The O-A visa is issued to those over 50 years old and provides a long-stay option in Thailand. It's often referred to as a “retirement visa”.
This visa is applied for in your home country, at a local Thai embassy or consulate. The application can usually be done by mail and takes a minimum of 15 days to process.
In this post, I'll run through the benefits of the visa and the requirements you need to meet to be approved.
O-A Visa Benefits
The visa is active from the date of issue. You are granted a 1-year stay from the date of entry to Thailand.
This is a multiple entry visa. What that means is: you can leave Thailand and re-enter as and when you please, within the validity of the visa.
The great thing about the O-A visa is that the multiple entry aspect allows a further one year stay on any entry, so if you exit and re-enter just before the visa expires you get another one year's stay.
When your visa has expired and your permitted stay inside the country is coming to an end, you can extend the visa inside Thailand, at an immigration office. A little more about that later on.
O-A Visa Required Documents
There's a fair bit of documentation to get together. Here's what you will need to submit to your local Thai embassy or consulate.
- Your passport and a copy of your passport. Your passport must have validity of at least 18 months and have at least one empty page.
- The visa completed application form (in black or blue ink).
- A medical certificate (notarized) showing no prohibitive diseases in accordance with the Ministerial Regulation No.14(B.E. 2535).
- Three passport-size photographs (2″x2″). Photographs must have a lightly color background with a full-face view of the person with no hat or dark glasses. Photos must be no more than 6 months old.
- Bank statement showing a deposit of the amount equal to and not less than 800,000 Baht, or an income certificate (original not a copy) with a monthly income of not less than
65,000 Baht, or a deposit account plus a monthly income totaling not less than 800,000 Baht. Submitting a bank statement requires a letter of guarantee from the bank (original not a copy).
- A letter of verification from the relevant authority in your country to show that you have no criminal record. Internet documents are not accepted.
- A copy of your airline tickets.
- The required health insurance (as discussed below)
O-A Health Insurance Requirement
In 2019, a health insurance requirement was made mandatory for this visa.
You must have a policy that covers you for the following:
- Outpatient benefit of not less than 40,000 THB
- Inpatient benefit of not less than 400,000 THB
The policy can be obtained from a Thai or foreign insurance company, and must state that you are medically insured for the period, with the aforementioned coverage.
If you use a foreign insurance company, you will need to provide the original policy and two copies. You will also need to get the insurance company to fill out and stamp a form, which can be seen here.
If you use a Thai company, you will only have to provide the two copies.
The easiest option is to take out your insurance with a reputable Thai company, although one with English-speaking customer service is highly preferable.
O-A for Your Spouse
If you have a spouse over the age of 50, she/he can apply for an O-A visa too.
If your spouse is younger than 50, he or she can apply for temporary stay under the Category ‘O’ visa. He or she will need to provide your marriage certificate as evidence.
All long stay visas come with a 90-day reporting requirement, which involves producing a number of documents for immigration.
You can report in person, by mail and online. In person is easiest, but when working, the online system is convenient, particularly if you live far from an immigration office.
The reporting requires the following documents:
- Notification form (TM47)
- Copy of passport info page (with photo, name, passport number, etc.)
- Copy of current visa
- Copy of latest entry stamp
- Copy of latest visa extension
- Copy of departure card (TM6)
- Copy of previous 90-day slip (if any)
Extending Your Stay Inside Thailand
As mentioned previously, you can extend your stay in Thailand beyond the validity of your visa. But don't wait for your visa to run out to do this. Instead, start the process 30 days beforehand.
This extension requires you to prove an income of 65k Baht per month income by way of a confirmation of income letter from your embassy, or 800k in a local Thai bank account 3 months prior to the application. The latter requires a confirmation letter from the bank and a copy of your bank passbook.
You will also need to fill out a TM7 (extension of stay form).
At this point it is worth noting that you can avoid applying for an O-A visa in your home country and instead obtain a long stay by doing this exact extension process in Thailand.
So instead of applying for an O-A Visa, you would apply for a Non Immigrant O Visa at your local Thai embassy or consulate instead.
The Non Immigrant O Visa gives you a 90-day stay on arrival. Before this expires inside Thailand (up to 30 days), you can do the one year extension at an immigration office.
So if you'd rather avoid applying for the O-A visa in your home country and having to provide the medical certificate, criminal record check, and the insurance requirement, you can take this alternative route.
I've written about this type of “retirement visa” extension here.
The route a person takes to obtaining a long stay usually depends on the timeframe they are working with and how quickly they want to get to Thailand.
Applying for an O-A visa in your home country does have its benefits: You get stamped in for a year as soon as you enter, and you can exit and re-enter just before your visa expires and get stamped in for another year.
Some people would rather just have everything sorted before they leave and not have to think about doing an extension of stay in Thailand, whereas others may want to avoid that criminal record check (ahem).
I appreciate that if you're applying for a visa for the first time there may be some confusion and questions. So feel free to ask away in the comments section below.
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