Visas, residence permits and citizenship in Thailand
Residence permits in Thailand: grounds and terms of obtainment, required documents. How a foreign national can become a Thai citizen.
The Kingdom of Thailand is one of the most popular tourist destinations with tourists from all over the globe. Along with holidayers, the ‘country of smiles’ attracts great numbers of downshifters and pensioners who come there for permanent residence.
The nationals of many EU countries are entitled to 30-day visa-free stays in the Kingdom. When crossing the border, you will need to provide a return ticket, a passport valid for at least six months after the trip ends, and hotel booking confirmation. For longer stays, you need to apply for a special visa at the country's embassy.
The most common visa types:
Transit visa. Issued for transit through Thailand, participation in sports events and to members of vehicle teams visiting the Kingdom. Valid for three months. Transit visa holders are allowed to stay in Thailand for no more than 30 days.
Tourist visa. Issued to tourists and those who come to Thailand for treatment. Valid for three or six months. Tourist visa holders are allowed to stay in Thailand for no more than 60 days.
Non-immigrant visa. Issued for work including in non-government organisations, business, investment and religious activities, performance of official duties, studies, participation in conferences, residence with family and upon retirement. Valid for three months to one year. Non-immigrant visa holders are allowed to stay in Thailand for no more than 90 days.
There are also diplomatic and courtesy visas issued to diplomatic passport holders and the foreign nationals coming to Thailand for official matters, as well as the so-called SMART visas for those who plan to invest or work in high-tech industries.
Documents required to obtain a visa to Thailand:
- passport or identity card valid for at least six months after the trip ends (at least 18 months for a year visa) and passport copy;
- application filled out in English;
- 4×6 cm photo (a 2×2 cm photo for non-immigrant visas issued to retirees), taken no earlier than six months before the application;
- proof of flight purchase;
- financial guarantees (THB 10,000 per person and THB 20,000 per family for transit visas or THB 20,000 and THB 40,000 respectively for tourist and non-immigrant visas)
- certificate of employment (for tourist visas);
- treatment referral from a doctor in the applicant's home country, treatment plan from a Thai hospital and health insurance with a coverage of at least $100,000 per person (for a tourist visa issued for the purposes of treatment);
- valid visa of the third country in the passport or travel document (for a transit visa);
- invitation to participate in sports events in Thailand (for a transit visa).
How to obtain a residence permit in Thailand
Thailand does not issue residence permits as such, but different types of long-term visas officially entitle to long-term stays in the country: investment, work and retirement visas.
Investors can apply for Elite Easy Access, Elite Privilege Access and Elite Ultimate Privilege club membership programmes, as well as buy a flat or Thailand government bonds and get a long-term visa.
- Elite Easy Access
This programme allows an applicant to live in Thailand for five years with a one-time payment of 500,000 THB ($15,000).
- Elite Privilege Access
This programme is intended for family residence and allows living in Thailand for up to 10 years. The one-off fee is approximately $30,000 for the main applicant and $22,500 for each family member. No annual fee is charged. The package includes additional VIP benefits such as a health check at a private clinic.
- Elite Ultimate Privilege
Having paid $60,000, the programme participants become members of a special investor club under the patronage of the Ministry of Tourism. They can develop their business, gaining privileged access to the public services of granting work permits and resolving migration issues. The programme includes exclusive VIP airport express services, spa treatments and annual medical check-ups. In addition to the one-time payment, the annual membership fee is $600. This investment visa allows you to reside in Thailand for up to 20 years.
Visas for property owners
Those buying condominium apartments for at least 10 million THB ($316,000), making a local bank deposit or public bond investment of equal value are granted a one-year extendable visa.
This type of visa can be obtained in two ways:
- the applicant must hold a position in a company with a minimum capital of THB 10 million, registered in Thailand and being of benefit to the local economy; the applicant must draw a monthly salary of at least THB 50,000 ($1,600). ‘Benefit to the economy’ includes activities such as international trade or tourism (‘supplying’ Thailand with at least 5,000 foreign tourists annually);
- the applicant must have received a salary of at least THB 80,000 ($2,541) per month for two years before applying for a residence permit or paid annual income tax of at least THB 100,000 ($3,176) to Thailand for the same period. It is also necessary to hold a labour permit for three consecutive years and a job in a Thai company for one year before applying.
Applicants aged 50 years and over holding over THB 800,000 ($25,667) in savings and having a monthly income of over $1,800 can apply for a retirement visa.
Getting Thai citizenship
Permanent residents can apply for Thai citizenship, and their children born in this country get it automatically.
To obtain Thai citizenship it is necessary to:
- have resided in Thailand for at least five years if the applicant is a woman married to a Thai citizen and twelve years if the applicant is a man who has a Thai spouse;
- have no problems with the law;
- have a full-time job (the level of income must exceed THB 480,000 ($15,400) per annum;
- be proficient in the Thai language.
The residence and Thai language proficiency requirements are waived if the applicant is a child of a Thai national or have previously been a Thai citizen.
The children born to the parents both holding Thai citizenship automatically become citizens of this country regardless of where they were born.
You must renounce the citizenship of your home country upon receiving Thai nationality.
Residence permit («Golden Visa») in other countries:
FAQ about residence permits and citizenship in Thailand
The Thai passport can be obtained by the spouses of Thai nationals, the residence requirements are of five years if the applicant is a woman married to a Thai citizen, if the applicant is a man who has a Thai wife.
The applicant also needs to pass a Thai language proficiency exam in oral and written forms, have a clean criminal record and a permanent income exceeding THB 480,000 per annum.
The law of Thailand does not provide for any residence-by-property-purchase programmes.
- By participating in one of Thailand's investment programmes.
- By holding a position in a company with a minimum capital of THB 10 million, being of benefit to the Thai economy, and drawing a salary of at least THB 50,000.
- By having worked in a Thai company for a year, held a work permit for three years, had a monthly salary of at least THB 80,000 for two years or paid annual income tax of at least THB 100,000 for the same period.
- By being 50 years of age, holding over THB 800,000 in savings and having a monthly income over $1,800.
- Taking part in the Elite Ultimate Privilege programme and obtaining an investment visa for up to 20 years (participation costs — $60,000).
- Taking part in the Elite Easy Access programme and obtaining an investment visa for 5 years (participation costs — $15,000).
- Obtaining a one-year extendable visa by complying with one of the following requirements:
— buying a condominium apartment for THB 10M at least;
— making a deposit of at least THB 10M with a Thai bank;
— putting at least THB 10M into Thai public bonds.