A common misconception many overseas real estate buyers have when it comes to Thailand is that purchasing a property guarantees them a visa. That is simply false. There is one option available to property buyers: the THB 10 million (USD324,800) investment visa.
It is a good option, but one that is limiting. For starters, the only property covered under this visa is condominium units in a new-build development. Anyone applying for this visa is required to provide evidence that at least THB10 million has been transferred into the country as well.
Investors keen on other property types or who don’t want to transfer that much money into Thailand are out of luck. And then there is the process of applying for the visa, which is time consuming, even with the help of a lawyer. It also can’t be started until the THB10 million is in Thailand.
The smart alternative
The Thailand Elite residence program is an alternative way to obtain a Thai visa when buying property in Thailand. Having a privilege entry visa ensures holders the right to stay in Thailand for up to 20 years along with a range of additional complimentary services and benefits.
There are no minimum residency requirements for holders of the privilege entry visa. They can stay in Thailand for as long as they wish within the parameters of their chosen program. Unlike other visa types, including tourist and retirement options, the privilege entry visa provides much more flexibility.
Several options are available under the Thailand Elite residence program with 5, 10- and 20-year visas offered. Additionally, select programs include visas for family members as well.
Unlike other visas issued by the Thailand immigration bureau, the privilege entry visa comes with far reaching benefits all designed to make life easier from the moment you arrive in the Kingdom.
There is the VIP greeting and assistance from an Elite Personal Assistant that is provided on international flights arriving and departing Thailand along with exclusive access to arrival and departure lounges. You’ll also be able to take advantage of expedited immigration formalities and passport-control processing, something frequent travellers to Thailand are sure to appreciate.
Another benefit of the privilege entry visa is that you can enjoy Airports of Thailand limousine transfer service to/from your hotel or residence. Complimentary government concierge services are also provided to visa holders. These benefits include assistance with 90-day reporting, business networking, help obtaining a Thai driver’s license, opening a Thai bank account and much more.
Finally, holders of the privilege entry visa can have peace of mind knowing the program is organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand under the Ministry of Tourism and Sport.
Why should property buyers consider the Thailand Elite residence program?
If you’re purchasing a property in Thailand and plan on regularly staying in the country, a privilege entry visa is the ideal choice for a few reasons. Obviously, the benefits alone ensure your stay in Thailand is hassle free.
For example, if you own a villa or condo property in Phuket, the benefits provided by the Thailand Elite residence program paves the way for a peaceful holiday. Breeze past immigration, hop into your airport transfer and start your holiday.
The Thailand Elite residence program also eliminates pain points that other visa types can bring. Visitors who arrive to Thailand on multiple tourist visas are now finding themselves being stopped and questioned by immigration officials more frequently. Meanwhile, greater enforcement of the Thai retirement visa requirements has made the yearly extension process much more difficult than in the past.
One of the most underrated aspects of the Thailand Elite residence program is that real estate agents can offer clients the ability to join when purchasing a property. Not only can you acquire the property you want, but at the same time you now have access to the utmost comfort during your time in the Kingdom. If you’re thinking about buying a property in Thailand and are also interested in obtaining the privilege entry visa, be sure to ask your real estate agent for more information.
The application process for the Thailand Elite residence program is streamlined and it takes approximately one to three months to get visa issuance. More importantly, you won’t need to make endless trips to the immigration office and submit a mountain of paperwork. It can even be done concurrently with the property purchase. This is impossible with the investment visa which requires you to already have a non-immigrant visa and proof of investment before applying.
You can contract Andrew Raming, Senior Manager, Henley & Partners Thailand, at +66 (0) 9878 77808 for more information about the Thailand Elite residence program.