I have been planning to retire in Thailand in early September. I believe the category is O-A. I have been using a law firm Siam-Legal to help me, but they have messed things up to date. Now, I am running out of time to get things resolved. I live in Alabama, so the regional Thai consulate is in Atlanta. However, they informed me because of sickness to send my application forms, passport and other items to Washington, D.C. Upon doing that they sent everything back only sending a copy of a webpage where they highlighted everything needed including a letter from the FBI saying I have no criminal record. I was told by Siam-Legal that was not necessary. Getting such a letter could take a long time beyond my scheduled departure date to go to Thailand. Is it really a necessity to get this letter and also the medical certificate? I need to find out things fast, and I can get no answers from anyone else right now. As it is now, I will have to drive to Washington D.C. to the Royal Thai Consulate since it would take too long by mail.
As you will find out, all lot of the hoops you have to go through seem to be vague and the information you research won't give you all the information you need! Anyway, this was my process, and keep in mind this was dealing with the Los Angeles Thai Consulate. I got my fingerprints at a local police station where I lived and sent to IDHSC express mail. I opted to get my results through email and took about a week. You might be able to do Livescan and speed up process though. Also took a copy of the medical form from the Thai Embassy website to my doctor and he signed for me. Then I went to my bank and they made a copy of my bank statement and wrote a letter stating I had stated funds in my account. Also had to get 4 passport type pictures made and make 4 copies of passport. Keep in mind you need 4 copies of every document they ask for. There were 2 other documents I had to print off of Thai Embassy website and make copies of also, cant remember what they were called though.
About 5 days before flight i went to Thai Consulate in L.A. I turn in all my paperwork and they tell me bank statement, medical certificate and background check have to be notarized, which I never saw on Thai Embassy website. They said there was a notary across the street that could take care of it, and they did. Apparently a lot of other people didn't know the documents had to be notarized either as they were a few others over there too! After that I turned all the documents and the clerk said come back tomorrow and pick up Visa. Walked in next day and was out in 5 minutes.
Hopefully some of this is helpful! Just remember 4 copies of everything and notarize your documents.
I ran into similar issues - it's a big hassle to get everything together in the US.
One issue is notarization. Notarization (by a notary public) is for signatures, not for documents. The notarize/testify that the signature is from the person who signed the document.
So, on the medical report, you would need to have your doctor's signature notarized, meaning hiring a mobile notary to meet you at your doctor's office where he/she would sign the paper in the presence of the notary, etc.
I got the police report easily, but they will not notarize it. They will give a certified copy, but not notarize the signature.
I believe you could take these to a notary public and then counter-sign yourself and have your signature notarized. But I don't know if the Thai consulate would accept it.
I went a different route. I got a 60-day tourist visa to Thailand from the embassy, came to Thailand and did everything here (in Thailand). Once here, I applied for and received a 30-day extension, for a total of 90 days to do all of the following.
There are numerous visa services that will do this for you for hefty fees, but I chose to do it myself, with a lot of extra leg-work, but the total cost for me was somewhere around $200, instead of the thousands that the visa services charge. I have plenty of free time here, so doing it all myself was fine for me.
I went to the immigration department and asked them what I needed to do to convert my tourist visa to a long-term retirement-type visa. They gave me a sheet of paper listing the requirements, so it is just a matter of compiling all the necessary items.
I chose to use the 800k baht in a Thai bank account as my "qualification" for the retirement visa. To open the bank account, I found that Bangkok bank is the only bank that will open accounts for people on a tourist visa.
I needed to be living in an apartment or condo, not a hotel or guest house, and provide proof of address. This can be either- A) a notarized statement from the US embassy stating you live at your address (you can write out a document and they will have you swear to the truth of it, then sign, and they notarize your signature. This costs $50 at the US embassy.) or B) a "residence certificate" from the Thai immigration department. This is free, but it takes 3 weeks to process, and you need to supply documentation - rental agreement, TM-30, etc.
I chose the $50 path because it was faster.
Then, I opened a savings account at the bank, and obtained the SWIFT code and routing code. I then gave this information to my US financial institution and had them wire transfer funds from my US account to my new Thai account.
Use the wire transfer method rather than bringing a lot of cash with you, because later, you will need to prove that the funds came from outside of Thailand. The 'international transfer(s)" in you bank book easily prove this.
After I had 800,000 baht in my Thai bank account, I went back to immigration to apply to convert my tourist visa to a non-O Retirement visa. This required more documentation of where I lived, TM-30, rental contract, etc.
I had previously gotten a list of requirements from then, so I brought all the documents they said they needed, including my bank book and a letter from my bank verifying the balance. They processed my application, accepted my fee, and submitted the paperwork to their headquarters.
Three weeks later, I have a Non-O Retirement visa in my passport. (SUCCESS!!!)
It cost me a lot of leg work, but not a lot of money. It also gave me me the opportunity to learn about the process, so that I can more easily get everything ready for when I apply for the "extension of stay" that is then good for one year. (I got a list from them of everything needed for this, also. Mostly the same as the previous list, but slight differences, notably the requirement that the 800k must have been in the bank for at least 2 months prior to application for extension of stay.)
As with everything in Thailand -- your experience may be different. I tried to say "I did..." rather than "you should..." because not everyone has the same experience with immigration, banks, etc. (Sometimes one can go back on a different day and talk to a different person and get a different answer.)
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