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The Ultimate Guide to Being a Permanent Resident in Thailand

The Ultimate Guide to Being a Permanent Resident in Thailand

We wouldn’t be surprised if you already fell in love with Thailand and wanted to stay here for good. With its beautiful tropical beaches and warm loving locals, you’re probably thinking “What do I need to do to become a permanent resident here?”

How to Become a Permanent Resident in Thailand

DifficultyHard ●●●●○
Time requiredSix (6) months to three (3) years
Number of StepsSeven (7) steps
Things you needVarious documents from employers, the Thai government, and your home country

To permanently reside in Thailand, you need to determine if you’re eligible, prepare and submit the required documents.

Next, you’ll need to attend your interview and wait for approval. Once approved, you can then retrieve your certificate. Afterwards, make sure to secure your alien and registration book.

This may all seem a lot but we’re here to help you with our ultimate guide on how to become a permanent resident here in Thailand. Allow us to give you the step-by-step process below:

Step 1: Determine your eligibility

Before considering becoming a permanent resident in Thailand, you need to check if you’re eligible. There are a number of factors you need to look at in order for you not to waste your time applying for permanent residence.

Visa Requirements

The first is you need to have an active non-immigrant visa. You should have also stayed in the country for at least three (3) consecutive years using the same (and active) visa extension of stay.

To give you an example, you need to be using a business visa for three (3) years straight in order for you to be approved for a permanent residency based on the said business visa.

However, if you have a business visa for around two (2) years and then suddenly shift to a marriage visa, then you won’t be able to apply for a visa based on the minimum three (3) year requirement.

Visa Categories for Permanent Residency

In general, there are five (5) different visa categories that Thai authorities will look at when you apply for permanent residency. Listed below are the visa categories: 

Visa CategoryRequirement
ExpertShould have special and specific knowledge or abilities needed in Thailand
HumanitarianShould be married to a Thai citizen for a minimum of two (2) years, be the biological child of a Thai father/mother, or be the biological father or mother of a Thai child.
EmploymentShould have worked in Thailand for at least three (3) years with a salary of around 80,000 THB for at least 2 years. 

Should have worked for the same company for at least a year during the period of his or her application.

Should own or manage a business in Thailand as approved or authorized by the Thai government
InvestmentShould have brought money to Thailand in the amount of at least 10,000,000 THB through a limited company.

May have also invested money through a state enterprise’s security, state-issued security, stock market, or a public company.
Extra CircumstancesA category that is given to select individuals who can provide special benefits to the country of Thailand.

Depending on what you actually do here in Thailand, you have to choose the most accurate and appropriate category for you. Just know that the most popular category here is based on marriage or humanitarianism.

The next most popular one is a visa via employment. Extra circumstances and expert categories, on the other hand, are only given by the government to those individuals specifically selected for certain special jobs or tasks.

Keep in mind that these different categories will have different criteria and requirements to be evaluated by Thai Immigration officers and may change with each passing year. We recommend that you check the Thai Immigration website for any recent updates.

Thai Language

While the Thai government doesn’t require that you are able to fluently speak the Thai language, we highly recommend that you brush up on your Thai speaking skills (at least for basic daily conversations) and your understanding of Thai culture.

This is because during your application, you need to attend an interview where Thai Immigration officers will ask you questions in Thai and you will be expected to understand and at least respond in the Thai language. 

If you are unable to respond to their questions, your chances of getting approved for a permanent residency may be much lower. In fact, a lot of those applying for permanent residency hire a Thai tutor specifically for the purpose of getting approved.

Residency Quota

You also need to be aware of the quota of approved permanent residents in Thailand each year. Based on the information we gathered, only a hundred individuals get approved for permanent residency annually.

You don’t have to worry about these quotas though, as only two nationalities usually exceed these quotas- Indians and Chinese. For others, there are usually less than a hundred individuals who do get permanent residency per year.

Step 2: Prepare your documents

This may well be the most tedious and challenging step when applying for permanent residency. It will take a lot of documentation which will mostly come from the Thai government, some from your home country, and some from your employer.

In addition, those documents that will come from outside Thailand will need to be notarized by your country’s embassy before they can be legalized by the Thailand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Some of these documents also need to be translated.

The bottom line is that they want to know everything there is to know about your personal and professional details. So it’s best to prepare all of these documents in advance as it could reach up to 100 pages in total!

For a comprehensive list of the documents you need to prepare and submit, just click this link. 

Step 3: Submit your application

After completing all the required documents, it’s now time to submit your application for permanent residency. “Where” to file them is pretty easy but the question of “when” can be a bit tricky.

You need to submit your application to the Thai Immigration office located in Bangkok as this is where most things that deal with citizenship and residency are processed. We suggest that you check out the immigration desk located in Chaengwattana.

Here, you’ll find helpful immigration staff that can help you with your application and provide you advice on how to go about applying for your permanent residency.

When you can apply, on the other hand, will largely be based on whether or not the Thai Immigration Department will already accept applications. You need to wait for the announcement from the Minister of Interior as it is largely based on his or her discretion.

Based on previous years’ schedules, residency applications are usually accepted during the last two (2) weeks of December. This schedule can still change though, so we recommend staying updated by regularly checking the immigration website.

Step 4: Attend the interview

Once you’ve submitted all the required documents, now comes the waiting game. Expect Thai Immigration officers to schedule you for an interview a few months (sometimes even more) after they receive your application.

Your interview will most certainly be conducted in Thai and will also be recorded by the Immigration officer. Once done, you have to sign a statement (in Thai) attesting to the conduct of the recently concluded interview.

The interview will usually cover questions that ask about your personal life, family, job, what you like about Thailand, and how long you’ve been in the country. We highly recommend that you practise your speaking skills just for this interview!

You then need to take a multiple choice test to be administered in Thai asking about general information on Thailand. An immigration officer will help you out during this part of the process if you don’t know how to read Thai.

After all of these, the Immigration Office may still request additional documents from you. We suggest that you prepare photocopies of the documents you submitted beforehand just in case.

Step 5: Wait for the final approval

Next, you need to wait for the final approval of your application for permanent residency. The Thai government doesn’t directly announce how they score applicants but they do have publicly shared information on how the evaluation process works.

First, there are a number of government offices involved in giving you certain points for your application. These include the National Security Council, the Office of the Attorney General, The Royal Thai Police, the Board of Investment, and Thai Foreign Affairs.

You need to score at least 50 points out of 100 in order for your application to be approved. 

Points are usually awarded based on your contribution to Thailand, your attitude, your personality, your relationship with other Thai citizens, skills, income, and education. Being a member of a charitable organisation may also grant you additional points.

While being evaluated, officers from the Immigration Department may also visit your neighbourhood and ask around about your overall behaviour and demeanour. During this part of the process, you don’t have to do anything but wait for the results.

The entire evaluation process can take more than a year with some residency applicants waiting for more than three (3) years to get their permanent resident status. You really just need to wait it out and always remember that patience is a virtue.

Step 6: Get your Certificate

Good things come to those who wait and after waiting for quite some time, you will eventually receive that notification that you’ve been approved for permanent resident status. Now it’s time to get your certificate.

You will receive a letter from the Immigration Office informing you that your application has been approved and it will also detail the next steps you need to take in order to claim your residence certificate. 

Based on what we observed, you just need to bring a signed copy of the required documents (as specified in the letter from the Immigration Office), proceed to the Immigration Office, and pay for the certificate fee. 

When you first apply for residency, you’d have to pay around 7,900 THB as an initial fee. Once your application has been approved though, you have to pay certificate fees based on your visa category which can cost around 95,000 THB to 191,400 THB.

These fees are of course, on top of the fees you have to shell out for the preparation of your documents which could easily run you around 10,000 THB.

Step 7: Secure your Alien and House Registration book

Congratulations on successfully claiming your permanent residency certificate! Now, all you have to do is complete the final step which is to get your alien book and the Tabien Baan- blue book (or house registration book).

You can get your alien book from your local police station while your house registration book can be claimed from the local district office. Just be prepared for a short interview with the local district officer—he or she will probably just want to get to know you more!

One last thing: just because your permanent residency has been approved doesn’t mean you no longer have to do anything to keep it active. You actually have to do a few things to ensure that your residency here in Thailand stays active.

First, if you plan on leaving or travelling outside Thailand, you need to secure a re-entry permit and a one-year endorsement of your residence book. Second, you are also required to report to a police station in your area every five (5) years.

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