2008 New Visa Regulations

The Immigration Bureau have recently announced new visa regulations in accordance with the Orders of the Royal Thai Police Headquarter Nos. 777/2551 and 778/2551 which now have been effective since 25 November 2008.  Accordingly, the Order No. 606/2549 has been repealed.

In accordance with these new regulations, the requirements for a Company to have a positive shareholders equity of at least THB 1 million and a level of revenue that will meet all of the Company’s annual expenses, inclusive of the expatriate(s) and Thai employees’ salaries, have been removed.  The Bureau will now consider movements in cash, assets, inventory and liabilities in the balance sheet and the statements of income over the last two financial years to determine, with certainty, that the Company is operating a legitimate business. 

In addition, there must be a clear audit opinion or at least an opinion which does not contain a “Going Concern” qualification and the notes to the accounts should not state that the Company is a “non-operating company”.

To determine compliance with these new requirements, the Immigration Bureau require that the annual statutory returns to the Department of Business Development, Ministry of Commerce (forms reference Sor Bor Chor 3 and 3/1), VAT returns (form reference PP 30 and/or PP 36), personal income tax returns (form reference PND 1) and Social Security Contributions Returns (form reference SPS 1-10) for the last three months are submitted together with the visa application forms as supporting documents.

The new order also permits an expatriate who wishes to invest an amount of at least THB 10 million (or not less than THB 3 million for an expatriate who has been granted an investment visa prior to 1 October 2006) to apply for an investment visa.  This investment may be completed in three different ways – purchase or lease of a condominium (which must be held for a period of at least three years), a fixed deposit with a Thai bank(s) and/or Government or State Enterprise Bond(s).

A further provision is that the restriction on tourist visas which stipulated that the length of stay in Thailand must not exceed 90 days within a six month period has been cancelled.  As a result, foreign nationals who enter Thailand for tourism related purposes are now permitted to remain in the Kingdom for more than 180 days in a year, although there is still a restriction that limits any one stay to no more than 90 consecutive days.  In addition, foreign nationals who enter Thailand via a neighbouring country will only be granted a stay of 15 days unless they are in possession of a valid Thai visa, with the exception of foreigners entering from Malaysia who will still be granted a stay of 30 days.

In conclusion, the Immigration Bureau have implemented more practical regulations which should prove to be more convenient to genuine foreign investors who wish to reside in Thailand.