4 Year Professional ‘Smart’ Visa Approved in Thailand – No Work Permit Required!

In recent years the Thai government has brought in a number of different visas in an attempt to improve the attractiveness of the country and make it a viable long-term destination for nomads and entrepreneurs. Recently, the government has approved a 10 year retirement visa, which has made it infinitely easier for senior expats to relocate to Thailand without the associated hassle and stress of short-term visas. This should entice over 50’s to the country and provide a boost to the property market and local economies.

The latest development in Thai visas looks to make the country even more accessible to foreign clientele – you can now apply for a 4-year professional visa which is known as the Thailand 4-year smart visa. This visa is aimed at foreign business professionals and entrepreneurs and should make it easier for them to find long-term work within the country and minimise the paperwork and red tape. It is also sure to benefit the huge numbers of digital nomads in Thailand.

Thailand is already a popular destination for expats and professionals – the country is undergoing expansion and experiencing economic growth. Bangkok has a plethora of business opportunities and is experiencing investment from interested foreign companies. Furthermore, the country has a favourable climate and is renowned for its beautiful landscapes and picture perfect beaches. Business professionals from neighbouring countries such as China, Singapore, Japan and Australia understand this, together with a relatively low cost of living in comparison, and the 4-year smart visa is sure to appeal.

Four Year Thailand Smart Visa Requirements


This visa should come into effect in January 2018 and has been drafted and approved by the Thai government cabinet. This visa allows successful applicants to stay in Thailand for up to four years. What sets this visa apart from the others, however, is the fact that you do NOT have to apply for a work permit AND you do NOT have to report to the Thai authorities every 90 days. You do still have to visit the immigration office once every year, however. It should also be noted that this visa allows an applicant’s dependents (children and spouse) to work and live in Thailand too.

With standard working visas that have a duration of longer than 90 days, it is a mandatory requirement that you must report to the immigration office every 90 days (4 times a year) – this is an unwanted hassle and something that has caused annoyance for those living and working in Thailand as foreign nationals.  

Who is eligible for the Thailand professional visa?

Eligibility is based on acceptance by the BOI (Board of Investment of Thailand) – applicants must present their credentials and business plan to the board and upon acceptance, can then gain the Thailand 4-year smart visa. The following is a list of current business professionals who can apply for the visa:

– Investors
– Start-up business owners
– High-level executives
– Highly-skilled professionals

There are currently no more available details about the above four descriptions but we can expect a clearer breakdown to be given closer to the time of release. This is quite an essential part of the Visa, as terms such as “Highly-skilled” professionals could cover a huge range of industries and job descriptions. Time will tell how far reaching this visa will be depending on the Thai government definition of the allowed professions. 

Thailand Professional Visa

What does the Thai government hope to achieve by introducing this visa?


The Thai government has high hopes for this visa and it should provide a great impact on the country’s economy and development of professional skills. How effective the visa will be only time will tell – critics of the Thailand smart visa claim that it is not far reaching and will only have a minimal impact. Furthermore, some business owners and professionals say that more needs to be done in addition to this visa and that the range of applicants is too narrow. The following is a list of potential benefits that this visa could bring to Thailand: 

Improve knowledge transfer within the country

One of the main benefits the government desires is an increase in business knowledge and skills within the country. The basic idea is that more professionals will apply for the 4-year smart visa and work in Thailand. In turn, this influx of skilled workers will provide a plethora of fresh ideas for Thai businesses and help them develop new and improved strategies and processes. Business can become stagnant without new ideas – foreign investors and entrepreneurs would bring fresh ideas and concepts into the Thai business scene.  

Provide a boost to business growth

Skilled workers and an influx of talented professionals should theoretically help business growth. As stated above it is hoped that this visa will improve knowledge transfer. This, in turn, combined with the increased amount of professional talent should help Thai businesses prosper, profit and expand. They will have a larger workforce at their disposal, and a greater range of high-level skilled workers who can provide input to the future of the business.

Provide long-term economic stability

The improved transferral of knowledge and the boost to business growth should provide a boost to the Thai economy in return. When businesses prosper, they can provide a greater amount of employment options and pour a greater amount of money into the country. Local communities should benefit from an increase in trade and jobs, and the government should also benefit from an increase in corporation taxes etc.

Improve the outlook of the property market

Finally, an increase in foreign immigration should provide a boost to the Thailand property market. Professionals living and working in Thailand obviously require accommodation. A large portion of these skilled workers will have highly paid jobs and will be able to afford luxury accommodation. This should mean that there is a greater demand for luxury properties, and also an increase in demand for rentals.

As you can see, the potential benefits of the Thailand four year professional visa could be great; however, the true impact of this new working visa will only be realised during the next 5-10 years after its release in January. This visa incentive could bring huge benefits to Thailand and its businesses as well as talented individuals who wish to base themselves here.


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