(Tuesday, 3rd July 2018)
International residence and citizenship advisory firm Henley & Partners and the Thailand Elite Residence Program — managed by Thailand Privilege Card Company Ltd — are celebrating the first anniversary of their successful global partnership, which has brought in record growth for the highly sought-after program.
The program, which is the first of its kind worldwide, offers unlimited access to the jewel of Southeast Asia as well as a range of special VIP privileges. It was initiated by the Royal Thai Government for the purpose of attracting wealthy global citizens, families, investors, and entrepreneurs who want to spend extended periods of time in the country and take advantage of its beneficial tax regime and its affordable yet exceptionally high standard of living.
Since April 2017, when Henley & Partners was appointed exclusive global concessionaire for the Thailand Elite Residence Program, there has been a strong uptick in demand for the various residence options available within the program. According to Dominic Volek, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners Singapore and Head of Southeast Asia, “the program went from attracting an average of 300 applications per year to securing over 900 on-boarded residents for the April to December 2017 period alone”.
The 2018 year-to-date results also show tremendous promise: March was a record month in the program’s history, with 161 new residents on-boarded. “This monthly figure is over half the number of residents on-boarded in a whole year before Henley & Partners started promoting the Thailand Elite Residence Program,” says Volek. “These results are a testament to what can be achieved when like-minded stakeholders join forces in pursuit of a shared vision.”
Volek adds: “Overall, there has been a sharp increase worldwide in the number of individuals seeking to acquire a beneficial second or third residence or citizenship as a means of globalizing their family’s opportunities, improving their quality of life, and expanding their business interests. At the same time, more and more governments are seeing these programs as an innovative way of driving economic growth, securing much-needed foreign investment, and attracting people who have proven business success and valuable skills.”
The Thailand Elite Residence Program provides a multiple-entry visa to qualified applicants, allowing them to visit and reside in Thailand for a period of between five and twenty years, at a one-time cost of between THB 500,000 (approximately USD 16,000) and THB 2.14 million (approximately USD 68,000), depending on the option chosen. The program includes seven different options, which vary in the benefits, costs, and validity periods associated with them. The most popular options thus far are the five-year Elite Easy Access, the five-year, multi-person Elite Family Excursion, and the twenty-year Elite Superiority Extension.
The main target markets for the Thailand Elite Residence Program are, on the one hand, regular business travelers needing fast, hassle-free entry and exit into and out of the country and, on the other hand, retirees who, if they stay in Thailand for more than 180 days per year, stand to benefit from the jurisdiction’s favorable tax regime. For all categories of clients, many of the program options offer a range of value-added services, including an express counter at border control, airport lounge access, short-haul airport transfers, and access to luxury golf courses, spa treatments, and medical check-ups.
According to Volek, “interest in the program among Chinese nationals is picking up significantly, while citizens of the UK, Germany, Australia, the US, and Japan make up the bulk of the existing client base”. In terms of Henley & Partners’ service offering, Volek explains that the firm serves clients either in person, via one of its worldwide offices, or virtually, via its online portal, thailandelite-direct.com.
Yuthasak Supasorn, Governor of the Tourism Authority of Thailand and a member of the Board of Directors of Thailand Privilege Card Company Ltd., says the Thailand Elite Residence Program forms part of the country’s overall mandate of growing Thailand as a major hub for tourist and business travellers alike. “The program is a core pillar of Thailand’s vision for sustainable and responsible tourism. Committed investors are able to experience the benefits of Thailand as fully fledged residents while also contributing to the economic wellness of the country and its people. We are delighted by the program’s remarkable growth over the past year, and we are confident this growth will continue as more and more people around the world seek to join the vibrant Thai community.”
The Minister of Tourism and Sports of the Kingdom of Thailand, His Excellency Weerasak Kowsurat, affirms these sentiments, adding that the country has one of the most impressive development trajectories of any country in the world. “Thailand has progressed from a low-income to an upper-income country in less than a generation and is widely cited as a development success story,” says Kowsurat. “Rather than resting on our laurels, however, we are constantly seeking ways to innovate our business and tourism practices further. On the business side, the government’s strong investment in high-tech and logistics is helping put Thailand firmly on the global map, while on the tourism side, the Thailand Elite Residence Program is helping us draw valuable international contributors to our community. We are delighted to have Henley & Partners as our partner in this journey towards long-term growth and prosperity.”
The details of the most popular options within the Thailand Elite Residence Program are outlined below.
Elite Easy Access — a popular option for expats or business people needing to enter and exit Thailand. With a five-year residence visa, the one-time fee is THB 500,000 inclusive of VAT (approximately USD 16,000). There is no annual fee and no age restriction. The residence visa cannot be transferred but can be upgraded to the Elite Ultimate Privilege option for THB 1,605,000 inclusive of VAT (approximately USD 50,000).
Elite Family Excursion — designed for a minimum of two people, with a five-year residence visa for each member. The one-time fee of THB 800,000 inclusive of VAT (approximately USD 25,000) covers both applicants, with an additional charge of THB 300,000 inclusive of VAT (approximately USD 10,000) per dependent. Dependents may include legitimate parents, step-parents, spouse (including by civil union), children, and step-children. There is no annual fee and no age restriction. The residence visa cannot be transferred. The package includes complimentary VIP privileges such as airport transfers for international flights and government concierge services.
Elite Superiority Extension — an option that provides a 20-year residence visa. Individuals pay a one-time fee of THB 1 million inclusive of VAT (approximately USD 32,000). There is no annual fee and no age restriction. The package includes complimentary VIP privileges such as government concierge services and airport services.
Procedures and time frame
Thailand Privilege Card Company Ltd. (TPC) has an efficient application process in place. It takes up to a maximum of eight weeks to get visa issuance at designated international airports.
TPC will only approve an application in principle after a personal profile check has been done. An approval letter will be issued together with the one-time fee payment request. The residence visa will be issued within two weeks after TPC has confirmed receipt of the full application fee. Prior to physically obtaining the visa, the approved applicant and any dependents must inform TPC seven days in advance of their arrival time and airport in order to get the visa affixed at the immigration lounge.
Successful applicants to the Thailand Elite Residence Program can reside or stay in Thailand for as long as they wish within the validity period of their chosen package. The only limitation is a requirement to inform TPC when reaching a continuous 90-day length of stay in Thailand.
Key advantages of the program
- Thailand provides residents with a high standard of living at a low cost.
- Residence in Thailand is possible for a few days, a few months, or an unlimited period within the validity period of the chosen package. There is no minimum stay requirement.
- There are attractive tax benefits. Successful applicants are only taxed on income sourced in Thailand: foreign-sourced income is tax-free as long as it is not remitted to Thailand in the same tax year in which it was earned.
- The Thailand Elite Residence Program offers a VIP airport welcome for frequent travelers, whereby you are greeted upon arrival by an Elite Personal Assistant who will accompany you through the customs process. You will also be taken by shuttle to the airport lounge where you may wait for immigration procedures to take place prior to being taken to your destination via the complimentary limousine services. Personalized assistance with business and legal matters is also available throughout your stay in the country.
About Henley & Partners
Henley & Partners is the global leader in residence and citizenship planning. Each year, hundreds of wealthy individuals and their advisors rely on our expertise and experience in this area. The firm’s highly qualified professionals work together as one team in over 30 offices worldwide.
The concept of residence and citizenship planning was created by Henley & Partners in the 1990s. As globalization has expanded, residence and citizenship have become topics of significant interest among the increasing number of internationally mobile entrepreneurs and investors whom we proudly serve every day.
The firm also runs a leading government advisory practice that has raised more than USD 7 billion in foreign direct investment. The firm has been involved in strategic consulting and in the design, set-up, and operation of the world’s most successful residence and citizenship programs.