Over the past several years, Thailand has become a hotspot for expats, digital nomads, and entrepreneurs. Thailand offers a high quality of life and a low cost of living. Whether youâ€™re relocating for work, or considering a move to Thailandto start your own business, retire, or because of the vibrant and diverse expatriate community, there are a few things you should know before you go.
You Must Obtain a Visa
Although US citizens are not required to obtain a visa for visits under 30 days, if you are planning on moving to Thailand, you must contact the Royal Thai Embassy or the Royal Thai Consulate to obtain the proper visa. The type of visa required depends on your situation and the reason for moving to Thailand. Current visa types include:
- Tourist Visa
- Non-Immigrant Visa
- One Year Non-Immigrant Visa
- Marriage Visa
- Retirement Visa
- Business Visa
- Permanent Resident Visa
Information on each type of visa can be found on the Thai Embassy website, http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/thailand-visa-types.php.
If You Plan on Working in Thailand:
You Need a Work Permit
In order to work in Thailand, even if the â€œworkâ€ is as a volunteer, you must acquire a work permit from the Ministry of Labor.There are certain jobs which are not available to foreigners under the Foreign Business Act of 1999. You could face criminal charges punishable by fines of up to 100,000 THB or up to five years in prison for working in any of the protected occupations. (See a list of prohibited occupations at http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/working-thailand.php).
If You Plan on Retiring in Thailand:
Retiring in Thailand has its own set of rules, so be sure you know what they are prior to your departure. As of this writing, you must be at least 50 yearsold and you must prove minimum income requirements as follows:
- Bank account with at least 800,000 THB
- Monthly income of at least 65,000 THB
- A combination of (bank account + monthly income X 12 = at least 800,000 THB
You must sign up for a Thai retirement visa which will allow you to stay in Thailand for one year. You are required to verify your address every 90 days with immigration and you are not allowed to work.
You will need an Extension of Stay and a Re-Entry Permit. These are two different things and youâ€™ll need to obtain both.
You Wonâ€™t Be Able to Buy Property
It is illegal in Thailand for foreigners to own land, however, there are other options:
- Foreigners can lease land in Thailand for 30 years.
- Land can be purchased by setting up a Thai Limited Company. Should you choose this option, a Thai citizen must own at least 51% of the company and your business will be under close scrutiny by Thai Immigration.
- Purchase a condominium or apartment. As long as 51% of the units in the building are owned by Thai citizens, foreigners are allowed to buy condominiums or apartments.
Moving Your Belongings
Unless your company is paying for a relocation package, youâ€™ll need to explore shipping options. You are allowed to bring your furniture and household items with you, duty free, if you have a non-immigrant visa, but there are stipulations. It only applies to items you have already been using, and there is a “one item” rule, i.e. one television, one coffee pot, one mixer, one microwave, one vacuum cleaner.
Moving your furniture and household items to Thailand can seem like a daunting and expensive task, so make sure you look for a forwarding agent who can negotiate the importation for you.
You’ll also want to make certain that getting your belongings through customs and delivery to your door is included. The last thing you want to do is find out your belongings are stuck in port and that you have to figure out how to get them through customs and find someone to deliver them to your home in Thailand.
Transporting Your Vehicle
You are allowed to transport one new or used vehicle to Thailand (stipulations apply).Because there are stringent regulations, youâ€™ll want to make certain that the auto transport company you choose is familiar with the procedures, which are different depending on whether you are shipping a new or used vehicle. If you are shipping a used vehicle, the importer or agent must obtain an import permit from the Ministry of Commerce. If they fail to obtain the permit, your vehicle will be seized and you will be subject to stiff fines.
The automobile importer is required to submit the following documents:
- Import Goods Declaration (along with at least 3 copies)
- Bill of Lading
- Commercial Invoice
- Release Order
- Insurance Invoice
- House Certificate and an ID Card (used cars only)
- Vehicle Registration (used cars only)
- Import Permit (used cars only)
Vehicles in Thailand have steering wheels on the right side and people drive on the left side of the road. Although cars with steering wheels on the left side are not illegal, this is something to keep in mind.
This is not a comprehensive list of requirements. This is simply a guide to get you started. Make certain you check with the proper authorities prior to your move.
By Ross Campbell