New Smart Visa for Digital Nomads

Many foreign digital nomads have entered Thailand under a tourist visa and begun working without obtaining a work permit, as there are no specific requirements for digital nomads to apply for a work permit set out in labour law.

Keywords: Mazars, Thailand, Legal, Board of Investment, Smart Visa, Digital Nomads, Work permits, Labour law, Covid-19, CCSA

12 January 2021

On 15 December 2020, the Board of Investment (“BOI”) launched a new smart visa scheme for foreigners who are digital nomads or digital freelancers to work legally in Thailand. This scheme was approved by the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (“CCSA”) and must also be approved by the Cabinet before becoming effective. Digital freelancers living in the country would be allowed to change their tourist visas to smart visa if they meet the criteria below:

  • They have an employment contract with an overseas company for a minimum of six months.
  • They have evidence of their competence and experience in digital technology and degrees in such fields.

Once the smart visa has been approved, the BOI and related agencies such as the Digital Economy Promotion Agency, National Innovation Agency, National Science and Technology Development Agency, as well as universities, will collaborate with digital freelancers regarding knowledge transfer and digital development.  

In addition to implementing the new smart visas for digital nomads, the government has changed the criteria for applying for smart visas for experts (“Smart T”), management (“Smart E”), investors (“Smart I”), and start-ups (“Smart S”), including their spouses and children ("Smart O"), as set out below:

  • Expanding the scope of busines for “Smart T” and “Smart E” to cover modern businesses.
  • No target industry, and approving experts who will help to build an investment ecosystem, such as those involved in start-ups, innovation camps, co-working space services, and new trends in technology such as modern materials and packaging and 3D printing technology.
  • Reducing the minimum salary from THB 200,000 to THB 100,000, and to THB 50,000 for start-ups or retired experts. 
  • Relaxing requirements for executives with at least 10 years of work experience having a bachelor’s degree or higher – both conditions will be adjusted on a case-by-case basis.

References: Board of Investment, Smart visa, Bangkokbiznews, The Nation Thailand.