How to Get a Work Permit in Thailand as a Digital Nomad in 2021
Thailand is one of the world’s top tourist destinations, but for digital nomads it’s also an amazing place to live and work. However, if you want to conduct your work here legally, there are a few things to consider before starting your journey to Thailand as a digital nomad – such as getting a valid Thai Business Visa and Work Permit. To do so, you will need to find a local company to act as your sponsor.
In this post, we’re going to discuss the process for obtaining a Work Permit as a digital nomad in Thailand. We’ll also discuss the requirements you’ll need to meet in order to qualify as well as the application and onboarding process.
It’s no surprise that Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for digital nomads. In fact, Bangkok is now the most popular city in Asia for digital nomads, and Chiang Mai has long been known as the digital nomad capital of the world.
A large part of Thailand’s appeal is its tropical climate and many island paradises down south, and of course, low cost of living and affordable high-speed internet. Many expats live on as little as 600 USD per month, and for 2,000 USD you can live at a very high standard.
But there’s more to this country than warm weather and beautiful beaches. There is also a vibrant digital nomad community offering a wealth of resources and networking opportunities.
Whether you are based in the northern cultural capital of Chiang Mai, the bustling metropolis of Bangkok, or the islands down south (Koh Samui and Koh Phangan in particular), there are loads of friendly digital nomads who will make you feel right at home.
Getting a work permit in Thailand is the best option for those who would like to stay in the country for longer and earn more money. A work permit allows you to have a legal source of income and take advantage of all the benefits that come along with it.
In order to qualify for a Thai work permit as a digital nomad, the main requirement is that you need to be at least 22 years old and work remotely in one of the following fields:
- Digital marketing
- Business development
- Software development
This means that you can be a freelancer, remote employee of an overseas company, or digital business owner – but the nature of your work needs to be related to one of the above fields of business.
Additionally, you need at least 5 years experience working in your field and be able to provide reference letters to verify it. If you have an IT-related degree, for example in Computer Science, you only need to verify 2 years of work experience.
If you have set up your own company, you can write self-reference letters to satisfy this requirement.
Finally, you need to earn at least 1,500 USD reliably per month and be able to commit to a one-year contract.
If you meet the requirements, the first step in getting started is to choose an Employer of Record (EoR) – basically, a company to sponsor your business visa and work permit.
The great thing about working with an EoR is that they are able to legally employ you in Thailand and take care of the same payroll, tax, social security and immigration matters as a normal Thai employer. You still do your own work, but under the umbrella of your Employer of Record.
There are a limited number of companies offering this service in Thailand at the current time, and the price and level of service can vary drastically.
You want to choose wisely, as the EoR will be your primary business partner in Thailand. Ideally an EoR should have broad knowledge and expertise in Thailand employment law, international finance, and administrative support.
Since you are the one paying for the service, do not be afraid to ask questions relating to the scope of work and what will be expected on your end (some EoRs expect you to process your tax and social security payments on your own and charge extra service fees to prepare paperwork for dependents).
At Shelter, we strive to offer an EoR service that balances affordability with a comprehensive, full-service experience. In this way, our clients can focus on their work and their life without having to deal with any of the usual hassles of expat life, such as immigration paperwork, visa runs, or 90 day check-ins at Immigration.
Once you have filled out a Contact Form on your chosen EoR’s website, one of their representatives will get in touch with you to schedule a discovery call.
The discovery call is not a formal interview per se, but rather an informal discussion about your work and history to determine if the service is a right fit for you.
Once you have decided to move forward, you will need to sign a contract and make an initial payment. Depending on the EoR, this initial payment might be for upfront work, or alternatively it may be held as a security deposit until you decide to terminate your contract.
Once you have signed and paid, the actual onboarding process begins. The first step is to provide electronic copies of your passport, reference letters, and high school or university diploma.
Using these documents, the EoR will submit an application for your position to the labor authorities in Thailand. The process can take up to two weeks. Once approved, you will be issued an official approval letter.
If you are already in Thailand, your EoR will arrange an appointment in Chiang Mai or Bangkok for you to obtain your one-year Business Visa and Work Permit.
If you are outside Thailand, the EoR will prepare a visa application packet on your behalf and ship it to you internationally. With this packet, you are ready to apply for your 90-day business visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country.
At most embassies, you can pick up your passport and visa on the following business day.
During the current pandemic there is a mandatory 14 day hotel quarantine, whether or not you have been vaccinated. However, starting in July, vaccinated foreigners will be allowed to enter Chiang Mai, Phuket, Koh Samui, Krabi and Pattaya without mandatory quarantine.
After entering Thailand, the next step is to arrange your appointment at Immigration in Chiang Mai or Bangkok. At this appointment, your 90 day business visa will be extended to one year and you will obtain your digital work permit.
Some EORs, like Shelter, will accompany you to the Thai bank of your choice to help you open a checking and savings account. This will be the account where you will receive your salary in Thai baht.
With your business visa and work permit in hand, you are ready to do what you do best – work and enjoy your new life in Thailand.
This is also the point when the monthly payroll process starts. Typically an EOR will invoice you around the middle of the month, make deductions for service, tax, and social security, and process your salary on the first of the following month.
Once the payroll process has been initiated, you will also receive your Thailand Social Security Card. You can use this card to receive free treatment at your designated local hospital. Dental care is included as well.
How Long Does It Take?
Depending on the company you choose as your EoR, the onboarding process can take between 2 and 4 weeks from start to finish, depending largely on whether they have any relevant positions open for you at the time you apply.
That said, we recommend getting in touch with an EoR as early as 2 months before you plan to enter Thailand, as there may be a waiting list for new clients especially during high season (November–February).
Are you a digital nomad interested in relocating to Thailand using an EoR? Contact us and we can discuss how to make it work.