From among the various reasons farang become residents of Thailand, some of the more common reasons include marriage to a Thai person, retirement in Thailand, working in Thailand and ownership of holiday property.
The majority of foreign residents in Thailand are those who have retired in Thailand. Becoming a retired resident in Thailand is easiest if you are eligible for the Thai Retirement Visa. If you do not qualify for a retirement visa, you may still qualify for other types of non-immigrant long-term visas
If your address changes to a Thai address, and you no longer hold an address in your home country, then make sure you fulfill the legal requirements. For example, when a US citizen permanently changes his address, he is required to notify the Internal Revenue Service. Failure to comply with legal requirements from your home country could cause problems later.
Residence status in Thailand, rather than simply being present in Thailand for long periods of time, entitles you to a number of benefits. It makes it much easier to open bank accounts, establish online banking, obtain driving licenses, and can even entitle you to pay the Thai price or a discounted farang price at various dual priced venues.
There may be times when you must show legal proof that you are a resident. For example, you must have such proof when applying for driving licenses. The proof is obtained by getting a Residence Certificate. You get a residence certificate at your local Immigration office. You are required to present two passport photos, your passport that contains a long-term non-immigrant visa such as the Retirement Visa, and documentation that evidences your residence address. That can be bills in your name mailed to your address or a letter from your landlord. The fee for the residence certificate is 200 baht.
If you choose to do so, it is possible to obtain a permanent residence permit, which entitles you to an alien registration card, which is essentially the same as the Thai national ID card. You can even become a Thai citizen if you choose to do so.
The problem about the permanent residence permit is the fact that it is very expensive and difficult to obtain. You can expect to spend 200,000 baht, or more, if you wish to obtain the permit. Thailand restricts the number of these permits to 100 per country, per year and you cannot even apply for the permit other than in October, November, or December. The Ministry of the Interior announces the date’s applications will be accepted.
You must be a holder of a long-term non-immigrant visa, such as the Retirement Visa, that has been renewed consecutively for a minimum of 3 years to be eligible to apply for the permanent residence permit. Once you hold the permit you are required to re-register once per year at a fee of 200 baht.
If you wish to apply for Thai citizenship, you can do so after holding the permanent residence permit for at least 5 years.
Few foreigners apply for the permanent residence permit unless they are doing so out of necessity. Once you have obtained the Retirement Visa, renewal is relatively painless and quite simple to do, and far less expensive than a permanent residence permit.
Remember, even if you hold the permanent residence permit, if you leave Thailand you are still required to obtain a reentry permit. Failure to do so will nullify any visas or permits you hold.
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