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Thai Elite vs Retirement Visas: Which Is Cheaper?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing Thai Elite Visas and Retirement Visas. I recently received a comment on our channel and quoting directly: "Could you cover if it is cheaper to buy an Elite Visa or an O-A Retirement Visa using a good lawyer?" Thanks for the shout out on the lawyer part there, tip of the hat to you sir.

First of all, let's clarify one thing. You don't buy either one of these visas, you apply for them and there are costs associated therewith. For example, you do pay a membership fee to be part of Elite but that membership fee is not for the Visa itself. The Visa is a perk if you will of membership in the Thailand Elite system. To provide some clarity on this, there was a recent article from the Pattaya Mail, that is, the article is titled: The Thai Elite Visa Gives the Retirement Extension a Run for its Money. This is a really good article. I urge people to go ahead and check out Quoting directly: "The Thailand Privilege Card Company has now stepped up its recruitment campaign to try and attract long-term retirees in addition to frequent visit business people. The latest promotional material for the Elite Visa emphasizes that applicants don't need general medical insurance which is required "for the Retirement Visa". I thought that provided some insight there. Yes in Thailand Elite you are not dealing with the insurance requirement directly. As we have noted in other videos on this channel at the same time, depending on your circumstances, if you are in Thailand and able to extend your status in O Retirement Visa, as opposed to O-A status, if you are able to apply for an O extension in Retirement status here in Thailand, you may not necessarily need insurance either. So there is that mitigating factor. But yes when you are looking at this again and I know I sound like a broken record to frequent viewers, it is going to be very fact specific to your given case. There are going to be different people that are going to have different travel and different cost benefit analyses when they are looking at this overall. Candidly it could be something as down to earth if you will as how close you live to the Immigration Office. Here in Bangkok I know going to Chaengwattana can be a real chore in dealing with things associated with extension. However folks that may live just a few doors down from Immigration at Jomtien, Pattaya, it might not be that big a deal. 

The other thing to bear in mind is in the sense that the Thailand Elite Visa is 5 years, in the sense that the sticker validity is 5 years, the actual status one gets at any given moment will be a one year stamp. It is not like once you are in Thailand on Elite you just have a 5-year stamp. No, you have to either deal with extending your status, rolling over to the next year, and that requires some affirmative effort on the part of a given individual which is very similar to Retirement Extension status but it is a different process. It is not a matter of proving anything up so to speak with respect to finances, possibly Insurance etc. but it is a matter of having to go to Immigration and deal with that extension process. There are a lot of factors to consider. The Thailand Elite cost for the membership, the minimum cost for membership just went up in 2021 from 500,000 to 600,000; that is something to be factored in. 

I am not trying to be in favor of one or the other. The purpose of this video is that different calculations are going to apply to different people. I do know people that are very happy in Elite and I know people who were not overly happy in Elite; it didn't really fit their purpose and when it came time they went into Retirement status instead of Elite. So it is going to be different depending on the individual concerned.