Thailand lures digital nomads with 10-year visas and ultra-low tax

The sandy beaches of Phuket, the bustling streets of Bangkok and the mountains of Chiang Mai could soon be options for digital nomads looking for their next home base.

Thailand will soon offer a 10-year visa to potential long-term residents, with applications opening September 1. The program hopes to attract “foreign human resources with high potential and skills,” Narit Therdsteerasukdi, deputy secretary general of the Thai Board of Investment, says Nikkei Asia.

The visa is primarily for people working in high-tech industries, such as electric vehicles, biotechnology, and electronics. But the visa will also be available to employees of foreign companies who wish to establish themselves in Thailand as digital nomads – or “professionals working from Thailand”, as the visa describes it.

Visa holders would be taxed at a lower rate – 17%, as opposed to the 35% charged on income over $140,000. (For comparison, the United States charges a 35% tax rate on income between $215,950 and $539,900.) The visa will also be available to those with more than $1 million in income. active, or retirees with stable incomes, similar to other so-called golden visa programs. which offer residence to wealthy foreigners.

Thailand is the latest country to seek out remote workers as a new source of visitors, as hotspots attempt to rebuild and revamp their tourism industries in the wake of the COVID pandemic.

Thailand hopes to bring one million people from Japan, South Korea, China, the United States and Europe. Therdsteerasukdi said Nikkei Asia that it expects visa holders to contribute approximately $28,000 per person to the local economy, with the entire program contributing $27.6 billion in total.

Documents of the Board of Investment of Thailand outline the requirements to become a “professional working from Thailand”: you must have earned $80,000 per year for at least two years (with some exceptions), have at least five years of work experience and work for a company that has generated at least $150 million in revenue over three years.

The Commission is clearly interested in attracting remote workers. Its website announces a survey of a workspace company Instant desktops which ranks Bangkok as the second best location in the world for digital nomads (behind Lisbon).

Digital nomads

Other Southeast Asian countries are also attracting digital nomads. Indonesia, home to the resort island of Bali, is considering a visa for remote workers that would allow them to stay for up to five years. In June, Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said Bloomberg that he hoped the visa might attract more spendthrift visitors.

Uno described the digital nomad visa as part of a larger initiative to rebuild the country’s tourism industry. “In the past, the ‘three S’s were sun, sea and sand. We move it towards serenity, spirituality and sustainability”, Uno said at the time.

To research Harvard Business School professor Raj Choudhury finds that 33 countries offer a formal digital nomad visa. Most visas offer stays of one to two years, with the longest being four years. These programs often exempt income earned abroad from local taxes.

The recovery of tourism in Thailand

The loss of tourists due to COVID-19 travel restrictions has created a big hole in Thailand’s economy. Before the pandemic, tourism accounted for around 11% of Thailand’s GDP. Thailand lifted all COVID restrictions, including its travel restrictions, on July 1.

On July 26, Thailand’s Ministry of Finance predicted that the country welcome 8 million tourists This year. That’s up from the 6 million predicted in April, but still well below the 40 million who visited the country before the pandemic.

Thailand is optimistic about the return of visitors. bangkok now hope to return to pre-pandemic growth levels by next year, thanks to a faster-than-expected rebound in international travel.

Still, Chinese tourists – Thailand’s biggest source of tourism revenue before the pandemic – will likely stay home as long as Beijing retains its strict quarantine system for international arrivals, including returning tourists.

But another major source of tourists could be on their way back to Thailand. In October, Aeroflot resume daily direct flights between Moscow and Phuket after the Russian airline cut them off following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

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