Thailand Elite Visa Vs. My Other Options
If you have been following recent Stick articles on visa options for Thailand you have read his opinion regarding the Thailand Elite Visa. There are many (7) types but the one that would appeal to most would be the Thailand Easy Access Visa. Benefits are:
1. 5-year multiple entry visa with an extendable 1-year length of stay per entry (in other words you must exit the country at least once a year)
2. Arrival and Departure:
a. VIP greeting and escort (through flight check in) on both arrival and departure by Elite Personnel Assistants
b. Complimentary limousine service from airport to your hotel/residence or from hotel/residence to airport available 24 times per calendar year
3. Government Concierges:
a. Business networking
b. Immigration service: 90 day check in for those in Bangkok, Chang Mai, Puckett and Pattaya.
c. Facilitation and assistance in the processing of Driver’s license and work permit.
4. Other Benefits:
a. Duty-Free shop benefits, special discounts at selected partners, hotels, dining establishments and shopping malls.
5. Member Contact Center:
a. English: 24-hour service
Membership Validity: 5 years
Membership Fee: THB 500,000 including VAT
No medical requirements, background criminal check, Map and GPS Coordinates for where you live, rental contract, internet contacts form, picture of me and wife both outside and inside of house plus more. The requirements for the Thailand Elite Visa are FEW and SIMPLE. Nothing more! A Slam Dunk for anyone under 50 desiring to reside in Thailand for a length of time.
In my case I am 76 and have held a Retirement Visa since arriving in Thailand 9 years ago. The biggest advantages of the Thailand Elite Visa that appealed to me were the;
1. Freeing up of 300,000 THB as part of the 800,000 THB I currently maintain in my bank to meet the Visa financial requirements. I finally decided to keep the amount in the bank because of living in Khanom and the trouble it was to go to the U.S. Embassy in BKK (or U.S. Embassy outreach in Phuket) to get the notarized letter stating my monthly income. Much simpler to go to bank and get letter than to fly to BKK to get the notarized document from the embassy. Takes a full day and a bit of expense and hassle.
2. Not having to renew annually my Retirement Visa and Multiple Entry visa (5,700 THB) plus some other minor documents (they come up with something new every year) and their expense. It’s a big hassle to put together all the paper work for the renewal of the Thai Retirement Visa. In Nakhon Si Thammarat the requirements are expanded to whatever extra they decide they want. Submitting 3 copies of EVERY page of my Passport is absolutely redundant and ridiculous. Oh and there is even more I have not listed.
3. The 90 day reporting is not offered in Khanom where I live so of no value
4. Airport Services: My researched learned that the airport services Thailand Elite Visa offers can be purchased separately from Bangkok Flight Services. I am most interested in the Lounge and Arrival/Departure Services as the after midnight foreign flights I take don’t align well with the flights available to me from the Nakhon Si Thammarat to Don Mung airport. Trying to waste time in swampy before check-in opens and then again before boarding area opens can be uncomfortable to say the least. On occasion when queue for check-in and both incoming and departing Immigration is backed up is a real time waster and pain.
Listing all of the costs projected for the next 5 years on paper with the costs for everything (definitely ignoring the hassles) and I came up with a 5 year cost of 90,000 THB to purchase the same airport services that Thailand Elite Visa offers for 500,000 THB.
I cannot put a monetary value on all the wasted time in the airport in Immigration lines, waiting for boarding lounge, travel to and from Immigration and the hassles of acquiring and travel for the annual paper work for the Retirement and Multiple Entry visas. There is definitely a monetary value in making that wasted time more productive but I don’t know what it would be. Another 100,000 wouldn’t bother me but 400,000 THB over and above the actual cost of the services gets me to thinking about spending my money wisely.
The other point I have to consider is that at 76 how much longer will I be working as an independent contractor for the company I formerly owned. That relationship causes 90% of my foreign travel and would end if I were to become unable to continue my work for them. If I had the Thailand Elite Visa when it expired in 5 years but I no longer needed the services it provided (due to lack of employment and/or ultimate senility-chuckle) I would have to go back and meet all of the original (medical and criminal) requirements for the Retirement Visa. That is another hassle I would prefer not to repeat. Bad enough for annual renewal but starting from scratch just adds more to the mess with that wonderful curmudgeon at our Immigration office down here.
If I had a plethora of money there would be no doubt that the Thailand Elite Visa would be purchased. Have to admit, however, that I will revisit this whole issue again next September when my current Retirement and Multiple Entry visas are due for renewal. Who knows how I will feel then.