Pattaya Legal Corner: Don’t jump the gun on Long Term Residency visas


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Thailand is encouraging the well-heeled to invest, work or retire here. (Photo PRD-NNT)

Don’t jump the gun on Long Term Residency visas
Our offices have received a lot on enquiries about the 10 year LTR visas after the government announced recently that the registration fee had been reduced from 100,000 baht to 50,000 baht. However, some people seem to believe that the only requirement to obtain this visa is to pay the registration fee. This is a misunderstanding. The LTR is all about encouraging rich foreigners to reside or invest in Thailand, but the detailed rules have not yet been published. Indeed, an earlier Cabinet press release said that detailed work was unlikely to be completed before November 2022.

It is not possible at the present time to apply for this visa and won’t be until three months after the full regulations are published in the Royal Gazette. The LTR is aimed at rich global citizens, wealthy retirees, investors and working professionals. Some details have already been leaked. A retiree, for example, would need to be over 50 and prove an income of US$80,000 annually. There could be other financial requirements: we don’t know. A wealthy global citizen would need US$1 million in assets, not yet defined.

Nor is it yet fully clear what the specific benefits of the LTR will be. It does appear that holders will be able to include their wife and young children as part of the deal. There will be no requirement to report address every three months, although annual registration will be needed. There could be exemption from income tax for some overseas income which could assist digital nomads with a work contract. The right to own freehold property has been mentioned, but the matter is still being thrashed out in government committees. In other words, we can’t jump the gun on the LTR.

Claiming from insurance companies can be complicated
We recently had a case of a foreign renter in a large condominium who slipped on the floor of the bathroom and injured himself quite badly although he never lost consciousness. His claim for compensation for hospital medical expenses which are already 400,000 baht (US$13,000) is currently being reviewed by the condominium insurers and we don’t know the outcome or whether the matter will end up in court.

However, it is worth remembering that condo accident insurance can be a complex matter and that there are procedures to follow in the case of personal injury. Immediately following the accident, you need the details of witnesses, if any, and dated photographic evidence of the accident scene. An initial doctor’s report should be retained as should all hospital records appertaining to the case. If there is an additional claim for loss of income – for example inability to work – these details should be written out. All condominiums have personal accident insurance for tenants, although those owning a unit will likely need their own personal policy. You should make sure that you inform the juristic person as soon as possible and make a claim holding the condominium responsible within the first 90 days. The insurers may refuse to deal with a claim if the company has heard nothing of the matter after several months.

Depending on the circumstances, the insurer may settle the claim in full or offer a compromise sum or even decide to fight the case in the civil court. The important thing is to keep all records and make sure the condominium authorities are properly informed. Make sure that the juristic person replies to your correspondence. If a civil court judgment is necessary, you will need to hire an experienced lawyer and bear in mind that the proceedings take at least a year.

Self-insurance could soon become an option
Self-insurance is not part of the Thai tradition when it comes to covering yourself against significant medical costs and hospitalization. In recent years, there has been a lot of publicity about both public and private hospitals being seriously out of pocket as foreign patients (who are not covered by the state social security legislation) can’t or won’t pay their bills. In an attempt to address the issue, the government introduced compulsory and comprehensive medical insurance for a handful of visas and, of course, still insists on Covid-related cover for all foreign entrants for at least 30 days. The insured sum required started at US$50,000 but is currently US$10,000.

Comprehensive health insurance for the elderly and those with existing medical issues and the whole matter has been widely discussed in Thai media. It’s worth pointing out that a Cabinet spokesperson has already stated that applicants for the LTR 10-year visa and the OA retirement visa and extension of stay will be able, later in the year, to offer self-insurance as an alternative to registering with a company. The sum mentioned for both visas is US$100,000 or three million plus baht. In order to satisfy the self-insurance criteria, it is likely that applicants will need to show evidence they have been refused cover by at least two companies and have had the cash in a Thai bank account for several months (even a year) before the visa application was made. We will have to wait for the published details later in the year.