Take Shelter from Covid-19 in Amazing Thailand
Are you a remote worker, digital freelancer, solo entrepreneur, or online business owner? Do you want to start a new life of freedom in a beautiful, exotic country—far away from Covid-19?
You (and your family) can take shelter from coronavirus in Thailand.
Thailand: A Covid-19 Safe Haven
Although Thailand was the first country into which Covid-19 spread from China, it was also among the first countries in the world to take control of the virus and flatten the curve. As of today, Thailand has recorded just 3,875 cases and 60 deaths in the 11 months since the coronavirus first entered the country. In the past 6 months, there have been just a handful of locally-transmitted cases.
As a result, things are slowly getting back to normal in Thailand. The heavily tourism-dependent economy has certainly taken a hit, and many businesses, especially in Bangkok and the tourist areas down south, are now shuttered; but there has not been a lockdown or other restrictive measure since July and Thai people have generally adjusted well to the “new normal”. If not for the masks which many Thais still wear in public, you might not be able to tell there is a global pandemic happening beyond the Kingdom’s borders.
Indeed, as many farang (Western foreigners) will tell you, the new, quieter, less touristy Thailand is in many ways preferable to the old. With the foreign element removed, it is much easier to glimpse that authentic Thainess which drew so many of us here in the first place.
How Do I Get In?
The only problem with the “new Thailand” depicted above? The very borders keeping coronavirus at bay, also prevent would-be migrants from entering the Kingdom. So unless you have an existing visa and/or work permit, it is almost impossible to enter Thailand in 2020.
Luckily for digital professionals who make their living remotely, there is a solution. Shelter can act as your in-country Employer of Record (EoR), sponsoring a business visa and work permit (as well as dependent visas for your spouse and/or children) so that you can enter Thailand easily.
After verifying your qualifications, we will write you an official Letter of Employment, prepare a visa application packet on you and your family’s behalf, and ship it directly to you overseas. With this visa packet in hand, you will be ready to apply for a Non-Immigrant Business Visa for Employment (or Non-Immigrant O Visa for spouse and children) at a Thai Embassy or Consulate in your home country.
Some of our clients have entered Thailand just a few weeks after reaching out to us.
After your arrival and government-mandated quarantine, we help you obtain a valid work permit and Thai social security card so that you can stay and work long-term in Thailand legally.
Thailand is an amazing place to live for a host of reasons. Since we have already written extensively on this topic elsewhere on the Shelter Blog, we will stick to the relevant highlights.
1. Thailand has an incredibly low cost of living. Some expats even claim to get by on less than 500 USD per month. Although prices have gradually inched upwards as more tourists flock to the country, it is still true in 2020 that Thailand is among the cheapest places in the world to live and maintain a high quality of life.
For example, on the low end, you can lease a small furnished studio apartment close to the city center for around $125 USD per month. As you get into the mid-range of $200 to $300, you are looking at nicer one-bedroom flats with a kitchenette, perhaps a balcony, and a more modern look. In the $400 to $600 range, you can afford modern fully-furnished one- and two-bedroom units in nice apartment buildings with pools and fitness centers.
Cheap and delicious street food is available everywhere in Thailand
Food is also very cheap. At markets and street-food stalls, you can pick up local favorites for $1.50. At Thai restaurants, dishes generally cost under $3. For western fare, you are looking somewhere between $4 and $7. Even gourmet cuisine is cheap by comparison, with prices resembling those found on menus at restaurants back home.
2. Thailand has great healthcare, and Shelter can give you free access. There are three social systems that provide healthcare and other benefits in Thailand: civil welfare for government workers, social security for private employees who work for a company (both national and foreign), and universal healthcare for other Thai nationals.
Thai Social Security Card
As your Employer of Record, Shelter can execute your monthly social security payments as a private employee and get you and your family social security cards. You will be assigned a local hospital where you can receive treatment at no cost.
3. Thailand has fast internet and plentiful professional resources. Wherever you go in Thailand, WiFi is ubiquitous and the internet speed is reliable. If you want to get set up with high-speed internet in your home, you can do so for less than 30 USD per month.
Cafes with fast WiFi are plentiful in Chiang Mai
Additionally, the city centers of Chiang Mai and Bangkok offer an additional source of value — a thriving community of talented digital professionals. In Chiang Mai, the trendy Nimman area is the center of entrepreneurial activity, and there are coworking spaces throughout the city where you can meet other remote professionals and entrepreneurs, participate in workshops and networking events, and cowork in a supportive environment.
How Much Does Shelter Cost and What’s Included?
Unlike our competitors, who take up to 30% of your income in exchange for their services, Shelter charges a flat fee of USD 595 per month for our whole suite of services, which includes everything needed from a legal perspective to establish tax residency in Thailand.
This flat fee includes visa packet preparation, drafting of Thai employment agreements in accordance with local labor laws, corporate structuring consultation if needed, Digital Work Permit (D-WP) for the duration of employment, opening a Thai or overseas bank account, and obtaining a Social Security Card for every family member.
Thailand Digital Work Permits (D-WP) are for foreigners who work for companies with Promotional Privileges from BOI (Board of Investment, Thailand)
Additionally, we accompany our clients to Immigration when necessary, such as to obtain their work permit or renew their visa, and guide them through each step of the process. For 90 day check-ins at Immigration, we collect our clients’ passports and complete the process for them. Finally, the bulk of our service consists in providing ongoing back-office services such as invoicing, making tax and social security payments, and processing payroll.
What Are the Requirements?
Before going into the full list of requirements, it is useful to make a distinction between requirements for employment and requirements for entry into Thailand. The former are Shelter’s requirements, which we are responsible for vetting, and the latter are Thailand’s requirements which will be checked at the Thai Embassy where you submit your application.
With this in mind, you will want to reach out to your local Thai Embassy as soon as possible to find out, first, whether they are currently accepting visa applications and, second, how the application process at that embassy is structured, as different locations tend to have different procedures in place. The general requirements for entry into Thailand, however, remain the same wherever you and your family apply.
Requirements for Employment by Shelter
- Are at least 22 years old
- Have either one of the following:
- An IT-related university degree, plus at least 2 years of relevant work experience
- Any type of university/college/school diploma or certificate, plus at least 5 years of relevant work experience (backed by recommendation letters)
- Work in one of the following fields:
- Software development
- Other tech/digital-related activity
- Have an existing business or client base
- Earn a minimum of $2,500 USD per month
- Commit to a one-year contract
While these are the general requirements, you will also need to submit digital copies of your passport, reference letters, and diploma/degree.
Requirements for Entry into Thailand
- Fit-to-fly Certificate from a healthcare institution in your home country (needs to be acquired not more than 72 hours before time of departure)
- Health insurance covering Covid-19 and other conditions up to USD 100,000
- Certificate of Entry (COE) acquired from Thai embassy or consulate-general
- 14-day ASQ (Alternative State Quarantine) after entering Thailand
In order to meet these requirements, please follow the steps below which have been adapted from the Office of International Cooperation. (Aside from the fit-to-fly certificate, proof of insurance, and ASQ reservation, Shelter will help you prepare the rest of the “required documents” mentioned in Step 3.)
- Contact the Royal Thai embassy/consulate-general in your country to book one of the repatriation flights that are available.
- Foreigners are required to book the Alternative State Quarantine (ASQ) and to provide a fit-to-fly certificate from a healthcare institution. Regarding the COVID-19-fee certificate, it is required to be done not more than 72 hours before departure. In addition, health insurance must cover treatment costs of COVID-19 and other diseases for the amount of 100,000 USD. As for Thai nationals, they must provide the fit-to-fly certificate.
- Submit all the required documents, inform the Thai embassy, and reserve the seat on a flight.
- Continue to stay safe with full awareness and practice protection for yourself and others while waiting for departure. For example, regularly wash hands and keep physical distancing.
- When they arrive, foreigners who booked the ASQ will be separately processed under the screen operation from Thai authorities, checking in with the ASQ system, and traveling with ASQ transportation.
- Stay in quarantine calmly and safely for three days; then get the first round of Covid-19 test (on day 3-5). If results are negative, the quarantine will continue for another eight days, and then the second test will be given (on day 11-13) to confirm the end of the SAR-CoV-2 incubation period.
- Travelers will be allowed to travel and stay in Thailand. However, the residence information must be provided and the application for tracking (the Thai Chana platform) must be downloaded, which will be beneficial for public health tracing and Thai medical officials. During their stay in Thailand, travelers must strictly follow all of the guidelines and instructions to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
For additional clarity, here are the same steps as officially outlined by Thailand Immigration:
How Do I Get Started?
Step 1. The first step is to get in touch with one of our representatives to learn more about your professional history and determine your eligibility. At this point, only a CV and passport scan is required. Typically we are able to ship your visa packet within 1 to 2 weeks.
Step 2. After we have verified your credentials, the next step is to contact the Thai embassy or consulate-general where you will submit your visa application (step 1 in the list above) and set a timeline for travel. They will help you find and book a flight into Thailand, set an appointment for your visa application, and assist in reserving an ASQ and finding a local hospital where you can obtain a Fit-to-Fly certificate. During this stage you should also look into options for health insurance, if you are not covered already. We recommend a Chiang Mai-based company called CNX Insure.
Step 3. Finally, with all of your documents and certificates in hand, you are ready to submit your application at the Thai embassy or consulate-general. In most cases you can pick up your passport (with new visa) the very next day; however, with delays due to Covid-19, the process can sometimes take up to a week.
It may seem like a lot, but as one of clients recently said:
“Once you are clear on the requirements, it is actually quite straightforward to get everything lined up and ready to go. Getting health insurance was simple, and the embassy helped with basically everything else. Any questions I had throughout the process, Shelter was there to address.”
Well, what are you waiting for? Get started by booking a consultation today.