The government has finally agreed the bones of a new 10 year visa which will be introduced nationally in mid-August. Aimed at wealthier retirees who must be at least 50 years old, applicants are required to have 3 million baht in a Thai bank account or 1.8 million in the account and proof of income from abroad of 1.2 million.
Other requirements are medical insurance – outpatient and inpatient cover – from a Thai insurer and a police clearance certificate from your home country. However, the new visa is optional and does not replace the current one year retirement extension which requires only 800,000 baht without the need for insurance or home country police clearance.
The new visa “O/X” will be issued for two separate periods of five years, with unlimited re-entry rights, but with the need to report the Thai address every 90 days the holder spends in Thailand. Any kind of employment, including voluntary work, continues to be outlawed in this new visa.
Some details are still unclear, for example how long in advance of the visa application the cash must be deposited in the bank and whether there are restrictions on the type of account to be used. The details published so far make no mention of the details of proof of Thai address or the controversial TM30 form which has already created confusion in expat circles.
Our immigration correspondent said, “The 10 year alternative does not have any particular advantages over the old one year extension of stay, apart from abolishing the need to reapply annually. But it may appeal to some richer retirees in their 50s or 60s who will feel the new regulations give them more security.” He added that many aged retirees will find it difficult or impossibly expensive to obtain medical insurance, especially if they have pre-existing conditions. Police clearance certificates in some countries are not easy to obtain.
The new visa seeks to broaden the base of foreigners who will have medical insurance, thus arguably reducing the financial burden on Thai public hospitals. A separate proposal, not yet confirmed, is that all short-term, foreign tourists will need travel insurance – although that is much less comprehensive than full medical cover. If implemented, that would leave the one year extension of stay foreigners – retirees, students and those with a Thai spouse – the only group not requiring some form of insurance. At any rate for now.
Our correspondent says that the possession of insurance does not always result in less financial strain on hospitals. Travel insurance basically covers hospitalization for an unforeseen accident but is far from comprehensive for other illnesses. Full medical insurance also has its limitations as it frequently excludes some health problems, discriminates against the elderly for obvious reasons and contains small-print regulations which may result in refusal to cover costs when a claim is made.
Pattaya Today will update the details in August when the new 10 year visa is to be launched.