Let's assume, for the sake of the theoretical question-answer session, that a certain person who speaks fluent common and well nuanced Thai with reading and writing ability and holds at least one bank account in Thailand, can stay in Thailand a long period of at least two and half years with any (probably extended) visa which isn't an employee visa or a partner visa (49%-51% shareholding).

Let's further assume that this person shouldn't have any major problem to stay so and is doing everything according to his best understanding of the law and carefully:

  • Counting days for visa extension / 90 days report with electronic calendar with alarm clock
  • Organizes documents in folders
  • Carrying 90 days report and relevantly-dated TM-30 approval documents in relevant folders
  • Pay fees in time and saves receipts in sealing cases and folders
  • And so forth

Problem to solve

If Thai authorities suspect, allegedly wrongly, that this person has a job-based-income, either directly (customer TO bank-account) or indirectly (customer TO bank-account TO bank-account), say, as a freelance programmer with a visa that doesn't allow working, that person might be in serious problem and would have to defend her or his freedom.

My question

  • Can one be a tax nomad in Thailand without marrying a Thai person?

Derivative questions

If the person didn't have job-based-income but is suspected to have had and even accused to have had and needs to defend her or his freedom:

  • Can the person's bank account be terminated or restricted until end of legal discussion (and which of the two is more likely)?

  • For a person with say 75,000 Baht in the Thai bank account and no proof of other bank account anywhere in the world, how much approximately might the Thai Revenue Authority fee be and does such fee has interest utilized on its sum?

  • How to find a lawyer that won't ripoff this person from any saving he might currently have?

  • What about a secondary defense argument that the job the person is accused of doing is anyway not listed as prohibited by non Thais to do inside Thailand in Thai law, hence no actual harm was done to the Thai state?

1 Answer 1


The law is very strict about working in Thailand. Specifically, the law says:

  1. In order to work while you are living in Thailand, you need a work permit - whether or not you are actually earning money.
  2. A work permit is tied to a specific employer and a specific job at a specific location.
  3. A work permit requires the person to be employed by a Thai company.
  4. Whether you are married or not makes no difference.
  5. Whatever visa or extension you have makes no difference (unless you have a 'retirement' visa/extension; you can't have a work permit when you're retired).

Now that's what the law says.

What people actually do is a completely different matter.

There are people working illegally in Thailand, the same as there are in every country. The only reason they usually get caught is because they made the mistake of telling people they were working, and someone told the authorities about it. Or they were doing something where they were seen, and then reported.

To stay within the law, you can not work as a "tax nomad" (whatever that is - sounds like someone who works illegally to avoid paying tax anywhere) in Thailand. The penalties for getting caught include a large fine, prison, or both. And then deportation and being blacklisted from entering Thailand again for ten years or for life.

And saying "well I want to pay tax in Thailand" won't help you much. In order to pay taxes in Thailand, you need a tax ID. In order to get a tax ID you need ... you guessed it, a work permit. And income taxes are filed against an individual, as coming from a Thai company. (That is to say that the tax form contains both the tax ID of the individual paying income tax, and the company that paid the salary. Multiple income sources involve multiple tax forms.)

If you were considering working as a freelance programmer in Thailand, it might be better for you to get a job as an actual programmer for a Thai company. That way, the company you were working for would get your visa, extensions and work permit. They would also deduct your tax for you and prepare your tax documents at the end of the year.

Despite the fact that it's relatively easy to work "under the radar" and not get caught, I would not ever recommend working illegally. To me, the feeling that I could get caught at any time, and then end up being deported, would make me too nervous.

And finally some good news: last year the government actually stated that if you have a work permit (any work permit), then you can do work "on the side" without penalties. This is a huge difference to what the law previously stated. This means that you can get any job at any company, and then work as a freelancer on the side without fear of breaking the law. Just don't do any work that is prohibited for foreigners. So no taxi driving for you or me!

  • Thai gov't updated/relaxed the work permit law such that if a foreigner has a WP, you can then work any job [not restricted to Thai's only]. Worth a look and updating your answer.
    – Jon Grah
    Feb 9, 2020 at 2:35
  • 2
    Worth reading the last paragraph too, where I said exactly that
    – Scott Earle
    Feb 9, 2020 at 2:36

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