Frequent visa runs were a loophole many of the first digital nomads unofficially living in Thailand took advantage of. The standard Tourist Visa validity of 60 days was easily bypassed due to loose restrictions on the number of entries per calendar year. Visitors would utilize cheap international flights to bordering countries, like Vietnam and Cambodia, to avoid overstaying in Thailand and renew their visas.

Thailand eventually closed this loophole in 2018, limiting an Entry Visa for tourism to three per year. At the same time, the country’s long-term Tourist Visa – the Thai Elite Visa – was pushed to remind prospective settlers that they could legally reside in Thailand, provided they invest in the economy.

elite visa validity

Are you an expat or digital nomad seeking a way to extend your stay in Thailand? This article will review Thailand’s Elite Membership packages and the benefits of the Thailand Elite program.

Alongside this, we will provide essential information on how you can establish a long-term base in Thailand through the Thai Elite Visa program.

What is a Thai Elite Visa?

The Thai Elite Visa is an exclusive visa program that offers long-term stays in Thailand under the umbrella of a Tourist Visa. The Thailand Elite Residence program was launched by the Thailand Privilege Card Company – a state-owned corporation under the oversight of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) – as a way to provide temporary residence in Thailand in exchange for an investment.

Although the Thailand Elite Visa is considered a long-term Tourist Visa, it’s more accurately referred to as a Privilege Entry Visa, allowing foreign nationals to stay in Thailand for five to 20 years. Foreign passport holders must first apply for the Thailand Elite Membership program, pay the membership fee, and be issued a Thailand Privilege Card. Upon becoming Thai Elite members, foreigners can then apply for their preferred Thailand Elite Visa.

Who is the Thai Elite Visa designed for?

There is no specific foreign passport holder or expat that the Thai Elite Visa is targeted toward. As long as individuals who want to stay in Thailand can afford the membership fee for their preferred membership package and have enough funds in their bank account to support themselves in Thailand, they can apply for a Thailand Elite Membership and acquire a Privilege Entry Visa.

Thailand Elite Membership packages

The Thailand Elite program isn’t a one-size-fits-all Non-immigrant Visa program. A Thai Elite Card provides access to several variations of Thai Elite Visas. You may prefer one type of Privilege Entry Visa over another, depending on how long you want to stay in Thailand and if you plan to include family members in your Thai Elite Visa application.

There are seven types of visas Thailand Elite members can apply for:

Elite Easy Access

  • Five-year Thailand Elite Visa validity
  • Fee: THB 600,000 ($17,400)
  • No annual fee
  • Thai Elite Visa holders can upgrade to the Elite Superiority Extension or Elite Ultimate Privilege package

Elite Family Excursion (minimum of 2 people)

  • Five-year Thailand Elite Visa validity
  • Fee: THB 800,000 ($23,200) plus THB 300,000 ($8,700) for each additional family member
  • No annual fee

Elite Family Alternative

  • Ten-year Thailand Elite Membership validity (five years and renewable for an additional five years)
  • Fee: THB 800,000 plus THB 700,000 ($20,300) for each additional family member
  • No annual fee
thai elite visa validity

Elite Privilege Access

  • Ten-year Thailand Elite Membership validity (five years and renewable for an additional five years)
  • Fee: THB 1 million ($29,000) plus THB 800,000 for each additional family member
  • No annual fee

Elite Superiority Extension

  • 20-year Thailand Elite Membership validity (renewable for four sets of five years)
  • Fee: THB 1 million
  • No annual fee

Elite Ultimate Privilege

  • 20-year Thailand Elite Membership validity (renewable for four sets of five years)
  • Fee: THB 2.14 million ($62,000)
  • Annual fee of THB 21,400 ($622)
  • Members must be over 20 years old

Elite Family Premium

  • Available only to immediate family members of Elite Ultimate Privilege members
  • Membership fee of THB 1 million
  • Annual fee of THB 10,000 ($290)
  • Membership validity will be based on the membership and visa period of the Elite Ultimate Privilege member

Ten Benefits of the Thailand Elite Visa Program

There are many benefits to becoming a Thailand Elite member and acquiring a Privilege Entry Visa. First and foremost, you gain the right to stay in Thailand long-term. But what else does a Thailand Elite Visa offer?

1. Airport assistance

Besides an extended stay in Thailand, upon arrival, Thailand Elite members are greeted with a Thai Elite personal assistant service, which includes VIP services such as a complimentary limo to the valid visa holders’ place of residence. Thai Elite staff also provide personal assistance when departing the country.

thailand elite visa

2. Fast-tracked entry/exit

When arriving and departing Thailand, Thai Elite members can receive expedited immigration formalities from Thai immigration.

The immediate family of a Thai Elite Visa holder also has access to fast-tracked Thai passport control processing.

3. 90-day reporting assistance

Immigration laws in Thailand require non-citizens and non-permanent residents to provide a 90-day report informing the Thai government and Tourism Authority of their intention to remain in the Kingdom for more than 90 days. For Thailand Elite members, the 90-day reporting can be handled by a Thai Elite agent on their behalf.

4. Assistance with banking services

The Thailand Elite program includes a Thailand Elite agent who will assist foreign clients with opening bank accounts and other banking services that Thai Elite members can access.

5. Special discounts and bookings provided by partners of the Thai Elite Residence program

As a Thai Elite Visa holder, you can access special discounts on bookings and products provided by Thailand Elite Membership partners. These include:

  • Golf courses
  • Restaurants
  • Hotels and spas
  • Department stores

6. Free annual healthcare check

After gaining a Thailand Elite Membership and receiving a Privilege Entry Visa, you have the right to a free annual medical checkup for the duration of the Thai Elite Visa.

7. Longer than average residence permits

The Thailand Elite Residence program provides Elite Visa packages that offer up to 20 years of residence. This makes Thailand one of the top countries to retire abroad, as Elite Ultimate Privileges offer the perfect substitute for a standard Retirement Visa.

8. Assistance with legal matters

A Thailand Elite member has privileged access to Thai immigration lawyers willing to assist with all legal matters in Thailand, such as real estate purchases or an international payment or bank transfer to purchase high-value assets in Thailand. A Thai immigration lawyer can also provide assistance with foreign affairs and any issues related to the Thailand Elite Card and visa issuance by the Thailand Immigration Bureau.

9. A Thai Elite member contact center

The Thailand Elite Office provides a 24/7 contact center for Thai Elite members. Regardless of the circumstance or what a Thailand Elite Visa holder may be experiencing, they can contact the Thai Elite Visa contact center for emergency assistance.

10. Life in Thailand

There are numerous benefits to the Thailand Elite Visa Membership program offered by the Tourism Authority of Thailand that ensure a worry-free life in the Kingdom.

However, the main advantage of acquiring a Thailand Elite Card is that you’re able to stay in Thailand long-term and enjoy the benefits of living there; These include:

elite ultimate privilege
  • An average cost of living that is over 50 percent cheaper than the US for a single person and a family of four
  • A life surrounded by unmatched scenery, from pristine beaches to lush rainforests
  • Inexpensive health insurance and access to a high-quality healthcare system
  • A relatively safe country compared to the US, with a low number of displaced people, good relations with neighboring countries, and low access to weapons
  • Endless things to do with well-preserved historical features, diverse geology and biodiversity, and a well-structured tourism industry
  • Cheap regional and international flights to neighboring countries
  • Eligibility for Thai citizenship and a Thai passport after eight years of residency

How do you apply for a Thai Elite Visa?

Thailand Elite Visa eligibility criteria

The eligibility criteria for the Thailand Elite Visa are more relaxed than investment visas offered in many other countries. You can submit a Thailand Elite Visa application with the following qualifications:

  • A valid foreign passport
  • No overstay records on previous Entry Visas
  • If applying for the Elite Ultimate Privilege, you must be at least 20 years old
  • A clean criminal record
  • You have never filed for bankruptcy
  • You are of sound mind and mental capacity
  • You are not from a sanctioned country*
*Sanctioned countries

Asia: Afghanistan, Nepal, North Korea, Pakistan, and Sri-Lanka

Africa: Cameroon, Central Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, São Tomé and Príncipe, Somalia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan

Middle East: Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen

Thai Elite Visa application process

1. Application for Elite Membership and due diligence checks

You can submit an application for the Thailand Elite Visa in Thailand or at the local Thai Embassy in your home country. You must send a certified copy of your passport and a completed Elite Visa application form to an accredited Thai Elite Visa agent.

The agent will communicate with the Thailand Elite Immigration Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Immigration Bureau to conduct due diligence checks. This part of the Thai Visa application process may take one month for most nationalities and up to three months for nationals of specific countries.

2. Transfer of the Elite Membership fee

When an applicant has passed a criminal background check and the immigration office has approved their application, they will be instructed to transfer the required fee for their chosen Elite Visa. The Elite Membership fee ranges from THB 600,000 to THB 2 million, depending on the applicant’s selected membership package.

3. Elite Membership acceptance

After completing the payment or bank transfer, the applicant will receive a welcome letter with their Membership ID and Thailand Elite Card, along with instructions on obtaining their Privilege Entry Visa.

4. Thailand Elite Visa issuance

The Thailand Elite member can retrieve their Privilege Entry Visa at the Thai Embassy or Consulate in their home country. If the applicant is already in Thailand, obtaining their Thailand Elite Visa at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok or Phuket International Airport is possible.

Alternative Residence Visas in Thailand

Non-immigrant Business Visa

Non-immigrant Business Visas are generally issued to two types of foreigners:

privilege entry visa
  • Those who want to set up a new business or conduct business in Thailand: The applicant must apply through the “business” category and be endorsed by a Thai business partner or entity. The Business Visa holder may stay in Thailand for a maximum of 90 days per entry.
  • Those who want to work in Thailand: The applicant must apply through the “employment” category and present a WP3 letter from the Labour Department requesting a 90-day pre-approval Entry Visa. After arriving in Thailand, the work permit application is reviewed during the 90 days given through the initial visa. Once a work permit is granted, applicants can apply for a one-year extension, which is renewable every year, provided they maintain their employment.

Retirement Visa

Although the Thailand Elite Visa can act as a Retirement Visa, Thailand also offers three types of Retirement Visas:

  • Non-immigrant O Visa (Pre-retirement Visa)
  • Non-immigrant OA Visa: One-year validity
  • Non-Immigrant OX visa: Five-year validity

Both the Non-immigrant OA and Non-immigrant OX Visas are issued strictly by the Thai Embassies or Consulates in applicants’ home countries. Applicants must have savings of at least THB 800,000 in their bank account for the Non-Immigrant OA Visa and THB 3 million ($87,000) for the Non-immigrant OX Visa. The required funds can also be in the equivalent of monthly earnings.

Non-immigrant O Visas are valid for 90 days and can be issued by the Thai Consular Office in your home country or Thailand. Upon receipt of a Non-immigrant O Visa, applicants must open a Thai bank account and transfer the required amount of THB 800,000. Two months after making the transfer, a Non-immigrant O Visa holder may convert their visa to a Retirement Visa, with a one-year validity.

Another difference between the three visas is that the Non-immigrant OA and OX Visas both require a criminal background check, medical certificate, and health insurance, whereas the Non-immigrant O Visa does not.

Thai SMART Visa

The Thailand SMART Visa is a unique work permit introduced by the Thai government designed to attract highly-skilled foreign workers, investors, executives, and entrepreneurs who desire to work or invest in targeted industries in Thailand.

There are four subcategories to the Thai SMART Visa:

  • SMART Talent Visa (T): Available to science and technology professionals earning a minimum monthly salary of THB 200,000 ($5,800).
  • SMART Investor Visa (I): Available to foreign investors who directly invest at least THB 20 million into Thai companies that use specific technology in their manufacturing process or delivery services.
  • SMART Executive Visa (E): Available to senior managers and executives with at least a Bachelor’s degree, ten years of professional work experience, and a minimum monthly salary of THB 200,000.
  • SMART Startup Visa (S): Available to entrepreneurs looking to start a business in Thailand. Foreign entrepreneurs must invest at least THB 600,000, have health insurance, and the company must be engaged in one of the eighteen targeted industries within the first year of incorporation.
thailand elite member

Applications for all four variants of the Thai SMART Visa must be attached to operations in the listed targeted industries in Thailand. Benefits of the Smart Visa include:

  • Four years of residence in Thailand
  • One-year reporting to immigration instead of every ninety days
  • Work permits for immediate family members, including a spouse and dependent children
  • No requirement for Re-entry Permits

Target industries

  • Agriculture, food, and biotechnology industry
  • Alternative dispute resolution service
  • Automation and robotics industry
  • Automotive industry
  • Aviation, aircraft, and aerospace industry
  • Circular economy industry (e.g., fuel production from waste and water resource management)
  • Defense industry
  • Digital industry
  • Electronic industry
  • Environment and renewable energy management
  • Human resource development in science and technology
  • International business center
  • Medical industry
  • Petrochemical and chemical industry
  • Quality tourism industry
  • Targeted technology development
  • Technology, innovation, and startup ecosystem management
  • Transport and logistics industry

Global Citizen Solutions: How We Can Help

Expats and foreign investors can encounter many difficulties when applying for a Thai Elite Visa, which is why it is worthwhile to have an expert on hand to provide personalized assistance to apply for residency in Thailand.

Our specialists can help you with the following:

  • Minimize the visits you have to make to the designated country
  • Have someone who works solely on your behalf
  • Reduce the hassle associated with putting your application together
  • Acquire insider knowledge from someone with years of experience in the market

Let’s get you moving forward in your quest to obtain a Thai Elite Visa. Get in touch with us to book a free consultation.

Frequently Asked Questions about the Thai Elite Visa

How long is the Thai Elite Visa application process?

An application for a Thailand Elite Visa generally takes one to three months to be processed. The process may be slightly shorter or longer, depending on the applicant’s home country and the Thai Consular Office to which the application is submitted. The timescale is also affected if there are any past infringements highlighted during due diligence checks, such as an overstay record.

How much is the 20-year Thailand Elite Visa?

The Thailand Elite Visa cost for a 20-year stay in Thailand is THB 1 million ($29,000) for the Elite Superiority Extension.

Are there income requirements for the Thai Elite Visa?

There are no specified income requirements for the Thailand Elite Visa. The only thing you must prove concerning finances is that you have never filed for bankruptcy.

Does the Thailand Elite Visa have an age limit for applicants?

The Thailand Elite Visa has seven visa packages, and six of them have no age limit. The only exception is the Elite Ultimate Privilege package, which applicants must be 20 years or older to apply for.

What is the minimum passport validity to apply for a Thai Elite Visa?

Your passport must have at least 12 months of validity to qualify for the Thailand Elite Residence program.

Can I apply for the Elite Visa in Thailand if I already have an Entry Visa?

Anyone with a valid Entry Visa can upgrade to a Thailand Elite Visa.

Am I eligible for a Thai Elite Membership if I have a Thai Work Permit?

Privilege Entry Visas issued to Thailand Elite members are considered long-term Tourist Visas; Therefore, a foreign national with a work permit or any other type of residence visa must relinquish their visa in order to be eligible for the Elite Membership program and acquire a Thailand Privilege Card.

Can I work in Thailand as a Thai Elite Visa holder?

Thai Elite members can legally work in Thailand as digital nomads working for a foreign company or as investors with overseas operations. The work must be done entirely remotely, and you cannot work for a Thai-based company or have Thai clients.

Can I include my family in a Thailand Elite Visa application?

There is an Elite Family Premium applicable to each family member included in a Thailand Elite Visa application. The Thailand Elite Visa cost for the Elite Family Excursion package is THB 800,000 ($23,200), which covers membership for two people. Additional family members can be added for THB 300,000 ($8,700) per person.

Can Thai Elite members buy real estate in Thailand?

Thai Elite Visa holders can purchase a condominium or build a house in Thailand but can not legally own the land on which the property is built. For multi-unit properties, there is also a limit of 49 percent Elite-member ownership of the entire saleable area of the property.