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Telling Immigration officers you work online, if questioned at border

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All Americans who make money online pay tax or risk jail because their income details are sent to irs at the end of the year by whatever payment gateway they are using.This law was enacted by congress to make up for the losses from crashed housing market.

Edited by devaram

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Just saw in a Bangkok facebook group this report of being questioned by IOs when entering on the third entry of his triple entry tourist visa:

When asked what he's doing here, and if he'd be working, he told them he runs an online business that allows him to work from anywhere.

The IO was content that that means he doesn't work IN Thailand, i.e. for a resident entity in Thailand, and let him through. Also showed his Thai bank book.

'someone said on facebook' must be true then

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Labor maybe says it is OK to work online on a tourist visa.

Immigration maybe says that it is OK to work online on a tourist visa.

But MFA is the authority that issues the tourist visa.

All tourist visa application forms either ask that you state your purpose when entering the Kingdom on a tourist visa or that you declare that you are not working in any occupation or profession while you are in the Kingdom on a tourist Visa.

So MFA -- especially in cancelling a double entry Tourist visa obtained in countries bordering Thailand -- seems now to have their say on the issue by making it more difficult for you to stay long-time in Thailand on a succession of Tourist Visas whether you are working online or not.

the labor department have never said it is ok

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Here is the link to the story in question. I think Thai Visa should allow this at it adds relevance to this topic: http://afarangabroad.com/2015/11/immigration-don-muang-airport/

At the end of the day this guy tells Immigration that he is in Thailand on holiday - which is a complete lie. He is entering Thailand to run his Thailand related website/business, effectively working on a tourist visa and obviously without a work permit.

I don't want to turn this into another argument on whether digital nomads/bloggers are legal when working in Thailand. My own view is that Thailand should offer some kind of real visa for these people as they contribute to the local economy.

However, let's get it right, the guy told a blatant lie to the immigration officer.

If he had said something along the lines of: "Hello officer, I'm on a tourist visa, but I'm not a tourist. I live in Thailand most of the year and run a website about Thailand, which accepts advertising from other businesses in Thailand and therefore allows me to earn a salary in Thailand. I do this without a work permit, because of my tourist visa status. Oh and I don't pay any tax on the income I earned in Thailand".... I don't think the Immigration officer would have been quite so friendly!

Hi there,

I did not lie to the immigration officer, I do not come to Thailand to work (I hate work in fact), I came here to have a very long holiday. Thankfully I am in a position where I earn an income without having to do anything.

For a lot of people this is something new, being able to generate an income without working 40 or more hours per week. I am in a lucky (and very grateful) position to be able to be on a permanent holiday. They call digital nomads the 'new rich', which means while they are not millionaires, they live simliar lives in terms of not having to work and life is just 100% lesiure.

I choose to spend most of my time in Thailand because it's such an amazing place and there are so many things to see. It's impossible to see the whole of Thailand is just 6 months.

You would need a good few years (at least) to fully understand this amazing country and its amazing people. I have been on a holiday in Bangkok for the last few years eating great food and talking to the locals, I still feel I've only scratched the surface of what this amazing country has to offer.

I'm not a backpacker who visits several places in a short space of time, I really want to experience a country and everything it has to offer. Thailand for me is an amazing place and I want to see everything. The people are so amazing!

Going by the "he's not on holiday he is here to work logic" means that everybody in the world who has a website, answers a work email or does anything work related is in volition of their visa anywhere in the world. Thankfully Thai immigration are smart and they use common sense. I told them the truth that I run an online business and they were happy with my answers.

Also, you can setup a bank account on a tourist visa at Bangkok Bank, I've written about it on my website.

Thailand actually likes bloggers as they bring in more toruism: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism-and-transport/731868/bloggers-log-on-to-thai-tourism

So I don't think they care 1 little bit about digital nomads, as they recently held a huge blogging expo in Thailand that got major press.

If anyone has any appropriate questions, I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for listening, I hope you all have a wonderful time in amazing Thailand,

Harvie

Thats amazing Harvie.

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Staying long long term on tourist visa, living in the same long term rental at a steep discount is not what the Tourist folks generally have in mind. How any of these arguments will fare when bounced against the simple argument "hey, I am here and spending money in Thailand", only time will tell

HA HA HA! "Steep discount"...since when farangs have gotten that kind of deals in Thailand?! More like the exact opposite.

Some people just do not like remote workers no matter what. They absolutely hate the fact the world has changed and where you work from does not matter that much anymore.

For Thailand it is a win-win situation. Money coming in, 5-15 times of average Thai salary per month. No obligations to pay anything back, like social security or even hospital bills.

Let's say 53 year old remote worker and 53 year old early retiree, both receiving the same amount of money per month...are you honestly going to say that 53 year old retiree is somehow more valuable to Thailand or his home country than that still working other guy?!

Apart from the fact that the digital nomad is not paying tax here like all the other legal workers.

Why don't you actually speak with digital nomads to ask if they would be willing to pay tax if a formal arrangement could be made, rather than spicing up your mundane life with yet another message-board "win"?

Its very easy... Iglu do this precise service.. You work for your own projects they handle the employment and tax.. All legal under BOI..

Every time it comes up digital nomads go "pay 25% of gross.. are you crazy'.. So clearly they wont do it.

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Going by the "he's not on holiday he is here to work logic" means that everybody in the world who has a website, answers a work email or does anything work related is in volition of their visa anywhere in the world. Thankfully Thai immigration are smart and they use common sense. I told them the truth that I run an online business and they were happy with my answers.

Also, you can setup a bank account on a tourist visa at Bangkok Bank, I've written about it on my website.

Thailand actually likes bloggers as they bring in more toruism: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism-and-transport/731868/bloggers-log-on-to-thai-tourism

So I don't think they care 1 little bit about digital nomads, as they recently held a huge blogging expo in Thailand that got major press.

Except its been explicitly stated that they cannot do this.. even a youtube video or a blog comment.

http://www.phuketgazette.net/issuesanswers/Is-uploading-videos-YouTube-considered-work/1532

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Let's say 53 year old remote worker and 53 year old early retiree, both receiving the same amount of money per month...are you honestly going to say that 53 year old retiree is somehow more valuable to Thailand or his home country than that still working other guy?!

3 remote workers Vs 300,000 retirees on the same income.

Which group has the most value?

In some cases what "working on line" means isn't all that clear. I derive most of my income from pension and social security, but I also manage my personal investments, which contribute to my income. Not exactly running an online business, but I am generating some income from trading stocks in an account I have in the US ... and I imagine a lot of non-working retirees here do something similar. Occasionally I buy & sell collectibles on eBay or even with an auction house in Bangkok. Not that often anymore and not intended to generate a profit (and it rarely does), but could any of these things be construed as working on line?

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Labor maybe says it is OK to work online on a tourist visa.

Immigration maybe says that it is OK to work online on a tourist visa.

But MFA is the authority that issues the tourist visa.

All tourist visa application forms either ask that you state your purpose when entering the Kingdom on a tourist visa or that you declare that you are not working in any occupation or profession while you are in the Kingdom on a tourist Visa.

So MFA -- especially in cancelling a double entry Tourist visa obtained in countries bordering Thailand -- seems now to have their say on the issue by making it more difficult for you to stay long-time in Thailand on a succession of Tourist Visas whether you are working online or not.

the labor department have never said it is ok

I know -- but some say, if they thought so, they would have raided a few shared work spaces. But, it seems to me, that maybe the MFA is intending to render the discussion moot as to what can or cannot be done on a tourist visa.

Edited by JLCrab

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Hi there,

I did not lie to the immigration officer, I do not come to Thailand to work (I hate work in fact), I came here to have a very long holiday. Thankfully I am in a position where I earn an income without having to do anything.

For a lot of people this is something new, being able to generate an income without working 40 or more hours per week. I am in a lucky (and very grateful) position to be able to be on a permanent holiday. They call digital nomads the 'new rich', which means while they are not millionaires, they live simliar lives in terms of not having to work and life is just 100% lesiure.

I choose to spend most of my time in Thailand because it's such an amazing place and there are so many things to see. It's impossible to see the whole of Thailand is just 6 months.

You would need a good few years (at least) to fully understand this amazing country and its amazing people. I have been on a holiday in Bangkok for the last few years eating great food and talking to the locals, I still feel I've only scratched the surface of what this amazing country has to offer.

I'm not a backpacker who visits several places in a short space of time, I really want to experience a country and everything it has to offer. Thailand for me is an amazing place and I want to see everything. The people are so amazing!

Going by the "he's not on holiday he is here to work logic" means that everybody in the world who has a website, answers a work email or does anything work related is in volition of their visa anywhere in the world. Thankfully Thai immigration are smart and they use common sense. I told them the truth that I run an online business and they were happy with my answers.

Also, you can setup a bank account on a tourist visa at Bangkok Bank, I've written about it on my website.

Thailand actually likes bloggers as they bring in more toruism: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism-and-transport/731868/bloggers-log-on-to-thai-tourism

So I don't think they care 1 little bit about digital nomads, as they recently held a huge blogging expo in Thailand that got major press.

If you have an income without having to do anything then you're not working. You are a tourist on holiday from work. That is not the same as a remote worker that is living permanently in Thailand and working at their job/business.

Who calls DN's the "new rich"? cheesy.gif And every DN I know works because thats how they make their living. Very few people generate a 100% passive income online.

No country is going to stop someone on "holiday" keeping up with their job/business even if it is technically breaking the law.

A tourist can be a tourist indefinitely and someone could take a long holiday, but neither tourism or a holiday involve full or part time work. Tourist visas are issued for the purpose of tourism and leisure and not for someone to relocate their office to Thailand.

DN's do not have any detrimental impact on Thailand which is probably the main reason they are left alone, but eventually, as numbers increase, Thailand will have to regulate legitimate remote workers, which is not easy, or enforce the law. The only "holiday" you and others currently enjoy is the from reality.

  • Like 1

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Ppl get themselves into trouble as this can be misconstrued as working illegally, even though it's really not working by definition.

The answer I've always provided is that I'm not working but rather living off of savings if asked how I'm supporting myself. If supporting docs are required then this can be supplied. Ppl need to think and be prepared.

Edited by Friendly Stranger

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Hi there,

I did not lie to the immigration officer, I do not come to Thailand to work (I hate work in fact), I came here to have a very long holiday. Thankfully I am in a position where I earn an income without having to do anything.

For a lot of people this is something new, being able to generate an income without working 40 or more hours per week. I am in a lucky (and very grateful) position to be able to be on a permanent holiday. They call digital nomads the 'new rich', which means while they are not millionaires, they live simliar lives in terms of not having to work and life is just 100% lesiure.

I choose to spend most of my time in Thailand because it's such an amazing place and there are so many things to see. It's impossible to see the whole of Thailand is just 6 months.

You would need a good few years (at least) to fully understand this amazing country and its amazing people. I have been on a holiday in Bangkok for the last few years eating great food and talking to the locals, I still feel I've only scratched the surface of what this amazing country has to offer.

I'm not a backpacker who visits several places in a short space of time, I really want to experience a country and everything it has to offer. Thailand for me is an amazing place and I want to see everything. The people are so amazing!

Going by the "he's not on holiday he is here to work logic" means that everybody in the world who has a website, answers a work email or does anything work related is in volition of their visa anywhere in the world. Thankfully Thai immigration are smart and they use common sense. I told them the truth that I run an online business and they were happy with my answers.

Also, you can setup a bank account on a tourist visa at Bangkok Bank, I've written about it on my website.

Thailand actually likes bloggers as they bring in more toruism: http://www.bangkokpost.com/business/tourism-and-transport/731868/bloggers-log-on-to-thai-tourism

So I don't think they care 1 little bit about digital nomads, as they recently held a huge blogging expo in Thailand that got major press.

If you have an income without having to do anything then you're not working. You are a tourist on holiday from work. That is not the same as a remote worker that is living permanently in Thailand and working at their job/business.

Who calls DN's the "new rich"? cheesy.gif And every DN I know works because thats how they make their living. Very few people generate a 100% passive income online.

No country is going to stop someone on "holiday" keeping up with their job/business even if it is technically breaking the law.

A tourist can be a tourist indefinitely and someone could take a long holiday, but neither tourism or a holiday involve full or part time work. Tourist visas are issued for the purpose of tourism and leisure and not for someone to relocate their office to Thailand.

DN's do not have any detrimental impact on Thailand which is probably the main reason they are left alone, but eventually, as numbers increase, Thailand will have to regulate legitimate remote workers, which is not easy, or enforce the law. The only "holiday" you and others currently enjoy is the from reality.

Very few of us are living here permanently. The rest of us, no matter how much we might like to think we live here, are just temporary guests in the eyes of the Thai authorities.

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