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jspill

Telling Immigration officers you work online, if questioned at border

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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.

Okay, pedantic as your reply is, I will still take up your silly 'challenge'.

As to my feelings they are based upon lifelong experience of living in societies where money has become the greatest divisive factor. Firstly, in South Africa where a small group of white people had control over 90% of the country's wealth and power.

Even today, How do you think a middle-aged black man feels watching a white twenty two year old driving around in a car he could never afford his entire life - do you think he admires the young man and is proud that he lives in a country where such things are possible? Or do you not think this feeds a deep resentment and perhaps eventually revolutionary hatred. Think Bastille day in France.

On to the second society, where I have lived more than ten years, among middle class Thai people (mostly small business owners), and they sure do resent upstart, ill-mannered foreigners living it up here permanently on exchange rate opulence. The same foreigners who clearly do not amount to anything in their own society, criminal types in a lot of cases.

Translate the SA situation to Thailand where the same wealth gap problem exists, then add in the mix that you are foreign and I would stand by my statements. Foreigners living here create a lot of resentment (if they throw their money around). They live like rich Thais rather than rich tourists.

But then this is only my opinion and you have not offered anything other than childish criticism - do you not have anything to offer at all?

Oh yes, I worked in the IT industry from 1984, and contracted in USA, EU, UK, China, Australia and Malaysia since 1989, what exactly do you hope to teach me with your infinite wisdom?

Edited by ParadiseLost

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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.

More of a lifestyle choice than an indication of relative wealth.

Many of my neighbors have the newest cars, and I have an old pickup.

But they all wonder why their households all need to work, and my household doesn't.

As for dirt poor,

I knew a shrimp farmer, his family lived in a hut made of sticks near his shrimp lake.

Outside was his brand new Toyota, minimum deposit, maximum repayment term.

New car and dirt poor.

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I'm talking about Lambos and Ferraris, not a Camry on monthly payments.

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As I see it (many won't) if you are getting a income from a website that has obviously been monetized here in Thailand (you talk and blog about Thailand and have adds on escort services, Mini Van services or even promote a Thai hotel or a book you wrote while you have been in Thailand) you are working. The work is being done here in Thailand, hence you are working if money is involved. If you have such adds on your website or if you are being paid to give advice to anyone one freelancing, you are in country and working.

I have a good friend that about 7 years ago, I set him up a Thai blog page as a hobby for him. He was totally overwhelmed about the Internet and was a real newbie and did not know anything about blogging. Now he gets about 600-1000 hits a day on his site and he has not monetized his site. He does not have one add on his site and he is proud of that fact. He could be making good money off his site for certain but he has agreed with me that being a 59 year old guy that is on a retirement extension, he just writes for fun and no money gain at all. He is not working, following a hobby of writing for fun and is not making a cent from it.

That is to me is a real blogger as he is doing it for the love of it and for no gain financially. Lots of you will disagree with me for certain but remember this is my view only, so it really does not matter.

Now the sticky part is this to it all and this is where it gets confusing. Most of us have assets overseas that need management from Bank accounts, property, bonds, shares, etc, etc. Every week I must check my assets here like look at my shares, look at my banks/bonds and also check to see that rental money is coming in. This again is all done on line, has nothing to do with Thailand, so it seems okay but in the sense it is 'work'.

No matter which way you look at it, the Nomad topic for all of us is a sticky problem as in someone, we all rely on the Internet to check our own business dealings. I have to pay tax every year back in my home country on income that comes from there (up to 30 cents in the dollar at times) so I cannot see why anyone should be 'tax free' whilst earning a income based on adds from clearly promoting Thailand?

Yes, for me it is in the 'too hard basket'. I am in the process now of gaining a work permit so I can go the right thing here but maybe in the future, a Nomads Visa that pays taxes here with a work permit might work. Who is to know but I know for a fact, there are many Nomads working here and it is a lot more then just working 'on-line'.

Like I said, I have no answer for above but one thing for certain, I would not tell a I/O that I was working on line. Either I am a tourist or whatever the Visa I have to fit the purpose for what I am in Thailand for.

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"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"

Why would he tell them he's working at anything, he's a tourist and has the visa allowing him to be so?

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In Post #1 the OP says that there was a discussion between the Immigration Officer and a gent entering Thailand on the 3rd entry of his 3-entry visa. Later there was a JPG of his Thai Tourist Visa stamp issued in the UK.

As of November 13, 2015, there are no more 2 and 3 entry visas and reports are that only single entries are being issued in neighboring/bordering countries to Thailand.,

So why did the Ministry of Foreign Affairs decide to make these changes? Maybe there should be better reading of the tea leaves. To me, at least in part, MFA is not intending to enforce that no work should be done in Thailand after entering on a Tourist Visa, they're just going to make it more difficult for those who would be the likely persons who might do so. Such persons have in writing on a Visa Application stated their (true) purpose for requesting that Visa so one cannot say that it is not a concern of the MFA.

A per a post above, the Thai Ministry of Science and technology has stated that its priorities are to to develop Thai human resources in the digital arena and encourage investment in the Thai digital infrastructure.

A digital nomad does neither. So I wouldn't count at least on them to be the DN's advocate for a DN visa.

Edited by JLCrab

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I am unsure how he got a Thai bank account, but do you think this worked in his favor, jspill?

I've had a Kasikorn account since October 2010, I asked for an account on a tourist visa and they gave me an account, this is was in Soi Buokaw, Pattaya.

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I am unsure how he got a Thai bank account, but do you think this worked in his favor, jspill?

I've had a Kasikorn account since October 2010, I asked for an account on a tourist visa and they gave me an account, this is was in Soi Buokaw, Pattaya.

Being able to show some form of proof of funds to support his stay worked in his favor (cash would have been best though).

Doesn't really matter if it's in a Thai bank book, Vientiane consulate was always fine with seeing one of those when applying for a 3rd - 4th tourist visa. They don't think Thai bank account = living here forever so not really a tourist.

Bangkok bank specifically allows people on a tourist visa to open an account, it's written on their website. See post #4 in this thread, right after the common misconception that it's not allowed in post #2 - http://www.thaivisa.com/forum/topic/703223-opening-a-bank-account-on-a-tourist-visa/

In fact if he pulled out a western bank book it might annoy the IO as now he's 'lost face' if he can't immediately read and understand it.

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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.

Foreign income of residents is only subject to Thai income tax if remitted to Thailand in the year earned.

Edited by rwdrwdrwd

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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

I was a long time ago a DN and also I had a work permit and worked for some of the largest tour companies in Thailand I still have the passion to write source code, specially for mobile apps or hotel reservation portals.

Last year I was bored in Isaan and wrote a World Cup Application for Brazil. Four years ago I designed the official Sony World Cup Application for SE mobile devices. Also the World Cup is long gone I converted the app now to the European Football League and all my mobile apps combined have around 14 million pageviews per month earning me offshore between 5500 to 7500 USD per month. For the booking engine I developed I get 6 USD per hotel per month as a licence fee and my code is now used by 890 hotels.

This is all revenues as a DN that I did years ago but they still generate good profit on a monthly basis and when I was once at an accountant and a lawyer they told me the funds are not taxable but since I am interested on a PR, I do pay monthly around 45,000 Baht in taxes and never claimed it back but I booked it as commission payments.

Of course when I go for my yearly visa's in Singapore and the past 2 years in Berlin, I always have my tax receipts with me and they know I work as a consultant for several large companies in Thailand WITHOUT A WORK PERMIT.

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For those complaining that some freelancers are not paying taxes. The reason is simple. You are automatically dropped out of the domestic social security and health insurance systems at some point in most western countries, usually already after 6 or 12 months if your home address is abroad.

So you are on your own, there is no welfare, only your savings. So why continue paying for non-existing services at home? You have to tax yourself for future unemployment or health issues.

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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!

Yes it's true that some lies are being told to the Immigration officer, but doesn't some I Os also lie to Farangs to get tea money?

I'm a great believer in what's for the goose is for the gander.

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From the above: Thankfully Thai immigration are smart and they use common sense. Now all you have to do is have Ministry of Foreign Affairs be smart and show common sense as well.

Common sense is not usually associated with Thailand in any capacity, whether it is Immigration or anything else.

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As to my feelings they are based upon lifelong experience of living in societies where money has become the greatest divisive factor. Firstly, in South Africa where a small group of white people had control over 90% of the country's wealth and power.

Even today, How do you think a middle-aged black man feels watching a white twenty two year old driving around in a car he could never afford his entire life - do you think he admires the young man and is proud that he lives in a country where such things are possible? Or do you not think this feeds a deep resentment and perhaps eventually revolutionary hatred. Think Bastille day in France. ...

The South African Elite Whites are rich because they plundered the resources of the locals and established a system of racial-apartheid to perpetuate that state of affairs. Foreigners in Thailand did not gain their wealth by stealing Thai gold and diamonds from the locals.

I do find the "whiteness factor" in Asia discomforting, having grown up in the USA-South in the 1970s, with its own version of "apartheid". I am not sure what that has to with Thailand resenting foreigners, though, given the love of "lilly-white skin" exists across Asia (sadly).

I resent the wealth and privilege, obtained by the few by corrupt means. I know I am not alone in this. I do not resent people who earned their money by actually working for it - providing a service others voluntarily paid for. Unfortunately, many locals (here and elsewhere) see "farang" as people who did not work hard, though many did.

... On to the second society, where I have lived more than ten years, among middle class Thai people (mostly small business owners), and they sure do resent upstart, ill-mannered foreigners living it up here permanently on exchange rate opulence. The same foreigners who clearly do not amount to anything in their own society, criminal types in a lot of cases.

Translate the SA situation to Thailand where the same wealth gap problem exists, then add in the mix that you are foreign and I would stand by my statements. Foreigners living here create a lot of resentment (if they throw their money around). They live like rich Thais rather than rich tourists.

But then this is only my opinion and you have not offered anything other than childish criticism - do you not have anything to offer at all?

Oh yes, I worked in the IT industry from 1984, and contracted in USA, EU, UK, China, Australia and Malaysia since 1989, what exactly do you hope to teach me with your infinite wisdom?

If foreigners could "own land" I would agree with your sentiment. I saw this in Central America, and it is why I do not advocate allowing foreigners to own land here, generally. If foreigners were competing for scarce fan-rooms, you might have a point But foreigners cannot own land, and they do not compete for scarce housing, nor buy out and mechanize Thai farms - leaving the locals homeless and dependent on sweatshop-work.

Where wealthy foreigners go in Thailand, more money is spent into the economy, and jobs are created - higher paying jobs than existed prior. Where poorer foreigners go, on package tours, places like 7-11 and BigC are the primary beneficiaries. Heck, even cash-strapped backpackers "eat local food" - and thus help micro-business Thais who are selling that food.

Bottom line, foreigners who live and spend time here are of much greater benefit than the "typical tourist" on a quick vacation / package tour, and also a benefit in general to the communities where they go. They are not setting up hand-to-mouth wage "sweatshops," and driving the locals off their land.

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. ...

Nothing prevents any person with access to the Internet, and the will to learn, from teaching themselves the skills needed. This is the greatest "leveler" opportunity in history. "Stop being jealous and learn how to code," would be my advice. Some work does not even require that, if one is talented at marketing.

I am not sure how the locals would benefit from the absence of high-end houses and condos or foreigners "throwing money around" - sounds like an opportunity to get some of that money, to me.

BTW - I share many of your sentiments. Yes, it was better, in many ways, when everyone in a village was poor, because there was less resentment. There is solid data to show wealth-disproportionality is more psychologically damaging than "equal" poverty. But I do not see how preventing foreigners with foreign-sourced income from staying in Thailand could somehow "turn back the clock," and bring back the "good old primitive days" - days which had some harsh aspects, like early mortality, as well.

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