Thailand is home to a rapidly growing community of both well-established companies and startups in the technology industry. For foreign entrepreneurs looking to join this exciting and forward-looking community, Thailand’s government is making it accessible. Obtaining a Thailand smart visa is the first step for foreigners seeking to enter this rewarding community.
If your idea for a startup is involved in one of the following industries, you may be eligible for a smart visa:
Your visa will be one of five types of Thailand smart visas currently being offered. Their types are designated by the first letter of their targeted applicants. They are (T)alent, (I)nvestor, (E)xecutive, (S)tartup Entrepreneur, and (O)ther. The 'O' Visa covers the spouse and legitimate children of smart visa holders. True Digital Park, as a startup ecosystem has been approved by the Board of Investment to endorse smart visa type S.
In applying for the smart S visa for startups, you’ll need to fulfil several requirements.
You must have a plan or establish a company in one of the industries mentioned earlier and have your company certified by the relevant government agency overseeing the specific industry. These will primarily be the National Innovation Agency (NIA) and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA). The qualifications vary according to whether you’re applying for a 6-month, 1-year, or 2-year visa.
For a 6-month visa, your plan for a startup must be officially endorsed by either the NIA or DEPA, In addition, You must have health insurance that covers the validity of your visa.
Your family is not eligible for type O smart visas when you apply for a 6-month visa.
To qualify for a 1-year visa, you must attend an accelerator or incubation programme or similar type of programme like the TDPK Startup camp that has been certified by the NIA or DEPA, to be within the targeted industries. You can also qualify by receiving funding from the private sector, or being endorsed by the NIA or DEPA.
The following qualifications apply to those seeking a 1-year or 2-year visa.
You must retain on deposit in either a Thai bank or a bank in your home country a sum no less than THB 600,000 or the equivalent local currency in your home country. You must have maintained this amount on deposit for no less than three months before submitting your application.
If you’re applying for a 1-year or 2-year visa and you’re bringing family members into Thailand as residents, you must deposit an additional 180,000 THB or the equivalent local currency, for each of your family members.
You must maintain these amounts also for three months before submitting applications. You must also hold valid health insurance policies for yourself and all members of your family for the length of the validity of your visa.
In addition to the qualifications addressed above, the following qualifications are required to issue a 2-year visa.
A 2-year visa is available to entrepreneurs that have established a startup in Thailand that meets the criteria of the industries targeted and is certified by the NIA or DEPA.
You also must hold no less than 25% of the startups registered capital or hold a position as a director in your startup.
The successful applicant for a Smart S Visa will enjoy many benefits besides being able to work in the vibrant community of Thailand technology.
No work permit is required to work in startups certified by the relevant agencies in the thirteen categories mentioned above. In case of a change in your job or specifications in the business of your startup, you must obtain additional endorsements by the relevant agencies.
Your spouse and children will be granted permission to stay in Thailand for the lengths of their visas, and your spouse will be entitled to work without a work permit for the duration of the smart visa.
Thailand has a 90-day reporting requirement for most foreign visa holders. Under the smart visa, this requirement is extended to a one-year reporting requirement.
If you leave Thailand, no re-entry permit is required upon your return. You can freely cross the Thai border for the length of time you hold a valid Thailand smart visa. You also will have access to a fast-track immigration service in Thailand at airports that offer this service.
Every startup needs a flexible base of operations in which to conduct their business. True Digital Park (TDPK) offers co-working spaces and office workplaces in Bangkok where you only pay for the facilities and infrastructure you need. This is a smart way to save much need working capital during your startups early days of operation.
TDPK offers an environment where you’ll be a part of the dynamic tech environment in Thailand. You’ll be able to connect with valuable mentors, business partners, investors, accelerator programs and incubators. You’ll also receive valuable guidance through our regularly scheduled seminars, workshops and lectures.
But TDPK not only offers workspaces and a tech community, but it can also help ensure that your application for a Smart S visa is accepted. TDPK will issue an endorsement letter for your startup that you can use to apply for a Thailand smart visa of six months or a year of validity, depending on your startup’s qualifications.
By enrolling in the TDPK Startup Camp Program, you can either rent a workspace at TDPK or continue to work in your startup’s present location. The program begins the first working day of every month. If you want to receive a smart visa endorsement, you should enroll about one month in advance of your target starting date, as the smart visa can take three to six weeks to process. If there is a delay in issuing your smart visa, TDPK can delay the start of Startup Camp Program to coincide with the issuing of the visa.
By enrolling in the TDPK Startup Camp Program, you'll be expected to take part in a variety of networking events, talks, mentoring sessions and lifestyle events that will introduce you to the local tech community and provide you with valuable business knowledge. You’ll also receive monthly performance reviews from the TDPK team to help your startup succeed. Every two months, you'll also get the chance to meet one-on-one with leading VCs that could pave the way to funding, expert support and other business opportunities.
TDPK helps make it possible for foreign entrepreneurs to gain a valuable foothold in the Thailand technology community. By providing support for your startup right from the start, TDPK makes it more likely that you’ll learn everything you need to know to make your idea a complete success.