Left your trip to the Land of Smiles wishing you could stay there full-time? Are you excited by the multitude of condominium offerings on offer in Thailand?
Although Thailand would not be our first choice for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the government bureaucracy, Thailand is incredibly popular with expats, and we’re often asked about the residency and citizenship possibilities in the country. There are several reasons that a Thai passport would (and wouldn’t) make sense for you.
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What You Need To Understand First:
Becoming a citizen of Thailand is a lengthy and challenging process, and realistically, it may not be a viable option.
Before even applying for citizenship, you need to be a permanent resident of Thailand for five years, living there continuously (which includes three years of owning a business in Thailand or working for a Thai company).
Secondly, you need to be fluent in Thai and be able to prove it by passing a series of oral and written examinations.
Before going to all this effort, you should examine the reasons why you might want Thai citizenship to begin with.
Foreigners in Thailand are allowed to invest in real estate and can own condominium units on a freehold basis in their own name.
While being a citizen will afford you more opportunities, from buying land to not being limited in the types of property you can buy, investing in real estate here is still very possible.
Foreigners are also able to start businesses in Thailand, although certainly not the most business-friendly country in the region.
You can start a business in Thailand as a foreigner, but the business has to be majority Thai-owned, and at least 75% of its employees need to be Thai.
Even though these requirements are in place, there are ways to structure your company so that you don’t lose profits or control of your company.
Why You Might Be Interested In A Thai Passport:
Now, there are a few reasons why someone may want to pursue a Thai passport.
If you’ve decided that Thailand is the place where you want to live, dual citizenship with your home country is possible, as Thailand won’t ask you to give up your previous citizenship.
Secondly, a Thai passport, which ranked 102nd on the Nomad Passport Index, is relatively useful as it allows visa-free access to 94 countries, including Southeast Asia, much of Latin America, and parts of the Caribbean.
Perhaps most importantly for some, Thai citizenship allows you to own land in Thailand – which is incredibly cheap in some areas, even for beachfront property.
Finally, while up till now, many expats living in Thailand have survived on visa runs or other workarounds to stay in the country long-term, the government has cracked down on this and tightened controls.
What About A Permanent Residency?
There are now a variety of options for residence in Thailand, becoming a sort of Panama of Southeast Asia. For example, the Thai Elite Visa packages, updated as of October 2023, allow holders to stay for up to 20 years.
The Thai Elite comes with several perks and privileges that could involve health checkups, golf privileges, priority immigration lines, and transfers to and from the airport.
If you have a family, the Investment Residence, which is often confused with a permanent residence, may be a better option and can be renewed indefinitely.
There are also a number of other options, including ways for digital nomads to move into the country.
To even get a permanent residency in Thailand, you need to either invest a substantial sum of money or prove that you need to be in the country for business or employment reasons. Asia is focused on wealth, both your having it and often your investing in their country.
Why It Might Be Better To Look At Other Options:
Even if you absolutely love Thailand, investing five years of your life into an opportunity that is not a sure thing is a risk.
For one thing, there are hassles that having a Thai passport could cause. For example, women holding Thai passports are routinely questioned at international airports, and similar to Cambodian passports, which we’ve previously written about, so too will anyone who doesn’t have obvious Thai heritage.
The tax benefits associated with opening a business or banking in a second country are less attractive in Thailand, with the country’s 20% corporate tax rate. Thailand has also just changed the way it will tax foreigners. Although Thailand is staying with its territorial tax system, they are moving to a quasar remittance-based system, which means that it will tax all foreign income no matter when it is remitted, including employment, business, or sales of assets.
While Asia is a land of opportunity in many ways, when it comes to second passports, there may be more suitable options available in Europe and Latin America.
Thailand only allows visa-free travel to 64 countries, while the typical European or South American country will allow for 100-165 or more.
Many of the countries that we recommend do not require you to live and be employed by a company within their borders.
Thailand has long been popular for expats because it offers a great lifestyle, has excellent weather, and is close to other great places in Asia. For example, you could keep your money in Singapore, and it’s just a flight away, and you could live in lower-cost Thailand.
Although lifestyle destinations and low-tax destinations like Thailand work well for people who have businesses or are investors, remember that you will need a substantial investment for residence in Thailand. And at the end of the day, you can still enjoy most of what Thailand has to offer without a passport.
In contrast, in a lot of countries in Latin America, they just want to see the income. Even if you make $1,500 or $2,000, it’s no problem and a lot more straightforward.
Would you like to dramatically reduce or eliminate your tax burden legally?
If you are interested in gaining greater freedom, diversifying your investments, and protecting your family’s future, the Nomad Capitalist team will work as the architects and general contractors, helping you select the right second passport. Start the process and apply to become a client today.