When speaking with potential clients, we often receive questions about what the onboarding process is like for new Shelter team members who have decided to relocate to Thailand. While we try our best to answer them as thoroughly as possible, typically we will also introduce such prospective clients to our existing team members who have gone through the relocation process already, as they are able to share their first-person knowledge and give tips to the as-yet uninitiated. 

However, for those who are interested in signing up with Shelter but are not ready to hop on a consultation call just yet, we wanted to provide such a first-person account upfront. Which is why, in this article, we interview one of our newest clients, Sebastian Weber, about his recent relocation from Germany to Thailand.

What was the sign-up process like?

It was super easy. I filled out a contact form on your website, and if I remember correctly, I was on the phone with one of your representatives the next day. The first order of business was to determine my eligibility, and you guys even introduced me to one of your current clients, who had great things to say about your service. Within a few days we had signed the contract, paid the deposit, and started the actual onboarding process.

What was the onboarding process like?

I’m sure it would have been easier before Covid-19, but the situation being what it was, I had to get in contact with the local Thai Embassy here [in Germany] so they could confirm that they were accepting applications for Non-Immigrant B visas (apparently not all embassies are accepting visa applications at the moment, but they were). They also let me know the Thailand Immigration requirements that I needed in order to enter the country: namely, making a quarantine reservation, booking a flight, getting health insurance that covers covid treatment, and obtaining a Fit-to-Fly certificate.

In terms of your [Shelter’s] onboarding requirements, all I needed to provide upfront was a CV and scan of my passport, and within a couple weeks my visa application packet arrived on my doorstep. I booked an appointment using the embassy’s online booking system and showed up for my appointment around two weeks later. There was hardly anyone there that day, so I was in and out in a little over an hour. The next day, I picked up my passport in the queue (30 minutes) and was really excited to see my business visa there. I remember thinking, this is really happening!

How long did it take until you were fully onboarded?

Around 3 weeks, I think. First, of course, I had to do the 14-day quarantine after landing in Bangkok. That was also when you started collecting the remaining documents [university diploma and reference letters] needed to prepare my work permit application paperwork. Finally my quarantine ended (thank goodness), and you guys had already booked my appointment at the One Stop Service Center in Bangkok for the following Monday. I was there for about 30 minutes, and you guys did all the heavy lifting while I sipped on a coffee downstairs. They took my picture, helped me download my Digital Work Permit on my phone, and also printed out a paper copy as well. I went to the nearest bank (Siam Commercial Bank) directly after leaving, and was able to set up a Thai bank account with no problems (in fact, they seemed pretty impressed by the digital work permit, haha). That was around 3 months ago.

How was the quarantine?

It was pretty rough, to be honest! The first 7 days were fine – I had a bunch of work to keep myself occupied, and tried to get plenty of exercise – but the last 7 days were grueling, for obvious reasons. I just felt stir-crazy, not sure how else to describe it!

UPDATE: As of April 2021, the quarantine in Thailand has been reduced to 10 days for foreigners who have received a vaccine:

“While in isolation, people will be allowed to move inside the facilities where they are staying. They can use fitness centers and swimming pools and make purchases at kiosks. Previously, those in quarantine could not leave their room. Additionally, those who have been vaccinated can go to six popular areas for tourism — the provinces of Phuket, Krabi, Pang-nga, Samui, Chonburi and Chiangmai — after quarantining for seven days from April.” (Nikkei Asia)

Is there anything you would do differently?

Honestly, no. I have a number of friends here in Chiang Mai who entered Thailand on Tourist Visas or switched to Education Visas after their Tourist Visas ended, and all of them either feel insecure about their situation in Thailand [those on Tourist Visas] or were really disappointed to learn that they cannot convert their [Education] visa to Shelter or similar companies. Apparently if you want to convert your visa in-country without leaving, there is a hefty “fee” at Immigration. So I’m really glad I got my visa arranged before coming here.

What would you say to someone considering relocating to Thailand through Shelter?

I would say – do it! Thailand is an amazing place to live, of course, but you want to make sure that you choose the right solution for your visa and work permit. My experience with Shelter has been amazing. They made sign up and onboarding super easy, helped me wherever they could and were always responsive, and they were there for me whenever I needed help with anything concerning my visa or stay in Thailand (for example, finding an apartment and getting a Thai driver’s license). I recommend Shelter 100%.

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