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Digital Nomads Listen Up: What You Need To Know About The New DTV Visa of Thailandby@ilinskii
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3,416 reads

Digital Nomads Listen Up: What You Need To Know About The New DTV Visa of Thailand

by Ilia IlinskiiJune 24th, 2024
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This is a very first look at what is going to happen in the next few weeks. This is a look at how the world will react to this year's events. This will be like a battle of the titans: one of the world's most famous to be the most famous, and one of its least famous. It will also be like the battle between good and evil: this is a battle between the good and the bad.

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Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for expats. It boasts a relatively low cost of living and a friendly attitude towards visitors. Due to the large number of expats, the country plays the role of a hub between East and West.


However, most expats at least have questions about getting long-term residence. In general, in Southeast Asia (unlike the EU), there are very few such options.


The Thai government recently introduced a new visa option for remote workers - the DTV visa. In this article, I'd like to provide an overview of this visa and other legalization options in the country.



DTV visa and other changes in the Thai migration system

At the end of May, the Thai government announced several new initiatives to attract foreigners to the country. One of them is the launch of a new visa program called "Destination Thailand Visa" (DTV).


This is a very affordable visa. To obtain it, you will need to prove that you have savings of 500,000 baht—about $13,500. The visa fee will be 10,000 baht ($270), and you also need to prove that you have a permanent source of income (for example, employment in a foreign company). After your visa is approved, you can stay continuously in Thailand for 180 days, and visa run is essential only two times a year.


Previously, most expats could stay in Thailand only for 30 days without a visa. From June 1st, this period for residents of 93 countries has increased to 60. To stay for another 30 days is enough to apply for a short-term tourist visa on the spot. The total time for most expats (from 93 counties on the list) will be 90 days with a short-term tourist visa. Afterward, you will still need to go out and get a visa.


Unfortunately, most Thailand visas, including a new DTV visa, will not help you obtain permanent residence and Thai citizenship. In addition, each time you do a visa run, you must pay the visa fee again.


Two other long-term visas

In Thailand, there is a five-year residence visa called a Long Term Residence Visa (LTR). With LTR, you can permanently reside in the country without visa runs with the prospect of obtaining permanent residence and citizenship. Unfortunately, the conditions for receiving an LTR visa won't work for everyone - you must confirm an annual income of at least $80,000 or savings of $1,000,000. However, this type of visa provides quite large tax benefits - a flat rate of 17% instead of the basic 35%.


Also, since 2018, Thailand has had another type of long-term visa for foreigners  - the Smart Visa. It can be obtained by startup founders, investors, and talented employees. Depending on the type of smart visa, an income level of 100,000 baht per month ($2,700) or savings of 600,000 baht ($16,000) is required to prove financial solvency. For investors, these requirements are much higher - to invest 20,000,000 baht ($540,000) in promising startups in Thailand.


Applicants' requirements also depend on the period for which they want to get a smart visa—from 6 months to 4 years. In general, the easiest option for this visa is the startup founder smart visa.


The immigration system of Thailand and Thai Citizenship

The immigration system of Thailand is really complex. It has dozens of types of visas represented on the website of the local Immigration Office.

Long-term visas in Thailand can be considered analogous to temporary residence permits. Still, not all of them have the right to apply for permanent residence. Unfortunately, living in the country as a tourist and most other types of visas is not counted for this purpose, as is customary, for example, in the European Union.


Previously, the main types of visas essential for long-term residence were non-immigrant visas for work. Maybe that's also possible for business non-immigrant visas and Smart visas. A long-term residence visa (LTR) will definitely give you this status.


I need help finding out whether the opportunity to obtain permanent residence extends to holders of the Smart Visa and the new Destination Thailand Visa (DTV). If you know anything about this, please write to me on my X account or [email protected]


To obtain Thai citizenship by naturalization, you must have lived there for at least five years and have permanent resident status.  For permanent residence, you must live in Thailand for at least three years on a non-immigrant visa (there are 17 different types) and be sure to fulfill one of the following criteria:

-do business in Thailand

-officially work and have a work permit

-live in Thailand for family reasons

-conduct scientific research


Moreover, there is a quota for obtaining permanent residence for applicants from one country—no more than 100 approved applications per year. The good news is that if your visa is not suitable for permanent residence, you can change to another type later.


Suppose you want to move to Thailand as your new home. In that case, the main recommendation is to check whether your visa gives you long-term residence status and Thai citizenship by naturalization. Currently, there is yet to be an official source with an exact list of visas giving permanent resident status. In general, if you wish and have a legal income and type of activity in the country, you can obtain Thai citizenship by naturalization, but it will take you at least 6-7 years and most likely more.


Thailand Tax System

A new DTV visa (and most other Thai visas) doesn't have tax incentives options. Thailand has a progressive income tax rate from 5% to 35%. If your annual income is above 1,000,000 baht ($27,000), the tax rate will be 25%. The maximum rate of 35% applies to annual income of 5,000,000 baht.


Previously, the PIT tax was applied only to domestic income from Thai sources. Still, since 2024, most foreigners spending in the country for more than 183 days per year should pay a personal income tax of 5% up to 35% of worldwide income.


However, other tax rates in Thailand are relatively low: the VAT rate is only 7%. The corporate tax rate is 20%, and the capital gains tax on cryptocurrency sales is 15%.



Asian Schengen

Thailand has also invited other countries in the region to create a common visa zone for tourists, such as the Schengen area. Thai Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin discussed this initiative with colleagues from Laos, Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia.


But in general, an analog of the Asian Schengen has already existed for a long time—this is the APEC business card. This card allows 60 days a year to be located in most countries of Southeast Asia, including Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. It also provides visa-free travel to Australia and New Zealand. However, the procedure for obtaining this card is quite complicated.

What about crypto regulation in Thailand?

The Kingdom of Thailand has legislation regulating cryptocurrencies since 2018. The main regulator is Thailand's Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Over the last two years, regulations have been updated a lot - the rules have become clearer, but some restrictions have also appeared. As of July 31st, 2023, the SEC banned staking and cryptocurrency lending services. Also, in 2022, custodial wallet requirements were raised, and crypto payments, including crypto wages, were banned.


However, the new Thai government, represented by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin, has promised a crypto policy in August 2023. Being a real estate developer, this politician is also an active crypto investor.  The local SEC has softened regulations and removed the limit for investing in RWA assets—digital tokens backed by real estate or infrastructure. Also, the regulator recently approved Bitcoin ETF. After Hong Kong, Thailand is the second nation in Asia to do this. This year, Binance exchange got a license in the country and launched its official subsidiary in Thai.



What's the result?

Thailand has taken another step towards facilitating foreigners' access to the country. It's one of the most expat-loyal countries in Southeast Asia, and the new government is betting heavily on this as a key to the country's economic growth.


For digital nomads who want to move to Asia, getting long-term residency status in the country may still be a challenge, especially given the new tax requirements, including a progressive PIT rate of 35% for worldwide income.


However, the Thai Government may introduce new changes that will eliminate them in the future. In addition, other popular destinations in Asia (Vietnam, Indonesia, Sri Lanka) need suitable legalization programs with long-term residence status for digital nomads too. Therefore, the new DTV visa in Thailand is so far one of the best and most inexpensive programs of its kind in the region.


If you are interested in getting more relocation and crypto regulation insights, you can watch the global crypto regulation rating here or get updates on my Telegram channel.