The Thai Ministry of Health has released the specifics of the adjustments to the O/A annual retirement option for foreign retirees that went into effect on October 1, raising the level of mandatory hospital inpatient insurance from the previous 400,000 baht to a surprising three million baht, or US$100,000.
The changes in policy apply to both new applications and yearly renewals at Thai embassies and immigration offices across the world. The minimum age is still set at 50 years old.
It is required that the insurance covers all medical scenarios, including but not limited to Covid, and it must be provided by both international and Thai-based insurance providers. Foreign insurance may only be utilized for the initial application at a Thai embassy, not for successive extensions of stay, according to the expired legislation.
Self-insure for foreign retirees is first time in Thai immigration history
Applicants for the O/A visa or extension who are unable to get comprehensive medical insurance due to age, infirmity, or pre-existing conditions will be permitted to self-insure for the first time in Thai immigration history. They will have to prove assets worth at least three million baht, which might include cash in a Thai or international bank, property ownership, or equivalent money. They can also present proof that their hospital expenditures in Thailand will be covered by the applicant’s home country. This might help foreign retirees from the US military, who are frequently provided with global health coverage.
The Ministry of Health memorandum, on the other hand, states that any claims of wealth or insurance granted by foreign-based enterprises must be verified by Thai authorities, including Thai embassies overseas or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Bangkok. To put it another way, candidates may expect a lengthy paper chase. The insurance requirements, of course, are in addition to the present minimum of 800,000 baht stored in a Thai bank or confirmation of regular monthly payments.
Immigration advisors are already advising affluent O/A foreign retirees in Thailand who are unable to secure insurance to preserve and retain 3,800,000 baht on deposit in Thailand. The simplest method to demonstrate the new baseline is to do so. The alternative looks to need a number of affidavits, paperwork for firms and banks to sign, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs clearance.
It’s worth noting that the October 1 changes only apply to O/A visas and yearly renewals. The Ministry release makes no mention of foreign retirees who have alternate permits, such as the Elite visa or non-immigrant “O” extensions of stay based on marriage or retirement.
Once obtained by the Thai embassy overseas, changing the first O/A visa to the less onerous O is difficult. The technique necessitates the foreign retiree leaving the country and returning with, say, a 60-day tourist visa that may be changed to a three-month O at Thai immigration plus a 12-month extension. Then you’re good to go. At least for the time being.
Red tape burdens foreign retirees in Thailand
Thailand was ranked 11th out of 25 countries to retire in by the travel magazine International Living this year. It was also recently ranked as the best country in Southeast Asia to live in for expats. Despite this position, there are still laws that make staying in the country difficult for foreigners. Those with one-year or longer permits must still report to immigration officials every 90 days.
Foreigners who have been granted a Non-Immigrant O or Non-Immigrant OA visa extension due to retirement are unable to work in Thailand. This is terrible news for foreign retirees who want to undertake some part-time job to pass the time. Work permits are only provided to people with permanent residence or a Non-Immigrant B visa, which is offered to foreigners who wish to work in Thailand, according to an Immigration Bureau deputy commander who talked with the Bangkok Post.
According to him, each nationality has a quota of 100 persons granted permanent residency each year. If they do not change their nationality, even foreigners who have lived and worked in the country for more than ten years are ineligible for healthcare and other government benefits.
Foreigners who hold a Non-Immigrant O visa extension based on marriage and are married to Thais must renew their visas every year. They can request to prolong their stay in Thailand for childcare if their Thai spouse dies. They must find alternative reasons to stay if they do not have children, such as job or retirement.
Foreigners who marry Thais can seek for citizenship, although the procedure is more difficult for foreign men who marry Thai women than for foreign women who marry Thai men. Foreign males who marry Thai women must fulfill language proficiency requirements, have a steady employment, seek clearance from the interior minister, and have resided in Thailand for at least five years.