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Thailand Retirement and Digital Nomads – Missed visa opportunities | VIDEO




Two visas Thailand should be promoting right now!

If there were two more groups, more perfect suited for the Thai lifestyle, I don’t know what they are.

Thailand’s immigration laws for long-stays have always been a challenge, retirement is just one of those categories.

It would seem like a perfect win win situation to invite people to come and live in your country to see out their leisure years and then be able to access the country’s hospital system, both public and private, in their later years. Of course they need to prove some sort of adequate income level and ensure that they would never be a burden on the Thai health system.

Retirees are great spenders, they have the time to travel and the time to enjoy spending any of the money they’ve accumulated over their life. They rent properties from Thai owners and keep their disposable income circulating around the Thai economy.

But slight changes and tweaks in what’s called the retirement visa, or the Geeza visa, over the past few years have made it increasingly difficult for people over 50, the lower minimum age, to enjoy a long-stay in Thailand.

And once they’re here they still have to do their 90 reports and apply to renew their visa. The requirements for money in the bank and proof of income have also reached levels which will preclude a vast swathe of possible retirees who don’t necessarily want to live a life of luxury in Thailand but otherwise have adequate funds for a comfortable lifestyle.

Unlike some of Thailand’s neighbours, there’s certainly no program to actively entice retirees, make it easy to import a car or furnishings or provide some sort of concierge service to make your settling in Thailand easier.

The other group shunned by the Thai immigration system, and a huge missed opportunity, are the digital nomads.

Now we all have our own visions of what a digital nomad is… usually someone camped in a cafe using the free wifi and staying there for hours trading stocks, writing blogs or conducting meetings with other digital nomads.

In reality most digital nomads are relatively high spenders, stay in Thai hotels or rent an apartment, often for a long period of time. As ‘nomads’ they also tend to travel. Whilst many have businesses registered in other country’s there are mechanisms in place for nomads working in Thailand to pay their proportion of taxes and requirements for them to carry the appropriate insurances so they’re not a burden on the Thai health system.

The new Smart Visa, launched in the past few years, and tweaked to make it more widely available, provides a partial solution for some people calling themselves digital nomads bt only a small portion of the demographic.

Why the Thai government makes it difficult for these two groups, retirees and digital nomads, to enter and live long term in Thailand is difficult to understand.

In the past the Thai Government has argued that the battle against transnational crime has been the biggest reason to make it difficult to live long-term in the country without plenty of paperwork weeding out the new’ do wells and wrong doers.

But now, with Covid-19, and the border closures ravaging Amazing Thailand’s tourism strategy, the need for opening the immigration lines for more retirees and digital nomads simply makes good sense, in the short and long term.

Thailand could become South East Asia’s premier… dare I say it… ‘hub’ for both retirees and digital nomads, not only tolerating them but actual promoting Thailand as THE place to both retire or work remotely.

The number of the world’s retiring age population is growing. And Covid-19 has made the remote worker a legitimate form of working for big companies and small.

Thailand has the infrastructure for both… for the retirees with lots of different accommodation varieties and selection of locations, and for the digital nomads, one of the fastest and most reliable internet speeds in the world.

Thailand could tweak a few of its current visa categories to make things much easier for retirees and Digital nomads, or they could just as easily add new visa categories that would set parameters for both.

We all recognise Amazing Thailand and see the potential to replace the lack of tourists with a new flow of visa applicants… the Retirees and Digital Nomads… who can also be contributors to the Amazing Thailand of the future.


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  1. Avatar


    Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 11:04 pm

    I think you have a pretty narrow sight of what is a digital nomad. We are not only blog guy, picture guy or trade guy. Digital nomade can be anything you can without the need to be on site. Accountant, IT every field and so on.
    And you also wrong by thinking if you do a digital nomade visa, we will take it… Especially when your idea of digital visa is to make me taxe…
    First because I already pay the taxes in the country I work. Second, why I would pay ana taxe in a country who doesn’t even consider me as citizen ? Thailand is a nice country to leave but it is also a country who want the butter and the money of the butter.

  2. Avatar

    Toby Andrews

    Tuesday, January 26, 2021 at 11:49 pm

    As Al Capone said. “We never go where we are not wanted.”
    There are plenty other places to retire with out suffering the exploitation that Thailand administers.

  3. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 12:22 am

    Well stated. And this is at the expense of the locals and small businesses that depend on tourists spending money there.

  4. Avatar

    Dean Charles

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 1:20 am

    Nailed it 100% ~ Thailand is driving investment and opportunities for both retirees & digit nomads away

    Embrace the expertise & welcome some expats with years of experience to your planning committee TAT & Immigration would be a wonderful opportunity

    • Avatar

      Joachim Wagner

      Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 9:45 pm

      Absolutely right!! All the government has to do is just pick up the pieces and put the puzzle together. But the question always will remain the same; “Are they willing??” Another big handicap in their government apparatus, is the lack of communication between the government ministries and even within their own departments. Just look at immigration requirements, every office leaves it to the “component official” to decide!! Nevertheless, we love living here, right?

  5. Avatar

    Mel Burn

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 1:22 am

    Right on the money! Thailand kicked us out last September after 9 months and now we are spending money in California instead. Come spring and, I bet, Europe opens and we’ll go there.

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 1:38 am

    I’d suggest that if you don’t have adequate funds for either a retirement extension or an Elite visa then you don’t “have adequate funds for a comfortable lifestyle” and you’re not likely to contribute much to the local economy.

    The British state pension may be paltry, but Germany’s and Spain’s, for example, are more than adequate to meet the requirement.

  7. Avatar

    Eamonn Maher

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 4:34 am

    Excellent article, and I hope the Thai government takes note. A golden opportunity to encourage a lot of reasonably wealthy people to make Thailand their home and contribute a lot to the Thai economy throughout the year and not just for a few weeks’ holiday as a tourist.

    Just do it! Of course make all the necessary criminal record and financial status checks etc etc, but don’t let the bureaucracy get in the way of making this scheme work, as has so often happened in the past. It’s a no-brainer, and always has been. The Covid pandemic and lack of tourists makes it more obvious, that’s all. Win-win for everyone – expats, retirees and Thai people. Boost the Thai economy!

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 9:21 pm

      Anyone who’s “reasonably wealthy” can do so already, very easily.

      Genuine question – what’s the problem?

  8. Avatar

    Mark M Hummel

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 8:00 am

    I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am married to a Thai woman And have lived in Koh Samui for 7 years. I have bought 2 motorbikes, a new car, and of course pay rent. I have only been able to get 2 one year visas. The other 5 were multiple entry 1 year visas which require I go to the border every 90 days make a walk around and come back. I am tired of it. When they initiated the 65,000 baht every month requirement. I missed the every month part. Because of the expense of transferring money from the states I would wait until I had a substantial amount then transfer. Total for the year 1020000 or 85,000 baht every month. Nope no visa. Had to be 65,000 baht every month. I am tired of it. Anymore trouble and I will move. I helped my wife’s son buy a home which i also rent from him. When I go he loses his home also. I get the feeling the Thai government is trying to get rid of all the farang, they do not want us here. If I luck out and get a one year, I have to report every 90 days. Why? My wife has a visa to the U.S. 2 visits to the American Embassy, $150.00 dollars and it is good for 10 years, no checking required. I have had enough and will take my money else where. Thank you so much for this article.

    • Avatar


      Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 6:54 pm

      Uhm 400000 baht in a bank account on your name for 2 months should do it. It does in CM. Its either proof of monthly income or 400000. Still, it is all ridiculous to repeat all steps each and every year and no practical way to get permanent residency (work permits are a pain to get and many jobs are simply prohibited. You open a coffee shop in which you cant work and which is on your wifes name so no income tax paid by mr foreigner… backward logic)

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 9:41 pm

      Mark, if you’re “married to a Thai woman” you DON’T need “65,000 baht every month”, or to “go to the border every 90 days etc”.

      You can get a marriage visa without any problem at all, which you easily qualify for if you “transfer substantial amounts”, over a million baht a year, etc.

      I can’t understand why on earth you haven’t got a marriage visa, which would solve all your visa issues.

      Nor, FWIW rather less importantly, can I understand why your step-son “loses his home” if you go because you’ll stop renting it.

      I agree with you over the 90 day reporting which I find a bit petty, but you can do it through the Post Office very easily so is that really enough to make you leave?

    • Avatar

      Mr cynic

      Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:46 pm

      You might want to have a close look at the Malaysia second home program.applications have been suspended understandably during the present crisis however no reason it will not be reintroduced as soon as it ends.
      Quite possible to live there with all this official hassle removed and a fair few mixed race couples from thailand I know who had all the same complaints as you have made the move and I have had nothing but positive feedback from them.langkawi and Penang seem to be very popular spots for thai/falang couples who are financially responsible.

  9. Avatar

    Jesus Monroe

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 8:40 am

    When the government stops acting privileged and arrogant things might change. When the governments collective I.Q increases things might change……sadly it could take years……

  10. Avatar

    Maurizio Fagioli

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 10:09 am

    It certainly is mind boggling as to why the Thai authorities don’t realise these simple measures that are described in this article and why are not implemented.
    I for example fill highly rejected by Thailand authorities.
    I am married to a Thai woman, I have contributed to the economy a great deal, I have used ( still do) the medical profession in dentistry Eyes ops
    and more.
    I have a good pension and I am an exemplary citizen therefore i thought any country would beg for a citizen such as me to be a long term resident.

  11. Avatar

    Greg Taylor

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 10:16 am

    Great article and strategy, I have been here for a year, got a retirement “O” visa at B31,500 and have spent B2 million Bart here in Thailand in 15 months. Thailand should wecolmeme with open arms and look after me! I have kept this country afloat!

  12. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 11:48 am

    I fully agree. The same inimitable decision to not allow the holders of a non-immigrant O (retirement) to reenter with a valid reentry permit untill mid november. Incl CoE request it was nof before the end of november. But all attention but all attention of the governement was focused on the STV which for many it was clear from the start that under these circumstances and the difficult conditions set by the governdment would not attract many tourists. And that soon turned out to be the truth.

    Longstay retirees and other categories can realy be a win-win if the Thai governement gets a open mind for it.

    There are other ways to prevent criminal intent then only make it hard for all to get or renew the longstay visa.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 5:35 am

      Willem, I agree with you 100%.

      There’s nothing wrong with the current visa system and the STV should have been nothing more than a bonus.

      Anyone who had or was eligible for ANY visa – 30 day / Non-Imm / tourist / marriage / work permit / Elite / Smart / re- entry permit / whatever – and who had a pre-flight negative test and was happy to pay in advance for and do 14 days ASQ should have been allowed to come here.

      Keep it simple, no changes except the additional pre-flight test and the 14 day ASQ, no CofE, insurance or other hoops, and job should have been jobbed.

      • Avatar

        Vaki bkk

        Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 8:46 pm

        I have had 2 OA visas and went to get a third from USA but ran into a catch 22…they said all was in order but I need the COE before they would approve the retirement visa, well I have changed my flights 2 times and refiled online for my COE. When they reject I have no idea why. I still have a condo and a car in Thailand but cannot get back. Funny thing is I have been tested for covid antibodies and I have the IgG long term antibody. DR said I don’t need the vaccine as I have the antibody that the vaccine is trying to produce. I even sent those results with a letter to the embassy indicating that I don’t mind the quarantine but am still trying. Next flight is in a couple weeks but still waiting on COE.

  13. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 11:49 am

    Digital nomads, just call them what they really are. Digital poor as hell losers, most of them here in Thailand are dirt poor even with thai standards.

  14. Avatar

    Robert Parker

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    I think that the illusion of foreigners overwhelming the Thai health care system is incorrect and demonstrates how out of touch and inflexible the current autocratic administration is. In all my 12 years of living in Thailand I never once used a government funded hospital, even for the birth of my 3 daughters and no, I never had the luxury convenience of a company health care package, it was all from my own pocket. Simply condition the longer stay visas with a health insurance cover prerequisite and if you want to put money back into the Thai system encourage Thai medical groups like the Bangkok Hospital group to provide a yearly charged service like this for about $250. The same conditions/payments are put on Thai long stay visa applicant’s for the UK as I found out for my wife’s UK application.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, January 29, 2021 at 3:18 am

      Sorry, Robert P, but the conditions for a Thai long stay visa applicant for the UK, even if married to a Brit, aren’t “the same” as they’re considerably higher, and the UK no longer has any comparable visa for a single retiree, as many are here.

  15. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 2:14 pm

    No brains no glory.
    Very much the thruth this story.

    Like always the solution is clear.
    BUT the actions are zero.
    Why o why…..

  16. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    The BOI Smart Visa is for “experts” its not for people who sell barbecue tongs on Amazon.

    I agree a new DM visa could have been a great way to fill up those empty beds in Phuket. One problem was that the Nomads pay no income tax into the system and that means Thais have to pay tax instead.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 2:45 am

      You can’t expect someone to pay income tax when not being a citizen and the company is registered in another country.

    • Avatar


      Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:29 pm

      Nomads pay VAT on whatever they buy, this is money Thais don’t have to pay.

  17. Avatar


    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 5:46 pm

    Thailand use to be rated in top ten places for retired folks. They don’t even make the top 25 now. The top five now are Panama, costa Rica, Ecuador, and Mexico. They have a big bag of incentives that Thailand doesn’t offer. Medical insurance is the biggest. You’ll pay 20% of which pay in Thailand.

  18. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, January 27, 2021 at 9:59 pm

    I have to agree with you and Timmytime on this, John_2 ( no relation 🙂 ).

    If they’re working in Thailand legally or they’re “remote workers” then by any recognised definition they’re not “digital nomads” but simply employees.

  19. Avatar


    Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 5:20 am

    It’s hard to get Nomads to show up somewhere they know they will have to pay taxes. Not saying Thailand shouldn’t do so, they should. Just nomads tend to go where it’s easy to stay and can get away without paying taxes. As for retirees, that’s hard to do when Thailand goes out of it’s way to make sure you know it’s temporary at best. Thailand would seem to be a perfect location for a certain type. One with few ties to their home, and still a bit adventurous. However most retirees want some level of security, knowledge once they move they don’t have to again. You don’t get that with Thailand, at least not really deep down. They need to make it easier to stay, and a permanent retirement visa would be a start. There are a lot of countries in competition, ones that make it abundantly clear they want you. Thailand isn’t one of those.

  20. Avatar

    Bobby B

    Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:12 pm

    Great article.

    But such visas are to “simple”, Thai visas need to be complicated and difficult to understand with hidden loopholes so they can deny you the visa extension. That’s the Thai way, you should have learned that by now 😉

  21. Avatar


    Thursday, January 28, 2021 at 7:31 pm

    Problem: No insurance company will cover you after you reach75 years old.

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