Opinion on the benefits of 'permanent' residency in Thailand for foreigners
Yellow book and residency
In Thailand they have something called a tabian baan or “house registration”. It is a little blue book that is produced by the local district office for each house that identifies the house and lists its residents. Foreigners don’t usually get their names listed in the house registration. In fact, most foreigners think they can’t, and many district offices around the country also think it can’t be done. But that’s wrong. A foreigner can have a house registration. It just requires jumping through some hoops, as well as having a local district office that correctly knows the law.
There is a little difference for foreigners. Rather than having their names listed in the blue book for a particular house they get their own yellow house registration book. It’s not really a big deal. It doesn’t confer any additional rights, foreigners have NO rights in Thailand, at least not unless they become a Thai citizen, which is almost impossible. The reason for getting the house registration is for a few specialized purposes, which I won’t go into in this post.
The thing is, I see law firms in Thailand that advertise their service for getting 'permanent' residency by making claims about how it facilitates a number of things, like getting a house registration book. Nope, you don’t need residency. I don’t have it. But you can still get your house registration book. I did. Those law firms make other claims such as 'permanent' residency makes it easier to get a work permit – not really. If you have a non-immigrant “O” or “B” visa you can get a work permit. It is straight forward. And in order to get permanent residency you have to be in the country for three consecutive years on a non-immigrant visa so you have to have that anyway.
I suppose if you are here on a retirement visa, which does not allow you to work, and then get permanent residency you can then get a work permit and start working. That’s the only case that would lend any credibility to that statement about permanent residency making a work permit easier to obtain.
The truth is that permanent residency legal services is a scam, a rip-off. It costs 195,000 baht and the only benefit it offers is that you are not required to extend your non-immigrant visa each year. Those extensions cost 1,900 baht and a trip to the immigration office. So 100 years of extensions is the same cost as permanent residency and you still have to report every 90 days and you still have to purchase a re-entry permit when you leave the country. You don’t need permant residency to get a work permit or to get your name in the house registration, as I mentioned above.
So, save the money you would spend on the permanent residency fee and the lawyer. It’s really a waste.