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Thailand Digital Nomad Visa – All Visa Options Explained

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa – All Visa Options Explained

The Thai government has announced plans for a to be created. The plans have become a lot clearer in recent weeks, and it seems like the LTR (Long Term Residency) Visa is more about attracting wealthy and highly educated people to move to Thailand for a period of up to 10 years. Nomad Girl believes that there will be very few Digital Nomads using this visa, more on that later. There are still plenty of options for digital nomads to stay and work in Thailand.

Thailand has been a long-time favourite with digital nomads flocking to Bangkok or the smaller Northern city of Chiang Mai. Chiang Mai has for a long time been known as the capital of the world. Digital nomads were attracted by the low cost of living, fast internet, the old town, a great food scene, a nearby airport with great connections and plenty of cafes and coworking spaces. The area around Nimman road was where the digital nomad community was mainly centred around. YouTube is full of videos explaining the cost of living in Chiang Mai for the would-be digital nomad and how you can live on less than $1,000 per month.

Almost all digital nomads would use the 60-day tourist visa and extend it for another 30 days to stay the full 90 days in Thailand. This could be repeated by doing what is called a visa run, where you take a flight to let’s say and apply for another tourist visa and stay another 90-days.

The Covid-19 pandemic has put a halt to this type of digital nomads, as doing Thai visa runs to other countries was almost impossible. Initially, Thailand extended the visas for tourists and digital nomads that were stuck. For those that wanted to enter Thailand, this was initially impossible at the start of 2020 and later became only possible via expensive hotel quarantine schemes.

As a result of Thailand’s tough entry rules, the tourism industry suffered big time. Before the Covid-19 pandemic Thailand had about 40 million visitors a year which would spend about $57bn, this number was reduced to only 400,000 for 2021 a staggering 99% drop compared to 2019. The Thai government expects tourist arrivals for 2022 to be 9.3 million and the world back sees arrivals for 2024 to be at 60% of pre-Covid levels.

01 July – All Covid-19 entry requirements have been dropped. This makes the Special Tourist Visa almost obsolete.

19 August – 15 days additional given to Visa on arrival and Visa exemption schemes.

22 August Update – LTR (long Term Residency) Visa details become available.

Changing Digital Nomad Trends

The Digital Nomad community in Thailand has been decimated, and the very strict Covid entry rules and delayed reopening programs saw Thailand not benefit from the emergence of the wealthier Digital Nomad. These are people forced to work from home and in well-paid company jobs or own profitable businesses. Small Caribbean islands were quick to tap into this newly emerging class of digital nomads by creating digital nomad visas.

Changing Digital Nomad Trends - covid travel restrictions

As for the budget-conscious digital nomad for which Thailand, Bali, Vietnam and the Philippines were major destinations, they all suffered big time and countries like , and were the main beneficiaries with easier entry restrictions and equally low costs of living.

Thailand seems to have the reopening process to tourists more under control and is also looking at what type of tourists it wants to attract. Surprise surprise like almost every other tourism authority there is a shift to less low-cost mass tourism and more quality and higher spending tourists.

As someone that has stayed, worked and travelled in Thailand more than a dozen times, I had plans to be a digital nomad in Thailand in 2020 and 2021, but these plans came to a halt due to the closing of the Thai borders for tourists. Having now set my digital nomad ambitions in and around Europe, I am not sure if and when I will return to Thailand. But for those wanting to return let’s look at the current options available and what the proposed new digital nomad visa is going to look like.

Current Thailand Visa Options For Digital Nomads

30-Day Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme (45 days for arrivals between 1/10/22 and 31/03/23)

There is a list of citizens from 64 countries – click here for a full list that do not have to apply for a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes.

  • Costs: Free
  • Maximum duration: 30 days – This has been increased to 45 days for tourists arriving between 1 October 2022 till 31 March 2023.
  • Can be used 3 times in a 6-month period by flight and 2 times a year for overland or sea crossing.
  • You will need an outbound confirmed flight.
  • You are not allowed to work, however remote work is difficult to check.

15-day Visa on arrival (30 days for arrivals between 1/10/22 and 31/03/23)

For 18 countries Thailand offers a Visa on arrival, you can see a full list of countries and the process here. Note these are countries that are not on the visa exempt list but can apply for visas on arrival.

  • Costs: 2,000 Baht
  • Duration: 15 days – This has been increased to 45 days for tourists arriving between 1 October 2022 till 31 March 2023.
  • You will need an outbound confirmed flight.
  • You are not allowed to work, however remote work is difficult to check.

Thai Tourist Visa (single entry and multiple entries)

  • Costs: 2,000 Baht.
  • Validity: 3 months for a single entry visa, 6 months for a multiple entry visa.
  • Maximum stay: 60 days.
  • Extension: 30 days at the discretion of the immigration officer with a total stay of no longer than 90 days. What is not clear is that the 15 days additional that has been given to the visa-exempt and the e-visa scheme will also apply here which would then be a 45-day additional stay for a total stay of 105 days. Once we have the news we will update. The fee for the extension is 1,900 Baht. For more info check: www.immigration.go.th
  • You will need an outbound confirmed flight.
  • Once your 60 or 90 days (with extension) have been used, you can reapply by doing a visa run.
  • You are not allowed to work, however remote work is difficult to check.

E-Visa

Since 27 September 2021, the Royal Thai Embassy has implemented an E-visa service where there is no need for a sticker in your passport anymore. You can apply through this official website: www.thaievisa.go.th. You also do not have to submit your passport and original documents via mail anymore to the embassy, it can all be done online.

Once your e-visa application has been approved, you will get a confirmation email that you have to print out to present to the airline and Thai immigration officials.

Special Tourist Visa (single entry only)

Thailand Special Tourist Visa

The Special Tourist Visa was introduced on 1 October 2020 to enable longer stays to offset the decline in tourism due to the Covid-19 pandemic. This visa program was to run till 30 September 2021 but now has been extended to 30 September 2022. The duration of the visa is for 90 days and can be extended twice to 270 days in total, but not going past 30 September 2022.

The Special Tourist Visa is quite difficult to get as there are a lot of requirements, but if you meet these you can stay up to 270 days without having to do any visa runs.

  • Cost: 70 euros
  • Validity: 90 days
  • Extension: 90 days can be done twice to give a total stay of 270 days including the quarantine period.
  • You are prohibited from engaging in any gainful employment in Thailand – however remote work is difficult to check or enforce
  • You must have health insurance covering medical expenses in Thailand with a minimum coverage of 100,000 USD for COVID-19.
  • You must have Thai health insurance covering the length of stay in Thailand with no less than 40,000 THB coverage for outpatient treatment and no less than 400,000 THB for inpatient treatment.
  • Confirmed roundtrip flight reservation.
  • Certified Medical certificate needed showing no prohibitive diseases
  • Certified Certificate of Good Conduct
  • Certified English extract from the register of population
  • Proof of payment for accommodation for the whole intended stay
  • Proof of payment of AQ / SHA+ hotel

Special Tourist Visa Problems

The problem with the Special Tourist Visa is that as of the 1st of July 2022 there is no requirement anymore to do a 5-day quarantine for non-Covid-19 vaccinated travellers and also there is no requirement anymore to register for the Thailand pass. For the Thailand pass registration, you had to purchase Thai health insurance.

It looks like the dropping of entry requirements has gone really fast and the STV has not caught up with the new situation. The STV is still useful for those wanting to stay 270 days in Thailand but it does come with a huge amount of paperwork to comply with.

Thai Retirement Visa for those 50 years or older

thailand longstay visa

For those that are aged over 50, there are some interesting options. There is a 1 year Non-Immigrant O-A visa that can be extended every year.

There is also the 5-year Non-Immigrant O-X visa that can be extended every 5 years. This one is only available to passport holders from Japan, Australia, Denmark, Finland, France, , , The Netherlands, , Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America. Spouse and child under 20 years old can join on this visa.

Both the 1-year and 5-year visas come with income and or deposit requirements and health insurance requirements. You can see the full requirements here: www.thaievisa.go.th/long-stay-visa.

Smart-Visa

smart visa thailand

Not necessary an option for digital nomads, but Thailand has a SMART-Visa that allows you to get a visa and work permit in 13 key sector industries. This Visa was set up by the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI). You can apply as:

  • Smart T (Talent) – Science and technology experts with salaries higher than 100k baht per month
  • Smart I (Investor) – Investment of 20 million baht
  • Smart E (Executive) – Bachelor’s degree or higher plus 10 years of work experience, salaries higher than 200k baht per month
  • Smart S (Startup) – Technology-based startup entrepreneurs, Deposit of 600K baht held for 3 months minimum. Setup company within 1 year with at least 25% ownership
  • Smart O (Others) – Spouse and children of smart visa holders

You can read more about the program and how to apply here: smart-visa.boi.go.th/smart/index.html

Business Visa through Employer of Record Schemes

There are companies that can offer digital nomads an Employer of Record service. Basically, you will work for them and they charge a flat monthly fee that ensures you have everything you need from a legal perspective to have tax residence in Thailand. They will sort out business visas, healthcare, work permits and payroll to ensure you pay the local taxes and social security.

The benefits are no more paperwork, immigration reports or visa runs and you can stay and work in Thailand for a long period. These are the requirements:

  • Are at least 22 years old
  • Have either one of the following:
    • An IT-related university degree, plus 2 years of relevant work experience
    • Any type of university/college/school diploma or certificate, plus 5 years of relevant work experience
  • Work in software development, blockchain, design, marketing, business development, eCommerce, or other online, tech/digital-related activity
  • Have an existing business or client base
  • Can bill a minimum of $1,500 USD per month
  • Can commit to a 1-3 year contract

Thai Elite Visa

Thailand elite visa

The Thailand Elite Visa is what is known as a Privilege Entry Visa and comes that gives tourists multiple entry access to Thailand for periods of 5, 10 and 20 years. It comes also with plenty of additional perks, like lounge access at airports and a VIP immigration and luggage collecting process. The costs are as follows:

  • A 5-year visa is 600,000 Baht including annual fees
  • A 10-year visa is 1,000,000 Baht including annual fees
  • A 20-year visa is 2,400,000 Baht including annual fees

Like with many other Thai visas you will still have to report every 90 days to immigration, but with this visa for Bangkok residents, you will have a VIP-guided process.

You can find more information about the plethora of Thai Elite Visa durations and options at www.thailandelite.com.

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa – Long-Term Residency Visa

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa

On 1 September the Thailand Long-Term Residency Visa will go live. It is a 10-year Visa that is also created by the Thailand Board of Investments https://ltr.boi.go.th/ and has taken a lot of elements from the SMART visa.

The 10-year Thailand LTR visa is aimed at wealthy expats and wealthy digital nomads. It is believed that luring these high-quality long-term residents will help drive the Thai economy. The 10-year visa is intended to attract wealthy long-term travellers from 4 categories:

  • Digital Nomads – currently most digital nomads use tourism visas, we don’t the 10-year LTR visa will appeal to many digital nomads.
  • Highly skilled professionals that can advance Thailand with skills and their spending of salaries. – This competes with the current SMART Visa
  • Wealthy Global Citizens – There is already the Thailand Elite Visa to cater for them.
  • Wealthy Pensioners – Thailand is retirement heaven and it has already Non-Immigrant O-A and O-X visas for less wealthy pensioners over 50 years old. The benefit here is 10 years of peace of mind and reporting

Privileges to LTR Visa Holders

  • 10 years renewable visa.
  • Exemption from the 4 Thais to 1 foreigner employment requirement ratio
  • Fast track Service at international Airports in Thailand
  • Only 1 year reporting at immigration instead of every 90 days.
  • Permission to work in Thailand (Digital Work permit)
  • 17% Personal income tax for Highly-skilled professionals

Types of LTR Visa

Wealthy Global Citizens

  • At least $ 1 million in assets.
  • Personal income of $80,000 a year in the past two years.
  • Investment of at least $500,000 in Thai government bonds, Thai property, or foreign direct investments.
  • Health insurance with $50,000 coverage.

Wealthy Pensioners

  • Personal income of at least USD 80,000 a year at the time of application
  • If earning between $40,000 and $80,000 a year, investment of $250,000 in Thai property, Thai government bonds or foreign direct investment.

Work-from-Thailand Professionals aka Digital Nomads

  • Personal income of $80,000/ year in the past two years.
  • If earning between $40,000 and $80,000 per year for the past 2 years applicants must have a master’s degree or own intellectual property or receive series A funding
  • Public company on a stock exchange or; Private company with combined revenue of at least $150,000,000 in the last three years ($50 million a year revenue on average) – This rule will kill it for 99.99% of potential digital nomads.
  • At least 5 years of work experience in the relevant fields of the current employment over the past 10 years.
  • Health insurance with $50,000 coverage.

Highly-Skilled Professionals

  • Personal income of a minimum of USD 80,000 a year in the past two years
  • If earning between $40,000 and $80,000 per year for the past 2 years in the past two years or before retirement, applicants must have a Master’s degree or above in science and technology or special expertise relevant to the job assignment in Thailand
  • No minimum personal income for professionals working for Thai government agencies
  • Business in any targeted industries: Higher education institution, research institution, specialized training institution, or Thai government agency
  • At least 5 years of work experience in the targeted industries except for applicants with a PhD or above in the relevant fields of the targeted industries or applicants working for Thai government agencies
  • Health insurance with $50,000 coverage.

According to Deutsche Welle, one Thailand government official expects 1 million applicants for the LTR scheme by 2027. If each contributes $28,000 to the local economy, the whole scheme will be worth $27.6 billion, according to estimates by the Thailand Board of Investment. If we go by the SMART visa which has been running since 2018, this scheme received a whopping total of 1,200 applicants.

In my opinion, the Thailand LTR visa looks way too rigid to bring any meaningful benefit to the Thai economy.

Conclusion

Thailand has already got a range of visas that can help digital nomads, retirees, investors and wealthy expats (through Thailand Elite Visa). What has never been clear is the tax and work status for remote workers. The concept of non-tax-paying digital nomads was something that was well known, but there was never any action taken except for one raid in 2014 at a coworking centre in Chiang Mai.

Thailand has squandered the opportunity to bring in digital nomads with a proper digital nomad visa which comes with a duration of 1 to 2 years. Many other countries have successfully developed these visas during the pandemic. Bringing in a digital nomad visa with an income requirement of $3,000 a month would have done the trick.

The LTR visa created by the BOI is basically designed on the unsuccessful SMART visa, with some promises of slightly less bureaucracy. What we have for digital nomads is a return to the old. Back to the time and money-consuming visa borders runs and extensions via the immigration office.

What is known is that Thailand had the largest Digital Nomad community before the pandemic and that the infrastructure to support this is still there. Competition for digital nomads is global and Thailand has not made it easier, unlike some other countries.

I will finish with this quote I came across on a DN forum:

Just as nomads travel to avoid exhausting the food for their animals in one location, digital nomads travel to avoid the bureaucracy of visas, taxes and cost of living connected with living permanently in one country.

About The Author

Tracey Johnson

Owner of Nomad Girl. I have been travelling on and off for the last 18 years and ran my own businesses whilst on the road. I have travelled to over 60 countries and lived for longer periods in 10 different ones. I feel like a true global citizen.

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