What is the best Thai Visa for someone wanting to stay long in Thailand? Is it the Thailand Privilege Visa (or Thailand Elite Visa), Thai Retirement Visa, Thailand Marriage Visa, Thailand LTR 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.
Thailand Elite Visa
The Thailand Elite Visa is a Privilege Entry Visa given to Thailand Privilege Card members. It is categorized as a long term tourist visa allowing residency in Thailand along with benefits for a period between 5, 10, or 15 years (with a 20-year package only available via invitation) depending on the chosen package in exchange for a membership fee. Thailand Privilege Visa program is managed by the Thailand Privilege Card Company Ltd under the Tourism Authority of Thailand.
- The Thailand Elite Visa is a 5-year renewable multiple-entry visa with an extendable 1-year length of stay per each entry.
- The Thailand 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 can utilize the privilege points to be represented by the Thailand Elite staff on the 90-day reporting as required by Thai Immigration.
- Thailand Elite card holders will receive expedited immigration formalities and passport control processing when arriving in Thailand
Thailand Elite Visa Qualifications
The applicant for the Elite visa program 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 Thailand Elite Visa program apart from the Elite Ultimate Privilege (Premium Package) which requires to be at least 20 years old
- Not having been sentenced by a judgment to imprisonment in any country 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 Thailand Elite Privilege Card membership and the Thai Elite Visa may take 1 to 3 months.
Thailand Elite Visa Cost
The Thailand Elite Visa cost is based on the membership program. There are different Thailand Elite membership programs available to obtain a Thailand Elite Visa, each varying in validity, benefits, and cost, as follows:
Thailand Privilege Visa: GOLD Package
- Membership program validity of 5 years
- Provides a 5-year multiple entry visa
- It costs 900,000 Thai Baht with no annual fee
- Provides 20 privilege points per year
- No age restriction; Elite members can apply at any age
Thailand Privilege Visa: PLATINUM Package
- Membership program validity of 10 years
- Provides a 5-year multiple entry visa, renewable for another 5 years
- It costs 1.5 million Thai baht with no annual fee (main applicant)
- It costs 1 million Thai baht with no annual fee for additional applicants
- Provides 35 privilege points per year
- No age restriction; members can apply at any age
Thailand Privilege Visa: DIAMOND Package
- Membership program validity of 15 years
- Provides a 5-year multiple entry visa, renewable for another 5 years twice through the 15-year membership duration
- It costs 2.5 million Thai Baht with no annual fee (main applicant)
- It costs 1.5 million Thai Baht with no annual fee (additional applicant)
- Provides 55 privilege points per year
- No age restriction; members can apply at any age
Thailand Privilege Visa: RESERVE Package
- Membership program validity of 20 years or more
- Provides a 5-year multiple entry visa, renewable another 5 years thrice throughout the 20-year membership duration. After the 20 years is up, Thailand Elite members can apply for another 5-year visa
- It costs 5 million Thai Baht with no annual fee
- Provides 120 privilege points per year
- Only available to applicants via an invitation
- No age restriction; members can apply at any age provided they have the invitation
How to Apply for Thailand Elite Privilege Visa
1. Application for Thailand Elite Membership and Background Check
You can apply for the Thailand Privilege Entry Visa program 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 Thailand Elite Privilege Visa agent.
Siam Legal is one of the authorized general sales and services agent of the Thailand Privilege program. They will work with the Thailand Privilege Head Office, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Immigration Bureau to do immigration and criminal background checks.
The entire process may take 1 month for most nationalities and up to 3 months for special countries, with 4 to 6 weeks for the background check.
2. Thailand Elite Membership Fee Payment
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 900,000 Thai baht to 2.5 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 or credit card payment. The applicant will have 30 days to make the payment.
3. Thailand Elite Membership Acceptance
After completing the payment or bank transfer, the applicant will receive the Membership ID and instructions on how to receive the visa within 5 to 10 working days upon successfully paying their membership fee.
4. Thailand Elite Visa Issuance
The Thailand Elite member can affix the Thailand Privilege visa at the local Thai embassy or consulate in his/her respective country once the membership ID has been received. If it is not convenient for the applicant to collect the visa from the Thai embassy, it is also possible for the Thailand Elite card holder to obtain the Thailand Privilege visa upon arrival in Thailand at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Chiang Mai Airport, or Phuket Airport with the help of an Elite Personal Assistant.
In case the Thailand Elite member is in Thailand, the Thailand Elite agent may arrange the visa issuance at the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok.
Questions about Thailand Elite Visa?
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Thailand Elite Visa Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Thailand Elite Visa?
The Thailand Elite Privilege Visa is a special visa introduced in 2003 by the Tourism Authority of Thailand 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 program and Thailand Elite Privilege Visa application process may take a total of 1 to 3 months depending on the nationality of the applicant and in case of immigration or criminal record of the applicant. In terms of background checks, the whole process could last between 4 to 6 weeks.
Do any Thailand Elite application documents need a notary stamp or to be certified?
No. It is not required for the Thailand Elite Privilege Visa application forms and copy of passport to be notarized or to be certified. A scanned copy sent through email or photocopy of these documents is sufficient. The application form are also not required to be notarized when applying for the Elite membership.
What is the passport validity that is required for this Elite visa process?
You need to have at least 12 months remaining in the validity of your passport at the time of application. However, in case you have less than 5 years, the Thai Embassy or Immigration Bureau will affix the Thai Elite visa sticker based on the expiration date stated in your passport. The remaining validity of your Thai Elite 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 Thailand 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 Thailand Elite membership are a copy of the profile page of your passport, a colored ID photo with a white background, a duly accomplished Thai Elite Visa application form, a signed PDPA form, and a copy of proof of relationship for any family member applying with the main applicant.
Is there an income requirement to apply for the Thai Elite visa?
There is no income requirement to apply for the Thailand Elite visa program. The applicant only needs to pay the membership fee which will range from 900,000 Thai baht to 2.5 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 or privilege entry 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 to obtain a tax ID.
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.
Why choose Siam Legal as your Thailand Elite Visa Agent?
Siam Legal is the authorized General Sales and Services Agent (GSSA) for Thailand Privilege membership in Thailand. The firm provides the following services on top of the services provided by an Elite agent:
- 24/7 VIP phone number (priceless)
- 2 hours of legal consultation with our legal advisor (value 10,000 THB)
- 2 hours of immigration consultation (value 6,000 THB)
- Free Notary Public service (one document, one-time value 3,000 THB)
- Free Bank Account Opening Service (value 5,000 THB)
Siam Legal does not charge any fee to assist you.
Thailand Elite by Siam Legal
Your Thailand Elite Visa application will be handled by Siam Legal staff in Bangkok
Comparing Other Long-Term Thai Visas for Foreigners with Thailand Elite Visa
Here are other types of long term Thai visas available to foreigners who wish to live or move to Thailand:
Thai Retirement Visa
Benefits of the Thailand Retirement Visa
Having the Thai retirement visa delegates a lot of benefits to those choosing to apply for it. The retirement visa can offer the following perks:
- The retirement visa can be extended every year provided you meet the eligibility requirements. If your visa is about to expire by the end of the year, you need not worry and will only have to renew it to continue staying in Thailand.
- Holders of a Thailand Retirement Visa can stay in Thailand for an entire year uninterrupted. This means you do not need to fly home at one point during the year.
- Thai retirement visas also come with 5 year and 10 year options, as well as options that enable the visa holder to enter and exit the country multiple times within a year.
Advantages of having the Thailand Elite Visa over the Thailand Retirement Visa
The Thailand Elite Visa sometimes will seem more preferable to apply for over the Thailand Retirement Visa. This can be because of the following:
- The Thailand Elite Visa application can be completed entirely online. A representative on their behalf will instead be coordinating with Immigration Officers in Thailand on processing the application. Applying for this saves the time and hassle of having to book flights to Thailand or changing flights back home, and having to present yourself at the embassy. Applying for the Thailand retirement visa usually requires applicants to be stationed in Thailand for the entire process, especially if applying for the O-Retirement visa. This also includes extending the visa. While there are cases of applicants applying for and being approved for it overseas, the chances are much, much lower than if applying for it locally.
- Having insurance, while recommended, is completely optional for the Thailand Elite Visa. Some retirement visa options such as the O-A Retirement visa require health insurance, sometimes ones with a coverage of over 100,000 THB, the amount increasing yearly. Being obligated to purchase insurance on top of the visa can be an expensive endeavor for a lot of people.
- The Thailand Elite Program does not have any financial or medical certificate requirements or bank amount limits that need to be met to be considered for the program. Applicants applying for a Thai Retirement Visa must have 800,000 THB in savings within their bank account for the Non-Immigrant OA visa, while those apply for the Non-immigrant OX visa need 3 million baht. If they lack this amount in their bank accounts, then they need to meet the required monthly income amounts.
- A good benefit of having a Thai Elite Visa as opposed to a Retirement visa is its flexibility. With a Thai Elite Visa, the retiree can choose either a 5 year, 10 year, or even 15 years option. This helps the retiree live in Thailand long enough to decide whether this is the right location for them to retire in. Sometimes retirees will apply for a retirement visa in Thailand and then move over there only to realize after a couple of months that it’s not a right fit for them. This could pose problems for their retirement visa or make it so that the money they spent for it was such a waste.
- Visa holders of a Thai Retirement Visa also do not gain access to the VIP-level perks offered by the Thailand Elite Visa, such as easier 90-day reporting sessions and complimentary immigration fast tracking at airports.
Thai Marriage Visa
Benefits of the Thai Marriage Visa
For those considering the Thailand Marriage Visa, there are benefits involved:
- For one, the marriage visa is extendable every year, so you won’t need to be worried about not being able to continue it after its expiration date. Applying for an extension is also very convenient in the sense that you can apply for it entirely within Thai borders. The fact that you don’t need to leave Thailand can seem very enticing to any foreigner, especially given that it lets them save money on plane ticket costs and also time (traveling to another country is a long, tedious procedure that can take an entire day).
- Being a holder of a marriage visa also allows you to obtain a work permit in Thailand. This enables workers to be able to provide their services to benefit the Thai economy along with local businesses and startups. Having a work permit also provides many options for the visa holder with regards to money making opportunities.
- The marriage visa offers the holder a validity period of one year, but can be renewed annually while the holder is in Thailand. This allows the holder a chance to stay in the country uninterrupted without having to leave.
Advantages of having the Thai Elite Visa over the Thai Marriage Visa
In some cases, it’s preferable to apply for the Thai Elite Visa instead given the following benefits:
- When you apply for the Thailand Elite Visa, you only apply for one visa valid for 5 years. A Thailand marriage visa requires applicants to have applied for a non-immigrant O visa first. Then they will receive a 90-day visa and then you can apply for the marriage visa. The applicant will also need to apply for a re-entry permit. Being forced to complete multiple applications can feel time consuming and expensive to many.
- Both holders of a Thailand Elite Visa and holders of a Thai Marriage Visa will also be required to complete their 90-day reporting while residing in Thailand. Thai Elite Visa however grants holders support from Thai Elite Agents. Thailand Elite members can send their documentation to the agents who will report them on their behalf to the Immigration Officers. This is convenient for those who do not want to present themselves in person.
- A Thailand Elite Visa is simpler and less complicated to apply for, if you married a Thai person in another country outside Thailand. For the Thai marriage visa, you must complete the following steps:
- Gather documents pertaining to the marriage certificate.
- Get said documentation stamped and verified at the embassy in Bangkok.
- Have the document translated into Thai and then taken to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
- Take the marriage certificate into an Amphur to obtain Kor Ror 22.
- Apply for the marriage visa.
- Applicants who apply for the Thailand Elite Visa, will not need to fulfill any financial or banking requirements. For the Thai Marriage Visa, applicants need to have at least around 400,000 THB within their savings account or alternatively, they require at least 40,000 THB per month to be transferred into their account on a monthly basis.
- The Thai Elite Visa grants additional VIP-level perks to members that they won’t get if they applied for the Thai Marriage Visa. These complimentary benefits include:
- Support in opening a Thai bank account.
- Support in acquiring a Thai driver’s license.
- Access to exclusive VIP lounges at airports.
- Immigration fast tracking via the fast tracking lane.
Thai Business visa
Benefits of the Thai Business Visa
The Thai Business Visa can be desirable based on the following perks:
- Being a holder of a Thai Business Visa comes with the complimentary add-on of being able to apply for a Thai work permit. This is perfect for foreign nationals who not only want the privilege of being able to experience Thailand, but also want to be able to work here.
- A Thai Business visa holder is able to open up a business within the country. This can be extremely enticing towards aspiring business owners.
- The cost to apply is very affordable. If interested, you can choose to pay 2,000 THB for a single-entry visa with 3-months worth of validity, or shell out 5,000 THB for a multiple-entry visa with a years’ worth of validity.
- There are also a number of different options for the Thai Business Visa that the applicant can choose, providing a list of choices with their own benefits and differences. Examples include:
- Non-Immigrant B visa (Business): geared towards foreign nationals that want to apply for a work permit to either work in the country or establish businesses.
- Non-Immigrant B-A visa (Business Approved): geared towards foreign nationals looking to merely invest in or start a business in Thailand.
- Non-Immigrant IB visa (Investment and Business Visa): geared towards foreign nationals hired by the Board of Investments to work on investment related projects.
- Non-Immigrant B (Teaching) Visa: geared towards applicants looking to teach in Thailand.
Advantages of having the Thai Elite Visa over the Thai Business Visa
- Acquiring the Thai Elite Visa is cheaper and more stress-free. Acquiring a work permit as a business owner comes with tough requirements. Starting a business in Thailand is a very expensive venture and business owners will often need 2 million THB worth of capital invested in order to qualify for the work permit, along with having hired at least 4 staff members (all must be of Thai nationality).
- You need to meet a couple of requirements in order to be able to acquire a Thai Business Visa. These include:
- Having a job offer (if you want to work in Thailand).
- Having an investment (if you want to invest).
- Having an invitation entitling the applicant to set up a business venture within the country (if you want to conduct business here).
- Having a sponsorship from either a Thai Business Partner or entity.
- Holders of a Thai Business Visa do not benefit from the Thai Elite Visa’s unique VIP-level perks:
- Assistance with the mandatory 90-day reporting.
- Support in opening a Thai bank account.
- Support in acquiring a Thai driver’s license.
- Access to exclusive VIP lounges at airports.
- Immigration fast tracking via the fast tracking lane.
Thai SMART Visa
Benefits of a Thai SMART Visa
The Thai SMART Visa comes with a list of benefits for those interested:
- Holders of a Thai SMART Visa will be permitted to only present themselves at immigration institutions for compulsory reporting once every year, rather than every 90-days.
- The Thai SMART Visa holder, their spouse and their children do not need a work permit in order to work in Thailand. This saves them time from submitting an application and having to carefully meet requirements.
- You do not need to apply for a Thai re-entry permit in order to gain access into the country everytime you leave.
- There are different packages to choose from regarding the Thai SMART Visa, depending on your experience and situation:
- SMART Talent Visa (T) : available to science and technology experts earning 200,000 baht per month and employed by one of the ten targeted industries.
- SMART Investor Visa (I): available to investors who invest 20 million baht into companies using technology in their manufacturing process or deliver services. NOTE: These companies also must be in one of the ten targeted industries.
- SMART Executive Visa (E): available to senior managers with at least a Bachelor’s degree, ten years’ work experience, and earn a minimum of 200,000 baht per month. Senior managers must be employed by companies in one of the ten targeted industries.
- SMART Startup Visa (S): available to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Thailand. To be eligible, 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.
Advantages of having the Thai Elite Visa over the Thai SMART Visa
- Applicants applying for a Thai Elite Visa can choose from a list of 5, 10, and even 15-year visas. SMART Visas are granted to applicants only for a maximum of 4 years (4 x 1-year extendable visas). After those 4 years are up, the visa holder will need to leave Thailand.
- There are no financial or employment requirements to apply for the Thai Elite Visa. To qualify for the SMART visa, depending on the option you’ve selected, you need to meet certain financial or employment requirements. For instance with SMART Visa Ts, you need at least 100,000 THB income per month (or at least 50,000 THB if you are working for a startup) and need to be a highly qualified professional.
- Holders of a SMART Visa do not gain any sort of access to the VIP-level benefits provided by the Thai Elite Visa. Thai Elite Visa holders earn benefits such as:
- Access to exclusive VIP lounges at airport establishments,
- Assistance from a representative to open a Thai bank account.
- Assistance in acquiring a Thai driver’s license.
- Special immigration fast tracking at airports.
- Exclusive support for the mandatory 90-day reporting procedure.
Having a Thai visa is essentially your golden ticket into the Land of Smiles and a jumpstart to your Thailand experience. Out of all alternatives, the Thai Elite visa would be the most convenient and hassle-free option if you aspire to live in Thailand long-term. If you ever feel intrigued by the Thai Elite Visa and all the options available, feel free to consult one of our professionals to measure which visa package is best suited to your needs. We can receive any inquiries on the web form above or in the comment section below.