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Telling Immigration officers you work online, if questioned at border


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Regarding 'legitimate remote workers', from the Thai Ministry of Science and Technology mission statement:

3. Develop human resource capacity in science, technology and innovation at all levels and raise public awareness and acceptance of science, technology and innovation.

So how does a digital remote worker who says 'Why should I have to hire any recent Thai computer-type graduates when I can do all the work by myself?' further that goal?

If they did, changes might have already been made.

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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.

I'm pretty sure you get the point. I'm referring to the difference between a typical tourist and someone that has chosen to live in Thailand for months/years. I have lived here permanently for years, and although I have no right to stay here permanently I will be here permanently until the authorities tell me I can't be. The only foreigners with a right to permanently live here are ex foreigners that have become citizens. Even a residency permit (PR) only gives an indefinite leave to stay that can be taken away.

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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!

BTW, never mention that you are entering because 'you have a girlfriend in Thailand'. There is no 'girlfriend visa' and you can be denied.

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Please read the following with a bit of humor in mind - ok?

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

---------------------------

And I bet, if you could get access to the tax records....he does not pay any tax in his home country either. ...

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.

Yes, as an American, I must pay a 15% "self-employment" penalty-tax on my First Dollar - no matter how little I make - no matter where I live - no matter where my money comes from. That "special tax" (to punish the insolent, who refuse to "Work For The Man") goes away on income above $118,500 Golden Rule: "they who have the gold make the rules." Now what was someone saying about some little "mordita" / "tea-money" in another thread? Cambodian border-agents "fees" don't even get on my radar given the "legal" racket I must endure because of my accident of birth ... but I digress.

USA Income taxes are paid in addition to the "self-employment" tax, though a substantial portion is exempt if one does not live in the USA (around $90K). I do not get any benefits from the minimal USA welfare-state, because I am an ex-pat, so at least this part makes some sense - but note that the USA is the Only Nation On Earth to require Any income-tax on foreign-source incomes of ex-pats.

It is true I do not pay Thai income-taxes, but nor do I receive any Thai benefits. If I was working on a B visa, it is my understanding that I would get access to the Thai health system. Everyone who spends income here is "paying taxes" that are charged on retail sales, property-rentals and property-taxes, etc. So we are "paying for the roads" and such - just not paying for the parts of the system which offer us no benefit.

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.

Last I checked, it is 30% of gross, with a minimum USD $2K/mo, of foreign-sourced income that Iglu in no way facilitated, that one must "launder" (essentially - not illegally) through their system. A rough estimate looks like they pocket double of the actual tax-burden, per worker, if they were filing personal income-tax and taking the qualifying deductions. ( http://www.rd.go.th/publish/6045.0.html )

If Iglu "did work" such as obtaining the jobs / clients, paid $X for Y-Hours, or salary + benefits, that might be reasonable - given many non-billable hours are spent by online-workers to get clients, do "little free fixes" to keep clients happy, etc. I would bet if the pay-in was about $300/mo (not $600 / mo), many more would be happy to pay for their 'invoicing and visa service'.

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I think its important to make a distinction between those online workers where their work is actually back in the UK or wherever home is (ie they manage a website for a UK business) and are able to show payments into a UK bank account. They simply are on extended holiday travel but are working for boss back home/even if boss is oneself...

The second category is an online worker who is making money from advertising marketing or click throughs from anything related to Thailand. And I'd suggest a travel blog might fall into this category.

I base this on dealings with my accountant and lawyer in bangkok where I get my tax and legal affairs managed as I have a business here self employed with all the little details to comply with.

They were very clear about defining where business was based and what based on.

When I enquired if I arranged all payments into foreign account would I simply be able to use my home country business and I was told as long as I could show my work was unrelated to being in Thailand (and blogging about Thailand is related to Thailand) and it was present existing ie I didn't start doing it whilst already in Thailand then OK.

For my situation I'm not totally online so had to register a business here etc - - still cheaper than home.

So when saying you work online to immigration I'd sttgly suggest you have proof of salary or payments ihtova foreign account and ability ticshownthem the type of online work you do to be very clear and make it easier for immigration officer as we know their attitude and knowledge vary from officer to officer and location to location.

So to clarify,

  • I have a general travel blog that derives all its income outside Thailand. It has articles on various countries, including Thailand. I write the articles on Thailand while in the country. This would be in contravention of the rules as understood by your accountant.
  • I have a general travel blog that derives all its income outside Thailand. It has articles on various countries, including Thailand. However, I only write the articles on Thailand while outside the country. In Thailand, I write articles about other countries. This would be OK as understood by your accountant.

Correct?

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BTW, never mention that you are entering because 'you have a girlfriend in Thailand'. There is no 'girlfriend visa' and you can be denied.

You cannot be denied entry because you are visiting your girlfriend! It would come under tourism/leisure and is 100% legal with any visa.

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@PinkPanther

Hey mate, no hard feelings, I understand, it's a good discussion and it's good to get things out in the open.

I don't see my website as work. It's just a valuable resource that provides free information. When I create blog topics, it is with the intention to provide value to readers.

I review apartments, tourist attractions and provide tips on how to have an amazing time in Thailand. I actually bring customers to Thai businesses, cities, clubs, restaurants and all the rest.

If this is classed as work then I guess someone should be paying me for bringing all these people to this amazing country? (Because nobody is paying me at the moment to write, I do it all for free). Also if this is work, then I guess every travel blog in the world needs to be shut down or people not allowed to enter any country if they have a blog as a hobby? (Rhetorical).

I get emails from tourists about travel advice from who are on their first trip to Thailand, many tell me that my website inspired them to visit this amazing country. I earn $0 from answering these emails nor do I make any fixed amount for every blog post I write. If I did, I would write 1,000 of blog posts a day.

I love to write, when you have a lot of free time, you want to express yourself, I do so with words.

As I said, I already run an online business which runs itself, I don't have to worry about anything. I'm simply here on a holiday, and it's been an amazing trip so far.

Thanks for reading my site and I hope to provide everyone with value.

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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?!

"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."

In fact it does matter - if you spend more than 180 days in this country you are liable for tax on the moneys you earn pursuing your career, worldwide. USA, amongst many countries has always taxed citizens on worldwide earnings - so little has "changed", other than it is easier to conceal your illegal earnings from your own (and your host) govts.

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.

By earning 5-15 times the average salary you are able to outbid locals on property and business rentals. own motorbikes and cars far beyond the dreams of Thais and this creates jealousy and discontent. Not talking about 'tourists' living in resorts renting cheap scooters etc, but those in high end houses and condos throwing money around with no respect for locals. No obligations - well, that sums it up.

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?!

The retiree has, until now had to endure far more stringent checks to get the OA visa - compared to the tourist visa holder abusing the system, who had no checks at all. So yes, I could say the retirees money is probably 'cleaner' and therefor more acceptable than the 'working guy's'.

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By earning 5-15 times the average salary you are able to outbid locals on property and business rentals. own motorbikes and cars far beyond the dreams of Thais and this creates jealousy and discontent. Not talking about 'tourists' living in resorts renting cheap scooters etc, but those in high end houses and condos throwing money around with no respect for locals. No obligations - well, that sums it up.

I see lots of people driving around my area in cars I could never dream of affording. They're all Thai. Not all the locals are dirt poor.

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By earning 5-15 times the average salary you are able to outbid locals on property and business rentals. own motorbikes and cars far beyond the dreams of Thais and this creates jealousy and discontent. Not talking about 'tourists' living in resorts renting cheap scooters etc, but those in high end houses and condos throwing money around with no respect for locals. No obligations - well, that sums it up.

I see lots of people driving around my area in cars I could never dream of affording. They're all Thai. Not all the locals are dirt poor.

I agree, but the Thais who can afford these cars are for the most successful businessmen in their own country, where one would hope the playing field was level (small hope as this is all-corrupt Thailand, but still), whereas the twenty something digital nomad is showing the middle class Thai exactly how meaningless his existence is.

The wage and wealth gap is huge in Thailand - foreigners earning foreign currency just make it all the more obvious to the "middle class".

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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?!

Not more valuable to Thailand, same value as the remote worker if they are spending the same amount in Thailand.

The remote worker is of more value in his home country because he's still paying taxes.coffee1.gif

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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?!

"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."

In fact it does matter - if you spend more than 180 days in this country you are liable for tax on the moneys you earn pursuing your career, worldwide. USA, amongst many countries has always taxed citizens on worldwide earnings - so little has "changed", other than it is easier to conceal your illegal earnings from your own (and your host) govts.

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.

By earning 5-15 times the average salary you are able to outbid locals on property and business rentals. own motorbikes and cars far beyond the dreams of Thais and this creates jealousy and discontent. Not talking about 'tourists' living in resorts renting cheap scooters etc, but those in high end houses and condos throwing money around with no respect for locals. No obligations - well, that sums it up.

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?!

The retiree has, until now had to endure far more stringent checks to get the OA visa - compared to the tourist visa holder abusing the system, who had no checks at all. So yes, I could say the retirees money is probably 'cleaner' and therefor more acceptable than the 'working guy's'.

"so little has "changed", other than it is easier to conceal your illegal earnings from your own (and your host) govts."

I suggest you spend at least a day actually looking at the way that "work" has and is changing. I understand it is easier to respond off the top of your head, based on a "feeling," but if you really want to make a worthwhile contribution, then substantial research is recommended.

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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?!

They are of identical value. And a very high value indeed. Both are contributing equally. Both should be cherished, honored, respected and valued.

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By earning 5-15 times the average salary you are able to outbid locals on property and business rentals. own motorbikes and cars far beyond the dreams of Thais and this creates jealousy and discontent. Not talking about 'tourists' living in resorts renting cheap scooters etc, but those in high end houses and condos throwing money around with no respect for locals. No obligations - well, that sums it up.

I see lots of people driving around my area in cars I could never dream of affording. They're all Thai. Not all the locals are dirt poor.

I agree, but the Thais who can afford these cars are for the most successful businessmen in their own country, where one would hope the playing field was level (small hope as this is all-corrupt Thailand, but still), whereas the twenty something digital nomad is showing the middle class Thai exactly how meaningless his existence is.

The wage and wealth gap is huge in Thailand - foreigners earning foreign currency just make it all the more obvious to the "middle class".

Again, I understand that it feels easier to just contribute based on a "feeling," but it would be far more valuable if you could even provide anecdotal verification of your claims. I am sure the Thai middle and lower classes will feel truly blessed by a person who wants to return the meaning to their lives, so if you can document the resentment that is harbored by them due to the DNs, this thread would greatly benefit. Video footage would be the best option, if you are willing to make the effort, as to hear this resentment from the downtrodden would be incredibly valuable.

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I am utterly confused by this talk about "working online in Thailand" and would like to start a list of activities which which so-called digital nomads and online workers are doing and considering to be work which would theoretically require a work permit. I believe two contributors to this topic have written that they are digital nomads or online workers. Would they be kind enough to start with a list of their online activities?

This is the document where I make my list: https://docs.google.com/a/thaivisa.com/spreadsheets/d/1OyujxsheHP4ZMpqtrui_1vYCZx-YrnQYnEwIX0L8wh4/edit?usp=sharing

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