Thailand was the first of the South East Asian countries to attract significant numbers of tourists. Some who liked what they saw have settled in Thailand. If you are thinking about living in Thailand, you must have the means to do so, and comply with State regulations. If you are thinking about working in Thailand, it can be a difficult and time-consuming process with the Thai Government certainly stricter that it was years ago.
Thailand has much to recommend it. While there is a monsoon season, and the rains in fact hit different parts of the country at different times, there is a huge coastline, lovely islands, sandy beaches and warm seas. The cuisine has now become popular throughout the world while the history and culture of this country that has never been occupied by colonial masters is fascinating. You will find huge variety when travelling in Thailand from the hills of the north with Chiang Mai at its hub to the coastal resorts and one of the world’s most popular cities, Bangkok.
Ordinary tourists booking a Thailand tour package can get a visa to Thailand on arrival and many are exempt from needing a visa to Thailand as long as their stay is for a maximum of 30 days; they can even extend their stay a further 30 days. However, it is regarded as a serious offence for overstaying and will lead to fines, even short-term imprisonment, and being banned from the country for a fixed period after being deported. It is not worth the risk.
It is fairly standard these days that you need a passport with a minimum validity of six months to enter many countries and that applies to Thailand.
If it is your intention to work in Thailand from the start, you must get a work visa before you travel. If you enter Thailand on a visitors’ visa and begin to work, you are in serious risk of deportation if reported.
There are a number of visa options for those wanting more than a holiday in Thailand. There are actually educational visas for up to 3 years but beyond that, things get much more difficult. There are only a limited number of courses in English so such visas are not always suitable. You can get a visa for language schools where you can learn Thai however.
If you are prepared to invest, you will have a number of alternatives although you need to accept the usual risks of investing. You will however be able to get a visa to live and work in Thailand. You can opt to invest in government-approved schemes as one option but you have more choice by selecting a Thai business in a sector you are familiar with and investing; the business will obtain a visa on your behalf.
You may have to explain to the business concerned your motives because often businesses are not familiar with immigration law. It is unlikely that a business can get a work permit for you if it does not already employ 4 Thai workers warning at least the minimum wage.
You can also get a suitable visa if you propose a business start-up which you can demonstrate that you can fund and which will provide employment for local people. Your visa will remain valid for as long as you run that business. There is a good degree of flexibility and it is likely that you can obtain a visa for a year while you work on your business plan, even if you do not then proceed. The more impressive your CV, the quicker you are likely to be approved. High-tech start-ups, with Bangkok the most likely location for the business, are especially interesting to the Thai Government.
There are laws regarding shareholding in Thai businesses and in the vast majority of cases, Thai citizens will need to have the majority shareholding. That does not mean that they have voting powers in proportion to that shareholding. You can be 100% in control but your Thai shareholders will receive the appropriate dividends.
Even if you are only thinking about doing some voluntary work, you will need a work permit which is a small blue booklet that you need to have in your possession before you start work. The permit will be specific to a particular function, location and employer in every case. If you teach by day and want to make extra money by night by working in a bar for example, you will need an extra work permit.
If you are particularly talented to the extent that few have your skills, you can be employment but that is very difficult to prove. It is really only English teachers that Thailand is seeking; the pay is not particularly good and the hours can be long. In years gone by, you did not really need qualifications to get a job teaching English. Today, things are far stricter and the authorities will want to see details of your qualifications and teaching experience in order for you to be considered.
Thailand is a fascinating country. The number of overseas visitors is clear evidence of its appeal. A host of people return there year after year and they will find hospitable people and much to attract them. To live and work there is a stage further. If you have significant assets, it is possible. If you are over 50 and have a pension from abroad that can maintain a reasonable lifestyle for you, you can live in Thailand.
It is a big step to move permanently to any foreign country, especially one with a vastly different culture from home. People do it however, and regularly never regret it for a moment. If you decide to go to Thailand, ensure you know all the regulations involved in doing that and the laws that relate to the years ahead of you. Happy adventure!