Despite several government promises, the establishment of one-stop shops and the enthusiastic support of the Board of Investment, the position of remote workers using an internet connection in Thailand remains ambiguous and illegal. The issues have now been addressed by supportive lobby groups such as Nomads’ Embassy and Facebook gatherings such as Global Digital Nomad Network.
They point out that the Covid has changed the world: it is now estimated that at least a fifth of the working population in the industrialized world is remote. Many will not return to full-time office work in their lifetime. Instead, they can work anywhere using laptops in coffee shops, coworking spaces, beaches, and libraries. As Techsauce, the knowledge-sharing platform, states: âCountries around the world are starting to see the benefits of attracting digital nomads with special visas. “
The Tourist of Authority of Thailand and the Board of Investment have published their recommendations for digital nomads, but nothing has appeared in the Royal Gazette yet. Known elite details are aimed at high income professionals, but not aimed at the mainstay of online English teachers, drop shippers, crypto traders, affiliate marketers, bloggers, content writers , Amazon sellers, or independent web developers.
Policy statements to date aim to include digital nomads in the latest proposals for 10-year visa applicants, or for the existing four-year smart visa program that does not require a work permit. But both options have detailed requirements like a steep registration fee, substantial contact with a named overseas employer, documented qualifications, unclear tax rules, and immigration hoops. For example, a digital nomad who happens to have a voluntary non-âOâ visa must cancel it before being eligible for the Smart version.
Another solution is to start a business, but most nomads are not interested in showing 2 million baht of paid-up capital and a minimum of 4 Thai employees to support a work permit. A representative office may alleviate some of these restrictions, but it raises other issues such as the difficult generation of legitimate income and the need for a head office outside of Thailand. It’s way too complicated for your average telecommuter with a laptop in their lap who wants to enjoy life while making a living.
Thus, the thousands of nomads already in Thailand continue to be in the legal dumping ground to behave illegally, but without anyone in authority noticing until they seem to threaten genuine Thai jobs. Keyboards mostly survive on visa waiver permission (30 days), or 60 day tourist visas, or even Covid-related extensions. Some of the better-off income have chosen an Elite visa – 600,000 baht for five years – on the grounds that the immigration office never asks them what they are doing here.
In the meantime, other countries have moved forward with the legislation. Barbados has generated a lot of interest among nomads with its Barbados welcome stamp, although the fine print has the downside that the entry fee is $ 2,000 and you need to write down that you will win. at least $ 50,000 per year. Similar problems arise with the plans available in Estonia or Antigua and Barbuda. You might have trouble renewing after the first year or two. The fine print is the key.
Several European nomadic visas are classified as independent passes, although each country has its own policy. Armenia offers five-year residence permit, local tax identification number as sole proprietor, declared income of at least 1000 USD per month, with tax rate ranging from 0 to 5% and no work permit required. There is even a path to citizenship there. In contrast, Thailand promises a lot but delivers nothing to one of the world’s biggest future markets. Immigration policy must surely be more than the constant search for those elusive multimillionaires in their private jets. Let’s hope so.