Being An Expat (part three)
The Legal Aspect
The legal aspect of being an expat is obviously very important. Many countries, especially those that rely on tourism, operate a relaxed approach to short term (thirty days or less) tourist visas, but this is not the case for expats unless the target country and the expat’s homeland have some sort of mutual agreement, like in the European Community.
Broadly speaking, there are usually two types of long-term visa the retirement (including spousal) visa and the employment visa, which requires a work permit. To obtain a work permit, you usually require the offer of a job in writing from your prospective employer and for a spousal visa you need a spouse who holds the nationality of the target country.
Most expats in Thailand hold a retirement visa, the broad legal requirements for which are that you must be over fifty and have at least 800,000 Baht (£16,000) in a Thai bank. There are other ways of staying here, and many use them, but this is the easiest and the cheapest in the long run at 1,900 Baht (£40) per annum.
Other ways of staying here legally are leaving the country for Laos every three months (£40 per visa) or flying to Malaysia every six months (also £40 per visa). If you use the last two methods, you will have to sleep there overnight. I did the Laos visa run for a year and found the cost to be about 15,000 Baht (£300) for each trip, so it works out expensive at £1,200 a year. I’m told that a return flight to Malaysia is 6,000 Baht, so the total cost could be 10,000-12,000 Baht a time (£200-240), so £400-£500 per annum.
The visa entitles you to breathe and enjoy the weather, but everything else costs, including health care. The citizens of most countries would expect this, but Brits are used to health care being free at the point of delivery. The annual insurance premium will set you back another £500-£600 p.a. which compares well with Western countries.
By the way, health insurance is not a legal requirement, but treatment in a hospital without it or a Thai spouse to stand up for you can be expensive.
All the best,
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Podcast: Being an Expat – The Legal Aspect