According to Col Apisit Chaiyanuwat, vice minister at the prime minister’s office, the visa will be valid initially for five years and can be renewed for another five. Conditions include that the visa-holders must report to immigration police every 90 days, which is the case as is stands now anyway.
Eligible foreigners must have a monthly income of at least 100,000 Thai baht (US$2,809/€2,657), or a bank deposit of at least three million baht (US$84,034/€79,706) This amount must be maintained for at least one year after receiving the visa.
Those wishing to take up the visa must have health insurance coverage of at least US$1000/€948 for outpatient care, and $10,000/€9480 cover for inpatient care per year.
According to Col Apisit, the move is designed to encourage medical and wellness tourism. As the current visa only allows people to stay for a year, it is hoping that the new initiative will give a boost to the long-stay and retiree tourism market. Thailand aims to attract long-stay visitors from Australia, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Taiwan, and the United States.
It is believed the move was implemented because Thailand’s neighbour Malaysia offers a liberal visa service for retirees, and allows foreigners to own properties. Cambodia is also considering a retiree visa that would allow stays of one, five or 10 years. It is expected that it will adopt rules similar to Thailand that permit retirees to buy condominium units, but not land property.