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The Thailand Elite Card

Transcript of the above video:

In this blurb we are briefly going to be talking about an Immigration Visa scheme set up here in Bangkok which called the Thailand Elite Card, often times referred to colloquially as the “Thailand Elite Card”.

What the Elite program actually is, is that it’s a program to encourage VIP Tourism, high net worth tourism by fairly well off individuals travelling to Thailand but there is a visa component inside of the Elite program. So the Elite program itself, has many different benefits to the person who basically undertakes the Elite program, most notably things like golfing, VIP tourism, these kinds of things, but of interest to us in this quick blurb here is sort of an overview with respect to long term visas as a result of  the so called “Thailand Elite Card”.  Quickly I’m going to give a brief overview of how the Thailand Elite System came about and where it stands today.

In the past, the Thailand Elite Card was created in a prior government and has subsequently been amended, the program has been. The prior government had a different structure to the Elite Card program where there was a different investment structure than there currently is today. At that time, it is my understanding, it was investment and there was only 1 type of investment or I should say, purchase investment, purchase into the program, sort of like joining a country club is sort of like what purchasing Thailand elite privileges is sort of like; to use an analogy. What one can do is basically invest in or purchase elite systems in the past for I believe it was, 1.5 million baht and that person would essentially be granted a life time business visa and certain privileges associated with entry and exit using VIP lines when coming into Thailand, various VIP services at various golf courses and tourist venues around the country. 

Subsequent to the original promulgation of the Elite System or Program, it was later sort of fell by the way side for lack of a better term and then it was reconstructed and reformed under a later Government and basically we have the current program as exists today.  The major difference in the Elite program as it was originally created and today is now there are different options one can obtain under the Elite program. So in the past, one had to invest this 1.5 million baht and those benefits were conferred thereafter. Notably, it’s my understanding the visas issued under that system were basically lifetime, although it was a multiple entry visa; it wasn’t exactly permanent residence. For those who are interested in information regarding permanent residence in Thailand, there’s another video on this channel that briefly gives an overview regarding permanent residence. But with respect to the Thailand Elite Card, in its inception, it basically offered a lifetime visa but it was a multiple entry visa as opposed to permanent residence. The current scheme as it’s set up, is a little bit more flexible, it allows people to buy into different sort of programs if you will in the  Elite System. Most notably one can buy  5 year increments of the program so one can basically buy into the Elite system and obtain a 5 year visa in exchange for  half a million baht as part of the program fee. One can obtain a 20 year visa buy investing 2 million baht into the system and one will be issued a 20 year visa; this lifetime visa system is the best of my knowledge no longer in effect. I believe the people who initially bought into the old system still have the benefits they were initially given although I can’t speak to that entirely with certainty not having actually met anyone recently that still had the card but it should be noted that the Thailand Elite system  now allows for 5 year investment so one can basically put in half a million baht and buy a 5 year long term visa, it’s a B visa, or they can spend 1 million baht and get 10 years, 1.5 million baht and get 15 years or 2 million baht and get 20 years. So that’s my understanding as it sits.

The program currently is trying to cater to again to VIP tourists, long term tourists, most notably it’s been mentioned that golf fanatics who like to tour Thailand and take up golf at many of the Thai courses throughout the country are sort of targeted for the Elite Card as it sits. This is of note to those who like to spend a great deal of time in Thailand but do not actually qualify under any of the other Thai visa categories, so someone who’s not really working in Thailand, a Business Visa or a shall we say a “normal” or routine business visa is probably not going to be available if that person is not willing to get a work permit here in Thailand. An “O” visa to someone who doesn’t have a Thai spouse isn’t going to be a real possibility, a retirement visa for somebody who isn’t over the age of 50 or wishes to maintain the requisite balance of funds in the Kingdom is generally not going to be an option so the Thailand Elite card is created again, obviously for higher net worth individuals but it allows a degree of flexibility that doesn’t exist in some of the other categories. It should also be noted that in the past there were such things as so called “Investor” visas in the country and to the best of my knowledge, and I have had some anecdotal dealings with this in recent years, investor visas again are kind of falling by the wayside. Investor per se visas, I guess I should say, just passive investors in the country. For those who are looking at getting a long term visa and are okay, or are comfortable with putting in, paying in that type of money for those type of benefits, it really is a rather flexible program and it can really be of benefit to those who wish to remain in Thailand long term and don’t really fit in into any of the other categories.