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"Working" without work permit - new regulation?


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Hi everyone,

 

I read somewhere that since a royal decree in March, foreigners don't need a work permit for certain limited forms of work in the kingdom?

If I recall correctly, this applies for activities that wouldn't be called 'regular work', so : without an office, not business-like, no physical work, not taking away work that could be done by Thais etc.

I am working as a consultant, so it would be interesting for me to know exactly if my specific activity and the ways I think about doing it would require a work permit or not.

Can anyone lead me to sources (ideally in English language) that go into specifics please?

 

I'm also over 50, so I could possibly stay there for a while with my retirement visa and do a little extra stuff on the side (not taking away anything from Thais, rather the opposite).

 

Thanks for any useful feedback or especially sources.

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I see … so it definitely sounds like the safer bet to enter w/o doing a retirement visa, but the 3 month Non-Imm-B instead.

 

Is there any source (ideally in English language) describing / listing the new regulations?

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15 minutes ago, pepi2005 said:

I see … so it definitely sounds like the safer bet to enter w/o doing a retirement visa, but the 3 month Non-Imm-B instead.

 

Is there any source (ideally in English language) describing / listing the new regulations?

Unless you have a job offer, or business connection with a Thai business you almost certainly won't be able to get a non B' visa.

 

A couple of sources; 

https://www.tilleke.com/resources/relaxation-work-permit-requirements-thailand

https://www.bakermckenzie.com/en/insight/publications/2018/04/new-amendments-to-the-work-permit-law

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You are what is termed somewhat disparagingly as a 'digital nomad'. No matter what work you do per your op, you will be illegally working in Thailand. The only way to get B visa is to be sponsored by a Thai entity. The rules were relaxed to essentially help business people with trade shows, sales people pop in and out without going to jail.

Edited by Number 6
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"The only way to get B visa is to be sponsored by a Thai entity" ................ or you can form your own business through a Thai lawyer and then run it with an accountant and create your own Entity. Or buy an existing business entity. Your business paperwork then is used get your non-immigrant B visa outside the Kingdon.  Then you renew in country the visa and your company supplies the work permit. The new rules mean that except for the restricted occupations, your work permit allows you to do any type of work without having to have your work permit updated each time. 

Edited by pccunny
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So a "Thai American Amity Treaty" managing director still needs a work permit it is not in keeping with the treaty as no such document, requirement is required by "Treaty" holders  (Thai) doing business in the U.S. under the treaty! Same 90 day reporting, not required in The U.S..

 

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22 minutes ago, ksamuiguy said:

So a "Thai American Amity Treaty" managing director still needs a work permit it is not in keeping with the treaty as no such document, requirement is required by "Treaty" holders  (Thai) doing business in the U.S. under the treaty! Same 90 day reporting, not required in The U.S..

 

The treat bascily only covers business ownership not such details a work permits and etc. In the US they would have to have a visa or residency for them to work.

19 minutes ago, ksamuiguy said:

There is also no requirement in the U.S. for a "treaty" company to show a profit.

 

Again not covered by the treaty.

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19 hours ago, pepi2005 said:

royal decree in March

This should answer all your questions:

https://www.tilleke.com/resources/relaxation-work-permit-requirements-thailand

Tilleke & Gibbins - a leading Southeast Asian regional law firm with over 150 lawyers and consultants practicing in Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Jakarta, Phnom Penh, Vientiane, and Yangon.

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So what's the policy for "digital nomads" at the moment then? I guess there's still no visa or fully legal way of doing online work and receiving freelance salary from other countries? I mean there are so many people living here on TR visas and other visa types that prohibit working in Thailand. My question is kind of the same as the op is asking. How are digital nomads supposed to do their work in the correct/legal manner? 

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2 hours ago, ksamuiguy said:

under the treaty, both countries need the same requirement if not required in the U.S. should not be required in Thailand as stated in the treaty.

it's my understanding TREATY's are not (usual) reciprocal but specific to each party involved

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12 minutes ago, ChomDo said:

So what's the policy for "digital nomads" at the moment then?

Based on what I have seen is that it is still a grey area. The will not issue you a work visa/permit for online work but for those that have gotten caught doing online work they haven't been charged although they surely could if they wanted to. The only way to work really that is sensible to do online work in Thailand is to 1. Don't tell anyone you work online. 2. If you are working online do not work together in some rented space that they can find and raid. 3. Stay as long as you can legally in country through whatever visas are available to you at the time and do your work online and don't pay the authorities any mind.

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3 minutes ago, ChomDo said:

So what's the policy for "digital nomads" at the moment then? I guess there's still no visa or fully legal way of doing online work and receiving freelance salary from other countries? I mean there are so many people living here on TR visas and other visa types that prohibit working in Thailand. My question is kind of the same as the op is asking. How are digital nomads supposed to do their work in the correct/legal manner? 

If you really want to stay legal, by not doing it in Thailand or other countries that have similar prohibitions. But if payment is not made to an account within the country, Thai immigration has a pretty  relaxed attitude. However, you are probably still doing something that is technically illegal, so if anyone local develops a grievance towards you, you could be vulnerable.

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23 hours ago, pepi2005 said:

I am working as a consultant, so it would be interesting for me to know exactly if my specific activity and the ways I think about doing it would require a work permit or not.

Can anyone lead me to sources (ideally in English language) that go into specifics please?

If you are working on-line, i.e. like a so-called "digital nomad", you might get away with it by keeping low profile under the radar, having customers abroad only, and all income settled in a foreign account. eventually running a company abroad in for example your home country. There are at the moment conflicting articles about legality, in some it seem like possible, in others not.

 

The ease in "no need for a work permit" are for foreigners attending a business meeting and like, but not staying in the Kingdom; or foreigners being shareholder and board member (director) in a business (business owner or investor). However another recently published news article made it even more confusing, stating that foreigners attending a business meeting still need a non-immigrant B visa; Work Permits and Immigration are two separate divisions.

 

On a non-immigrant O extension based on retirement, one is not allowed to work in the Kingdom; however a number of retired folks might have a going business, or still being self-employed, abroad.

 

The links I saved about the subject was...

 

 

 

 

Furthermore the articles...

 

(THAI LAW: FOREIGNERS NEED BUSINESS VISAS TO ATTEND MEETINGS (Khaosod English)

 

Legally working WITHOUT a work permit? (Thailand Business Law Blog)

 

Can Digital Nomads legally work in Thailand? (Chiang Mai Locator)

🙂

 

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4 hours ago, ChomDo said:

So what's the policy for "digital nomads" at the moment then? I guess there's still no visa or fully legal way of doing online work and receiving freelance salary from other countries? I mean there are so many people living here on TR visas and other visa types that prohibit working in Thailand. My question is kind of the same as the op is asking. How are digital nomads supposed to do their work in the correct/legal manner? 

No change, and they can't.

 

The authorities do not seem to have a problem with DN's working at their online businesses whilst holidaying. Mainly because if they stopped DN tourists they'd have to stop all tourists that keep up with their business/job remotely.

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22 hours ago, vinegarbase said:

Based on what I have seen is that it is still a grey area. The will not issue you a work visa/permit for online work but for those that have gotten caught doing online work they haven't been charged although they surely could if they wanted to. The only way to work really that is sensible to do online work in Thailand is to 1. Don't tell anyone you work online. 2. If you are working online do not work together in some rented space that they can find and raid. 3. Stay as long as you can legally in country through whatever visas are available to you at the time and do your work online and don't pay the authorities any mind.

I mean as you said it's not stated anywhere and how could it be any business of the Thai authorities since you are not actually working in Thailand. Isn't the whole point of these laws to prevent foreigners taking jobs from Thai people etc? 

 

So lets say you are a writer and you occasionally write articles for overseas clients (specifically in your own language, not EN or TH). That has absolutely nothing to do with Thailand or taking jobs from local people right. I mean just as an example, you won't find professionals in Thailand who could write financial articles in fluent Norwegian. 

 

Of course, I mean that the income would still come to your Thai account because you are staying in Thailand most of the year (with SETVs and other visas) and want the convenience of using a local bank account. So just as Elviajero mentioned, it should be the same thing as people coming on holiday and keeping up with their businesses/clients in other countries. This should have nothing to do with Thailand. Of course the difference is that the DN's stay here long term with all kinds of visa combinations, but as long as they give you a SETV or let you in the country again and again as a "tourist" then there should be nothing wrong with doing so. 

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2 hours ago, ChomDo said:

I mean as you said it's not stated anywhere and how could it be any business of the Thai authorities since you are not actually working in Thailand. Isn't the whole point of these laws to prevent foreigners taking jobs from Thai people etc? 

The law was written before "remote work" was possible for most, and has not been updated.  My solution would be to remove the "over 50" language from what is now called an "extension based on retirement" - and call it "extension based on foreign-income."  This would allow a large amount of foreign-sourced income to be spent in Thailand - money now being spent in Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, etc.

 

2 hours ago, ChomDo said:

... the income would still come to your Thai account because you are staying in Thailand most of the year (with SETVs and other visas) and want the convenience of using a local bank account

If you bring in the money you earned in the current year, it is subject to tax.  If you bring in savings earned in previous years, it is not.  Just transfer money in from your savings acct abroad to your Thai bank.

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2 hours ago, JackThompson said:

The law was written before "remote work" was possible for most, and has not been updated.  My solution would be to remove the "over 50" language from what is now called an "extension based on retirement" - and call it "extension based on foreign-income."  This would allow a large amount of foreign-sourced income to be spent in Thailand - money now being spent in Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, etc.

 

If you bring in the money you earned in the current year, it is subject to tax.  If you bring in savings earned in previous years, it is not.  Just transfer money in from your savings acct abroad to your Thai bank.

How could a foreigner staying in Thailand with a SETV possibly pay tax? I'm sure many DN's wouldn't mind doing so if a proper system and visa existed. 

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41 minutes ago, ChomDo said:

How could a foreigner staying in Thailand with a SETV possibly pay tax? I'm sure many DN's wouldn't mind doing so if a proper system and visa existed. 

Your visa status has no bearing on any tax liability. To pay tax you gat a TIN (Tax ID number) and submit a tax return.

 

Anyone, spending more than 180 days in the country in the tax year is considered resident for tax.

 

There’s nothing stopping DN’s that are illegally working from not evading tax too.

Edited by elviajero
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12 hours ago, JackThompson said:

The law was written before "remote work" was possible for most, and has not been updated.  My solution would be to remove the "over 50" language from what is now called an "extension based on retirement" - and call it "extension based on foreign-income."  This would allow a large amount of foreign-sourced income to be spent in Thailand - money now being spent in Vietnam, Cambodia, Latin America, etc.

 

 

 

 

This has not happened so far. online work became viable alternative to any other work at the end of 90s, that's 20 years ago. My guess it is not going to happen in Thailand, because people who make these laws are clueless. They literally have no clue. 

 

It may happen in Vietnam, Vietnam is most progressive in SE Asia, and they want foreigners in their country, because they understand foreigners = money spent there. Thailand doesn't seem to be interested, being a dictatorship has its advantages, laws can be changed with one signature, but they aren't exactly rushing to ease restrictions, are they?

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1 hour ago, whitemouse said:

 

 

This has not happened so far. online work became viable alternative to any other work at the end of 90s, that's 20 years ago. My guess it is not going to happen in Thailand, because people who make these laws are clueless. They literally have no clue. 

 

It may happen in Vietnam, Vietnam is most progressive in SE Asia, and they want foreigners in their country, because they understand foreigners = money spent there. Thailand doesn't seem to be interested, being a dictatorship has its advantages, laws can be changed with one signature, but they aren't exactly rushing to ease restrictions, are they?

Thailand have it about right at the moment. People that can work anywhere need to realise they can’t work anywhere.

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18 hours ago, elviajero said:

Your visa status has no bearing on any tax liability. To pay tax you gat a TIN (Tax ID number) and submit a tax return.

 

Anyone, spending more than 180 days in the country in the tax year is considered resident for tax.

 

There’s nothing stopping DN’s that are illegally working from not evading tax too.

There's also no way they could possibly pay tax to Thailand either. What would someone staying here with a SETV (so considered a tourist by Thai immigration laws) be paying for? Of course if they give you a permit/visa to stay in the country and you get all the same rights as normal tax payers then OK I it would make sense. For this to happen there has to be a system in place first. If they change the laws and give DN's a possibility to obtain a long term visa and pay taxes accordingly then of course. Until something changes they'll just have to stay here on SETV's and exempts (and probably stay out of the country for longer periods a few times per year to show that they are not physically working in the country).

 

It's really unfortunate that the decision makers don't see this as an opportunity to attract modern day online workers to live and spend their money in the country. This kind of remote way of working is of course taking over and will become more and more common in the future. Technology has advanced to the level that people don't need to sit at the office anymore and can work from their laptop regardless of their location. Like Whitemouse said, the neighboring countries are giving foreigners much better opportunities and attracting the working age foreigners who actually go there to do business or work remotely on their own online projects and spend their income there.     

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On 10/21/2018 at 3:46 PM, elviajero said:

If you are working for yourself or a foreign based business you won't get a work permit, and even with the changes you cannot work without one. If you are being employed by a Thai business you will need a work permit, which you almost certainly won't get with a "retirement visa".

 

The changes have been made predominantly to make it easier for foreigners, working for Thai businesses, to get a work permit and move between employers.

 

That sounds right. I believe they have also now said that businessmen don't need a work permit to come to Thailand on short visits to see clients to clients or subsidiaries or to attend seminars.  That makes sense but doesn't make much difference because no one bothered to apply for WPs for these activities and most people never even imagined they needed to.

 

I don't see any other exemptions in the new decree on working of aliens.

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49 minutes ago, ChomDo said:

There's also no way they could possibly pay tax to Thailand either. What would someone staying here with a SETV (so considered a tourist by Thai immigration laws) be paying for? Of course if they give you a permit/visa to stay in the country and you get all the same rights as normal tax payers then OK I it would make sense. For this to happen there has to be a system in place first. If they change the laws and give DN's a possibility to obtain a long term visa and pay taxes accordingly then of course. Until something changes they'll just have to stay here on SETV's and exempts (and probably stay out of the country for longer periods a few times per year to show that they are not physically working in the country).

 

It's really unfortunate that the decision makers don't see this as an opportunity to attract modern day online workers to live and spend their money in the country. This kind of remote way of working is of course taking over and will become more and more common in the future. Technology has advanced to the level that people don't need to sit at the office anymore and can work from their laptop regardless of their location. Like Whitemouse said, the neighboring countries are giving foreigners much better opportunities and attracting the working age foreigners who actually go there to do business or work remotely on their own online projects and spend their income there.     

"There's also no way they could possibly pay tax to Thailand either."

Of course they can. As mentioned, all they need is TIN and submit a return. What you mean is probably they don't want to.

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