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Update January - March , 2020


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Update by Thanaphon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Grapevine
 

Grapevine - March 20 - April 2, 2020

 Where in Thailand can I get my UK marriage certificate stamped as genuine?

You can’t any more. Most embassies, including the British, now refuse to confirm official documents issued outside the home country. The sole exceptions to this rule are your passport and your driving licence. This is because those particular documents are on a UK data base available to the embassy. So if you want your UK marriage certificate or your educational qualifications verified you have to send them to a special office in Milton Keynes. The complex details and payment instructions are on the embassy website in the section dealing with what the embassy cannot do.

 

What happens when I die in Thailand?

Not sure about your personal destination but the disposal rules are fairly clear. Most people here die at home or in hospital or in road accidents. The first hurdle is the local police who have the discretion whether or not to require an autopsy, usually carried out at the police autopsy unit in Bangkok. The general rule is that you will be taken for autopsy unless you die in hospital with documents showing a recent illness and treatment undergone. The next of kin or the executor will require a letter from the appropriate embassy giving permission for him/her to move the body for cremation or overseas transportation. Most embassies keep a list of recommended morticians who can assist with the detail.

What is the easiest way to obtain
a retirement visa?

Technically, you mean a one year extension (not a visa) on a non-immigrant visa you obtained at an overseas Thai embassy or, in some circumstances, at a Thai immigration office. The easiest way is to keep at least 800,000 baht in a Thai bank account for five months of the year (starting two months before you apply) and at least 400,000 baht for the remaining seven months. You also need to show evidence of your address in Thailand. Another way is to show at least 65,000 baht a month coming into your Thai account from abroad for a whole year or even a combo method with a mixture of cash in the bank plus monthly transfers. But all alternatives are more complex than the 800,000 way and subject to differing regulations at local immigration offices.

What is the longest visa you can obtain?

The Elite visa is promised for between five and 20 years according to how much you pay (500,000 baht up to 2 million baht) but each chunk of time is just three months. After that you have to visit an immigration office or leave the country to obtain your next slice of time. There is also a non-immigrant “XO” visa for 10 years and obtainable at some Thai embassies abroad – but be warned the paperwork is substantial and you need approved medical insurance for this one. Both the Elite and the “XO” can include family members but the price structure varies according to your specific needs. Neither of these visas allow you to work in Thailand.

What is a smart visa then?

This was created a few years ago in close consultation with the Board of Investment. It is quite unlike other visas as it allows for built-in work authorization dependent on what exactly you will be doing. Whilst there are many perks associated with this visa, it is certainly the most scrutinized category owing to the oversight of the various ministries responsible for authorizing an operation which might be eligible. Basically this unique visa is for foreigners who are investing large sums in a high-tech business venture here or will work for a high-tech company on a salary way above the average. The voluminous detail is on the BOI website.

Why do some Schengen
or UK visa applications fail?

When Thais are disappointed that their European visa applications fail, it is usually a problem of lack of documentation. If visiting a friend, for example, it is not enough to show evidence of a relationship and rely on the sponsor to provide details of accommodation and income. The Thai applicant, unless of substantial independent means, will be required to explain (and back up with documents) why he/she will return to Thailand after the vacation. In practice, this means providing detailed evidence of an occupation in Thailand or proof of ownership of significant assets of land or property. A common myth is to assume that a letter from the employer is proof of a job. Many embassies also require evidence of weekly or monthly payments backed up by bank statements.

Is it worthwhile obtaining the “yellow book”?

This is the house registration book and accompanying pink ID card which show the name of the resident farang(s) as opposed to Thais living there. The rules for obtaining these vary in each local authority or city hall and may include verification of personal documents from the applicant’s home country rather than from his/her embassy in Bangkok. The yellow book and pink card can certainly be used for some purposes in Thailand, but not for all. For example, most land transportation offices still need a separate letter from the immigration police when you apply for, or renew, your driving licence. Views differ on whether the effort is worth the prize.

 


Grapevine - March 6 - March 19, 2020

Only some oldies

Not every expat now obtaining a one year retirement extension at local immigration is being told to return after three months to check whether or not the 800,000 baht is still shown in your bank book. Apparently, the requirement is being used mainly to check up on new retirees or those without much cash surplus at the application stage. Probably not you.

Corona scare

A farang tourist found lazing semi-naked on a Jomtien beach in the midday blazing sun was asked why he was being so foolish. He replied that he had read on Facebook that very strong heat killed off the dreaded flu virus which everyone is talking about. He is now recovering slowly in hospital suffering from serious sunburn and dehydration. His insurance refused to cover the treatment bill as he was not suffering from a “holiday illness”.

Driving licence keys

If you decide to try and obtain a first driving licence directly at the Banglamung Land Transportation Centre, don’t forget you’ll need a letter from a doctor and proof of address from the immigration bureau amongst the required documentation. Remember too that the Banglamung office will not accept your home-country driving licence unless it is officially endorsed by the appropriate embassy.

British advice

Not sure if Brexit is to blame, but the UK embassy is regularly updating the requirements for its usual services. A Brit swearing the oath before marrying a Thai now needs to provide the names and address of two witnesses living in UK – not anywhere else. Separately, a UK national in Thailand wanting a new or replacement passport must now produce proof of his/her Thai address signed or stamped in the last 12 months. So don’t rely on your house registration book. A letter from immigration is OK.

Taking your leave

Overheard in a pub. A man was searching the social science shelves in a local library and seemed to be getting nowhere. The friendly assistant asked him if she could help. “Well, I’m looking for a book on suicide but you don’t seem to have any,” he explained. “Yes I know,” she answered, “we used to have many but the so-and-soes never bring them back.”

Buying and selling

Just a reminder: foreigners wanting to purchase or get rid of a vehicle in their name must obtain a confirmation of address letter from the immigration bureau which will also need to see the registration document. But the letter does not have a permanent validity and must be presented to the vehicle license authority within 30 days.

Bridge club news

No more arrests sorry! Jomtien Bridge Club – the one which used to meet in the large house more or less opposite Mr Mac’s Apartments on Thappraya Road – has moved. It now meets at Friends, a Norwegian-run bar and restaurant located very close to Jomtien Beach Road. Walking towards the beach, it’s the last soi on your right after passing Hemingways. Mon, Wed, Fri, starts 1 pm, but be there by 12.45.

Elite time scale

A common question about the elite visa is how long it takes to process. The answer is it depends on your nationality, so any time from two weeks to two months. We leave you to work out which passports take longer than others to complete those detailed immigration checks. There are several forms of the elite visa, but the most popular one is the one-off 500,000 baht payment for a five year visa in chunks of three months at a time. Yes you have to do the 90 days check-in or leave the country to get another chunk.

Khatoey shortage

A British tourist says he has found on his recent visit to Walking Street that there are far fewer transvestites trying to chat him up or to feel for his wallet whilst professing undying love. “Two years ago,” he confides, “I was accosted in the darker areas about ten times in a two hours stretch, but this year it was no more than five”. Not sure if the guy is relieved or expects an apology.

Quiz question

What was the last thing seen by the brown dog wearing sunglasses on a dark night? The answer is the car which knocked it down. Of course! Not to worry if you got this one wrong. The questions in the Pattaya pub quiz league tend to be easier. Or that’s what we hear these days.


Grapevine - February 21 - March 5, 2020

Here are some categories of Pattaya farang you want to avoid.

The immigration know all

Here’s a tedious guy who is usually at his anonymous keyboard criticizing the powers-that-be for the lunacy of the TM30 bureaucracy or the ridiculous cash sums needed in the bank if you want a retirement extension. But he is also lurking in bars waiting to enlighten unwary people who are arguing whether you need one photo or two or three with your visa paperwork. He also knows exactly how immigration rules will change several months before the Bangkok bosses have even thought them up.

The weak bladder

Here is the guy, usually in his 70s, who has lived here for ages and has likely given up horizontal leisure pursuits owing to significant arthritis and a weak bladder. But he can remember the good old days when a fulfilling night out in the bars cost you peanuts and you could enjoy watching young ladies cavorting with live goldfish and ping pong balls in raunchy scenes of yesteryear. He is also likely to tell you in confidence that he has never paid for sex, a situation which he explains by reason of his excellent Thai phrase book and his deep knowledge of Thai culture.

The digital nomad

These are members of a talkative and wandering tribe who use their computers to make a profit with online customers outside of the kingdom. However, they spend most of their time quaking in their shoes because they can’t find out if they need a legal work permit or not. Some of them have spent a fortune on Thai lawyers in the forlorn and never-ending search for an answer. But none of them has ever asked an immigration officer the same question for fear that their ambiguity will be cleared up harshly in five seconds flat, followed by a court appearance.

Unlucky for some

You can’t help feeling sorry for this farang who has bought a piggery near the Cambodian border for his wife only to discover that half the porkies have sadly died in an unexpected epidemic: his half to be precise. He may have added to his cash-flow problems by buying a new car for the wife’s chronically-handicapped younger brother, only to find out that the same relative has won the local marathon three years in succession. On meeting such a farang, you are strongly advised not to give him your phone number, email contact or address details to avoid the embarrassment of his asking you to provide venture capital for a unique prawn farm which could earn you a fortune in no time whatsoever.

Disaster bloke

He is the guy who has personally experienced the worst of all police misfortunes in Pattaya. Thus he was the only farang arrested when the police raided a sex show last year even though he was not a customer and was simply and innocently using the outside loo at the wrong moment. He was also arrested with 32 elderly bridge players in 2016 and spent the night in the police cells. He said this was ridiculous as he had never played cards in his life and was simply standing outside smoking a cigarette. This kind of expat is likely to claim that democracy is absolutely on the wane in Thailand and that another military coup in the near future is inevitable. He has offered several times to be a guest lecturer at the expat clubs, but without success thus far. Apparently, they are not as desperate for outside speakers as sometimes assumed.

Hospital monitor

These are the foreigners who love to tell you how they have managed to avoid paying the huge bills arising from expensive hospital treatment in the resort. Typical is the UK expat who owed over four million baht to the bursar but managed to leave the hospital by the front door without paying a cent after he stole a white coat and borrowed a stethoscope. Another tale teller will inform you that he personally knows somebody who received a cash fortune in compensation after surgeons cut off the wrong leg in a tragic mistake over x-rays. These lucky farang are not worried by the prospect of compulsory medical insurance for all as they can see many ways to avoid paying the premium.

The caring lawyer

Aliens can’t practice law in Thailand but that doesn’t prevent some from becoming barrack room experts. This type of expat claims that he earned the gratitude of sixteen go-go dancers after he advised them to plead not guilty in court to appearing in the nude on the stage. He told them to point out to the judge that none of them was actually naked as half were sporting a top hat and the others were wearing a hairnet. In return for this tremendous advice which resulted in an instant acquittal, the farang was offered free drinks for life at the club which, most sadly, did not reopen.

 


Grapevine - February 7 - February 20, 2020

Water ahoy

The area’s Sak Nak Hong and Mabprachan reservoirs are at their lowest levels for about 12 years. But the annual Songkran water throwing jamboree is to be held as usual. City authorities are gambling the rains will be early this year. Let’s hope they are right.

Bags versus trolleys

Desperate customers, denied one-time-use plastic bags at supermarket checkouts, are apparently not returning all those wire baskets and trolleys as they struggle home with armloads of foodstuffs and other goods. Surely, the idea of banning plastic bags was to save the environment rather than to create chaos.

 

Cheeky customers

Four Russians caused a violent stir in a South Pattaya club when they asked the bartender for glasses to drink their bottled beers. Only problem was that they had bought their booze in the local 7/11 and had decided to enjoy them in air-conditioned comfort nearby. The inevitable fight ensued. Buy one and get one free?

 

Rare mail ordering

Lazada, the closest thing Thailand has to Amazon, is proving immensely popular here. We hear that some really obscure items can be ordered online, especially from China. These include artificial dog whistles for those who can’t summon their pets and bald wigs for men who are ashamed of their curly locks. Now we know why Kerry’s same-day transport fleet is so busy.

 

Carry on digging

It’s no surprise that parts of the city are once again being dug up. For the past 20 years, there has never been a public reprieve longer than six months. Amongst the many reasons for traffic chaos given over the decades have been road improvements, underground cables, drainage systems, electricity issues and delivering sand.

Currency concerns

Everyone knows about the strength of the baht and the weakness of foreign currencies, especially the UK pound and the Aussie dollar. But we hear that some clearing banks are taking an extra cut on international money transfers. One resident told us that the street exchange booths are lately giving a better rate for cash than the clearing banks receiving transfers from abroad.

 

Looking before shaking

It may have caught your eye that many Pattaya restaurants provide table salt in a small pot with several holes whilst pepper is found in the one with a single puncture. The public concern is that it’s the other way round in Europe. Keyboard warriors on the internet are worried the situation is leading to excessively spiced food in eateries and a potential shortage of the stuff in the shops. This is Thailand (TIT).

 

Death penalty

A reader asks if the death penalty has been abolished in Thailand. No, but it has been used only in seven cases since lethal injection replaced machine-gunning as the execution mode in 2003. However, there are over 500 people on death row in Bangkok. The rumour is that most legislators are abolitionists, but the majority of the general public is not.

Paying for rubbish

Over a year ago, thousands of Pattaya homes received a circular from City Hall asking that payment for black bag removal be made in future by banker’s order or by a personal visit. Apparently, the former system of sending people round to your home with a receipt book and a collecting tin has been abandoned. But nobody we know has been asked yet to contribute cash for this service in 2020. Odd indeed.

 

Big improvement

On the subject of refuse collection, most residents would agree that the present company Eastern Green has done a much better job than its predecessor in keeping the streets somewhat cleaner than they used to be. A new competitive tendering contract, worth nearly one billion baht, is set for April this year. Eastern Green with its new vehicles and smart uniforms for personnel has set a good standard. Let’s hope it wins the race..


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Grapevine - March 20 - April 2, 2020

Grapevine - March 6 - March 19, 2020

Grapevine - February 21 - March 5, 2020

Grapevine - February 7 - February 20, 2020