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Opening a Thai bank account for Immigration purposes.


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For most long term retirees they need to open a Thai Bank account for the purpose of providing evidence of either deposited funds, or monthly overseas transfer to meet Immigrations financial requirements when applying for annual extensions of stay, based on retirement or Thai family/spouse.

Several years ago it need no more than your Passport and a copy of the landlords/wife's Tabien Baan and Thai ID card as to proof of your Thai address. Since then the banks have become more stringent and apparently selective in opening an account for  foreigners without a work permit or PR (permanent residency) status.

There are 3 different types of accounts that Immigration will accept for proof of funds or income.
1. Savings account. 
2 Fixed term deposit account.
3. Foreign currency account (either Savings or Fixed term types).

The first place to start is by searching for the requirements to open a bank account at the various banks without a work permit. Going armed with the required documents is a good start. In my recent experiences most banks now request either a letter from your Embassy or a residence certificate issued by Immigration as proof of your Thai address.
They also require a reference, either from you foreign bank, your Embassy, or an individual of trust already holding an account with that bank.

Of all the banks in Thailand, Bangkok Bank probably put the best information on their websites to open an account, which is probably a good guide to the requirements of other banks as well. Initially you should start with trying to open a Savings account, which comes with a debit card, useful for your daily living expenses.
Bangkok Bank - Savings account. (Qualifications and required documents).
https://www.bangkokbank.com/en/Personal/Save-And-Invest/Save/Savings-Account

2. Foreigner without work permit

  • Passport
  • A reference letter issued by one of the following institutes or organizations or required document
    • Embassy located  in Thailand 
    • An overseas bank where the customer holds an account sent via SWIFT 
    • Trusted individuals such as a Bangkok Bank staff member or customer, director of a private company, permanent residence in Thailand, government or private educational institutes located in Thailand trusted by the Bank
    • Trusted companies, e.g., an employment letter from the company if the customer is in the process of applying for a work permit.
    • Document showing ownership of a fixed asset such as a condominium sale/purchase agreement (a condominium which is acceptable to Bangkok Bank) Or a property reservation agreement valued at 100,000 baht or more with a reference letter from the property developer that is acceptable to Bangkok Bank.
      Notes: Contact addresses for both Thailand and overseas must be provided (hotel and P.O. Box addresses are not acceptable).

I've also attached a very useful booklet of information I picked up at my Bangkok Bank branch.
Bangkok Bank - Foreigners..pdf

Even then you'll come across inexperienced staff, who have never opened an account for a foreigner before, or been told only foreigners with work permits. The extent of their training does not include the information posted on their own websites. If you have the required documents, I would still advise you print a copy of the requirements to show them.

The reply 'Cannot' or 'No can do' usually means that staff member hasn't got a clue of the requirements or knows how to proceed. It is completely alien to them. In these situations, stand firm, be polite but insistent. Ask for the manager, preferably English speaking helps.

 

Sometimes, it not a case of what you know, it can be a case of who you know.
A Thai holding a respected and prominent position can also be very influential in these situations.

Bangkok Bank - Foreigners..pdf

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I may also add, it's beneficial to open a Thai bank account within the Province you intend to reside.

If you open a bank account in a different Province than where you'll predominately use an ATM for cash withdrawals, you will be charged an 'out of Province' withdrawal fee.
These fees can vary from 15 to 35 baht for each withdrawal depending on the bank ATM used.

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Fax I have two accounts with the Bangkok Bank. A savings account where my monthly pension is paid to and a foreign currency account. Both are accepted by immigration with the annual letter from the bank cost 100 baht. If I remember I had to have an "o" visa and proof of residence only. Never have any immigration issues easy renewal every year provided all monies total 800000 baht  3 months before renewal

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34 minutes ago, Faz said:

The reply 'Cannot' or 'No can do' usually means that staff member hasn't got a clue of the requirements or knows how to proceed. It is completely alien to them. In these situations, stand firm, be polite but insistent. Ask for the manager, preferably English speaking helps.

Sometimes, it not a case of what you know, it can be a case of who you know.
A Thai holding a respected and prominent position can also be very influential in these situations.

I agree with all of your advice and will add a couple of personal observations.

An influential 'person' could simply be your landlord, or any local Thai of prominence.  Ideally they should walk you into their Bangkok Bank or Kasikorn, SCB, and make the introduction, to their Manager.  Whilst I never had to resort to this it was offered.

If you already reside with a Thai spouse in 'her' house, a Yellow Book may be acquired as 'proof of residence'.  With a Yellow Book even LHBank will open account for you and their Term Deposits pay interest, ideal for parking 400/800k.

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Yes kaptainrob you are correct yellow book or landlords letter from police or immigration is sufficient for proof of address. 

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Yes, a Yellow Tabien Baan (where you registered your details on the Civilian registration database), or a 'residence certificate' from Immigration (the address they have you registered as residing), or an Embassy letter confirming your Thai address now appear to be the only forms of proof of your Thai address they will accept.

A friend who tried to open an account last year at Bangkok Bank where his wife already held an account, even with proof of marriage they refused to accept her Blue Tabien Baan as his proof of residence, insisting on a 'residence certificate' from Immigration.

This is the crazy scenario though. What documents exactly do you need to:
a). Record your place of residence with Immigration. (Apart from the TM30).
b). Register your address with the Amphoe for obtaining a Yellow book.
c). Advise your Embassy of your Thai address.

Yep, a copy of the Thai landlord/wife's Blue book in the first instance.
The very same documents many banks will no longer accept as proof of Thai address.

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Posted (edited)

Hi, here a slightly modified re-post from another thread as the info provided on opening a Thai bank-account is more fitting in the current thread.

= = = = =

There is a serious mis-alignment between the financial requirement to 'have a personal Thai bank-account with the required funds' and the requirements that most Thai banks apply to open an account with them.

There are reports of those that entered Thailand VisaExempt or on a Tourist Visa, that needed to open a personal Thai bank-account to meet the 800K/400K funds in bank requirement for their Non Imm O Visa application that had to visit more than 10 different bank branches, before they found one that was willing to open an account for them.  It is useful to remember that in Thailand bank-branches are little fiefdoms that do not necessarily need to follow their Headquarter rules/regulations for opening an account.  That's why you can be turned down in one bank branch and be accepted by the one across the street from the same Bank.  The crazy 'face-saving' in Thailand will also often result in the bank-staffer telling you it is 'not possible' because he/she is afraid to admit that he/she is not familiar with the process of opening an account for a farang, and rather than asking their collegues or the manager it is much easier to tell 'no can do'.  Keeping this in mind, it is worthwhile when wanting/needing to open a Thai bank-account to immediately ask to talk to the manager of that branch.

I live 'in the sticks' and it took me 2 visits to the local Kasikorn branch before I could open a Thai bank-account.  Even though I was at that time staying in Thailand on a Non Imm O-A Visa (and needed the Thai bank-account to apply for my 1-year extension), the assistant Bank manager insisted that I needed a Work Permit to open an account.  Totally ridiculous, as it is strictly prohibited to work when you are on a Visa/Extension for reason of retirement.  I didn't argue but simply came back a couple of days later, and after checking that the manager was in I re-entered the branche and politely asked to talk with her.  Within 2 minutes the manager said OK, and the same assistant-manager that turned me down earlier then proceeded in opening an account for me.  It took almost 1.5 hour and she was more than half of the time on the phone with Headquarters to ask for instructions (which confirmed my suspicion that I was sent away first time because she was not familiar with the process of opening an account for a farang).  As nobody of the office staff in that Kasikorn branch speaks one word English, it is always an ordeal going there as even the easiest requests are prone for misunderstanding (my Thai girlfriend accompagning me has to tell what I want/need but obviously much is 'lost in translation'). 

A tip: When opening a personal Thai bank-account do opt when possible for one of the larger Banks that have a nation-wide network and have a large farang clientele.  In practice that are Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank and SCB, as the other Thai banks mainly cater for thai clientele.  And when choosing between these 3 - if they are willing to accept you as a customer -  also look for a friendly customer-attitude and the staff/management understanding basic english.  

Wish you success!

 

Edited by BlueSphinx
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1 hour ago, Faz said:

Since then the banks have become more stringent and apparently selective in opening an account for  foreigners without a work permit or PR (permanent residency) status.

The last one was Retirement Visa was needed or an extension to stay based on retirement . 

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slap 800k on the counter and very unlikely any will refuse to open an account for you. Last one I opened in Jan was at Krugthai exchange tower Bkk, don't have yellow book or WP, 500 baht to open.

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18 minutes ago, thai3 said:

slap 800k on the counter and very unlikely any will refuse to open an account for you. Last one I opened in Jan was at Krugthai exchange tower Bkk, don't have yellow book or WP, 500 baht to open.

Hehe, begs the question "where did the 800k" come from?   Yes, I know what you're saying and personally I never had problems even before I had the Yellow Book.   BBK, Kasikorn and SCB all opened easily.  Only LHBank wanted Yellow Book or work permit.

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Posted (edited)

My wife does all the necessary and we do have a marriage registered at the local Amphoe which required an apostilled certificate from the FCO , an authorized translation for the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs to effect and then they produced a Thai marriage certificate. Bangkok Bank turned  me down for a 400k deposit for a marriage non-o imm visa but Kasikorn were more than happy to take my money and open the account. We are only in country for 3 months a year but on our next trip I think I will go for a pink id and yellow book.

Edited by billybob
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2 hours ago, Faz said:

If you open a bank account in a different Province than where you'll predominately use an ATM for cash withdrawals, you will be charged an 'out of Province' withdrawal fee.
These fees can vary from 15 to 35 baht for each withdrawal depending on the bank ATM used.

Faz, thanks for the excellent information. Was wondering if you could provide some advice on moving to another province, and what banking issues may arise. Can you stick with the same Bank, keeping your original bank book and account?

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10 minutes ago, AdvocatusDiaboli said:

Faz, thanks for the excellent information. Was wondering if you could provide some advice on moving to another province, and what banking issues may arise. Can you stick with the same Bank, keeping your original bank book and account?

Yes, you can stay with the same bank and keep the same account number, but you will be charged for cash withdrawals from an ATM in that, or other Provinces.
You'll notice these charges when updating your Passbook or you can view them on your statements if you have online banking. Each small charge may seem insignificant, but depending on the frequency of your cash withdrawals, these small charges become a large costing over the space of time.

To avoid these 'out of Province' charges, you need to either go in your local branch of the bank closest to your new place of residence and request they 'transfer' your account, or, open a new account locally then make the transfer yourself, ensuring after doing so you close the old account.

Never, withdraw the funds, close the account, then open a new account and deposit the funds, especially if your using the 400/800K funds method for Immigration purposes as this could be interpreted as a gap in keeping the funds in an account for the required period - always transfer, either the account or the funds, that way the funds have always remained in an account.

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1 hour ago, thai3 said:

slap 800k on the counter and very unlikely any will refuse to open an account for you. Last one I opened in Jan was at Krugthai exchange tower Bkk, don't have yellow book or WP, 500 baht to open.

And if you entered Visa exempt or Tourist Visa how would you prove the funds came from overseas for a Non O application?

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My only observation is that "none of the above" should be taken for granted as interpretation of the rules varies from bank to bank, branch to branch, and immigration office to immigration office.

 

I've always kept between 2 and 10 million in an account with TMB, for example, with transfers out every few months to Kasikorn for "spending money", and never had a problem with the money needed for a retirement extension. Two years ago, the local immigration decided that wasn't in the spirit of what was needed as I had "too much money" and although they accepted it that time they warned me that in future they'd only accept an account that I "used" that showed I was taking money out and spending it regularly.

 

Never had a problem opening bank accounts, or needed any paperwork except a copy of my passport and house papers (not in my name, and no covering letter or paperwork).

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5 minutes ago, Stonker said:

Never had a problem opening bank accounts, or needed any paperwork except a copy of my passport and house papers (not in my name, and no covering letter or paperwork).

Neither have I, but that was several years ago. Once you have one account it should smooth the path to open another. However those who are just entering and intending to stay long term, are finding it increasingly difficult to open a new bank account.

The information is aimed at that group, not existing retirees.

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20 hours ago, Faz said:


2. Foreigner without work permit

  • A reference letter issued by one of the following institutes or organizations or required document
    • Embassy located  in Thailand 

As I already mentioned before in another thread, Bangkok Bank branches (usually) have the so called " Certified Letter (Bank Form A)", which can be filled and brought to own's embassy or consulate, and get signed and sealed by officers there. It is something like this:

1733918682_certifiedletterbankformabangkokbank.thumb.jpg.3dcdd6ba2d9d03fe75c06636634753a8.jpg

 

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I opened my first account with Kasikornbank around 2004, and only needed my passport.  That was so I could just wire in funds when I visited and use a local ATM card. 

Later when I moved Thailand I opened two more accounts with them in the province I moved to, one with no ATM card that receives my biannual wire transfers and a normal use account that I transfer to from the other account monthly.

Finally three years ago we moved to another province so I again opened a local account for normal use.  I now transfer from my up-country account to this one.  In all cases I just needed my passport.

I'm considering opening accounts with one or more other banks as this August the guarantee on deposits drops to 1MBaht.  But Kasikornbank being one of the top three commercial banks by capitalization in Thailand it's probably not necessary.  If I do it will be interesting to see what extra hoops I'll need to jump through.  

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 7/8/2021 at 12:47 PM, uanmak said:

As I already mentioned before in another thread, Bangkok Bank branches (usually) have the so called " Certified Letter (Bank Form A)", which can be filled and brought to own's embassy or consulate, and get signed and sealed by officers there. It is something like this:

1733918682_certifiedletterbankformabangkokbank.thumb.jpg.3dcdd6ba2d9d03fe75c06636634753a8.jpg

One problem - the Embassy will usually charge a fee to do that. Last time I did that with Australian Embassy it cost 500 Baht. Some will be less, and some will be more - best to ask first.

 

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On 7/8/2021 at 7:13 PM, KhunG said:

I opened my first account with Kasikornbank around 2004, and only needed my passport.  That was so I could just wire in funds when I visited and use a local ATM card. 

Later when I moved Thailand I opened two more accounts with them in the province I moved to, one with no ATM card that receives my biannual wire transfers and a normal use account that I transfer to from the other account monthly.

Finally three years ago we moved to another province so I again opened a local account for normal use.  I now transfer from my up-country account to this one.  In all cases I just needed my passport.

I'm considering opening accounts with one or more other banks as this August the guarantee on deposits drops to 1MBaht.  But Kasikornbank being one of the top three commercial banks by capitalization in Thailand it's probably not necessary.  If I do it will be interesting to see what extra hoops I'll need to jump through.  

I am with you then KhunG - I already have a bank account that I opened years ago when living in Thailand. But we will likely live in another Province when we return, so I will have to see how it goes opening a new account there, and opening another back-up bank account.  Years ago I even had a credit card - I should have kept that ? 

Clearly things have no changed - we walked into the nearest large Mall and started by just walking into each bank's office - with all the paperwork passport etc.. When we got to the third one (Bangkok Bank) they had no problems giving me a new bank account. I am sure it helped having the Thai Wife with me, but the first 2 still rejected me and my money, even though she had bank accounts with both of them.  So she also opened a Bangkok Bank account with them, and then she transferred over most of the money from the other two banks. I think she enjoyed going back in there and asking them both for cash withdrawals to take over to her new bank - which had accepted her husband and had given him a new bank account - but it didnt show ?.  I learned a bit about 'face' then - no anger - no enjoyment - all calm and no change - amazing.  

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Posted (edited)

over the years many times i have seen comments like "i closed my Thai bank account a few years ago when i left but i decided to return to Thailand."

if there is any possibility you are coming back keep it open. same with your Thai phone number. 

anyway to illustrate how things have changed, on a two week vacation trip i opened a saving account at SCB bank in 2013 at Terminal 21 Bangkok using the phone number of a girl I met in Soi Cowboy. She was with me at the bank at the time. i had a tourist visa, no Thai phone number, no home address. at that time the banks were not required to do IRS reporting for Americans opening bank accounts.  

I would suggest you NOT do as this as bringing anyone you meet in a bar with you to any official function does not sit well with Thai people. My friend Sarah had that school teacher look and in fact today is a school teacher in Ubon Ratchathani. i think the woman at the bank thought we made a good couple despite our 30 year age difference. Plus I am really handsome and also dress very nicely everywhere i go.

i put 500 baht in that account. i figured if somehow the money is gone no big deal. a year later i retired and changed the phone number and address to Hua Hin.        

Edited by NCC1701A
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  • 2 weeks later...

I've lived here for 23 years and currently have two accounts open with Kasikorn - one a fixed term 'elders account' and the other, savings. When I recently tried to open another fixed term account, I was told  "cannot because you live here with a Non immigrant 'O' and Thai wife/family." I would need to change it to retirement or Business. 

Pathetic, is the only word that comes to mind - even involving the branch manager didn't get me any further, as she started to get irate and threatened to close my existing accounts, telling me to go elsewhere.

WELCOME TO THAILAND! 

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On 8/15/2021 at 12:33 PM, geoffphuket said:

Pathetic, is the only word that comes to mind

you choose the right bank for that :-).

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  • 1 month later...
Posted (edited)

Hi.

I am looking to move to Bangkok next year, when all the Covid restrictions are over and I have sold my property.  Sadly, I live in South Africa where the local currency (rand) is woefully low, and getting money out of the country is doable, but lots of hoops to go through as there are forex controls and Reserve Bank approval required, etc. My real question though -- and I see this written all the time -- is about how one is supposed to have proof of residence WITHOUT having a bank account first? How am I supposed to pay three months in advance without a local bank account -- that I can't open without proof of residence, such as a rental agreement? It seems totally the wrong way around. Bearing in mind, again, that I can only take so much money out of South Africa as a tourist, even on an extended 90-day visa before applying for the retirement visa. Any feedback most appreciated.

Katy

Edited by Katy
typos
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