While Thailand remains a popular destination for digital nomads, figuring out how to stay long-term can be troublesome. Digital nomads and remote workers alike are operating in a legally grey area in Thailand, but there are actually a few not-so-grey options available to make your stay in the kingdom legal. One of those is the Smart Visa.
Thailand doesn’t have a digital nomad visa, but digital nomads, remote workers and other location-independent professionals can use the Thailand Smart Visa instead. The eligible applicants can enjoy the right to legally stay and work in the country for up to four years.
Your visa options in Thailand
The question of how to stay in Thailand long term as a digital nomad has always been somewhat confusing. Before the pandemic, digital nomads could extend their stay by crossing the border and coming back. Since the start of the pandemic, this option has become impossible, leaving many to acquire volunteer visas in order to stay. Some have even paid thousands of baht and signed up for classes to get an education visa to stay in the country.
To make things extra complicated, foreigners can only legally work in Thailand with a work permit. Hence, working as a digital nomad on a tourist visa may not be entirely legal.
Thailand offers various types of visas depending on your intended duration of stay and your purpose for entering the country. Generally speaking, there are two types of tourist visas that you can consider when planning to work remotely from Thailand:
- Tourist Visa (TR Visa) – A single entry visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days for $38.
- Long Stay Visa – A multiple entry visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for a minimum of 90 days, and costs about $188. It can be extended twice for a further 90 days each.
Thailand Visa on arrival for tourists
Nationals of 64 countries (including the US, Canada and all EU states) can enjoy visa-free entry and a 30 days stay in Thailand, as they fall under the visa exemption rule. You can see the complete list of qualifying countries here.
Travelers can enter the country via an international airport or through a land border checkpoint from neighboring countries.
To qualify for visa-free entry, you must meet the following criteria:
- The visit is strictly for tourism purposes.
- One must have a confirmed return ticket with a travel date within 30 days of entry. Traveling overland out of Thailand is an accepted proof of exit, whether by train, bus, etc.
- Proof of funds of at least 10,000 THB per person during the stay in Thailand.
Thailand Tourist Visa (TR visa)
Travelers from all other countries will need to apply for a Thai Tourist Visa. It’s a single entry visa that allows you to stay in Thailand for up to 60 days. Foreigners are now required to obtain a tourist visa from a Thai Embassy or consulate abroad.
The visa will be issued by a Thai embassy or consulate in your country and stamped on your passport upon arrival to an airport in Thailand.
Apply for a tourist visa here.
- Passport or travel document with a validity no less than six months
- Visa application form filled out
- One recent 4×6 cm photograph
- Round-trip air ticket or e-ticket paid in full
- Proof of financial means (20,000 baht per person/40,000 baht per family)
- Proof of accommodation(s)
The visa fee is $30 per entry or equivalent in another currency.
Note that due to the COVID 19 pandemic, the tourist visa issuance can be made online, by mail or in-person depending on the current regulation of the Thai Embassy in your country.
As a tourist, you can extend the stay for another 30 days, but only once. So if you plan to stay in Thailand long term, you should apply for a longer visa or residence permit in advance.
Registering in Thailand
If you go to Thailand on a long-term visa, you must also get registered, as anyone living there is subject to mandatory registration. You should do this within 24 hours after entering the country. In addition, residents must register every 90 days again.
Thailand Long-term Visa
This multiple entry visa allows digital nomads and remote workers to stay in Thailand for a minimum of 90 days at a cost of around $188. It can be extended twice for a further 90 days each.
Non-immigrant Visa: Digital nomads have several visa options in Thailand, including:
- B visas
- O visas
- OA visas
Keep in mind that in order to get a work permit, you will need a sponsoring company that applies for a visa on your behalf.
Student/Education Visa: As a student, or seemingly student, you can stay up to 90 days on a single entry or up to 90 on multiple entries. It can be extended for up to one year from the first date of entry. Students will need to provide additional documents for the visa, such as enrollment at a university or educational organization.
Thailand Digital Nomad Visa
Officially, Thailand doesn’t have a digital nomad visa at the time of this writing in October of 2021, but the country does plan to release one in the near future.
Due to this, you might be wondering what you can do to stay long term since there is no Thailand digital nomad visa?
No worries! There are still some ways to stay legally in the country long-term as a digital nomad, online entrepreneur or remote worker.
What is the best Thai Visa for Digital Nomads in 2021 and 2022?
- Tourist Visa (TR)
- Business Visa (B)
Smart Visa for Digital Nomads
Smart T Visa is the most appropriate visa option for digital nomads and remote workers in Thailand. If you are an employee of a company in Thailand, have a minimum contract length of one year, and have a monthly salary of at least THB 100,000 ($3,200 USD), then you have a high chance of getting a Smart T Visa. Better yet, your employer should be able to help you obtain this visa.
In order to qualify, digital nomads will need to have a work contract with a foreign firm that lasts for at least one year from the point of application. Foreign freelancers and remote workers should be able to meet this requirement if they are employed overseas or in Thailand.
A Smart Visa is also a great option if you want to work in Thailand or set up a business there, as you can stay in the country for up to four years.
Some further good news is that the Thai government is currently looking to relax the requirements for the Smart Visa as well. They are considering reducing the contract requirement length from one year to six months.
It’s also required that the company you work for falls under one of the following industries:
- Next-Generation Automotive
- Smart Electronics
- Affluent, Medical and Wellness Tourism
- Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Food for the Future
- Automation and Robotics
- Aviation and Logistics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Medical Hub
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Human Resource Development in Science and Technology
- Environmental Management and Renewable Energy
There is much more to Thailand’s Smart Visa than just a standard Visa T. Below you can see different categories of it:
- SMART Visa “T,” for foreign talents
- SMART Visa “I,” for foreign investors
- SMART Visa “E,” for foreign executives
- SMART Visa “S,” for foreign technology-based startup entrepreneurs
- SMART Visa “O,” for the family members (dependants, spouse, and children)
Essentially, you are eligible for a Thailand Smart Visa if you are a highly skilled worker, investor, executive or startup entrepreneur who wants to work and/or invest in one of the qualified industries.
Smart Visa Type S
Smart Visa S is another option for digital nomads to stay in Thailand long-term. It’s an initial 6-months visa designed for foreigners who plan to set up a startup company in Thailand or engage in promotional activities for startups. It’s renewable for up to two years.
This visa is a popular choice for entrepreneurs because it doesn’t require a work permit for setting up a startup. However, in order to be able to receive this visa, applicants must have a plan to set up a startup in Thailand in one of the industries mentioned in the list above.
Alternatively, applicants must be engaged in an activity aimed to promote startups, or an activity similar to a startup camp that is endorsed by government agencies, such as the Board of Investment and National Innovation Agency.
To qualify for a Thailand Smart Visa S, you have to fulfill the following requirements:
- Establish a startup company in Thailand in one of the targeted industries on the list mentioned above.
- Hold at least 25% of the company’s registered capital or be in the position of a director in the company.
- Have a deposit of at least 600,000 Thai Baht, $18,370 USD or the equivalent of that amount in some other currency in a bank account in Thailand. This bank account can be in your country of residence, and you must have held it for at least three months.
- Have valid health insurance in Thailand.
Benefits of the Smart Visa
The main benefit of Smart Visa is that you can enjoy living in Thailand for up to four years. Other perks are:
- You don’t need to apply for a Thai Work Permit to work in one of the eligible foreign companies.
- You don’t have to report your stay to the immigration office every 90 days. Instead, you can report your stay every year.
- You don’t have to apply for a Thai re-entry permit.
- Your spouse and children over 18 are allowed to work in Thailand without getting a work permit, provided that your job is on the aforementioned list of occupations and not among professions prohibited to foreigners.
Other options to get a Thailand visa as a digital nomad
The Smart Visa can be a complex visa solution for digital nomads, unless you are very confident in your plan to live in Thailand. You have to be ready to have the patience needed to persist through bureaucratic obstacles you might face.
There are however still other possibilities to stay in Thailand for a longer period than a tourist visa allows, including the following:
- Non-immigrant B visa – for conducting business or employment.
- Non-immigrant O visa – for visiting a Thai spouse and family.
- Non-immigrant ED visa – for students of recognized institutions in Thailand as well as their parents or legal guardians.
- Non-immigrant O retirement visa – for those who wish to visit Thailand as part of their retirement.
- Non-immigrant OA and OX visa – for those who wish to obtain a retirement visa for a long stay (this is different from type O visa).
Use Employee Contractor Management
If you need a hiring company in Thailand that will provide a work contract for your visa application, you can go through an employee contractor management company. They will be able to host you and provide you with a work permit and visa.
They will, however, charge you for this by taking a fee from your monthly salary. The service charges are usually around 15,000/20,000 Baht, or $460 – $610 USD per month.
Will you pay taxes as a digital nomad in Thailand?
Living and working in any country requires you to pay taxes. All residents in Thailand pay taxes. Digital nomads are considered “residents” if they stay in the country for more than 180 days in any tax calendar year.
Yet, even non-residents staying for under six months in a year must pay taxes on income earned in Thailand. But please note that the first 150,000 baht ($4,600) is tax-exempt.
Thailand income tax for residents applies to worldwide income, similar to US taxes. Therefore, residents of Thailand have to pay income tax on earnings in Thailand and on income that was transferred into the country from foreign sources. Hence, your foreign income shouldn’t be remitted to Thailand if you don’t want to pay taxes on it.
Thailand Tax Rates
We’re sure that you would now like to know how much you should expect to pay in taxes in Thailand. Tax rates vary depending on your income. Rates are progressive and range from 0% for those who earn less than 150,000 baht annually ($4,600), to 35% for those who earn more than 5,000,001 baht ($15,300) annually.
Below you can see income tax rates in Thailand.
|Taxable income (baht)||Tax Rate (%)|
|more than 150,000 but less than 300,000||5%|
|more than 300,000 but less than 500,000||10%|
|more than 500,000 but less than 750,000||15%|
|more than 750,000 but less than 1,000,000||20%|
|more than 1,000,000 but less than 2,000,000||25%|
|more than 2,000,000 but less than 4,000,000||30%|
Thailand social security
Thailand uses a social insurance system where employees contribute 5% on the first 15,000 baht of income, and employers pay another 5%. The Thai government adds a 2.5% contribution to the insurance system.
If you are working in Thailand as an employee, you need to contribute to the
local social security. Thailand and the US don’t have a social security agreement. American expats are required to pay into both social security systems on some Thai earnings.
Become a Digital Nomad and work from Thailand
To move to Thailand as a digital nomad, you will need a suitable job and an employer compliant with the fact you are working abroad.
Here at Support Adventure, we’re known as the expat outsourcing company as we hire talented people from around the world who want to work online from anywhere.
We mostly have positions open for helpdesk IT support, but we are always recruiting for admin assistants and dispatchers as well. So if you have experience or even interest in IT, or admin work, don’t wait and apply for a remote job with us here!