Retirement in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai can be a wonderful place to retire. The cost of living in Thailand is lower than in many places, there is no snow, and high-quality health care is affordable. Chiang Mai also has a well developed infrastructure and many English speakers.
If you decide to retire in Chiang Mai, you will want a retirement visa to make your extended stay possible.
To start your Chiang Mai retirement plans, you need a non-immigrant visa. Ideally, it should be acquired prior to your arrival in Thailand. You can get a 90 day non-immmigrant visa in your home country or in a nearby country. Once you are in Chiang Mai you can extend get an O-A retirement visa. If you do not get a non-immigrant visa before coming to Chiang Mai, you can convert your tourist visa, but the process can take up to 2 months.
To be eligible for a retirement visa you must be at least 50 years old, have a current non-immigrant visa and a passport that is valid for at least one year. You will also need a letter from your Thai bank and proof that you meet the financial requirement of the Thailand visa. The financial requirement can be shown by a bank statement showing a balance of at least 800,000 Baht, a monthly income of at least 65,000 Baht or a combination of yearly income and bank balance that is at least 800,000 Baht. Finally you will need a medical certificate.
Upon approval, you must appear in person with your passport and sign the visa paperwork in the presence of the Immigration staff who will stamp your passport. The retirement visa is an “extension of stay” in Thailand for one year, but it does not allow you to work. Also you must report to Immigration every 90 days to verify your current address. Make sure to get a Re Entry Permit at Thai Immigration prior to leaving Thailand.
Importing Your Household Goods
You have six months from your entry to Thailand to bring in from your household goods from the U.S. After you have been granted a retirement visa, your belongings will not be taxed. However, if your visa is for less than one year, household items will be taxed 20% import duty plus 7% value-added tax.
The period of six months starts when you initially entered Thailand on the O-A retirement visa, regardless whether you re-enter Thailand after that date. If your personal items are due to arrive in Thailand more than six months after the entry date, you may be able to get a waiver and should inform Thai Customs at least two months before the six-month deadline.
Getting Your Re-entry Permit
An “extension of stay” is the time period you are allowed to remain after your initial entry into Thailand. This is typically the date stamp in your passport by the Immigration Officer when you make an application for “Extension of Stay” at the Thai Immigration office.
Because you have an “extension of stay,” you must apply for a re-entry permit if you want to exit and re enter Thailand during your extension of stay. The re-entry permit must be obtained at the Chiang Mai Immigration office before leaving the country.
Your “extension of stay” stamp is the controlling date. Everything is dependent on this date. Any re-entry permit you obtain will expire when your “extension of stay” expires. If you leave the country without a re-entry permit, your “extension of stay” is invalidated.
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