • The Thai Elite visa holder can have an uninterrupted stay in Thailand without the usual need to leave the country every 90 days as with the other visa types.
  • The Elite Visa holder will be represented by the Thai Elite staff on the 90-day reporting as required by the Thai Immigration.
  • Thai Elite Visa holders will receive expedited immigration formalities and passport control processing when arriving in Thailand

Thai Elite Visa Qualifications

The applicant/member must have and maintain to have the following qualifications:

  • Holder of a foreign passport
  • Being allowed to stay in Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws, which means the applicant has no overstay record in Thailand
  • No age limit is required for this program apart from the Elite Ultimate Privilege (Grand Package) which requires to be at least 20 years old
  • Not having been sentenced by a judgment to imprisonment in any countries except for an offense committed to negligence
  • Not having been adjudicated bankrupt
  • Not having been declared as a person of unsound mind, incompetence, or quasi-incompetence

The application for the Thai Elite Privilege Card membership and the Thai Elite Visa may take 1 to 3 months.

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How to Apply for Thai Elite Visa

  1. Application for Membership and Background Check
    You can apply for the Thailand Elite Visa whether you are in Thailand or abroad. All you need to do is to send a soft copy of your passport and application form to an accredited Thai Elite Visa agent. Then, the agent will work with the Thailand Elite Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Bureau to do immigration and criminal background check. The process may take 1 month for most nationalities and up to 3 months for special countries.
  2. Transfer of Membership Fee
    When the applicant has passed a background check and the application has been approved, the applicant will be instructed to transfer the membership fee. The membership fee ranges from 500,000 Thai baht to 2 million Thai baht depending on the membership package the applicant has applied for. The payment for the membership fee can be made through a bank transfer.
  3. Membership Acceptance
    After completing the payment or bank transfer, the applicant will receive the Membership ID and instruction on how to receive the visa.
  4. Visa Issuance
    The Thai Elite member can affix the Thai Elite visa at the Thai embassy or consulate in his/her respective country. The applicant has to drop his/her passport and come back to collect it on another day at the Thai embassy. If it is not convenient for the applicant to apply through the Thai embassy, it is also possible that the applicant obtains the Thai Elite Visa upon arrival in Thailand at Suvarnabhumi Airport. However, this option is unavailable during the COVID-19 travel restriction. In case that the Thai Elite member is in Thailand, the Thai Elite agent may arrange the visa issuance at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Thai Elite Visa?

The Thai Elite Visa is a special visa introduced in 2003 by the Ministry of Tourism and Sports that aims to attract affluent visitors, businessmen, investors, and expats to stay in Thailand long-term. It is a visa classified as a Privilege Entry Visa that is valid for 5 years with multiple entries without having to deal with so much paperwork or visits to the immigration office. The Thai Elite Visa holder will be allowed to stay in the country for up to 1 year on each visit.

How long is the Thai Elite Visa application process?

The Thailand Elite Membership and Thai Elite Visa application process may take 1 to 3 months depending on the nationality of the applicant and in case of immigration or criminal record of the applicant.

Do any Thai Elite application documents need a notary stamp or to be certified?

No. It is not required for the Thai Elite Visa application forms and copy of passport to be notarised or to be certified. A scanned copy sent through email or photocopy of these documents is sufficient.

What is the passport validity that is required for this Elite visa process?

Ideally, you need to have at least 5 years remaining in the validity of your passport. However, in case you have less than 5 years, the Thai Embassy or Immigration Bureau will affix the Thai Elite Visas based on the expiration date stated in your passport. The remaining validity of your visa will then be affixed to your new passport. It is also good to note that you need to have at least 3 blank pages in your passport.

Do I have to appear in person for the Thai Elite application?

No, it is not required to personally appear during the Thai Elite membership application. You will be represented by a sales agent during the membership application. However, your presence is required during the issuance of the visa whether it is at the Thai Embassy abroad, at Suvarnabhumi airport, or at the Bangkok immigration office.

What are the required documents for application for the Thai Elite Visa?

The required documents for the application of the Thai Elite membership are a copy of the profile page of your passport, colored ID photo with white background, duly accomplished application form, and copy of proof of relationship for any family member applying with the main applicant.

Is there an income requirement to hold the Thai Elite visa?

There is no income requirement to hold the Thai Elite Visa. The applicant only needs to pay the membership fee which will range from 500,000 Thai baht to 2 million Thai baht. Although there is no income requirement, one of the requirements to qualify as a member is that the applicant has not been adjudicated bankrupt.

How does the Thai Elite visa differ from the Thai Retirement visa?

The Thai Elite Visa differs from the retirement visa in such a way that the financial requirement or membership fee is non-refundable. The financial requirement for a retirement visa is deposited in the visa holder’s bank account as his/her own savings. The retirement visa must be renewed every year whereas the Thai Elite visa does not need to be renewed every year. Both Thai Elite Visa and Retirement Visa require 90-day address reporting.

Do I have to pay income taxes in Thailand as a Thai Elite visa holder?

The Thai Elite Visa is a privilege visa which falls under the special tourist visa category. The Thai Elite Visa holder does not need to pay income taxes especially when the income was derived abroad. There are instances where a Thai Elite Visa holder may voluntarily pay income tax in Thailand.

Can Thai Elite Visa holders buy real estate in Thailand?

Just like other foreigners, Thai Elite Visa holders can own condominiums in their own name. If applicants wish to acquire land and build a house, they can obtain a long-term lease on the land (for up to 30 years). They will need to apply for a construction permit to build the house in their own name. This way applicants can own the house and have a secured long-term lease on the land.

For inquiries about the Thai Elite Visa Application, please use this form to contact us.

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Type of Long-Term Thai Visas for Foreigners

Here are other types of long term Thai visas available to foreigners who wish to live or move to Thailand:

Thai Retirement Visa

This type of long term Thai visa is popular among retirees aged more than 50 years old. There are 3 types of retirement visa, namely:

  • Non-immigrant O visa extended into a Retirement visa
  • Non-immigrant OA visa valid for 1 year
  • Non-Immigrant OX visa valid for 5 years

Both the non-immigrant OA and OX are issued only by the Thai Embassy or Consulate in your country of residence. The applicant must meet the financial requirement of 800,000 THB savings in their bank account for the Non-Immigrant OA visa and 3 million baht for the Non-immigrant OX visa, or the required monthly income, together with the criminal record check, medical certificate, and health insurance.

For the Non-immigrant O visa, it is valid for 90 days and it can be issued by the Thai consulate or embassy from the country of residence or it can be issued in Thailand. Once the applicant receives this visa, he/she must open a bank account in Thailand and transfer the required funds of 800,000 THB. After 2 months, the applicant may convert to a retirement visa which is valid for 1 year. This type of retirement visa does not require a criminal background check, medical certificate, and health insurance. The extension of stay will be issued at the local immigration office of the applicant.

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Thai Marriage Visa

The Thai marriage visa is best suited to foreigners who are married to a Thai national. The marriage must be registered or reported in Thailand in order to obtain the visa. The application starts by obtaining the non–immigrant O visa from the Thai embassy or consulate abroad or in Thailand. After obtaining the non-immigrant O visa, the applicant may convert this visa into a 1-year marriage visa at the local immigration office. The applicant will be required to meet the financial requirement of having 400,000 THB savings in a Thai bank account or having 40,000 THB monthly income transferred into a Thai account or verified by the foreign embassy of the applicant. The marriage visa is valid for 1 year and it can be renewed annually in Thailand.

Thai Business visa

The non-immigrant B visa can be issued based on two purposes of stay:

  • Foreigners who wish to set up or conduct business in Thailand should apply for a Thai Non-Immigrant B visa under the “business” category. The applicant will be required to have a sponsorship from a Thai business partner or Thai entity. The visa holder may stay in Thailand for a maximum of 90 days per entry.
  • Foreigners who intend to work in Thailand should apply for an initial 90-Day Non-Immigrant B visa from their home country under the “employment” category. The applicant will be required to present a WP3 letter from the Labour Department when applying for the visa. After arriving in Thailand, the work permit application takes place during the initial 90 days given through the initial visa. Once a valid work permit is obtained, the applicant then applies for the one-year extension of stay inside Thailand and it can be renewed in Thailand every year.

Thai SMART Visa

The Thailand SMART Visa is a new type of visa specially designed to attract highly skilled manpower, investors, executives, and startup entrepreneurs wishing to work or invest in the following targeted industries in the Kingdom of Thailand. There are 4 categories of the SMART Visa namely:

  • SMART Talent Visa (T) which is available to science and technology experts who earn 200,000 baht per month and are employed by one of the ten targeted industries.
  • SMART Investor Visa (I) which is available to investors who make a direct investment of 20 million baht into companies that use technology in their manufacturing process or deliver services. These companies also must be in one of the ten targeted industries.
  • SMART Executive Visa (E) which is available to senior managers that have at least a Bachelor’s degree, ten years of work experience, and are earning a minimum of 200,000 baht per month. Similar to the SMART T and I Visas, senior managers must be employed by companies in one of the ten targeted industries.
  • SMART Startup Visa (S) which is for entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Thailand. To be eligible for this visa, you must deposit 600,000 baht in Thailand, have health insurance, and set up a company in one of the ten targeted industries within your first year.

Each of these four SMART Visas comes with a list of benefits, such as maximum 4-year permission to stay, one-year check-ins at immigration (instead of every ninety days), work eligibility for spouses and children without the need for work permits, and no re-entry permits. The interested applicant for these visas should get in touch with the BOI Thailand or Thailand Board of Investment.

How to Enter Thailand During COVID-19?

Due to the travel restrictions put in place by the Thai government since March this year, it would be difficult to enter Thailand during this pandemic. The situation is still unstable so the government policies on the visas are changing and this causes confusion to the foreigners both visitors or long-term expats in Thailand. To be able to ease the confusion, I have created the web pages: COVID-19 Guide for Travelers to and in Thailand and Can you enter Thailand now during the COVID-19 Crisis? that may provide up-to-date information to travelers stranded in Thailand and those who wish to travel to Thailand.

Recently, I also added the Thailand Special Tourist Visa page. I remember a woman in Tokyo who checks our page every day to get new information about her being able to enter Thailand and there’s also a lady who has an elderly father stranded in Thailand and was so scared that he may not be able to extend his visa amnesty. Having the opportunity to answer people’s questions and provide them the correct information and comfort during this difficult time is a rewarding experience and a great opportunity.

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Conclusion

The visas I have enumerated on this page would allow you to travel and enter Thailand with ease during this time or even after this pandemic. Should you be interested in any of these Thai visas or you seek professional advice on which visa is best suited for you, please do not hesitate to contact us. You may ask your question on the web form above or on the comment section below.

Immigration Consultant ThailandRex Baay
Senior Immigration Consultant
Siam Legal International

Rex joined Siam Legal in 2009 and throughout his 11 years of experience at the firm, he handled more than 800 immigration cases for Thailand. He has great knowledge of Thai non-immigrant visas, business visas, Thai marriage visa, retirement visa, Thai Elite visa for more complicated cases such as changing visas within Thailand. With a fluent grasp of English, he can provide an explanation that is simple and easy to understand about what to expect at every stage of the Thai Visa application process to the clients. He works hand-in-hand with our Thai immigration lawyer in Bangkok to assist foreign clients at the immigration office. His expertise can be invaluable to those in search of immigration assistance to Thailand. Feel free to contact him at our firm.

For inquiries about your Thai visa options, please post your comments or questions below.

21 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Andreas Lindholm
    March 18, 2021
    Reply

    Thanks Rex for a very informative site!
    Will see you wonderful people as soon as Thailand open ! choke dee! 🙏

    • Rex
      March 19, 2021

      Dear Andreas,
      Thank you so much for your kinds words. Have a good day.

  2. Avatar
    February 19, 2021
    Reply

    Thanks for share the useful information about Thai Elite Visa.

    • Rex
      February 19, 2021

      You’re welcome. Have a great day.

    • Avatar
      Paul
      March 5, 2021

      Hi

      My brother was deported from Thailand due to a minor drug offence and was banned for 2 years but that expires soon and he intends to move back to Thailand. He already has an elite visa so can he just arrive at the airport and enter on his elite visa or does he also need some other type of permission to re enter?

    • Rex
      March 12, 2021

      Dear Paul,
      If the Elite Visa has already been affixed in his passport, he may apply for the COE or Certificate of Entry to Thailand through this page:
      Thank you.

  3. Avatar
    Rob
    February 4, 2021
    Reply

    My wife and I are planning to use a Thai Elita Visa to come to Thailand and make it our home. Are we allowed to do some volunteer work such as helping the soi dogs and helping elderly people?

    Kind regards,

    Rob and Cindy
    The Netherlands

    • Rex
      February 4, 2021

      Dear Rob,
      Yes, you will be allowed to do some charity work but please make sure that you cannot do some activities that requires a work permit. There is a fine line between charity work and volunteer work. I recommend for you not to get too involved in case too much involvement will require a work permit.
      Thank you.

  4. Avatar
    Natpapha
    November 3, 2020
    Reply

    Please give me a sugestion.
    If the expat is holding the Thailand Elite Visa and they would like to work in Thailand. What should they do for this matter? They have to cancel the Thailand Elite Visa along with benefits and apply for the Non Immigrant B visa and Work Permit? or they can still hold their Thailand Elite Visa and just apply for Work Permit?

    • Rex
      November 3, 2020

      Dear Natpapha,
      Good day.
      If the Thai Elite Visa holder would like to work in Thailand. There is no need to cancel the 5 year visa. He or she just need to leave Thailand, obtain a new Non Immigrant B visa and use it to enter Thailand. While in Thailand he or she can apply for a work permit. If this person wishes to stop working, he or she can leave Thailand and return to Thailand and use the remaining validity of the Thai Elite Visa.
      Thank you.

  5. Avatar
    Jason
    November 3, 2020
    Reply

    Morning Rex,
    I’m thinking to apply to the Elite Thai Visa, should I be able to enter in Thailand currently under this visa ?

    Cheers

    • Rex
      November 3, 2020

      Dear Jason,
      Good day.
      Yes, the Thai Elite Visa holder or members were added to the list of foreigners allowed to apply for the COE and permitted to enter Thailand. We will send you an email on how you can sign up for the membership.
      Thank you.

  6. Avatar
    Myles Reed
    October 31, 2020
    Reply

    I am opening a Private School in Thailand. I have Thai business partners and investors in Private Limited company. Can performance requirements in contract require the civil courts to order me provided with a work permit Visa, during pandemic

  7. Avatar
    Thomas Hanrahan
    October 15, 2020
    Reply

    I have a n “O”(retirement) visa issued in Thailand. Do I have to re- apply for a Certificate of Entry and an O-A visa in order to re-enter Thailand? Thank you

    • Rex
      October 20, 2020

      Dear Thomas,
      Good day.
      it depends on the location where you are flying from. If you are in the UK, there was a report that Non Immigrant O retirement was issued a certificate of entry. If you are in the US, it was strictly stated that they would only issue a certificate of entry to those with non-immigrant OA visa, so if you do not have it, you may have to apply for this Non immigrant OA visa. I recommend to check with the local Thai embassy in your city or country.
      Thank you.

  8. Avatar
    Sutida
    October 14, 2020
    Reply

    Can we apply still for 1 Year non immigrant visa at the moment?

  9. Avatar
    Tom
    October 13, 2020
    Reply

    G’day mate.

    What is the fastest period of time that a Thai Elite Visa could be issued?

    • Rex
      October 13, 2020

      Dear Tom,
      Good day.
      Thank you for your message. Regarding your inquiry, the fastest time to complete the membership application and the application of the of the Thai Elite Visa is 1 month. There are factors that you have to consider when applying for the membership for Thai Elite: the nationality, immigration record in Thailand for the past 3 years and the working hours of the Thai Embassy where the Thai Elite visa will be lodged.
      Have a good day.

  10. Avatar
    Mark Rothschild
    October 7, 2020
    Reply

    Please advise the fees and waiting time to receive each of the following visa types:
    1.) One Year Non-Immigrant Visa
    2.) Business Visa
    3.) Thai Elite Visa

    My nationality is South African and I would be seeking employment with schools teaching English and Business English.
    Any other advice would be welcomed.
    Thank you.

    • Rex
      October 9, 2020

      Dear Mark,
      Good day. Regarding your inquiry, here are some of the information that you may need:
      1. Thai Elite costs 500,000 THB and the processing time is 1 to 3 months.
      2. Business Visa does not cost much but you need to have a Thai business partner to sponsor your application.
      3. 1 Year non immigrant visa does not cost much but you need to be a condominium owner, have a Thai wife or perhaps a retiree.
      Based on your information, you may look for a job in Thailand and then you may apply for the Non Immigrant B visa for employment and also apply for the Certificate of Entry from the Thai Embassy in Pretoria.
      Thank you.

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