Grapevine: December 4, 2020


Philippines bans retiree visas

The Manila government has suspended for now the issuing of its popular retirement visa programme which was originally designed for retired US army personnel and Filipinos who had taken out US citizenship. The authorities say that the reason is too many Chinese nationals have muscled in on the programme in recent years, with suspicions that many are working illegally or getting up to mischief of one sort and another.

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Meanwhile on the Elite visa

Here in Thailand, the tourist authority is pulling out all the stops to encourage membership of the Elite visa programme. Recent perks include the future possibility that investors with an Elite visa won’t need to worry about work permits provided they keep on investing. The interesting thing is that most recent sales of the Elite visa have been by Chinese nationals. The total number of such visas is now around 12,000 helped in part by the fact that membership now entitles you to return to the Land of Smiles if you’re locked out.


Crown series 4 disappointing

Our man in Tukcom says that what remains of the British expat population in Pattaya has been snapping up DVD copies of the latest Netflix Crown series. But reaction has been very muted. The first episode took ages to remind us that Louis Mountbatten was murdered by the IRA and the second revealed the new prime minister Mrs Thatcher being insulted by junior members of the royal family at Balmoral Castle. The series worked best in the earlier series when world and national politics served as a background to events at Buckingham Palace. Series 4 looks to be concentrating on how awful some Royals really are. We all knew that.


There are now two tourist visas available from Thai embassies abroad. The Special Tourist Visa (STV) is an odd offering as it seems to require a charter flight booking and is only available in countries with very low Covid 19 problems. The SETV (Single Entry Tourist Visa) is available from any country, irrespective of the Covid-19 situation. Both, of course, require quarantine and a fistful of documents. But why would anyone want to bother with the restriction-laden STV when SETV is available from any country?

Thai nominees are back again

Several years ago, there was a crackdown on Thai nominees covering for foreigners buying property or opening businesses. Then everything went quiet. But last week, several Pattaya businesses were raided because of the nominee issue, two being tourist-orientated enterprises and three more illegal structures for buying property. The best advice to foreigners here is not to let any Thais assume company responsibilities unless they really are genuine investors. The defence that you didn’t know the law simply won’t wash any more.

Growing cannabis at home

The Thai health ministry is piloting a scheme whereby householders will be able to grow marijuana in a closed section of their garden, or indoors, with the intention of selling it on to agencies specializing in medical usage of the drug. However, it is only a pilot project at the moment and is restricted to one or two districts of Buriram. Those registering have to take frequent pictures of the growing plants and must fill in long and detailed registration forms. The health ministry has long advocated the home growing of the plant to boost incomes in poorer areas of the country.


Post Office issues

A farang at the local post office was asked whether he wanted his Christmas cards to Europe to go fast or slow. Fast please. The cost for 5 cards was over 800 baht. Without knowing it, he had asked for the cards to be sent by recorded delivery which is a lot more expensive than ordinary air mail. Nothing wrong with paying for a superior service. Just as long as you know the real difference between fast and slow. Incidentally the cost of the five cards by ordinary airmail would be less than 300 baht.

Mask wearing less popular now

According to a new poll, only about 68 percent of Thais are now wearing masks at all compared with 96 percent last May. People wearing masks properly in the street are down to 55 percent. The slackening is all too apparent in Pattaya where some stores and supermarkets are sometimes unmanned without any checks at all on entry. Moreover, the use of the Chana Thai app to record personal movements seems to have virtually collapsed. Instead they are simply recording their phone number on a sheet of paper. Assuming they take the trouble.


Legal eagles

A few queries from the postbag. A reader asks if a Thai lady marrying a farang must change her name. No, it is entirely up to her whether to adopt her husband’s surname or not. Another reader asks whether the local immigration bureau will issue a letter confirming the address of a foreigner who is applying for a new passport. That may be a problem as many immigration offices will only issue confirmation of address letters for use when applying for a driving licence. A final reader asks how much probate costs in a Thai court. Assuming no complications, should be around 20,000 baht including the lawyer’s fee to accompany you to the court.