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Key info for those planning to retire in Thailand

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If you are planning to retire in the beautiful and tropical country of Thailand, there are many places which will suit your interests. From up north in Chiang Mai where the air is cooler (during winter), to a tropical oasis in the southern islands, Thailand has it all. Of course, with all things, you will need to get sorted before you come and we are right here to help.

Things to think about

How much money will I need to retire in Thailand? For example, a retired couple should be able to live quite comfortably on £1,600 (71,000 THB, 2,100 USD) a month, but of course, it depends on your lifestyle.

While the cost of living is low in Thailand, it is still important to have a savings of at least £20,000 (890,000 THB, 26,500USD), probably more, depending if you’re getting anything paid to you from outside the kingdom. This can help in the event of unexpected expenses, such as health insurance premiums, purchasing a car, or home repairs.

For those in the UK with pensions, having your UK pension paid to you in Thailand is possible, but you cannot transfer over any other UK-based pensions without incurring a tax of at least 25%. This is because the UK’s HMRC does not list Thailand in its qualifying recognised overseas pension schemes (QROPS). You may still be able to transfer payments from your UK bank, but you are likely to incur bank and currency conversion fees. But, you won’t have to pay tax on this income to the Thai government.

Other countries will have different laws on pensions and taxation so you need to find out about these before proceeding.

If you are wanting to buy a property in Thailand, you can. Sort of. It can be a bit tricky if you want to buy freehold land or a villa on land. As Thai laws prohibits foreigners from buying land and property in their own name, there are a few loopholes which allow foreigners to ‘own’ property.

One, is through starting your own Thai Limited Company or entering into a long-term leasehold with a Thai landowner, usually starting ar 30 years, and then renewable. You need the advice from a qualified lawyer who is on top of the many details involved in foreigners purchasing real estate in Thailand. Get a recommendation from a friend rather that relying on Google to find a reputable agent or lawyer.

For those wanting to buy land, there are a few exceptions that are well-known and allow such a purchase to be completed:

-In the instance of a foreigner buying real estate in Thailand, the ownership of a house can be registered and transferred separately from the land where the house is built;

• The transfer procedure must follow the Thailand Civil and Commercial Code

• The transfer has to be evidenced in writing

• The transfer must also be registered with the Land Department’s branch or provincial office

The sale and transfer of ownership of an existing building, that is separate from the land, requires the current owner and buyer of the house to strictly adhere to the standard procedure detailed at the Land Office. If this is not done, the building will still be legally owned by the developer or a third party who owns the land.

For Americans, the US and Thailand have a treaty that, essentially, allows each other to engage in business ventures without being subjected to many foreign investment regulations. An excerpt of the treaty is below. Following this excerpt is a link to the original treaty that was signed in 1833:

U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations excerpt:

The U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations (AER) was originally signed in 1833. The 1966 reiteration of the Treaty allows U.S. citizens and businesses incorporated in the U.S., or in Thailand that are majority-owned by U.S. citizens, to engage in business on the same basis as Thais, exempting them from most of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by the Alien Business Law of 1972 and its successor, the Alien Business Act of 1999. Under the Treaty, Thailand restricts American investment only in the fields of communications, transport, fiduciary functions, banking involving depository functions, the exploitation of land or other natural resources, and domestic trade in agricultural products.

The original treaty can be viewed via the U.S. Embassy’s official website:

During the Covid pandemic, health insurance is now mandatory for all retirees who want to stay long-term. You will need to get health insurance to access medical services, in which the cost can vary depending on your age and any pre-existing conditions.

Retirement visa

One of the most important things in which to obtain before you can move to Thailand, is a retirement visa. The good news is that it can be pretty easy to obtain as long as you meet the following requirements:

• You’re 50 years old or over

• You can make a security deposit of 800,000 baht (around £18,400 or USD 23,400) into a Thai bank account or having a monthly income of at least 65,000 baht. Or, a combination of the 2.

• UK citizens will need to provide a passport with at least one year’s validity remaining, along with proof they meet the financial requirements (such as bank statements). There are details for each country available on the Thai Embassy portals in your country.

Where to retire in Thailand. We have some ideas HERE.

How to apply for a Thailand retirement visa

To get your retirement visa, follow these steps…

• Apply for a 90 day visa from the Thai Embassy in your country or online – this will enable you to travel to Thailand and apply for your retirement visa in person.

• Apply for the Non-Immigrant O-A retirement visa at the Immigration office in Thailand. This is a 1 year multiple-entry visa and you’ll need to renew it with an ‘Extension of Stay’ visa every year.

• Make sure you also have a ‘re-entry permit’ before you leave Thailand to travel to any other country.

• Once you’ve had a retirement visa for at least 3 years, you can then apply for permanent residency if you wish. The criteria for being approved includes being in a relationship with a Thai citizen or permanent resident, or investing a required amount in the Thai economy. There are a lot of other requirements which can change from time to time. Some more info about permanent residency HERE.

Note: Getting permanent residency can be worth the effort as it can cut out a lot of the paperwork relating to renewing your visa each year. One of the most inconvenient parts of living in Thailand under most of the long term visas is having to report to immigration every 90 days during your stay, which is a key requirement of the retirement visa and many others.

Other things to consider before moving

• Apply for your retirement visa before you leave your home country. As it can take a while to get all the paperwork sorted, it is best to do this first.

• Choose where you would like to live in Thailand. This is recommended as there are many places to retire in this beautiful country. You can use your 90-day visa to travel around in person to get a feel for each area and its expat community. You can also organise a property rental during this time.

• Take out a healthcare insurance policy. This is essential to have as soon as you arrive as they will ask for proof of a health policy.

• Any furniture and posessions should be arranged to be shipped to Thailand. It is best to get a few quotes and do some research on how to get your personal items shipped.

• Apply to receive your pension in Thailand. For UK citizens, you can visit the UK Government website.

• Open a Thai bank account. This is also another must-do task that will make it much easier to pay for rent and other daily living expenses. Although it may not be the cheapest option when it comes to managing any international payments, it will most likely be the easiest.

Retiring in Thailand can be one of the best experiences of your life. From a unique culture to stunning landscapes, the Kingdom offers something for every kind of taste. Speaking of taste, your palate won’t be disappointed as Thai food is world renowned for its fusion of flavours. These are just a few things of why retiring in Thailand can be a great experience for all who love to travel.

 

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    Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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