Topics Covered Hide
- Does Thailand have a digital nomad visa?
- How the 30-day tourist visa in Thailand works
- Understanding the Thai tourist visa for multiple uses
- Figuring out the special tourist visa
- Who is eligible for the retirement visa
- Becoming familiar with the smart visa
- Analyzing the business visa
- Learning more about the elite visa
- A work permit is likely to be included too.
People who work all over the world have to deal with all kinds of legal dilemmas. They try to figure out where to pay their taxes, reduce them, or what country provides better deals. The so-called digital nomads can work anywhere, anytime – but which is the best jurisdiction?
Just like any other visa, the digital nomad visa is practically a legal authorization. It legalizes your right to live in a particular country without working for a local company. Just like a tourist visa, the digital nomad one is relatively simple to get.
There are a few general requirements, and one of them implies proving that you are independent and can sustain yourself for the duration of the stay – whether with payslips or a fat bank account. You basically need to prove that you are an actual digital nomad.
Some countries allow citizens to apply over the Internet – some others require them to get there in person. You will need some financial documents proving your income, as well as a valid form of ID that meets local requirements.
When looking for digital nomad visas, most people aim for stable and enjoyable countries. Some of them choose warm climates, while others go for low living costs. Given the recent coronavirus pandemic, more and more countries provide access to such visas.
There are plenty of options out there, so here are a few of them:
- Europe – Georgia, Croatia, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Malta, Hungary, or Romania
- South America – Brazil
- Central and North America – Costa Rica, Panama, or Mexico
- The Caribbean – Bermuda, Barbados, Saint Lucia, Anguilla or Dominica
- Asia – Taiwan, Sri Lanka, or the UAE
- Africa – Cape Verde, Mauritius, or Seychelles
These are only a few examples – plus, more and more countries are in the process of implementing such visas. It is worth noting that each country has different living costs, as well as different requirements in terms of income.
thailand-have-a-digital-nomad-visa" data-toc="1" >Does Thailand have a digital nomad visa?
Thailand has always been an attractive destination for foreigners. Living costs are quite low, while the country features attractive landscapes, good services, a decent infrastructure, great cuisine, and plenty of islands to chill on.
At the moment, Thailand does not have an official digital nomad visa, but the government has mentioned plans to implement one. Whether you are interested in living in the vibrant Bangkok or you are after a quiet island, the requirements are the same.
Apart from the above-mentioned benefits, foreigners are also attracted by the super-fast Internet speeds, old towns, airports with connections, lots of coworking spaces for freelancers and pubs, cafes and nightclubs everywhere.
Bangkok is not the only good option. Some digital nomads opt for quiet islands with no action at all – great to relax. Some others opt for communities with plenty of expats – for instance, Chiang Mai is an excellent option.
At the moment, most digital nomads will have to use a legal loop in order to stay for more than 90 days in Thailand. In theory, you could get a 60-day tourist visa, which can be extended by another 30 days. Then, you need to leave the country. Fly out and fly in straight away, then repeat the procedure.
The pandemic ruined it for most digital nomads because flying around was no longer an option. Lots of people got stuck, and fortunately, Thailand offered to extend their visas. With all these, tourist visas dropped by about 99% in 2021.
As a result, the digital nomad community in the country lost most of its people. Coronavirus rules were extremely strict, while procedures were delayed or even canceled. As a result, many other countries brought in digital visas to attract a community looking for new homes.
Lots of freelancers and business owners moved to the Caribbean, where almost every nation offers a digital nomad visa. Some others moved to nearby countries, such as the Philippines or Vietnam. In Europe, the community moved towards Georgia or Portugal.
Now that the coronavirus restrictions are easing or almost gone, Thailand has decided to step back into the game and bring money into the country. Surprising for some and normal for others, Thailand aims to reduce low cost mass tourism and focus on quality spending tourists instead.
Just because Thailand does not have a digital nomad visa, it does not mean that you cannot visit the country. There are still some loopholes allowing you to get in. However, you need to understand what each type of visa actually means.
Here is each option explained in small details.
How the 30-day tourist visa in Thailand works
This is the classic type of visa you can get in Thailand. The good news is that most people coming from the west will not have to apply for one. This is a tourist visa, and citizens from over 50 countries will not have to apply for it. It is simply offered upon arrival, at the airport.
The good news is the visa is given for free. Even if you do have to apply for it, you will not have to pay anything. If you are not lucky enough to be allowed without one, you should get in touch with a local Thai embassy or consulate and find out more about the procedures.
The visa is straightforward and allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 30 days. It cannot be extended. Whether you get it at a Thai airport or you have to apply for it, you will need to show proof that you are leaving the country within that time frame. For example, you should have a confirmed outbound flight.
How often can you use this visa then? If you choose to fly into Thailand, you can use it three times over a six-month period. If you come by land or sea, you can use it two times a year only. If you need to apply for it, you will have to follow the same procedure every single time.
Given these limitations, you can no longer leave the country for a day or a weekend (such as taking a weekend break or getaway in Cambodia or Singapore, for instance) and return to get a new visa. This option is out of discussion now.
When it comes to working during this time, you are not allowed to do it. As a tourist, no one will check you though. In other words, remote work is almost impossible to check. Spending a few hours a day on your laptop will not raise any question marks whatsoever.
Understanding the Thai tourist visa for multiple uses
This tourist visa is similar to the 30 day one, but it comes with some extras and particularities. For instance, this one is not free. It will cost you about 2,000 baht, which is around $60. Obviously, currency fluctuations will make it more or less expensive, but not by too much.
This tourist visa can be given for a single entry or multiple entries. Each type has its own specifications. If you get a single entry visa, it will be valid for three months. If you get the multiple-entry one, it will be valid for six months, so it makes more sense if you plan to work in Thailand.
The validity of the visa does not equal the time you are allowed in the country though. Just because your visa is valid for six months, it does not mean that you can stay there for six months. Instead, it is given for 60 days only.
Can you extend this visa? Yes, but only by 30 days. Altogether, you can get up to 90 days. Now, the extension is not as straightforward. You can apply for it, but it depends on discretion officers – no rules, so they can reject you for no reason. The extension cost is similar to the application cost.
Again, you will have to prove that you plan to leave the country, so you need to show proof that you have purchased an outbound flight within that time frame. Now, here comes the good news – once your visa is over, you can reapply for a visa run.
The same rule applies here – you are not allowed to work while on this visa. Is anyone going to check? Exactly. Remote work is nearly impossible to check, and no one will really bother. Most digital nomads will stick to their daily tasks without any worries whatsoever.
2021 has brought a few changes to the visa procedures in Thailand. The government has brought in an electronic visa service. In other words, you will no longer be given a sticker on the passport to prove your visa.
Instead, you can now apply over the Internet to get this visa. You will have to do it on the official Thai electronic visa website – Official Website of Thailand Electronic Visa – and submit all the documents and copies there. The website is available in English.
Apply there and wait for the confirmation. It will be sent by email. Once received, you will have to print that electronic visa and carry it with you, especially when going into Thailand. It must be shown to immigration officers.
Figuring out the special tourist visa
This visa has been introduced as a temporary one. It was brought in the fall of 2020, as a result of the massive decline in tourists. Its primary role was to bring people back to Thailand. It is extended on a regular basis – probably until tourism gets back to the numbers prior to the pandemic.
The visa allows longer stays. Normally, it is given for 90 days. It can be extended twice, by the same amount. Altogether, you can get in there for up to 270 days. However, you should not get past the official extension date, which is the fall of 2022.
Double-check upfront, as the government may choose to extend it one more time.
Requirements for this visa are more sophisticated. However, if you can get it, you will no longer need to worry about visa runs for up to 270 days. It is not free either – it costs around $70. So, what requirements does it come with?
First of all, employment is forbidden, just like in the above-mentioned tourist visas. Again, remote work is nearly impossible to enforce or check. You only need a computer and an Internet connection to go on with your daily projects.
Furthermore, you need health insurance. It must cover you up to $100,000. Given the recent pandemic, this aspect is mentioned in the requirement too – the policy must cover your expenses should you face coronavirus problems.
On another hand, a Thai health insurance is also required. The medical coverage should be at least 40,000 baht for outpatient services and over 400,000 baht for inpatient services. The health insurance must cover you for the duration of your stay.
You must confirm the outbound flight and show proof, bring in a medical certificate that shows you have no prohibited affections, a certificate of good conduct, and a certified English extract based on the population registry.
You must show that you have paid for your accommodation throughout the stay, whether you rent a place or you get a hotel room. Even if you plan to pay as you go, it will not work – you need to show that you are covered throughout the stay.
Who is eligible for the retirement visa
Planning to retire in Thailand? You do not need to wait until you are old – instead, you can do it as soon as you turn 50. This option is more attractive for those who qualify because it allows you to stay in Thailand for up to a year. The best part about it? You can extend it year by year, with no restrictions.
This visa will cost about 2,000 baht for a single entry or 5,000 baht for more entries.
The Thai government has also introduced a five year visa – the so-called non immigrant visa. It is not available to everyone, as it depends on where you come from. It is normally suitable for countries like Japan, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Sweden, the UK or USA, Canada or Switzerland, among others.
This visa also allows bringing the spouse over, as well as a child younger than 20.
When it comes to extending it, you can do it for another five years. The initial cost is 10,000 baht.
No matter which type of visa you opt for, you will have to meet some requirements. For example, you need to show proof of income. You may have to make a deposit as well, not to mention having health insurance to cover yourself throughout the stay.
Becoming familiar with the smart visa
This type of visa has been created by the Thai government to attract money and talent to the country. The visa is available over https://smart-visa.boi.go.th – double check the official website for all kinds of updates before applying too.
This is not always the most suitable option for digital nomads, but it is definitely worth some consideration. Apart from the visa, you will also get a work permit in 13 different industries that define the country. Again, digital nomads may not be interested to work locally.
You can apply for this visa if you are talented – basically, you must be a tech or science genius, and your monthly wages should exceed 100,000 baht. You can also do it as an investor – you must get ready to invest 20 million baht, around $600,000.
The executive alternative asks for a higher education degree, experience of over 10 years, and a salary over 200,000 baht a month. The startup option is suitable for entrepreneurs and requires a 600,000 baht deposit, and a new company within a year – 25% ownership or more is a requirement.
The spouse and children can also be included in the visa.
Analyzing the business visa
This business visa works like a legal loophole. You basically partner up with a company, work for it, but also pay it to be your partner. The result? You will be allowed to stay in the country, assuming you are employed locally.
There are quite a lot of companies providing freelancers with employer of record services – the official name for this collaboration. You work for such a company, but a part of your salary is charged as a fee. This fee helps you get everything you need for tax residence.
You basically pay for all sorts of visas, healthcare considerations, working permits, and so on.
As a result, you can forget about the bureaucracy in Thailand – less paperwork, no reports to the immigration office or visa runs. You can also work in Thailand for long periods of time. The job you get is irrelevant – opt for something light, so you can focus on your digital projects.
You normally need to be 22 years old or older and have some certificates, secondary education degrees, or a few years of experience. You must work in business, software, electronic commerce, or other related activities.
Generally, you should get at least $1,500 a month, but you also need to make a commitment in terms of time. Each company comes with its own requirements. Again, you’re not allowed to keep going with your digital work, but no one is going to check.
Learning more about the elite visa
The elite visa in Thailand is accessible at Thailand Elite – Official website and is suitable to certain categories of people. It is also referred to as a privileged visa and provides multiple entries to Thailand over a long period of time.
The shortest visa is given for five years and will cost around 600,000 baht – about $18,000. The middle option is a 10-year long visa that will cost almost double. The last choice – 20 years – will cost 2.4 million baht, which is around $72,000.
All the annual fees and extras are included in such visas, which also come with a lot of perks.
Now, just because you are ready to pay a fortune to stay in Thailand for ages, it does not mean that no one will check on you. Indeed, you will have a VIP status, but you have to report to immigration once every 90 days – the visa is mostly given to Bangkok residents.
Ideas and expectations for the upcoming digital nomad visa
Now, what do we know regarding the digital nomad visa for now? The government has started with a few drafts. It seems the visa will give expats and digital nomads up to 10 years in the country, which is a massive improvement compared to similar visas in other countries.
The visa is not suitable for digital nomads only. Instead, it also aims to attract skilled professionals willing to come to Thailand, earn big money, and spend locally. This option would be similar to the current smart visa though.
The same rule applies to wealthy individuals – they already have the elite visa at their disposal, as well as wealthy pensioners, which have a few different choices based on how long they want to be in Thailand.
Now, all these things are nothing but scenarios. So far, the community knows that a visa is given for five years, and it can be extended by five more years. The cost will go up to 10,000 baht – about $300. However, this amount is payable per year.
A work permit is likely to be included too.
Unknown variables include the deposit or income requirements for the digital nomad visa.
Bottom line, everyone is waiting for Thailand's official digital nomad visa. The country is a common destination for foreigners because of its super-low living costs, beautiful landscapes, wide variety of islands, and chilled lifestyle.
In theory, you can overcome this visa because no one can really check what you are doing online – a bit of legal work will not bother anyone. But then, the duration of the visa is what makes current options unsuitable – 30 days or 90 days are simply not enough.