Non-Immigrant OA Visa for Retirement in Thailand

Longtime retirement visas have been relatively easy and straightforward to get in Thailand for foreigners of age 50 and above, whereby those who qualify can continue to extend their visas yearly at a local immigration office whereby you do not need to exit Thailand again if you prefer.

Besides age, the main criteria is that you have sufficient savings or regular income, for which a threshold amount is transmitted to your own Thailand bank account from overseas.

You must also have a fixed address in Thailand, which means a rental lease of at least 1 year, or an owned condominium with your name on the title deed, or possibly some other evidence of a fixed address which is accepted. There are some reports of people submitting utility bills in their own name, but normally in Thailand, the owner of the property keeps electricity and water bills in their own name, and an internet order in a tenant's name requires a lease.

You must have a non-immigrant OA visa (long stay), which you normally apply for at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country, which is fairly quick and easy, but it's possible to convert another visa into a non-immigrant AO visa within Thailand if you meet the requirements.

Technically, the officer may require a medical certificate and/or a police certificate regarding any criminal record, but usually this is not requested, in the vast majority of cases I am aware of.

You are not allowed to work in Thailand based on a retirement visa. However, if you later decide to work, there are things you can do to get an additional non-immigrant B or O visa and then a work permit.

For a retirement visa extension, the money requirement is as follows:

  • savings of 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account inside Thailand which was deposited from overseas, for a minimum of 2 months for the initial retirement visa extension, and a minimum of 3 months for additional years,
  • income, recurring monthly, such as a pension or other regular automatic income of 65,000 baht/month over the preceding year,
  • a combination of A and B amounting to 800K = (monthly income x 12) + (amount in bank)

You may have noticed that 65K/month adds up to only 780K, but this is correct and accepted.

Currently, retirees usually choose the savings route over the income route for the first year of extension, though they may switch to the income route for subsequent annual extensions.

While the regulations state that the savings must be transferred from overseas, it does not clearly specify this about the income option, so that it's possible for foreigners to show the required income overseas. However, the income route is considerably more difficult if the minimum amount of income is not being transmitted to the Thai bank account monthly.

Often in administrative affairs, evidence from overseas such as pension money or other income deposited between a foreign source and a foreign bank account must be somehow certified as legitimate, not fakes, whereas on the other hand, evidence generated domestically in Thailand by Thai legal entities such as Thai banks do not require the same scrutiny due to jurisdiction.

As of the beginning of 2019, some embassies of western countries have stopped issuing affidavits of income for their citizens, which were commonly required together with normal documentation on recurring income.

Therefore, it is expected that for most cases, if you go by the 65K/month route for visa extensions, then you should make sure at least 65K/month has been transmitted to your Thailand bank account every month for the previous year before applying for a visa extension based on recurring income. (Also, since the banks take a bite out of what's received, it's best to wire a safety factor of a few percent over, of course.)

For the option of showing savings of 800,000 baht in the bank, you provide evidence in both of two ways:

  1. Thai bank accounts come with a bank book which is a ledger you update in an ATM machine equipped with a bank book reader/printer (a small subset of ATM machines, typically located outside branches) or updated by a human teller inside, which prints the history of deposits and withdrawals of your account, and the current balance after each activity. For example, if you carry your bank book to such a machine, open it up to the last page of activity, and put it into the machine, the machine will print any new entries. For example, on the date of submission, deposit maybe 100 baht then update the bank book so it will print the balance on that day, to show that your account has had more than the minimum amount over the 2 to 3 months. The original deposit will have a code next to it indicating a foreign incoming transfer.
  2. You need a letter from your bank stating that the 800K came from overseas, and you've had the 800K in the bank for a minimum of 2 or months. (The latter may seem redundant since you have a print out of your bank book, but it's still required.)

For the option of monthly income, that is more complicated. You must provide evidence in either of two ways, one or the other (or both):

  1. If the income is deposited into a Thai bank account, then Thai bank statements or bank book going back a minimum of 1 year showing the deposits,
  2. If the income is deposited into a foreign bank account in your home country, then it might ... just might ... be accepted, if you provide bank statements going back a minimum of 1 year showing the deposits, plus an affidavit letter from your embassy verifying the legitimacy of those foreign documents about your monthly income (i.e., not faked foreign documents).

Above are requirements.
Below are steps.

The steps as apparently intended by Thai government officials, for applicants who choose the savings route instead of the income route, for their first retirement visa extension:

Normally, you first apply at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country for a non-immigrant OA visa for the purpose of retirement in Thailand, which can get you a visa for the first 3 months. You later apply to extend that visa for up to 1 year from the date you eventually enter Thailand, and then can extend year by year, according to the steps below.

You should be aware that not all Thai consulates and embassies issue OA visas for retirement, so you should double check first with the consultate or embassy you prefer to submit to. While outside of Thailand, you cannot apply in any country except where you are a citizen or have been given permanent residency, but not in other countries, i.e., if you are British then you can apply at a Thai embassy or consulate in the UK, but not in Malaysia. Some Thai embassies and consulates may require you show evidence of savings or recurring monthly income such as a pension there in your home country before issuing this visa, but some might not.

You should also make arrangements for the ability to transmit money from your overseas bank account to your Thai bank, such as talking to the branch manager of your overseas bank to tell them you plan to transfer a large amount of money to a future Thai bank account, and some other arrangement such as internet banking for such a large amount.

After arriving in Thailand, you open a bank account at your preferred Thai bank, based on this OA visa plus evidence of fixed address as discussed above. Then you transfer at least 800,000 baht from your overseas account into this account, so that it arrives at least 2 months before you plan to apply for a visa extension. The sooner you transmit, the better, as you don't want to be submitting your application just a day before your visa expires, in case there's an issue with your paperwork, or holidays, or something else comes up.

Of course, this is why you need to show only 2 months of savings for your first visa extension, instead of the 3 months for subsequent years, because the Thai government gives you one month to get the bank account opened and the money transmitted and received, plus you should have some extra time to apply for the extension before your first 3 month visa expires.

Notably, many people are already here in Thailand on other kinds of visas, and want to convert their visa to a non-immigrant OA visa for retirement, without needing to fly back home. Yes, it is possible to convert another kind of visa into a retirement visa.

For example, if you're already here on a non-immigrant B business visa with a work permit but decide to stop working and retire, then of course you can prepare the wire transfer long in advance, and then go to an immigration office to convert your visa from a B to an OA visa. It is also possible to convert a tourist visa or a visa on arrival / visa exemption to an OA visa, but more difficult, as you must have already completed the other steps including opening a bank account and having the money inside it for the required duration before immigration will convert your tourist visa or visa on arrival / visa exemption to a non-immigrant OA visa.

The first sticking point is usually opening the bank account and getting money transmitted into it. In Thailand, regulations state that you cannot open a Thai bank account on a tourist visa or 30 day visa exemption or on a visa on arrival. There are many stories of some bank branches doing so anyway if you bring in proof of a long term fixed address, and explain your intentions as regards retirement visa. For example, you can explain to your bank that it's difficult to transfer 800,000 baht from your overseas bank account unless you travel overseas to visit your bank, but once you come here on the OA visa, you cannot fly all the way back overseas to transfer the money, because then you lose your OA visa. So, there is a situation similar to "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" -- the bank account or the visa? Therefore, many people have been allowed to open the bank account with a small deposit on a visa exemption / visa-on-arrival or tourist visa, before they do an internet banking wire transfer and then convert their tourist visa or visa exemption / visa-on-arrival to an OA visa, or before they go to their home country to get the OA visa and wire the qualifying 800,000 baht in person at their bank branch overseas.

If you come on a visa exemption / visa-on-arrival, you will still need to exit the country and re-enter because you cannot extend a visa exemption / visa-on-arrival more than 30 days, to go from 30 to 60 days, but to qualify for a visa conversion you must have the money in the bank for 2 months, so you'll basically be at least a day short. You can just hop over the border to a neighboring country and back.

However, if you come on a 60 day tourist visa, that can be extended another 30 days for a total of 3 months, so if you open the bank account and wire the money shortly after you arrive, then you can complete the 2 month wait before your tourist visa expires, and then you might be able to convert the tourist visa at the end into a non-immigrant OA visa and extend that for the rest of the year.

You can apply for a visa conversion and extension at any time before your visa expires, but it's best to not wait until the last day. You apply for visa extensions within up to 30 days before your current visa expires. Immigration offices usually do not accept applications more than 30 days in advance of your visa expiration, though you can ask the office within your particular jurisdiction because I have heard of exceptions whereby they have accepted an application is little bit more than 30 days in advance, especially when they are backlogged and having difficulty getting visas approved within 30 days of application.

The extension is not given the same day you apply. If your visa is near expiration at the time you apply, and if they don't expect your application to be processed completely with approval or rejection before your current visa expires (which is true in most cases), then they stamp your passport with a short visa extension, which may be a couple of weeks or so. Then you go back again very near the time your extension will expire. In most cases, applications have been approved and the applicant then gets the extension up to a year from the date they first entered Thailand. If rejected, then you must leave the country (but can re-enter and try again), and if your visa is expiring already then they might stamp you for another week to exit. If the application is still not accepted nor rejected, then they may extend you another week or two.

For some tasks, you might be able to use an agent, but you must show up in person after the paperwork is completely processed and your visa approved, as the immigration officers must see you in person, you must sign with an official as witness, and they take a photo of you there at that time.

If any agent tells you that you never need to show up at immigration and that they can do it all for you, then you should question that. Foreigners have been stopped and detained for fake visa stamps before. You normally see the immigration officer stamping your passport with the extension themselves. Besides, on the same day, you should also apply for a re-entry permit, as discussed elsewhere on this website.

Your passport should be valid for at least 1 year before applying for your extension. Don't go there with a passport expiring in 8 months and asking for a 9 month extension of your visa. (While technically possible, it's better to just go ahead and retire an expiring passport for a new one.)

The remainder of this page covers issues after you have successfully obtained your visa extension.

90-day Reporting and Re-Entry Visas

As covered in the section on general tips applying to all longterm visas, it is very important that you are aware you of two other requirements.

  1. If you exit and re-enter Thailand, you must have a re-entry permit. If you exit and re-enter Thailand without that re-entry permit, then you lose your non-immigrant OA visa and extension -- they would automatically be used and truncated. You would be stamped with a 15 or 30 day visa exemption / visa-on-arrival. Be sure to read up on re-entry permits in that section, and get one before you exit Thailand.

  2. All foreigners residing in Thailand for more than 90 days must report to Thailand immigration (or have an agent report for them) and file a simple page of paperwork updating immigration of their residential address, whether or not it has changed.

Since these topics apply to all long stay visas, they are covered on the page on general information on visas.

Frequently Asked Questions About Retirement Visas in Thailand

Question: Does a retirement visa allow me to import personal property customs free?
Answer: No. Unlike expats coming to work in Thailand based on a work permit, who do get some customs exemptions, retirees don't get those exemptions.

Question: Can you withdraw some or all of the 800,000 baht in your account after visa approval?
Answer: Yes, but... you must deposit it again at least 3 months before applying for an annual extension, and the money you deposit must be transmitted from overseas.

Question: Can you have your equivalent of 800,000 baht deposited in a foreign bank account, and still qualify as the required savings?
Answer: No. Absolutely not. It must be transmitted into a Thai bank account from overseas. No way around this. End of story. (This question has been asked of me so many times ... whether there was any way ... based on savings.)

Question: Since Thai law does not specify that the 65K income must be deposited in a bank in Thailand, only the savings must be deposited, then why couldn't I get a visa extension based on my 65K pension deposited into my foreign bank account?
Answer: They might accept that. It depends on the officers. However, it might be contingent only together with a required document from your embassy, which your embassy might not be willing to provide, especially since some embassies which previously provided the documentation have given notice that they have discontinued that practice, as of 2019.
In any case, you won't know for sure until you apply, and that's within the last 30 days before your visa expires. If they don't accept your income paperwork due to it being outside of Thailand, then you must exit Thailand and you're back to the start of the process, getting a suitable entry visa.
This is why the savings option may be preferable over the income option, if you can comfortably follow the savings option, and don't want to take a risk with the income option.

Question: Can I work in Thailand on a retirement visa?
No, according to the rules, but you can change visa types, such as getting a non-immigrant B visa if you qualify, and a work permit, and then qualify. I have heard of some exceptions, of the Ministry of Labor ignoring the OA limits and issuing a work permit on an OA visa, but those are exceptions, not the rule.

Question: Do you or your company help people to get a retirement visa?
Answer: Yes, we do. I and my company have been helping other people get visas and work permits successfully since 2003. I don't hoard information about it, and try to help people here on this website for free, but we understand that many people like to have assistance walking thru the process, and are willing to pay a fee to make everything smoother, easier, and possibly quicker and more trouble free. We can do some tasks and trips for you. There is also a language barrier sometimes. We get some of our support for things like this website from people who are willing to hire us to help them.

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