Digital Nomad Visa Thailand

digital nomad visa thailand

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Digital Nomad Visa Thailand: Your Ultimate Guide

Updated February 2024

So you’re a digital nomad (or you want to become one!) and you want to travel to Thailand? Possibly on one of our amazing trips, possibly not (we don’t judge!). You’re need to know what sort of digital nomad visa Thailand offers.

Thailand, with its stunning beaches, vibrant culture, and affordable cost of living, is an amazing option for digital nomads seeking a beautiful and cost-effective place to live and work.

But what are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Thailand? How much do does a digital nomad visa Thailand cost? Do you even need one?

First things first – you should know that currently there is no specific digital nomad visa Thailand offers. But that does not mean that you can’t travel there and bring your remote work with you!

To fully enjoy the Thai experience, it’s crucial to understand the visa requirements for digital nomads. In this post, I will walk you through the various options for a Digital Nomad Visa Thailand so you can make an informed decision before you embark on the next stage of your journey to this beautiful paradise!

It is important to note that while this information was all correct at the time of writing, situations can change very quickly and without warning. You should make sure that you check with your own country’s advice and with your closest Thai consulate or embassy before your travel.

Do I Need a Visa to Enter Thailand?

Depends on where you are from!

If you’re from one of the 64 countries that Thailand grants visa exemptions to, you can enter the country without a visa as a tourist. Visa exemptions typically allow you to stay for up to 30 days, though some countries are granted as little as 15 days and others up to 90. 

These can change, so it’s essential to check the latest information with the closest Thai Embassy or Consulate. 

You can also consult your own government’s website – if you’re from the UK like me, for example, the government keeps up-to-date travel information for most foreign countries. Check out the UK government’s travel advice page on Thailand here.

What’s great about visa exemptions is that you can get an extra 30 days once you are in Thailand if you decide you want to stay longer. All you have to do is visit an immigration office and get a visa extension – I’ll talk more about this later. 

You can find a complete list of the 64 countries with visa exemptions for Thailand here.

To be clear however, though you can enter the country without a permit this type of visa exemption does not give you the legal right to work in Thailand as a digital nomad or remote worker. If you use this option to live live and work in Thailand you run the risk of fines, deportation, and even prison time. 

digital nomads in a co-working space discussing visas for thailand

Do I Need A Visa To Work In Thailand?

Strictly speaking, yes.

But this is dependent on the type of work you are doing and whether this could be deemed to be taking work away from Thai locals. 

In Thailand, the legal definition of “work” is pretty broad, encompassing physical and mental activities regardless of compensation (wages, work exchanges, content exchanges etc. for example). This means even volunteer or charity efforts technically require a work permit.

There is a lot of grey area here though, as Thai law (specifically the Alien Employment Act) does not have specific provisions for online work. You can check out some examples here of foreigners working in Thailand and whether or not they would need a work permit. 

In general remote workers who remain in Thailand for longer periods (think months not weeks) will be considered ‘working’ and would therefore require a work permit or visa. 

Right now, authorities are taking a somewhat relaxed approach to these cases, likely because Thai jobs aren’t being threatened and there are no specific complaints. However, this tolerance might not last forever, especially if legal regulations change or problems surface. 

To avoid any potential legal hassle, securing a work permit for extended work stays in Thailand is the safer route, as if you are found to be breaking the law you can face prison time, fines and deportation. 

Types Of Visas For Digital Nomads in Thailand

As there is no specific digital nomad visa Thailand offers, you will have to make your own decision on what type of visa is the most applicable for your individual situation. 

Here is a list of the most relevant visas Thailand offers. These visas are typically the most popular choices for remote workers and digital nomads visiting Thailand. 

Tourist visas

The easiest and most common way for digital nomads to enter Thailand is on a Tourist Visa, a “TR Visa“. TR visas are valid for 60 days but can be extended by 30 days once you’re in the country. 

To apply for a tourist visa, you will need:

  • A valid passport (at least 6 months remaining and two blank pages), or other accepted travel documentation
  • A passport photo, 
  • Completed visa application form
  • Proof of funds such as a bank statement (at least 10,000 Thai baht per person), 
  • Proof of onward travel (i.e. evidence that you will leave the country before your visa expires). 
  • Proof of Hotel or private accommodation booking

While many nomads and remote workers do use this visa type, you should bear in mind that it is illegal to work while in Thailand using this visa. 

Here are the key details:

  • Validity: Typically, TR Visas are issued for either 60 or 90 days.
  • Extensions: You can extend your TR Visa in-country for an additional 30 days at the immigration office, giving you a total stay of up to 120 days.
  • Visa Fee: US $30.00-50.00 (depending on where you are from)
  • Eligibility: foreign nationals entering Thailand for tourism, leisure, or medical reasons only
  • Usually single entry but you can apply for multi-entry for an additional cost.
  • How to Apply: before you arrive in Thailand, online here, or at your nearest Thai Embassy/Consulate

SMART Visa

In 2018, the Thai government introduced a new visa called the SMART Visa, which aims to bring foreign talent into the country to boost the country’s competitiveness in the global economy. This is the closest thing to a digital nomad visa Thailand has introduced, however you must meet strict criteria and fit into one of the five subcategories to be eligible. 

The visa is applicable for Talent, Investors, Executives or Startup Entrepreneurs in one of eighteen specifically targeted industries. To be eligible, you must have an employment contract either with a Thai entity or with an assignment to work in Thailand or be under a service contract between an overseas company and a Thai company. 

There are  five sub-categories of SMART visa which are for different groups of eligible people: these are (T) Talent, (I) Investor, (E) Executive, (S) Startup, and (O) Others (legal dependents, kids, spouse etc.). 

Each of these categories has its own eligibility requirements, including income, education and industry requirements.

With this type of visa, you do not need an additional work permit.

Here are the key details:

  • Validity: one year
  • Extensions: up to four years, depending on the type of SMART visa
  • Visa Fee: 10,000 Baht per person per year
  • Eligibility: contract with Thai company, assignment to work in Thailand, service contract between overseas entity and Thai company. 
  • Single entry only
  • How to Apply: before you arrive in Thailand, online here, or at your nearest Thai Embassy/Consulate

Business or Work Visas

Thailand’s business and work visas, categorised as ‘Non-Immigrant Visas Type B’, might be necessary if you plan to work remotely from Thailand. When people discuss ‘Digital Nomad Visa Thailand’ it is typically this visa that they are referring to.

Business and work visas are valid for 90 days but can be extended for up to a year, which allows multiple entries for up to 90 days each time you enter. You can also extend your 90 days by an additional 90 once in the country, giving you 180 consecutive days to spend in Thailand. 

Again there are many subcategories of this type of visa spending on your specific circumstances. Each subcategory requires slightly different documents for the application and will have slightly differing eligibility criteria.  Check out the details here.

These visas must be applied for before you arrive in Thailand as they cannot be issued upon arrival, and you may not be able to change your tourist visa into a Non-Immigrant Visa type “B” Category as this is down to the discretion of the immigration officers. 

  • Validity: 90 days at a time.
  • Extensions: you can apply for an extra 90 days. 
  • Visa Fee: for solo entry, the fee is 2,000 Thai Baht (about USD 65). Multiple entry is 5,000 Thai Baht (about USD 164).
  • Eligibility: Foreign nationals who wish to work in Thai companies, or Thai educational institutes be on paid internship, conduct business, or invest in Thailand.
  • Single entry initially but can be changed to multi-entry once your work permit has been processed
  • How to Apply: before you arrive in Thailand, online here, or at your nearest Thai Embassy/Consulate

Thailand Work Permit

Once you have your ‘non-immigrant type b visa’, whether it’s a work or a business visa, you need to apply for a work permit at the Ministry of Labour in Thailand. The permit will allow you to work in Thailand – your employer, work site and job type will be listed and you will only be eligible to work under those parameters. 

Ensure you carry the permit on you at all times. You could be fined if you are unable to provide it when asked by an official. 

  • Validity: three months to a year
  • Extensions: you can extend by one year at a time, up to three years.
  • Fee: Depending on the length of the permit, the fee ranges from 750 baht to 3000 baht
  • Eligibility: Foreigners working in a non-prohibited industry, with a non-immigrant visa or a resident visa, an available employer to provide the necessary documents.
  • How to Apply: online here

Other Thai Visa Options

The above are the most common and applicable types of ‘digital nomad visa Thailand’ for remote workers and/or entrepreneurs who want to live and work in the country, but is it worth noting that other options may be applicable depending on your circumstances.

Education Visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Type ED)

If you’re interested in expanding your knowledge or skills during your time in Thailand, consider the Education Visa. You can enrol in language courses, Thai culture classes, or other educational pursuits, allowing you to stay in the country for three months (this can be extended) while learning a valuable new skill. 

Retirement Visa (Non-Immigrant Visa Type O-A)

For digital nomads who plan to stay in Thailand long-term and are over the age of 50, the Retirement Visa is an excellent option. It’s granted to those who can prove a minimum monthly income and meet other financial requirements.

Elite Visa

The Thai Elite Visa is a premium option for those seeking convenience and long-term stays in Thailand. There are various packages available, including five-, ten-, or 20-year visas, each offering unique benefits.

digital nomads on a boat with correct visa

How to Get a Thailand Visa

If you need a visa to enter Thailand then there are three ways you can acquire one: visa upon arrival, visiting an embassy or applying online for an e-visa.

Visa upon arrival

Only tourists from specific countries are eligible to apply for a visa on arrival, you can check the list here to see if you are eligible. If you are, you can complete a TM88 form and pay the 2000 Baht (cash) fee upon arrival for a 15-day tourist visa. You will have to also provide proof of funds, a valid address in Thailand and a fully paid outward-bound ticket.

Visit an Embassy

You can apply for a visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country (or whatever country you are travelling from). You will need to book an appointment ahead of time, up to two weeks before your departure, you won’t just be able to turn up on the day! 

Make sure you check what documents you need to bring with you for the specific visa you are applying for. You will also need to take your passport, 2 passport photos and cash to pay the relevant visa fee (be aware that some embassies may only accept USD). 

Ensure you can also provide any necessary proof of funds, a valid address in Thailand and a fully paid outward-bound ticket.

Typically you will have to leave your passport at the embassy and return at a later date to collect it with the visa. They will let you know when to return but it is usually 24-48 hours later so plan accordingly!

Thailand E-Visa

The e-visa process is quick and easy and you apply through the Thai eVisa website. You will need to create an account before filling out the application form, submitting the supporting documents for your visa type and paying the relevant application fee. The website will guide you through all the steps. 

Processing typically takes between three to ten days so make sure you do this with plenty of time to spare before your scheduled departure date.

How to Extend Your Visa In Thailand

Once you get to Thailand, you might decide to extend your stay. And why not, there is so much to see and do in this country: tropical island paradises like Koh Phangan, modern bustling cities like Bangkok, cultural hubs like Chiang Rai offering opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples…

I ended up extending my stay 3 times, using the 30-day visa exemption and extending it for an additional 30 days, then doing a border run to Malaysia, and reentering Thailand a few days later on the visa exemption which I then extended again. 

I do not recommend this method – I ended up in a very small border town called Padang Besar and there’s honestly nothing there to do or see, and I couldn’t find any vegetarian food except for french fries. 

If you do choose to extend your stay in Thailand, you need to choose one of the following ways to extend your visa or visa exemption.

Take a Trip to Immigration

Not the most fun activity to do, but necessary as overstaying your visa costs 500 baht per day! Make sure you renew your visa with at least 24 hours of validity left to prevent any issues or fines. Don’t worry – you won’t lose out on any days no matter how early into your stay that you extend your visa. Your additional 30 days from the extension begin on the day your original time expires.

You will need:

  • a TM30 form which is provided by your accommodation, 
  • your passport, 
  • Photocopy of your passport and visa (I used the immigration office in Koh Phangan and they photocopied our passports here for 20 baht per copy)
  • 1 passport photo (again there was the option to have your photo taken at the office for 100 baht)
  • 1900 baht for the visa fee

When you get to the office you need to fill out two additional forms that they supply. Once you have filled out the forms, paid and given everything to the officer you are free to go. 

They will tell you when to return to collect your passport. For me, this was at 4 pm later the same day, so super quick but honestly this depends on when you go to the office, how busy they are, and how fast they are working!

Sometimes there can be quite a queue, and a long wait to hand over your documents so try to go first thing in the morning to avoid having to wait around for too long. 

You should also note that you are expected to dress somewhat modestly or they may not allow you into the immigration building – so make sure your shoulders are covered and you’re not in anything too revealing! 

Border Runs

Border runs, also known as visa runs, are a commonly used strategy for travellers looking to extend their stays for minimal costs. This means leaving the country and re-entering to reset your visa status, giving you additional time to spend exploring. 

Visa runs can be done by exiting and reentering on the same day, but I would advise against relying on this method as it is not a sustainable solution and might cause you problems in the long run. The Thai immigration authorities have become stricter in recent years, and you may even get questioned about repeated exits and entries by other countries’ immigration authorities. 

If you do decide a border run is the way to go, you should consider taking a week minimum or ten days in the country you choose to enter. This won’t guarantee that your re-entry won’t be questioned but it looks better in your passport for future travel. 

Malaysia or Laos are really good and affordable options for border runs from Thailand that can be done via land crossings, or you can even get relatively cheap flights to Hanoi or Da Nang in Vietnam. 

With this method, I would advise waiting until the day your visa is due to expire before leaving as, if your original visa was single-entry or if you are visa-exempt, you will lose any remaining days from the day you leave.

thailand to cambodia border run bus

Important Things To Consider as a Digital Nomad in Thailand

  • Be aware of the visa requirements and make sure to apply for the appropriate visa.
  • Register with the local immigration office within 30 days of your arrival in Thailand.
  • Everyone who stays in Thailand for over three months has to report their presence to Thailand’s Immigration Department every 90 days. 
  • You can only enter Thailand twice via land crossings per calendar year. You can fly in as many times as you want though (visa dependent of course!)
  • Overstaying your visa costs 500 baht per day, and may affect your ability to return to Thailand in the future.
  • Your passport must have at least six months of validity remaining, and at least 2 blank pages.
  • Open tickets and/or overland travel by train, bus, etc. to Cambodia, Laos, and Malaysia (the border countries) may not be accepted as proof of onward travel.

Some extra, quick top tips for visiting Thailand!

  • Be respectful of Thai culture and customs.
  • Learn a few basic Thai phrases.
  • Take advantage of the many coworking spaces and cafes in Thailand.
  • Network with other digital nomads in Thailand.
  • Join a DNA tour and spend nine days exploring some incredible destinations in Southern Thailand while networking with a bunch of amazing, like-minded people.
  • Visit Koh Phangan, an up-and-coming digital nomad hotspot!

Thailand: A Digital Nomad Hotspot

Thailand’s allure as a digital nomad hotspot is undeniable, and its visa options cater to a variety of needs and circumstances so you should be able to find the perfect solution for you.

Remember, there’s no digital nomad visa Thailand specifically offers. This doesn’t mean you can’t work remotely, but choosing the right visa is key. Consider your planned stay, intended work, and budget to pick the best fit for you.

Tourist visas offer a taste of Thailand (think 60 days), but working is illegal. For longer stays and remote work, explore options like the SMART Visa for specific industries, Business/Work visas with work permit applications, or Education visas if you want to upskill locally.

Remember:

  • Research visa requirements for your nationality. They can change, so stay updated!
  • Apply for the appropriate visa before arrival. Don’t rely on visa runs—they’re risky and frowned upon and you might end up in tiny random border towns.
  • Respect Thai regulations and culture. Overstaying your visa incurs fines and potential future entry bans.

With the right planning and visa choice, Thailand can be your perfect remote work haven. I know I had an absolutely amazing time!!

Bonus Tip: In addition to our ‘Digital Nomad Visa Thailand’ guide, you can also check out our other visa and travel guides.

Don’t forget to connect with other nomads in our Facebook community for insider tips and unforgettable experiences!

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