The Thailand Elite Visa is a legitimate, legal way to purchase your stay in Thailand for up to 20 years, with minimal paperwork and visits to immigration offices. It’s arguably the easiest and only hassle-free way to stay in Thailand long term – but it comes at a cost.
If you’re struggling to meet visa requirements, or you’ve had enough of the bureaucracy and paperwork well known to Thailand long-stayers, the Elite Visa may be an option for you.
Who’s it for?
The Elite Visa was designed for those who either do not fit into other visa categories or would prefer to pay a cash lump sum in order to come and go as they wish, without any of the immigration hassles us long stayers have been faced with over the past few years.
A good fit for the Elite Visa would be:
- Location independent businessmen and women.
- Anyone with enough money to retire but not meet the age requirement for the retirement visa (50 years old).
- Frequent business travelers to or through Thailand who would prefer faster, easier access with no questions asked.
- Inidividuals or families looking for an easy way to make Thailand their home.
Almost anyone is eligible assuming you have enough money to pay for the membership, but there are a few conditions:
- Your application must pass a background check (performed by the immigration bureau).
- You must be in a healthy mental condition.
- You must of never overstayed. Even if you receive approval on your background check, you’ll be denied entry later.
- Your passport must have at least 3 blank pages.
Memberships & Cost
I don’t think the information presented on the Thailand Elite website is easy to understand so I’ll break down your options here.
Elite Easy Access Membership
Elite Privilege Access Membership
1 million baht
Elite Superiority Extension Membership
1 million baht
Elite Ultimate Privilege Membership
2 million baht
Elite Family Excursion Membership
800,000 (minimum 2 persons)
Elite Family Alternative Membership
Elite Family Premium Membership
Website does not specify the length of membership
1 million baht
The biggest benefit is being able to stay in Thailand without interruption. All memberships have the core benefits, whilst there are other benefits only for those on higher membership tiers.
Arrival greeting and golf cart – As the term ‘elite’ suggests, you’ll be treated with such status when you’re greeted by a lady in a gold dress and driven to the fast-track lane at immigration (Currently only in Bangkok and Phuket). After helping you get stamped into the country, the assistants will help you retrieve your luggage and find your way to your car, train, or next flight.
Fast track entry and departure – Fast track entry and departure. No need to wait in the regular immigration queue. You can bring one immediate family member with you through the fast-track lane.
Arrival and departure lounges – The website states both arrival and departure but in reality, it’s just the departure lounge that’s familiar to most of us as a ‘lounge’. Only the visa holder can use the lounge, a child, spouse or friend will need to pay.
Free international and domestic transfers – Free short-haul transfers from the airport to your hotel (Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui). The maximum distance is 50km in Bangkok and can be used 24 times per year. Higher-tier memberships provide a round-trip service both to and from your residence.
You can bring one immediate family member with you – in my experience, they are ok with one friend, or partner too.
Elite membership assistance – Assistance opening a bank account, getting a driving license, filing 90-day reports, and “business networking” – though we’re not sure what business networking is, exactly.
- The Elite Visa does not give you permission to work or apply for a work permit. Technically it’s a glorified Multiple Entry Tourist Visa.
- You still need to file 90-day reports – although you can have Thailand Elite do these for you.
- Each entry is for a maximum of 1 year, after which you either need to leave and come back or extend your stay for 1900 baht at immigration.
Obtaining an Elite Visa is easy, but it does take some time due to security checks and other formalities. You can expect it to take between 6-9 weeks from application to your first entry.
You can apply from anywhere, just keep in mind that it may take several months so you’ll need to have another visa arrangements if you’re planning to stay in Thailand whilst you wait.
Choose a membership
The first decision is which membership you need. This will depend whether or not you are alone, purchasing as a family and how long you want the visa to be valid. As previously mentioned, the cheapest option for an individual is the “Elite Easy Access” membership for 600,000 baht (5 year stay) whilst the option which gives you the most value for money is the “Elite Superiority Extension” membership for 1 million baht (20 year stay).
You’ll also want to take into consideration which benefits each membership comes with – if they are important to you.
Register and apply on the official Thailand Elite website. There are lots of websites offering the same product, but they’re just resellers. I recommend dealing with them directly. The website is https://www.thailandelite.com. You can sign up for an account here: https://www.thailandelite.com/join-thailand-elite.
After you’ve applied, the process has begun. You’ll receive a welcome email asking you to confirm you’ve never overstayed, how long the application is expected to take and to let you know your application has been sent to the immigration bureau for a background check. All of the important information presented in this post is also in the email.
After your application has been approved, you’ll be updated by email with instructions to make payment. Your options are:
- Wire transfer / international transfer (takes up to 5 business days).
- Transfer from local bank account (2-3 business days).
- Online payment with credit/debit card using a link provided in the email.
After payment has been made, reply to your welcome email with a screenshot or photo of the receipt to confirm payment has been made.
Note the waiting times! It can take up to 5 working days to confirm your payment and another 5 working days to schedule your first arrival and Elite Visa on arrival – therefor you should make payment 2-3 weeks prior to when you need it.
Finalizing visa stamp
You have two options to get your visa finally stuck in your passport. Keep in mind that some form of this information is all sent to you in emails after you apply.
1. On arrival – Either at Suvarnabhumi or Don Muang airport in Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi is recommended as there’s no “personal assistance”, lounge or fast-track service at Don Muang. You can also use Chiang Mai and Phuket airports.
Note: Some nationalities require a Tourist Visa if they wish to get their Elite Visa on arrival. This is the case if your nationality does not qualify for the 30-day exemption stamp.
2. Chaengwattana Immigration Office – You can get the Elite Visa from Chaengwattana without leaving Thailand. Normal business days will apply. You can schedule this with Thailand Elite in your email correspondence.
This is very important: You must cancel any existing Non-Immigrant visa you have before you can receive your Elite Visa.
Non-Immigrant Visa must be canceled before Elite Visa is validated. Members have to take responsibility for the cancellation of Non-Immigrant Visa on their own, and then apply for the 7-day stay extension in order to validate Elite Visa.
Remember: both options above need to be exercised within 30 days of your membership being activated and scheduled at least 5 days in advance.