Since nobody has done it before, here's my guide to the Permanent Resident application process in 2004:
These are my personal experiences as a single guy living in rented accommodation in Bangkok and working for a Thai company. The details of the process differ from year to year, from province to province, and according to the applicant's situation and reason for applying. This is a guide, not the bible.
Do you need a lawyer?
It doesn't make any difference to Immigration if you use a lawyer or not. It doesn't make you look better or worse. But it does affect the process a little.
A legal firm with experience in PR applications should be able to give you useful advice on how to provide a "portfolio" showing your contribution to society, ensure all your Thai-language company documents are correct and complete, handle translation of documents, and save you some running around. Your own company lawyer - if you have one - can probably help with everything except the portfolio.
If you hire a legal firm, it will probably consider the approval of your application to be the end of the process. If you want them to help you with the various steps after approval, you'd better put that in the written agreement so it's understood by all. If you hand over a lot of documents to them, make a list and get them to sign for them in case any go missing.
You don't need to be married to obtain PR. There are minimum salary guidelines for each nationality, but these aren't written down and they aren't set in stone. In some circumstances you can apply if you fall short of the minimum salary.
Preparation and documents
First, go to Immigration (Room 301 at the Suan Phlu Office in Bangkok - now changed to Section D of the new office in Chaeng Wattana Road*), tell them which category you are applying in (Investment, Work/Business, Humanitarian, Expert) and request the appropriate documents. They'll give you a sheet "Detailed Information Needed for Residence Permit Applications," TM.9 Application for Permanent Residence, a Personal Information sheet, a sheet titled "Documents required when applying for a residence permit in the category of [whatever you requested]," a sample medical certificate and a sample form for submitting Thai-language maps of your home and workplace.
Many of the 20 documents listed are related to your employer, work and tax record for the previous 3 years and must have been signed (or issued) within 3 months of making your application. Some documents must be translated into Thai and certified by your embassy. Educational certificates must be translated into Thai and certified by the Foreign Ministry.
Others documents on the list include:
(2) a medical certificate as per their official sample (the one that declares you free from syphilis and elephantiasis) issued by a hospital in the 3 months prior to the application date.
(3) certificate of no criminal record from your "domicile" and certified by your embassy. This means the country whose passport you are currently using, and you need to apply direct to your country's police for this. If your country has criminal record checks with and without fingerprints, you'll probably need the one with fingerprint check. Immigration can do the fingerprints for you free of charge (Room 301). If your country has federal and state record checks, you'll need the federal one. Expect this to take 3-8 weeks in Western countries but it could take up to 3 months.
(17) maps in Thai language of your place of residence and work (if applicable).
(19) "Personal Information sheet and the applicant's portfolio, which includes detailed information about family background, knowledge and ability, working experience, special ability, social work, work place, residence together with photo (using the A4 document folder)."
The photos required are of the exterior and interior of your home and workplace. It might be a good idea to have yourself in the photos too.
The portfolio depends on what you have available. The purpose of the portfolio is to establish that you are an upstanding citizen who is unlikely to get into financial or other trouble in the future. Anything that portrays you as a somebody, as someone who is a cut above the rest or as financially secure is worth submitting. Some suggestions:
* Complete resume going back to school.
* Letter to Immigration from yourself detailing your contribution to Thai society.
* Documents supporting your contribution to society.
* Reference letters from senior Thais supporting your good character and application. Obviously, the more senior or well-known, the better. Give your referees a template letter in Thai to make it easier for them.
* Membership of charitable organizations.
* Membership of non-profit organizations, such as chambers of commerce.
* Newspaper clippings mentioning you or written by you. Any publications written by you.
* Certificates or diplomas.
* Copies of bank books, certificates of transferring money into Thailand, share certificates, pension records, provident fund records, condo ownership and other assets.
Immigration is open for applications from about mid-December until the last working day of the year. Only two weeks. You take your file in and an officer will check the documents. Quite likely there will be something that needs correcting or updating, but from now on you deal with this officer so it's easier to get questions answered. You'll also get your fingerprints taken at this point.
The officer will give you an appointment sheet with details of the date and time for your interview and Thai-language test in March or April and tell you to bring along your annual Income Tax return (Por Ngor Dor 90/91) and company tax documents for December. This officer isn't a total expert on documentation, so don't be surprised if you get requests for corrected/updated documents right up until June the following year.
In my case, the officer who interviewed me was the same one who accepted my application and documents 4 months before, so things were pretty relaxed and friendly. I had a young lawyer with me. Since I speak Thai pretty well, the whole discussion was in Thai. Mostly it was about the documents, my background, and the PR process. Every now and again a question came right out of the blue, like "What religion are you?" So I got the impression my Thai language skills and general demeanour were being examined. The officer typed on a PC the whole time.
After the discussion, she printed out a long statement (in Thai) from the computer, asked the lawyer to read it to me and explain anything I didn't understand, and then we both had to sign it. The document was a long series of statements such as, "I explained to the applicant that after receiving notice of a successful application, he must come to the Immigration office within 30 days. The applicant said he understood." In fact, some of the statements hadn't been made in the interview.
After we'd signed, she asked the lawyer to leave. Then she gave me a sheet of 10 multiple answer questions written in Thai. Since I don't read Thai very well at all, she read the questions and the answers, pointing at the ABCD answers as she read them. Some of the answers had little pictures which made them easier. With some of them, you could tell just from the answers which was the odd one out, even if you didn't understand the question.
Some of the questions were pretty easy, some required a basic knowledge of Thailand (How many provinces there are, etc), and one was about the PR process (i.e. the stuff I had signed in the statement). The only problem I had was that the questions were phrased in formal written Thai style rather than the spoken Thai I'm used to. If I didn't understand the question, it was pretty easy to figure out the question from the answers.
The test doesn't take long. After that, you go into a partitioned area and introduce yourself in Thai while they record it on camera. It looked like an ordinary Sony still camera to me, so the video mode would probably not be more than a couple of minutes. I kept my intro short, but I was asked a couple of questions after I finished.
I received my approval letter 16 months after making the application. The letter is in Thai but there are separate instructions in English on what documents you need to get the Certificate of Residence (you must do this within 30 days):
1. Original and copy of passport (certified true copy by you)
2. Original and copy of the House Registration book of your residence (certified true copy by the owner) and details of the local police station whose jurisdiction it is in. You will be put on this House Registration later.
3. 12 4x6cm photos not more than 3 months old.
4. Fee of 191,400 baht (if single) or 95,700 baht if the spouse of Thai national or PR holder paid in cash or by cashier's cheque (in Bangkok only). A copy of any cashier's cheque.
Picking up the Certificate of Residence
When you go to Immigration they give you a sheet "Procedures in obtaining the Certificate of Residence (TM.16)" that describes most of the following procedures. In Bangkok they will take you to Room 202 and you'll never deal with Room 301 again.*
You pay the fee, give them 4 photos, have your thumbprint taken and give some information that will be forwarded to your local police and end up in your Alien Registration book. They will take the embarkation form out of your passport and write the details (i.e. flight number) of your last entry into Thailand on it. Then they'll stamp your passport with details of the Certificate of Residence. At some point in this process they will decide how to spell your name in Thai and may not ask you about it. If you want it spelt correctly, find some diplomatic way of giving it to them early on. You pick up your Certificate of Residence (actually a book) the next day and take it plus the letter they give you to your local police station. You must do this within 7 days of submitting your documents, not 7 days from receiving the Residence Certificate.
Obtaining the Alien Registration Book
You take the Residence Book and the letter they give you to the police, along with 4 photos, tabien baan (House Registration book), and copies of your passport, Residence Book and tabien baan. Plus the police will need the names of your mother and father in Thai script. Pay 400 baht for the current year and 800 baht for the next 5 years. Pick up the Alien Registration book a couple of weeks later. Then start the process to get put on the tabien baan.
Being put on a House Registration book
You apply at your district office to be put on a tabien baan. You'll probably deal with someone senior and have to provide copies of passport, tabien baan, Residence Book and Alien Book. There is no charge at all. After submitting the documents, they give you a letter which you take back to Immigration and make an appointment to go back to the district office. Immigration then gives you another letter which you take back to the district office.
For the second interview at the district office you need two Thais to act as witnesses. One will normally be the owner of your residence. The officer will ask you all a lot of detailed questions (how you know the witnesses, what's your blood group, etc) and write out an interview form for each of you, to which he'll add your photo and thumbprint and send them to the Interior Ministry "as evidence." Then you are put on the tabien baan and have reached the end of the process.
Traveling outside Thailand
Before taking a trip outside Thailand you must apply for a 1-year endorsement of your Residence Book (1,900 baht) and a re-entry ("non-quota Immigrant") visa in your passport (1,900 baht single, 3,800 baht multiple) valid for one year.
What you get
(Certificate of Residence and Alien Registration Book)
Benefits of Permanent Residence
No need to leave the country within 7 days if employment is terminated.
No need to extend or renew any visa, or report your address every 90 days. But you do have to obtain a re-entry visa if you go out of the country.
Allowed to buy a condominium without having to remit funds from abroad.
Entitled to apply for citizenship after 5 years.
Entitled to be appointed a director of a public limited company even if the majority of other directors on the Board are non-Thai.
Supposedly easier to obtain a work permit.
Allowed to go through the "Thai passports only" channel at airport Immigration.
"Disadvantages" of Permanent Residence
When applying for a Thai driving licence, they will insist you have a valid re-entry visa in your passport and residence book, even if you are not intending to go out of the country. They will require your house registration certificate and include your unique 13-digit number on the driving licence. Many banks and hotels act like they've never seen an Alien's Registration book before and may insist on seeing your passport, perhaps because the Alien's Book doesn't contain your name in English.
Updates from members in this topic
Please see the latest (Dec 2009) information and documents from the Immigration Department. Many minor requirements have changed.
The Bangkok Immigration Bureau moved to Chaeng Wattana Road on October 1, 2009
The health certificate must be from a government hospital and a blood test for syphilis may be required.
Tax receipts may need to be certified by the Revenue Dept.
You may need a letter of guarantee from the Labour dept.
You must appear in the photos of your workplace and residence.
You may need to produce your salary slips for the last 2 years.
If you have a child, you will need to take a DNA paternity test.
If you are married to a Thai, an Immigration officer will come to your residence to verify that you are in fact married and cohabiting.
Since 2007 the Thai-language test is a panel asking the applicant questions, but the questions are simple and the panel friendly. See this member's experience of the interview in 2011.
As of April 2012, the 2006 applicants were still waiting for their final approval. The process can get delayed due to political instability.