Long-stay visa and the mandatory health insurance in Thailand
With the trend of globalization, ‘international retirement migration’ has become a growing phenomenon. Meanwhile, thanks to its pristine beaches, delectable cuisines, friendly people, relatively low cost of living, and vibrant culture, Thailand has become of the most popular retirement choices among expatriates around the world. Previously, expats looking to stay in the Land of Smiles could only apply for the “O-A” long-stay visa, which allowed applicants to stay for one year only. However, in 2016 the Thai government has launched the “O-X” long-stay visa, which extended the duration of stay for senior tourists from one year to ten years.
Today, Pacific Prime Thailand will look at the details of this new type of long-stay visa, the major differences between the “O-X” and the “O-A” long-stay visa, and its insurance requirements.
What is the new “O-X” long-stay visa?
As the Thai government aims to cement the country’s position as a long-stay destination among foreigners, the Cabinet has officially launched the new “O-X” long-stay visa on 22 November 2016. This visa is for applicants aged 50 years old or over and wish to stay in Thailand for a period not exceeding 10 years without the intention of working. Holders of this type of visa are allowed to stay in Thailand for five years each time, for a total of ten years, during which time employment of any kind is strictly prohibited.
To be eligible for this visa, applicants must meet the following requirements:
- They must be nationals and passport holders of 14 countries, namely Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Canada and the United States of America.
- They must have a bank deposit of no less than 3 million bahts in Thailand, or a bank deposit of no less than 1.8 million bahts and an annual income of no less than 1.2 million bahts. Such amount must be maintained in bank deposit in full for at least one year, and keep at no less than 1.5 million bahts thereafter.
- Applicants, as well as their spouse and children, must have their own health insurance throughout the granted period of long-stay visa. More details on the mandatory insurance will be covered at the latter part of this article.
- Applicants, after being granted the visa, must report to the Immigration Bureau once every 90 days.
- Other requirements include having no prior history of rejected entry into Thailand, no criminal record in Thailand and the country of the applicant’s nationality and residence, and not having prohibitive diseases such as Leprosy, Tuberculosis, Elephantiasis or the third phase of Syphilis.
Applicants are allowed to bring over their spouse and children. If the spouse is 50 years of age, they are also able to apply for an O-A visa and have to submit their bank statement. If the spouse is younger than 50 years old, they will receive an O visa. Children under the age of 21 are able to accompany their family to Thailand for education and will receive a non-immigrant visa type (ED).
What are the major differences between the “O-X” and the “O-A” long-stay visa?
The new “O-X” long-stay visa allows expats to stay for up to five years each time before extending the visa, whilst “O-A” visa holders have to submit a request for extension of stay at the Office of the Immigration Bureau with a deposit documented evidence of money not less than 800,000 baht in an account in Thailand every single year.
“O-X” visa holders are free to leave and re-enter at any time within the 5-year period. On the other hand, if “O-A” visa holders plan to exit and re-enter Thailand they must apply at the Immigration office for a multiple re-entry permit before departure. In the case of leaving the country without a re-entry permit, the permit to stay for one year will become void.
“O-X” visa is open to nationals and passport holders of 14 countries only while “O-A” visa does not have such limitations.
As mentioned above, “O-X” visa holders must maintain the balance of 3 million baht, or a bank deposit of no less than 1.8 million bahts and an annual income of no less than 1.2 million bahts within the first year of the 5 year period. “O-A” visa holders only have to keep 800,000 baht in the bank or have an income certificate or property deed with an equivalent amount.
Both “O-X” and “O-A” visa holders are required to report to immigration every 90 days. Anyone in violation of this rule will be subject to a fine of 2,000 baht. However, online reporting service is now available for applicants to submit applications 14 to 7 days before the due date, which makes the process less cumbersome.
What are the insurance requirements for “O-X” and “O-A” visa applicants?
All applicants must secure Thai health insurance policies sold by authorized insurance companies only. These policies must have coverage not less than 400,000 baht per policy year for inpatient, and not less than 40,000 baht per policy year for outpatient. Currently, there are only three listed companies which participate in this scheme, namely Navakij Insurance, Thaivivat Insurance, and The Viriyah Insurance.
When securing health insurance for the visa, there are a few things that applicants should take note of. First, there is a waiting period of 30 days for most policies. Policyholders have to wait until the time has elapsed before they can lodge a claim.
Second, pre-existing conditions, which are the health conditions policyholders have before applying for the plan, will usually be automatically excluded.
Third, pay special attention to whether the plan is renewable for life or not. Being dropped out of a plan at an old age means that you will have to switch to another insurer. Any conditions you have developed during the previous policy term may be deemed as pre-existing conditions by the new insurer and thus excluded from coverage.
Get professional advice from an established insurance broker
We understand it is not easy to get your head around obscure insurance terms and conditions, that is why our motto is to simplify insurance. With over 19 years of experience and nine offices across the world, our team of experts at Pacific Prime Thailand is on hand to guide you through every step of your insurance journey. Contact us today for impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and a plan comparison.
When he’s not working, he’s usually on the hunt for great restaurants, playing badminton, and writing screenplays.
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