In 2012, Bangkok was recognized by ‘Travel & Leisure’ magazine as the best city for vacation, life and business activities. In 2016, Thailand was included in the Top 10 of countries to live in after retirement, according to the ranking composed by a respectable US web portal ‘Live and Invest Overseas’. The Ministry of Tourism and Sports notes that the record number of tourists visited Thailand in 2017 — 35,400,000, which is higher by 9% compared to the number reported in 2016. Many even consider the Kingdom for permanent residence in the nearest future.
Thailand Elite state program is a great chance to get the country’s resident visa for five, ten or twenty years and receive additional VIP privileges. Find all your need to know about the contribution amounts, advantages and conditions of getting the elite Thai visa in this article.
Thailand Elite Visa: program concept and visa applications statistics
Thailand is the only country in Southeast Asia that offers an official immigration program allowing foreigners to live on its territory and enjoy the country’s numerous advantages.
Thailand Elite program was introduced in 2003 and re-launched in 2017. The country attracts people by its favorable climate, loyal taxation system, developed infrastructure, low costs but still high service standards.
Participating in the program, the applicant has an opportunity to get a long-term resident visa and Thailand Elite card, both can be received upon the arrival to Thailand’s international airports.
Detailed analysis of Thailand Elite visa advantages
- Legality. It is a government-approved program. Long-term visas issuance is carried out by Thailand Privilege Card Company Limited (TPC) operating under the Ministry of Tourism and Sports of Thailand.
- There is no requirement to stay in the country for a certain period of time.
- One is given eight options of participation, each with a specific set of requirements, costs and advantages.
- Favorable tax environment. Non-residents pay the tax only from the income received within the territory of Thailand. No tax is imposed on the foreign income if the funds were transferred to Thailand not in the course of the same year when the funds were earned. Tax residents can receive a Tax Identification Number when the income is received from sources in Thailand.
- Fast document processing. The term of case consideration does not exceed 1 month.
- Free entry. Elite card owners can skip a time-consuming procedure of border control in the international airports. Thailand Elite offers a priority line at the airport checkpoints.
- Long period of visa validity. One visa is valid for 5 years regardless of the package selected. If you initially apply for a 20-year status, the visa will be automatically renewed every 5 years. This flexible multiple visa will allow you not to wait in long embassy queues and worry about administrative procedures concerning visa obtaining or renewal.
- Additional service. Depending on the selected participation option, the investor receives a range of additional services: airport transfer, access to airport VIP lounge, personal assistant, annual medical checks in private hospitals, special shopping and food discounts, free SPA procedures and access to golf centers.
As of the end of September 2017, 4,877 investors joined the program. Out of them, 1,021 people got visas in the last fiscal year. The amount of funds received due to the program existence for the previous fiscal year correspond to 663,000,000 Baht (about 20,000,000 USD), which is 64% higher than the amount recorded in the same period of 2016 (403,000,000 Baht).
Elite visa to Thailand: participation variants and costs
The applicant has 8 options of participation in the program to choose from. Depending on the selected variant, the investor can apply for either an individual visa or a visa for the investor together with his/her family members. The most affordable variants are Thai Elite Visa, Elite Family Excursion and Elite Easy Access, with a 5-year resident visa issuance. Elite Privilege Access and Elite Family Alternative provide for a 10-year visa. Elite Ultimate Privilege and Elite Superiority Extension, which are more expensive, provide for the opportunity of staying in Thailand for an unlimited amount of days within 20 years.
Details about the most popular variants are presented below.
Elite Easy Access
It is the most reasonable variant for expats and business people who often travel to Thailand. Issued for 5 years, with a one-time entry contribution of 500,000 Baht (≈$15,000). No additional yearly fees charged. No age limitations. One cannot pass the status to a third person, but one can upgrade to Elite Ultimate Privilege upon the payment of 1,605,000 Baht (about $50,000).
The investor can live in any area of the country. The offer provides for airport concierge services, short distance transfers from the airport in case of international flights (24 times per year).
Elite Privilege Access
A good offer for the applicants having families. Each family member is issued a visa, which is valid for 10 years. To obtain the desired documents, the applicant must invest 1,000,000 Baht ($30,000) for the major applicant and 800,000 Baht ($22,500) for each relative (a spouse, children, parents). Visa renewal is free of charge, status passing is impossible. No age limitations.
This package offers additional advantages. The investor receives the opportunity to speed up airport registration and border control procedures. One will also receive annual healthcare package and a personal assistant for the issues related to document processing,
Elite Ultimate Privilege
Premium package. The visa is given for 20 years to an individual applicant. The cost of participation is a one-time contribution of 2,140,000 Baht ($68,000) and a yearly contribution of 21,400 Baht (about $680).
The applicant must be aged over 20. There is a possibility of one-time status passing to a third person. The cost of status passing is 20% of the package cost as of the moment of passing.
It is a premium package that includes additional VIP services. Visa holder receives:
- personal assistant who helps the visa holder to go through check-in, passport control and customs at the airport under the simplified procedure;
- access to airport VIP lounge;
- transfer service (valid for international flights);
- access to an elite golf club and SPA center;
- free medical check-ups every year;
- discounts in shops;
- state concierge services in connection with the issues of immigration, speedy processing of the driver’s license, etc.
Regardless of the chosen variant of participation, the full visa cost is to be paid in advance. The contribution is non-refundable if the program is suspended or if the participant decides to completely leave the country before the long-term visa term expiration (e.g. the participant got a 20-year visa in advance and after a 7-year period changed his/her mind and decided to leave Thailand).
Ko Kut island
Who might be interested in Thailand Elite program?
The program is mostly popular among the foreigners who are not excited about annual business visa renewal and prefer to skip numerous administrative procedures. Taking into consideration that at the first stage of business visa processing, one should handle a lot of issues: company registration, office rent, search of 4 employees among locals, visiting the country in order to get the visa.
Term of case consideration – 30 days starting from the submission date. The participants receive a resident visa and Thailand Elite card in the international airport upon the arrival.
Preliminary approval is issued after a detailed verification of the applicant’s personality and the applicant’s family members if they are also participating. The period of verification is about a week from the submission date. If it is approved, the investor is sent an official letter and an entry fee invoice. The visa is issued 2 weeks after the full payment. To physically receive a visa and Thailand Elite cards, the applicant and dependent relatives are to inform TPC officials about the airport and the arrival details one week prior to the arrival.
Throughout the visa term, the participants are allowed to live in Thailand the unlimited amount of days. Foreigners who plan to remain in the country for more than 90 consecutive days, must inform a TPC official about it.
Permanent residence and Thailand’s citizenship
Visa issued under Thailand Elite program is an immigration document. It does not give one the opportunity to later apply for residence or citizenship. In order to receive permanent residence, one should have a non-immigration visa for at least 3 years. The opportunity of receiving a passport is available only to the applicant who has lived in Thailand as a resident for at least 10 years. Dual citizenship is forbidden.
Is it worth moving to Thailand?
Over the past several years there has been observed a stable improvement of social and economic situation in the country, unemployment level decrease, general wealth level increase among the population. In 2015, the annual growth of GDP corresponded to 2.8%, in 2016, it was +3.2%. In 2017, GDP grew by 3.3% in the first quarter, by 3.7% in the second quarter and by 4.3% in the third quarter. Analysts forecast a similar situation in 2018 and the growth by 3.6% year on year, they also forecast higher figures in the long term.
Prices on real estate are growing slowly after the 2008 financial crisis. From 2008 to 2016 the cost of housing and commercial property increased only by 29.1%, with the main price growth observed in the second half of this period.
It is still easy for foreigners to buy property in Thailand without paying any additional stamp duties often imposed on foreigners. This goes in sharp contrast with the places like Hong Kong, Singapore where foreign buyers have to pay additional fees and charges.
Thus, Thailand Elite is a program for those who are looking for the opportunity to stay in Thailand for a long time without the need to regularly handle administrative processes associated with tourist visa processing and for those not planning to get the country citizenship in the future. Program participants receive not only long-term visas but also a wide range of VIP benefits.
Comparing Caribbean CBI programs
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- Antigua and Barbuda passport: visa-free entry to over 136 countries; passports are issued within 3-5 months.
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