Integrity Legal

Posts Tagged ‘Thai Bank Account’

8th February 2019

In recent days news regarding the changes in the approach to enforcing the rules regarding retirement visas has been a major topic of discussion among the expat community in Thailand. To provide some background it should be noted that in late 2018 new policies were promulgated by the American, British, and Australian Embassies regarding the issuance of income affidavits (also referred to as income verification letters). In the past, the American Citizen Services section of the United States Embassy in Bangkok, for example, would notarize documentation signed by Americans regarding their income. This notarization did not authenticate the veracity of the statements in such documentation, but instead merely attested to the signer’s identity and true signature. Thai authorities viewed this documentation as valid so long as the document was translated and legalized by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 2018 it was announced that income affidavits would no longer be issued by the foreign missions noted above. Thereafter, there was speculation regarding how income and/or assets would be verified for purposes of retirement visa issuance moving forward.

A clue regarding the direction on enforcement policy initially appeared when the head of Thai Immigration Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn made comments regarding the need to be cautious about utilizing the services of certain types of Thai visa agents. Then in recent days major news broke that immigration authorities would be granted a certain level of discretion throughout 2019 regarding adjudication of retirement visa applications based upon income. This was to allow retirement visa holders to more smoothly transition into the new regime. Concurrently, a significant change was announced with respect to those using a lump sum amount of money in a bank account as evidence of financial ability to support a retirement visa. In the past, it was theoretically possible to simply deposit funds into an account for a relatively short period of time (as little as a day supposedly) and use the funds in the account as the basis for issuance of the retirement visa. New rules coming into effect March 1, 2019 would preclude this practice. Beginning in March, those seeking a retirement visa based upon a bank account must show 800,000 THB in a Thai bank account, said funds must have been on hand in the account for the 2 months preceding a Thai retirement visa application. Thereafter, the funds must remain in the account for another 90 days following the issuance of the retirement visa (presumably this is to be proven at the applicant’s initial 90 day report). After the initial 90 days, funds may be drawn down to 400,000 THB, but 400,000 THB must remain in the account until 2 months prior to a subsequent application for renewal at which point the balance must exceed 800,000 THB and the cycle begins again. At this time, it is unclear what steps Royal Thai Immigration Police personnel will be taking to scrutinize individuals’ finances and enforce these changes, but any new regulatory changes will likely be observable in the early days of March.

It seems possible that some time in the relatively near future further rule changes could come into effect. In fact, discussion about future requirements with respect to health insurance has made many wonder whether this may eventually become a requirement for those wishing to retire and live long term in the Kingdom.

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6th December 2009

Living in Thailand is a dream of many, but the logistical difficulty of remaining in the Kingdom long term can be confusing to some. For those living or residing long term in Thailand there are some obstacles which must be overcome in order for a foreign national to unilaterally deal with personal business issues in the Kingdom. Most important for those staying in Thailand is Immigration status. One must remain in lawful status while in the Kingdom. This can be difficult for those who initially entered the Kingdom on a Thailand visa exemption. A Thai visa exemption only allows lawful status for a period of 30 days and it is very difficult to have this document converted into a proper visa. After conversion it may be even more difficult to have the newly acquired visa extended. Therefore, having a proper long term visa on arrival may be the best course of action for the new expatriate.

Bank Accounts are another major issue for those living in Thailand. Thai bank accounts can be difficult to open for those who do not have a valid Thai visa and work permit. Many Thai banks have different rules on this issue, but at the time of this writing, the prevailing rule seems to be that one needs a Thai work permit and visa in order to open a bank account. There are some who have noted that one may have less difficulty opening a Thai bank account if one has already obtained a Thai business visa and remains in lawful status on said visa. In certain situations, it may be possible for a foreign national to open a Thai bank account without a Thai work permit, but one should consult an attorney in Thailand regarding bank account setups without a work permit.

Mortgages are also an issue for foreign nationals wishing to remain for an extended duration in the Kingdom of Thailand. Thai banks are very reluctant to loan money to non-Thais. Therefore, a foreign national may find that it is very difficult to receive financing for an abode in Thailand. An ancillary issue is that of house registration, many foreigners find it is very difficult to obtain a foreign Tambien Baan (House Registration Booklet, also spelled Tabien Baan) from the local Amphur Office (Civil Registrar’s office). In the case of Thai mortgages, the foreigner’s financial situation will likely be the determining factor in actually obtaining a mortgage. As to the House Registration, success in this endeavor may hinge upon retaining a Thai lawyer.

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2nd October 2009

In Thailand, a major concern for expatriates, tourists, and permanent residents is banking. Many people need to set up Thai bank accounts in order to transact personal business in the Kingdom or for international financial purposes. Unfortunately, like many things in Thailand, setting up a Thai bank account can be somewhat difficult, especially for a new arrival trying to establish themselves. In Thailand, each financial institution has its own unique set of rules and regulations imposed upon those who wish to set up an account. Compounding this byzantine situation is the fact that rules and requirements depend upon the type of account one wishes to set up. Business accounts, Foreign Currency accounts, personal savings accounts, and checking accounts all have differing documentation requirements.

For those entering the Kingdom on a Thai visa exemption, opening a bank account in Thailand may prove difficult as many banks are now requiring that an applicant have at least a long term non-immigrant Thailand visa. Some banks take their due diligence efforts one step further and require that a prospective account holder provide a Thai work permit. The practice of requiring a Thai work permit seems to have become a common requirement for nearly all Thai banks in recent months.

There are others who wish to set up Thai corporate bank accounts in the Kingdom, these people are often either the Managing Director of a Thai company or they are thinking of setting up a Thai company. In either case, a great deal of documentation must be submitted in order to obtain a Thai bank account for a Thai corporation. Even where a corporate account can be established, a personal savings account may be necessary if one wishes to have a debit card. As a general rule in Thailand, banks will not issue debit cards for corporate checking accounts. Credit Cards are also notoriously difficult to obtain for corporations as well as individuals who are not Thai Citizens. It is possible to obtain a Thai Credit card, but in many cases the requirements are extremely stringent.

An issue ancillary to Thai banking is Thai mortgages. Obtaining a Thai mortgage can be very difficult for a foreigner. For those wishing to buy a Thai condo it must be remembered that funds for purchase must be brought into the Kingdom from abroad. How this requirement interacts with issues surrounding the Thai mortgage likely is dependent upon the unique facts of the situation.

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