(Updated last January 24, 2020)
Starting October 31, 2019, foreigners who are applying for and entering Thailand with a non-immigrant O-A visa must show that they have valid health insurance covering their period of stay.
What is a Non-Immigrant O-A Visa?
Non-immigrant O-A visa is a long-stay visa that can be applied at Thai embassies or consulates overseas. Applicants for one-year retirement visas must be 50 and up. They need police clearance, medical certificate, and now health insurance. They must either show evidence of monthly income of at least 65,000 baht or balance of at least 800,000 baht in their own bank account or Thai bank account for their application to be granted. This visa allows the visa holder to stay in Thailand for one uninterrupted stay from the date of arrival or entry.
What is the new requirement for the Thai retirement O-A visa?
The new rule specifies that the applicant or visa holder must have health insurance not be less than 40,000 baht for outpatient and 400,000 baht for inpatient medical fees. Policies can either be purchased from domestic or foreign insurers, but the sum of foreign policies must not be less than the amount stipulated for Thai policies.
By requiring foreign retirees to have health insurance, they can be ensured that they will be taken care of when they get ill and in case of an accident. This measure will solve over 100 million baht fees left unpaid by foreign patients. The measure will prevent foreigners from doing a runner for hospital fees.
Who are required to have health insurance?
The new rules will be applied to those who are applying for the non-immigrant O-A visa from the Thai embassy or consulate in their home countries, for those who enter the country for the first time with non-immigrant O-A visa and those who wish to extend their non-immigrant O-A visas inside Thailand.
Who are NOT required to have health insurance?
According to the immigration office, only foreign retirees holding non-immigration O-A visa will be affected. They will be required to present their insurance policies with the remaining coverage period for their stay or they would be denied entry or refusal of visa extension. According to the order, health insurance is not required for those applying for an extension of stay of a non-immigrant category O visa based on retirement or Thai wife.
Which companies participated in this scheme?
Here are some of the insurance companies that the applicants may obtain their health insurance to:
- Viriyan Insurance,
- Asia Insurance 1950,
- Thaivisa Insurance,
- Sompo Insurance,
- LMG Insurance,
- Thai Health Insurance,
- Navakij Insurance,
- Dhipaya Insurance,
- The Falcon Insurance,
- Pacific Cross Health Insurance,
- AXA Insurance,
- AETNA Health Insurance
What are my options if I am not qualified to get health insurance?
There are foreign retirees who are not eligible to have health insurance due to old age or due to pre-existing medical conditions. Here are the options that you can do to avoid the health insurance requirement and still obtain the 1-year visa extension:
1. First Time Applicant
- If you are a first-time applicant, you may avoid the health insurance requirement if you apply for the non-immigrant O visa instead of the non-immigrant O-A visa. You will obtain this non-immigrant O visa from the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country or country of residence.
- In your application, you will state that the purpose of travel is “in view of retirement”.
- In some countries, if you are receiving state pension, you will automatically qualify for a non-immigrant O visa.
- You will enter Thailand on the non-immigrant O visa. You need to prepare the financial requirement of 800,000 THB savings in a Thai bank account or an income letter from your embassy.
- On the last 30 days of your permit to stay, you will apply for the 1-year retirement visa extension.
2. Currently Holding Non-immigrant O-A Visa or O-A Visa Extension
- If you already in Thailand and you are currently staying under a non-immigrant O-A visa or extension of stay, you only have one option. You have to cancel the visa or let it expire and leave Thailand to avoid overstay.
- You may return to your home country and apply for the non-immigrant O visa as mentioned in option number 1.
- If you do not plan to travel back to your home country, you may also just travel to a neighboring country of Thailand and return as a tourist. You may return on a 60-day tourist visa or you may return on a 30-day visa exemption. If you will be asked by the immigration officer upon returning, you may state that you are going to change into a non-immigrant O visa based on retirement.
- After returning to Thailand as tourist, you will immediately sort out your Thai bank account to meet the financial requirement.
- You will apply for the “change of visa”. You will apply for the non-immigrant O visa based on retirement. The process will take 15 days. It is advisable to check with your local immigration office for additional requirements. Please note that some immigration offices will not accept using the monthly income when you change your status from tourist into non-immigrant O visa.
- Once you have changed to a non-immigrant O visa, you need to wait until you are half-way through the visa or once you are on the last 30 days of the visa before you can apply for the 1-year extension.
- You are only required to meet the financial requirement and the proof of address when you apply for the 1-year extension. The medical certificate, police clearance, and health insurance are not required.
3. Changing from Non-immigrant O-A visa to Marriage Visa
- There has been cases where the non-immigrant visa or visa extension holder is married to a Thai national. In this case, you can also change to a marriage visa.
- The non-immigrant O-A visa or extension should be canceled first.
- You must leave Thailand and apply for a new non-immigrant O visa based on marriage from a Thai embassy in neighboring countries of Thailand.
- You will re-enter Thailand and arrange the financial requirements.
- Before the end of the 90-day non-immigrant visa, you can apply for the 1-year extension based on Thai wife.
- Application for the 1-year marriage visa or extension of stay based on marriage is not covered by the health insurance requirement.