Tips for Australians Moving to Thailand

David writes: “If you have bank a/c or Govt. approved retirement fund in Australia with a surrender value of at least Bt 800,000 in $A you can get a retirement visa  at the Thai Embassy in Canberra.

I have had a Thai Retirement Visa issued in Aus and have never had a bank account in Thailand and it’s good for 2 years…the 1st year you get a multi-entry retirement visa and you can come and go as often as you like. Each time you return your visa will get a stamped with an extension for a year.

So if you leave Thailand 3rd time or more or less (as I do) and you return the day before the retirement visa expires you will receive at the airport an extension to stay for a further 364 day (yes TIT a year in Thailand is really only 364 days). You cannot get an extension on top of an extension. You will have to apply again in your home country and do it all over again.

You need a real police report, a medical from a doctor and lots of photocopies all signed by a JP or CD, plus in Aus $275 and your passport all sent to the Embassy in your country. In about 10 days you will have your retirement visa all in order.

Ehen you arrive in Thailand YOU CAN JUST GO THROUGH THAI IMMIGRATION …you can also do it using you Aussie pension and evidence that your pension plus money from another pension fund to equal Bt65,000 p/m. I believe this will work OK but it may take over 12 months to prove this is so.

All the details of how to go about this are clearly explained on the Thai Embassy web site under “Retirement Visa”…yes you do not have to have a bank a/c or any money in Thailand to get a Thai Retirement Visa.

If I put the Bt800.000 in a Thai Bank a/c for a limited time to get a retirement visa very little interest is paid (none). The Bt800,000 if left in my retirement fund in Aus with interest and inflation value increases of about 3.5 per year amounts to about Bt80,000 per year. This indicates I would be loosing at least Bt80,000 per year interest on my fund for the year or about Bt1600 per week….you could buy 3 Honda Click second-hand motorbikes in good condition with Bt80,000 by keeping your money at home in your retirement fund. Mayby 4 Hondas?

This method of getting your Thai Retirement Visa in your home county at the Thai Embassy has been available for about 20 years, For me, it has been 7 years. Again, I’ve have never had a bank a/c in Thailand and have only ever obtained my Thai Retirement Visa at the Thai Embassy in Canberra Australia… Oh yes, the Thai Embassy is happy to accept that money in my bank managed or Govt approved retirement fund with a surrender to the value of at least Bt800,000 is treated it the same as money in the bank. You will require an original printout of a statement from that fund (not a photocopy) with the funds official stamp on it (hard to make up with Photoshop)

BTW: If you need health insurance, contact me about our group policy.

My Aussie financial advisor is James Brennan, who works for one of Australia’s oldest financial institutions, AMP. James has lived and worked in eight countries so he knows what he’s talking about. Here are some words of wisdom from James and helpful tips for australians moving to Thailand:

1. Pensions – there is no problem in being paid a pension overseas, and retiring in Thailand from Australia is no exception, but there are plenty of hurdles to cross. So tip one is not just to become familiar with the rules but to get to know the whole way Centrelink works. Who knows, you may be back sooner than you think? Or maybe you will opt for shorter periods of time in and out of Australia in which case becoming familiar with “working life” rules which can reduce your pension without your knowing it. [Note from me: Make sure that your superannuation pension stays tax-free while you are overseas. If you have a self-managed super fund, it will need to be restructured to ensure it remains a complying fund for Australian tax. If your super is with an industry fund or a big retail fund, the pensions you pay from it will be free from Australian tax. You can receive the age pension in Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam or Bali just as you can in Australia. Some 80,000 Australians already receive their age pensions overseas. But there are some tricks to be aware of. For example, you need to be eligible for, and already receiving, the age pension before you relocate].

2. Medicare – periods of over 2 years out of Oz will see you removed from the system. No automatic re-acceptance applies and the same is true of Health and other concessional cards.  [Note from me: Medicare is principally a health system for Australians who live in Australia. Non-residents are theoretically not entitled to Medicare on visits home to Australia but there is some flexibility for temporary absences, usually of up to two years. Once you have lived outside Australia for more than five years there is no flexibility – you are not entitled to Medicare on visits home. Take out an international health insurance policy. It is worth the expense. International health insurance can be expensive, but there are a number of different levels of cover from catastrophe insurance to the gold standard policy and prices vary widely. Tell your insurer the truth about any pre-existing illnesses. Failure to do so can lead to a denial of claims. Check if your proposed insurance company is recognised by major healthcare providers in your new country of residence].

3. Major life transition ahead – this is the time to get your physical, legal and financial health not only checked, but recorded. Medicare allows you to keep medical records online. A will stored with your accountant or lawyer here plus a copy taken with you. It’s not the jurisdictional validity which is the key, it’s that you have thought through the issues which ensure that the right beneficiary gets the right amount at the right time.

4. On a lighter note, street food myths – perhaps it is the prospective euphoria of escaping from our nanny state but the rules of hygiene, food handling, storage, perishability ignore national boundaries. Maybe it’s because everything is so well regulated in food in Australia that our nannied stomachs become even more sensitive to disturbance.

5. Questions? Email James at

A Note About Your Australian Home: Many people rent out their home in Australia then rent property in Thailand. This gives them the option of returning while keeping a foot in the Australian property market. You can rent out your principal residence for up to six years without affecting the tax-free capital gains when you eventually sell.

And Your Oz Taxes: Do your tax planning before you leave Oz. A key factor is whether you’re going to be a resident or non-resident for Australian tax purposes. Enjoy planning to retire to Thailand from Australia.

16 Responses

  1. I was told that even after 5 years you can reclaim Medicare. You just need to supply a statutory Declaration that you are a permanent resident and you can change your mind and fly out a week later.

    1. From what I know it will take about 6 months of residency back in Australia to be able to claim Medibank benefits for Australians returning after being absent for more then 5 years.

  2. Great tips we are Australians spending part of the year in Thailand and have met many other Australians that have made the move to Thailand. The cost of living in Thailand is the major attraction and world class amenities make living in Thailand an attractive option for many. I can be scary taking that first step to relocate the it’s well worth taking that first step. Thanks for sharing the advice.

  3. From what I know it will take about 6 months of residency back in Australia to be able to claim benefits for Australians returning after being absent for more then 5 years.

  4. From what I know it will take about 6 months of residency back in Australia to be able to claim Medibank benefits for Australians returning after being absent for more then 5 years. Sorry I thought my comment would be listed under Gorden Levitt’s post

  5. 1. Medicare (Government) is not Medibank (a private health insurer). Can you clarify the rules for each?
    2. I have seen on Facebook groups like Australian expats in Thailand that the 6 year rule on Australian property no longer applies. Effectively once you become a non resident of Australia CGT will be applied when sold and calculated based on original purchase price! There is I believe an amnesty if you sell before July this year. Happy to be proven wrong ab about this. There are a lot of unhappy expats about this recent Australian government ruling

      1. If you seek advice from an Australian legation you will only be advised to contact Centrelink…Australian embassies overseas have no skills when it comes to Centrelink matters (Aust Social security).

  6. Australian Medicare is free (paid by tax) medical services provided to permanent residents and Citizens by the Government, It is comprehensive cover for any ailment for hospital medical treatment and will will be treated free of charge. You may have to make some contribution if you wish to engaged with your prefered doctor. It is commonly referred as the “public system”. e.g. If you have an accident or get sick and are taken to a public hospital and spend a month their it will cost you nothing the govt will pay all cost. Non-urgent medical services may be delayed to a time to fit in with the hospital time tables. In addition to this service you can elect to pay a premium to a private medical company or mutual fund. These companies will allow elective services in addition the the public treatment available where and when you wish at a time convenient to the patient usually in a private hospital. Some of the fees associated with this service are paid by the govt but many are not and much of the costs are paid the Insurance fund. You pay extra to the private fun and get to have treatment done when it suits you. This a very short, short explanation of the system

    1. Medibank Private, Medical benefits Fund, Bupa, and a 50 other funds provide additional services and are know as the ‘Private System”. Their service are in addition to the Public Govt Services.

      1. Both the Aus Govt Medibank System and the Private system are suspended at the moment you leave Australia. They are linked to Australian Immigration and reinstaed when you return. You cannot obtain medical service paid by either system when you are out of Australia, not fair any farang will tell you..

  7. Really the main thing to be happy in Thailand with a Thai wife is if you are reasonably good with the Thai language (takes about 20 years). I’m still useless with the language after 8 years..555. If you are not able to have an in-depth conversation with your wife or girlfriend and that’s just about all farangs? with local or international politics which most Thais know nothing about, economics (know even less), corruption (don’t want to know), immigration (not their problem), health matters, the new car or house (in her name) or money to spend, then you will only be left with visiting the pub watching football or chasing after sex. Even blind Freddy knows that.

  8. If you rent your house out to a tenant when getting the AAP the house will now be treated as an asset and the rules allowing you to be absent whilst out of Australia will no longer apply. The 12 months vacant house still being asset free will no longer apply. The income and deeming rules regarding assets and income will apply. Of course your now rented out house which is now an asset will raise your asset threshold to about $470,000 from about $270,000.. If you still have a mortgage on your now rentall house asset, this may improve your asset allowance to where you keep your assets under the threshold. The other way is to rent it out to a friend or your kids and keep your mouth shut. (that’s what usually happens).

  9. If you rent out your home in Australia and reside in Thailand Centrelink will quickly find out about it.  Immigration will tell as soon as you leave. Your Australian house will become an asset for Centrelink purposes and asset value will apply as soon as you have a tenant.  You can leave it vacant empty for 12 months and all will be OK.  Offsets are not available for Centrelink nor are they really available for taxation purposes. if you are out of Aus.   I have a friend in Thailand who turned his house into 3 separate living areas in Aus.  One for himself and 2 sections he rented out free to 2 of his grandchildren and partners.  All was OK for a while he was living mostly in Thailand.   Although he claims he receives no rent for the 2 extra areas (flats) Centrelink deemed (and can do so) that the value of the rented out section was worth $500,000. The house was quite large-worth over 1 million dollars near Sydney.. He claimed he was letting his grandkids stay their rent-free.  Didn’t have much luck with that and had his pension reduced substantially.  Many people try this way but it is fraught with danger ATO and Centrelink are very much 2 different things… James tried to send this privately to your email address as above, it was returned.

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