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Thai Law Insights

Smart Visa: A fast track to work in Thailand without the need for a Work Permit!

Theerin (Justin) Techatraisorn


As expatriates may be aware, there is no subordinate law under Thai Work Permit law which would exempt expatriates from obtaining a Work Permit if they merely come to Thailand from time to time to participate in business meetings. Until now, this dilemma has not been fully addressed. However, expatriate executives who only come to Thailand for occasional business meetings may now be able to rely on a Work Permit exemption by obtaining a ‘Smart Visa’

The Smart Visa program started in 2019 but attracted few applicants at that time as travel during the pandemic was problematic. As we have now entered into a post-pandemic phase, applications are expected to increase. To provide some background, in 2018, the Thai Cabinet passed a resolution to create this new Smart Visa which works in conjunction with the Investment Promotion Act of 1977, the Immigration Act of 1979, and the Emergency Decree Governing Management of Foreign Employment of 2017. Upon obtaining a Smart Visa, expatriates can enjoy from 6 months up to 4 years permitted stay without the need for a Work Permit. The Smart Visa allows the holder’s lawful spouse and children to stay with them. Additionally, the spouse and children may also engage in lawful work without the need of a Work Permit during the length of the Smart Visa.

A Smart Visa may be an available and viable option for those expatriates and family who want to work in one of the industries the government seeks to develop and promote in Thailand.