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Thailand Digital Nomad Visa & Alternatives – All Visa Options Explained

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa & Alternatives – All Visa Options Explained

Digital Nomads I have to disappoint you but there is no Thailand . For a country that has two of its cities and Chiang Mai regularly in the top 3 digital nomad hotspots in the world as per nomadlist.com, it baffles me that there is still no Digital Nomad Visa or even a sign of a visa like this in the making.

What is happening though is that digital nomads are using the 60-day tourist visa and extending it at the immigration offices 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 Malaysia and apply for another tourist visa and stay another 60+30 days.

This is a time-consuming, costly and environmentally unfriendly (especially with Thailand's recent focus on sustainable tourism) way of extending a stay in Thailand.

In September 2022 Thailand launched its 10-year Long-term residency (LTR) permit, a program the press is eager to label as a Thailand digital nomad visa.

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 than it is for digital nomads wanting to stay one to two years in Thailand. I believe that there will be very few Digital Nomads using this LTR visa, more on that later.

However, there are still plenty of options for digital nomads to stay and work remotely in Thailand. In this article, I show you all of the alternatives.

This article will be regularly updated so make sure to bookmark it.

October 2023 – Elite Visa rebranded and repriced to Privilege card

3 January 2024 – China added to 30-day visa exemption list

May 2024 – Russia 60-day visa exemption from 1 May 2024 till 31 July 2024

Digital Nomad Trends

The Digital Nomad community in Thailand was decimated between 2020 and mid-2022, and the very strict COVID-19 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.

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

What is good to see at the end of 2023 is that Thailand is back at the top of digital nomad cities and places.

Overall tourism is back at a healthy 28 million visitors a year, for 2023 still far away from the 2019 pre-COVID peak of 40 million. This is largely due to Chinese visitors not returning in the numbers they used to.

Thailand has a plethora of visas and options for digital nomads to stay anywhere between 30 days to 20 years. All come at different price points, requirements, middlemen and bureaucracy.

Let's start with the tourist visa options.

Current Thailand Tourist Visa Options For Digital Nomads

30-Day Tourist Visa Exemption Scheme

Thailand Tourist visa Exemption

This is the easiest one of all and is free but only for citizens from 64 countries – click here for a full list. If eligible you do not have to apply for a visa when entering Thailand for tourism purposes.

  • Costs: Free
  • Maximum duration: 30 days.
  • Can be used without any limitation by flight and 2 times a year for overland or sea crossings.
  • You will need an outbound confirmed flight.
  • This visa exemption can be extended at the immigration office for another 30 days for 1,900 THB.

Special country-specific temporary incentives.

To offset the drop in Chinese tourists, Thailand has various incentives on the visa exemption scheme.

  • 60-day visa exemption for Russians arriving between – 1 May 2024 to 31 July 2024
  • 30-day visa exemption for Indian citizens – 10 November 2023 to 11 November 2024
  • 30-day visa exemption for Taiwan citizens – 10 November 2023 to 11 November 2024
  • 30-day visa exemption for Chinese citizens
  • 30-day visa exemption for Kazak citizens – 25 September 2023 to 31 August 2024

There is talk about giving more countries a 60-day visa exemption, but for now, it is only talk.

The good thing is countries like Vietnam now have a 90-day e-visa scheme for all the countries, so there is some competitive pressure.

15-day Visa on Arrival

Thailand Visa on arrival

For 18 countries Thailand offers a Visa on arrival (VOA) or E-Visa on arrival (E-VOA), 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 THB (for E-VOA there is an additional 500 Baht service fee)
  • Maximum duration: 15 days.
  • You will need an outbound confirmed flight.
  • This visa can be extended at the immigration office for another 7 days for 1,900 THB.

Thai Single Entry Tourist Visa (SETV)

Thailand SETV

  • Costs: $30-$50
  • Validity: 3 months for a single entry visa – your arrival must be within 3 months of the issue date.
  • Maximum stay: 60 days.
  • Extension: 30 days at the discretion of the immigration officer with a total stay of no longer than 90 days. 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 can apply at the Thai embassy or via e-visa (more on that in this article).

Thai Multiple Entry Tourist Visa (METV)

Thailand METV

The Multiple Entry Tourist Visa is valid for 6 months and gives you access to Thailand for 60 days maximum.

As soon as the METV is issued the clock starts ticking and your window of 60-day access will start.

The 60 days can be extended within Thailand for another 30 days at immigration (cost 1,900 THB) giving you a maximum stay of 90 days before you have to leave the country.

The beauty of this visa is that you do not have to reapply as long as you enter back into Thailand within the validity of the METV.

Technically the METV can be used for 9 months, if you enter Thailand on the last day of your METV validity, you will get a 60-day stay which you can extend for another 30 days at the immigration office.

So it is possible to use the METV for 6 months plus 2 months entry on the last day of validity plus an extension of 30 days, giving you 9 months in total.

The METV is expensive at $200 and you can only apply for it from your home country. The SETV is only $30-$35 and might be better value for most digital nomads.

If you travel a lot and want flexibility then the METV can work for you. Another benefit is that you can easily do border runs, this is handy when you are based close to a border.

  • Costs: $200
  • Validity: 6 months and the window is activated upon issuance.
  • Maximum duration: 60 days without the extension.
  • Extension: 30 days at the discretion of the immigration officer with a total stay of no longer than 90 days. The fee for the extension is 1,900 Baht.
  • You will need to prove you have some savings.

Extensions

A lot of the visas in Thailand can be extended by 30 days, only the visa-on-arrival visa can be extended by 7 days.

You will have to go to a local immigration office. You will have to fill out a TM7 form bring 1 passport photo and have a signed copy of your passport and the visa stamp page.

The fee is 1,900 Baht. Also, bring proof of your e-visa if you entered the country this way.

E-Extension

Thailand is working on getting this process slightly more streamlined with the E-Extension website, where the form filling, payment, documents upload and payment can all be done online.

You will still have to go in person to the immigration bureau to get the stamp on your passport. Yes, there is some progress here. But unfortunately, this service costs more than the waiting line at immigration and is a lot slower, there is 1,900 Baht fee as well as the service fee:

  • 7 business days regular service fee: 500 Baht.
  • 3 business days express service fee: 1,500 Baht.
  • 1 business day super urgent service fee: 5,000 Baht, for this money you may as well go to the immigration office and wait.

This service is run by a commercial entity, it would be great if Thailand comes up with a smooth process without the additional fees.

E-Visa

Since 27 September 2021, the Royal Thai Embassy has implemented an E-visa service where there is no need for a sticker on 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. At the moment this is possible for 23 countries.

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.

These e-visas are not only limited to tourist visas. The whole range of visa application processing can now be done online.

Be aware that all the e-visas can only be applied from within your country of residency.

The Thai embassies will want to see evidence of your country of residency with a plane ticket departing to Thailand from your country of residency and a bank statement from your country of residency.

So you can not use the e-visa service to do a border run to let's say Malaysia and apply for another Tourist Visa via the e-visa system. You will have to visit to Thai embassy or consulate.

Thai Retirement Visas

Retirement comes early in Thailand and if you are a digital nomad 50 years or older, more long-term visa options become available.

Nomad Girl will do a dedicated article soon on this category of visas, but here is a quick summary.

thailand longstay visa

Non-Immigrant O visa (90-day) + O visa extension for 1 year

The 90-day Non-immigrant O visa can be applied for in your home country, Thailand or on the e-visa portal.

You can apply for a 1-year extension at the local Thai immigration office. The benefit of going this route is that the process can be done in Thailand, even if you arrive on a tourist visa or visa exemption.

It is better to apply for it in Thailand as going this route does not require coverage from a select group of Thai insurance providers.

Where as if you do it via the e-visa system abroad you will need to go through the Non-Immigrant O-A visa and select expensive health insurance from a select few providers.

Financial requirements:

  • Thai Bank Account showing THB 800,000 or
  • Monthly income of at least THB 65,000
  • A combination of annual income + bank account is larger than THB 800,000

The extension is single entry only but you can go around this by buying a single (THB 1,000) or multiple re-entry permit (3,800 THB).

If you leave the country without a re-entry permit it will invalidate the extension. You will also have to report every 90 days with Thai immigration your residency status.

The cost can be extremely low if you do this process without an agent.

  • 2,000 THB (US$ 60) for the 90-day non-immigrant O visa
  • 1,900 THB (US$ 55) for the 1 year extension.
  • 1,000 THB (US$ 30) per single reentry permit for the 1 year extension.
  • 3,800 THB (US$ 110) for the multiple re-entry permit for the 1-year extension.

Visa agents

There are plenty of visa agents that can help you with the process costing anywhere between $1,000 to $1,500.

Some will make the necessary deposit in your bank account and remove it. A part of the fees might be used to smooth things over with the immigration office.

The Non-Immigrant O-A visa (1 Year)

The non-immigrant O-A visa has the same financial requirements as the non-immigrant O visa but has to be applied for in your home country at the Thai embassy or via the e-visa portal.

It is a single-entry visa for which you can buy re-entry permits. The single re-entry permit is 1,000 THB and the multiple re-entry permit is 3,800 THB.

This visa has a validity of 12 months and does require you to use expensive health insurance from a select group of Thai health insurance providers.

The benefit is that you can do the whole process in your home country for a low cost of 2,000 THB.

The Non-Immigrant O-X visa (5+5 years)

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, , Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the of America.

Spouses and children under 20 years old can join on this visa. The cost is about 400 USD and it gives you peace of mind of a long-term visa.

Again the minimum income requirements and the expensive local health insurance requirements apply.

You can see the full requirements here: www.thaievisa.go.th/long-stay-visa.

Smart-Visa

smart visa thailand

Not necessarily 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. Set up the company within 1 year with at least 25% ownership.
  • Smart O (Others) – Spouses 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

TDPK Startup Booster (Smart S Visa)

True Digital Park a company that runs many co-working spaces in Thailand and works with a lot of startups has a very interesting proposition for Digital Nomads.

For a fee of 100,0000 which is around $3,000, it can provide you with a Smart S Visa for startups. This comes with additional benefits:

  • 1-Year Co-working Space at True Digital Park, True Space and Partners 10+ locations. One of the locations is in the ICONSIAM shopping centre in Bangkok a true iconic location.
  • Join Business Matching Event for Potential Startup Business Partnerships.
  • Consultations session with Startup Incubator Experts.
  • Access to on-demand materials made to help your startup business succeed.
  • Monthly Networking Events.

More info: Startup Booster

Business Visa through Employer of Record Schemes

Some companies can offer digital nomads an Employer of Record  (EoR) service.

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 USD 1,500 per month
  • Can commit to a 1-3 year contract

Four companies offer these types of EoR services:

Thai Privilege Card

Thailand elite visa

The Thailand Privilege Card was previously known as the Elite Visa before a repricing and rebranding exercise.

This card is what is known as a Privilege Entry Visa and it 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:

  • Gold Privilege Card – A 5-year visa with 20 privilege points per year – 900,000 THB
  • Platinum Privilege Card – A 10-year visa with 35 privilege points per year – 1,500,000 THB and 1,000,000 THB for each additional family member
  • Diamond Privilege Card – A 15-year visa with 55 privilege points per year – 2,500,000 THB and 1,500,000 THB for each additional family member
  • Reserve Privilege Card by invitation only – A 20-year++ visa with 120 privilege points per year – costs 5,000,000 THB and 2,000,000 THB for each additional family member

The privilege points can be used on free hotel stays health or travel benefits like limousine airport pickup.

It can also be used to let someone else deal with bureaucratic processes like the 90 reporting or getting/renewing a Thai driver's licence.

Prices have more than doubled when compared to the Thailand Elite visas. In the past the Elite visa where popular with people tired of dealing with Thai paperwork.

It was also a good plan B visa in your pocket to have in case you want to leave your home country. Thailand's territorial taxation rules meant that you could remit -free as long as it was not in the same tax year the income was generated.

However, the new Thailand government has now changed this rule and all money remitted to Thailand will be taxed. This will make the Thailand Privilege Card even less attractive, especially with the higher prices. I am not sure who would be attracted to this program.

You can find more information about the Thailand Privilege Card here: www.thailandprivilege.co.th

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa – Long-Term Residency Visa

Thailand Digital Nomad Visa

On 1 September 2022, the Thailand Long-Term Residency Visa went 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 think the 10-year LTR visa will appeal to many digital nomads.
  • Highly skilled professionals 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 Privilege card to cater for them.
  • Wealthy Pensioners – Thailand is a retirement heaven and it has already Non-Immigrant O plus extension, 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 only yearly reporting at immigration instead of every 90 days.

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 of 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.
  • Health insurance with $50,000 coverage.

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 a 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 industry: 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. The first data is in and it seems the Thai government has been overly optimistic, a total of 2920 foreigners have applied for the LTR visa from 1 November 2022 till 28 February 2023. In my opinion, the Thailand LTR visa looks way too rigid to bring any meaningful benefit to the Thai economy.

There is a caveat and “This is Thailand”, means there are middlemen that offer these visas for less stringent requirements (bribes), do you or own due diligence with using these services.

Conclusion

The lack of a properly accessible digital nomad visa with a duration of 1 to 2 years means that digital nomads have to resort to tourist visas and visa runs or use educational, business or retirement visas for extended stays.

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 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. Although the process has been slightly streamlined a bit with the introduction of e-visa and e-extension.

The Thai Privilege has an identity crisis and is way too expensive for what it offers. It looks like the LTR program will get more inflow now that the old Elite Visa is gone.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has already rolled out its digital nomad visa with up to a two-year stay and still offers the MM2H program for wealthier long-term residents. How forward-thinking of them.

There's still a glaring gap in Thailand's visa options—a one to two-year visa specifically for digital nomads. But why make things easy when you can keep a whole lot of people employed in the wonderfully unproductive world of bureaucracy?

Trying to navigate all this as a digital nomad or tourist is a real joyride.

If you're curious, I've devised a solution to Thailand's visa chaos and presented it to the Tourism Authority of Thailand.

Thailand Visa Mess – Nomad Girl's Practical Solution

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

Just as nomads travel to avoid exhausting the 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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