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A checklist for moving to Thailand ... from anywhere

Thailand is a popular place for those looking to relocate. Whether it is for a new business opportunity, the easy way of life or Thailand’s low cost of living, the country welcomes a large number of foreigners to settle every year.

Here is what you need to know about moving to Thailand.

Our checklist will cover:

  1. Deciding where to live in Thailand
  2. Visas for moving to Thailand
  3. Thai bank accounts
  4. Thai driver’s licence 
  5. Taking pets to Thailand
  6. Life insurance and healthcare for Thailand

Deciding where to live in Thailand

Thailand is a very big country and deciding where to live could be tricky unless you have already made your mind up from previous visits. 

Most ex-pats choose to move to Bangkok, as you would have probably expected. The city is diverse with a huge range of opportunities. However, overpopulation has brought pollution, and ex-pats moving to the city are advised to wear a pollution mask, particularly when it is at its highest levels.

Pattaya and Phuket are also popular places for working expats. Manufacturing, shipping and construction jobs are the main sectors to be found here. Many prefer to move here for the laid-back beach life, although a large number of tourists does visit this region too.

For island life, Koh Samui is also popular with ex-pats but is again a popular tourist destination, which can be seen as both positive and negative.

If you have the choice of where to move to, the best idea would be to visit the areas yourself and think about life there, not just how it feels to be on holiday. Are there local shops you can get to easily? What is the area like at both low and high tourist seasons? Personal research is your best bet here.

Of the most popular areas, no matter where you choose, you will be able to find a welcoming ex-pat community.

Thailand resident and retirement visas

Whilst Thailand’s rules and restrictions for resident and retirement visas change regularly here is an overview of what you need to know.

There are different types of visas for those who wish to move to Thailand for work, and those who wish to retire there.

For a working visa for Thailand, you must have documentation from your employer regarding your move to Thailand and to confirm the nature of your business. If you do not yet have a job and will be seeking employment after you arrive, it is often the case that your new employer writes to the embassy to confirm this once you're in post. This type of Visa is called a Non-Immigrant Visa B.

For those who have either married a Thai national or wish to retire in Thailand (or both!) the visa you must apply for is the Non-Immigrant O Visa. (This is confirmed at time of writing, please check with your local Thai embassy.)

If you are retiring to Thailand, then you must be at least 50 years of age and either have an income of 65,000 THB (approx. 2,200 USD) or a balance of 800,000 THB (approx. 26,000USD) in the bank. You may also need to have a medical health certificate.

Bank Accounts for ex-pats in Thailand

If you are relocating to Thailand for a long period, you will need to open a local bank account as transferring money back and forth will become costly.

Different banks require different documents for foreigners who wish to open an account. One bank may refuse you an account, yet another bank or even a different branch of the same one may not.

Below is a list of documents you will be required to have when opening an account:

  • Thai driving licence – if you have one
  • Letter from your landlord
  • Your visa documentation
  • Reference letter from the Thai embassy or university
  • Reference letter from a ‘reputable’ Thai citizen
  • Photo ID and/or passport

Not all banks will be suitable for ex-pats. The best banks to head for are Bangkok Bank, Kasikorn Bank, Citibank, CIMBUOB BankSiam Commercial Bank and Krungsri

Driving licence for Thailand

To be able to legally drive in Thailand you must apply for a Thai driving licence. This licence can also serve as local ID too. If you drive a car or motorcycle in Thailand without the correct licence you are likely to invalidate your insurance, as well as break the law.

If you are driving a motorcycle the law states that you must always wear a helmet.

A Thai driving licence can be completed in a day, costs a few hundred baht, and is then also valid in 10 other ASEAN countries.

Taking Pets into Thailand

You can take pets with you to Thailand if you follow some basic instructions and fill in the necessary paperwork.

  1. Health certificate: You will need to get an English written health certificate for your pet. The pet must have been vaccinated against infections or contagious diseases.
  2. The country of origin of the pet must be free from rabies for at least the last 12 months or the animal was vaccinated for rabies with an official vaccine no less than 21 days before departure.
  3. Import permit: A form which you can download here:

Healthcare in Thailand for ex-pats

Thailand has two types of hospitals; government-run and privately run. Overall, healthcare in Thailand is of a good standard, which is great news if you are choosing to move there.

The downside to government-run healthcare is that waiting times can be very long. Should you need urgent care, you may have delays in treatment, which isn’t good news.

In addition to this, the country is very large, and depending on where you chose to move to could impact healthcare further. If you are far from a major health facility, such as inland or on an island, you may not get the care you need or need to be transferred to a major hospital and could take time due to waits.

Taking out a comprehensive healthcare policy in Thailand to cover your healthcare needs, should you need them in the future, is highly recommended. Private Thai healthcare provides you with access to private facilities as well as being seen and treated much more quickly.

You can buy private medical insurance for Thailand online from our website. Visit here for more information:

Life insurance and existing medical insurance policies

Did you know that your existing standard life insurance and medical insurance policies are unlikely to be valid if you are moving to another country? If you are relocating, you will need to check this with your current provider and see a new policy or provider depending on where it if you are moving to. 

Healthcare International have all of the medical and life policies you'll need when you move to Thailand, no matter where you're coming from.