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New and improved Smart Visa to make life easier for digital nomads in Thailand

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PHOTO: Flickr / Nenad Stojkovic

The government is considering proposals to reform the Smart Visa to make it easier for digital nomads to legally work from the Kingdom. According to a Pattaya Mail report, the Tourism Authority of Thailand says the Board of Investment and the government’s Covid-19 task force have already agreed on the detail of the proposal.

Digital nomads have fallen through the cracks of Thailand’s immigration and tax laws for years, mostly needing creative visa agents to find ways of applying for a visa to stay in the country. Some tinkering with the Smart Visa category allowed some additional flexibility for potential nomads but only in specific professions and requiring a high minimum monthly salary.

The Pattaya Mail reports that the current Smart Visa has had limited take-up, mainly limited to highly-paid employees in the tech industry. The significant cost, involving a big cash investment or proof of a high salary, in addition to the usual complicated bureaucracy in obtaining the visa, has put most people off. The current proposal is to overhaul the visa, to allow digital nomads to remain in the Kingdom for up to 4 years, without a work permit.

Holders of the new, multiple-entry Smart Visa would also be exempt from 90 day reporting or having to obtain re-entry permits. According to the Pattaya Mail, their family members would also be entitled to accompany them, under the same flexible conditions. Foreign nationals in possession of tourist visas could transfer to the Smart Visa once they have proof of at least 6 months’ employment and evidence of qualifications and experience.

Watch our video about digital nomads in Thailand HERE.

A similar system is already in place in many other parts of the world, including a number of European countries, the Caribbean and Mexico. The Pattaya Mail quotes a spokesman from pressure group International Flexitravel, who says this is an opportunity for Thailand to lead Asia in legalising digital nomads. The arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic has transformed how and where people work and for many, there may never be a permanent return to the office.

“The legalisation of digital nomads has hardly begun in Asia. The current situation whereby nomads keep quiet and police hopefully ignore them is unsatisfactory. Thailand now has the opportunity to be a market leader because the latest technologies make the wholesale resumption of traditional office-based working less and less likely.”

SOURCE: The Pattaya Mail

 

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