- Southeast Asia is a popular destination for remote workers.
- Currently, only two countries have officially launched remote work visas.
- Visa applicants need an annual income of at least $24,000 in Malaysia and $80,000 in Thailand.
Southeast Asia, famous for its tropical weather, beautiful beaches and low cost of living, attracts millions of tourists every year. For some tourists, it’s also the perfect place to live — and work remotely.
According to a June report by the Migration Policy Institute, more than 25 countries worldwide offer remote work visas. That includes Portugal, which requires remote workers to make at least $2,750 a month, as well as Spain, Italy and Malta.
Currently, however, only two countries in Southeast Asia offer visas specifically for digital nomads: Malaysia and Thailand. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering applying for a digital nomad visa in Southeast Asia.
How to get a digital nomad visa in Malaysia
Applications for Malaysia’s DE Rantau Nomad Pass opened on 1 October. Applicants for Malaysia digital nomad visa must have an annual income of at least $24,000. The visa application costs 1,000 Malaysian ringgit, or $215.
The visa allows remote workers to stay in Malaysia for up to 12 months, with a minimum stay requirement of three months, according to Malaysia Digital Economy’s official website. It can be extended for up to 12 additional months and the spouse and children of remote workers are also allowed to live in Malaysia during the validity of the visa.
Not all digital nomads are eligible for the visa — only freelancers and independent contractors working in digital industries such as IT and online marketing, and remote workers employed by companies outside Malaysia, are eligible.
How to get a digital nomad visa in Thailand
Thailand launched the Long-Term Residency Program in September, which is intended for four categories of foreign applicants: “Affluent global citizens,” “Affluent retirees,” “highly skilled professionals” and “Thai professionals,” according to the visa’s official website . Remote workers can apply in the latter category.
If you are applying for a Thai visa from within the country, it will set you back 50,000 baht or about $1,320.
The visa includes tax exemption for income earned abroad, but comes with strict requirements. Remote workers must have an annual income of at least $80,000 for two years prior to application, according to the visa website.
If applicants do not meet these criteria, they must have at least a master’s degree, intellectual property or, in the case of business owners, have received Series A funding.
Applicants must also be employed by a company that is publicly traded, or if employed by a private business, must have combined revenues of at least $150 million in the three years prior to visa application.
And that’s not all – remote workers must have at least five years of work experience in “relevant areas of current employment”.
Which other countries in Southeast Asia have digital nomad visas?
Indonesia has announced plans to launch a remote work visa.
In September, Indonesia’s Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said in an Instagram post that digital nomads could work remotely under the B211A visitor visa, as cited by Reuters.
However, remote work does not officially appear as a valid activity under the visitor visa, according to the Indonesian immigration website. Currently, there are no visas officially dedicated to remote work in Indonesia, according to a September report by the South China Morning Post.
Indonesia’s coastal province of Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the region. According to Reuters, more than 3,000 digital nomads entered Indonesia from January to August, citing data from the tourism ministry.
The report did not specify what visas these digital nomads had.
According to Indonesia’s immigration website, the B211A visa restricts visitors from taking up work in Indonesia, but it is unclear whether this includes remote or digital work.