Thailand’s Board of Investment has been issuing SMART Visas since 2018, and many expats and their families have benefited from the convenience that the visa offers.
The SMART Visa, which is open to Western experts and investors, lets you stay in Thailand for up to four years while only having to check in once a year, instead of every 90 days.
So, what exactly is the SMART Visa, who qualifies for it, and how do you apply? We answer all your questions and walk you through the entire process in this guide.
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What Is It?
The SMART Visa is a new type of visa for highly skilled individuals and comes with more benefits than ordinary Thai visas.
The program is managed by Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) and is a reflection of Thailand’s efforts to attract a variety of experts, senior managers, and investors to either work or invest in companies in Thailand.
The SMART Visa comes with a list of benefits. With it:
- you get a maximum four-year renewable visa (other visas only give you one to two years)
- you don’t need to get a work permit to work in Thailand
- you only have to check in at the immigration once a year instead of every 90 days
- you don’t need a re-entry permit every time you leave Thailand
- you have access to the fast-track service at Thailand airports for international flights
- your spouse and children can work in Thailand without having to have a work permit
SMART Visa Types
The SMART Visa is open to foreign experts and investors who fall into one of the five SMART Visa categories. And there are no restrictions on location to qualify.
By doing so, Thailand hopes to develop various industries based on the current needs of the country as follows.
Whether you live in Thailand or abroad, you can apply for the SMART Visa. The main requirement is that you or the company you’re working for must do business within the targeted industries of the SMART Visa program.
The targeted industries are subject to change over time based on the needs of Thailand. Right now, they include but are not limited to:
In addition, each type comes with its own requirements and benefits as seen below.
If you’re not eligible for the SMART Visa, check out the other types of Thailand visas.
SMART T (Talent)
The SMART T Visa is for highly skilled individuals who work in Thailand. It gives you a maximum four-year renewable visa.
To get a SMART T Visa, you need to:
- be an expert in science and technology
- be employed in a Thailand company in one of the targeted industries
- earn a minimum monthly salary of THB100,000, or THB50,000 baht if you’re working for a startup
- have a minimum one-year employment contract with a company in Thailand
It’s also possible to get a SMART T Visa if you’re working for a government organization or higher education institution.
SMART I (Investor)
The SMART I Visa gives you a maximum four-year renewable visa. This is for those who want to invest in Thailand. The investment amount must be at least THB20,000,000 in a tech company or THB5,000,000 in a local startup.
The company must also be within the targeted industries of the SMART program.
SMART E (Executive)
The SMART E Visa is for those who are working in a senior management position, such as managing director or chairman of a tech-based company in Thailand that provide services in the SMART program targeted industries.
This is also a maximum four-year renewable visa. However, visa durations are mainly based on your employment contract terms.
To get a SMART E Visa, you need to:
- have a minimum monthly salary of THB200,000
- be a managing director or similar
- hold a Bachelor’s degree
- have at least 10 years of working experience in relevant industries
SMART S (Startup)
The SMART S Visa is for entrepreneurs or investors who want to start a business in Thailand. Right now, the business must be a technology-based startup. The company must also be in the targeted industries of the SMART program.
To get a SMART S Visa, you need to have:
- a company in Thailand in one of the targeted industries
- at least 25 percent of the company shares, or be the company director
- at least THB600,000 in your Thai bank account for three months
- health insurance
This gives you a maximum two-year renewable visa.
SMART O (Other)
The SMART O Visa is for legal partners or children of the SMART Visa holder. To qualify as a legal partner, you must be married to the SMART Visa holder and hold a marriage certificate.
If you want to apply for the SMART O Visa for your children, they must be under 20 years old.
Depending on the type of SMART Visa the main visa holder has, there may be additional conditions. For example, SMART S Visa holder’s dependents need to have THB180,000 per person in a Thai bank account and health insurance for their entire duration in Thailand.
That said, the SMART O Visa holder gets similar benefits as holders to other types of visas, such as:
- a renewable visa, with the length of stay similar to the main SMART Visa holder
- the ability to work in Thailand without a work permit
- one-year reporting instead of every 90 days
- the ability to leave Thailand without having to apply for re-entry permits
- access to the fast-track service at Thailand airports for international flights
Where and How to Apply
You can apply for the SMART Visa both inside and outside of Thailand.
The application process goes like this:
- Create an account on the SMART Visa website
- Fill in the online application and upload the necessary documents
- Wait for your visa to be approved
Once your visa is approved, you can get a visa stamp good for 60 days at a One-Stop Service Center in Thailand. From outside of Thailand, you can get your stamp at a Thai embassy or consulate.
It normally takes 30 days for the visa to be approved. During this process, an officer from Thailand’s Board of Investment (BOI) will contact you to verify some details. The officer may ask you for additional documents.
Getting Your Visa
Getting your SMART Visa looks like a straightforward process. If you live in Thailand, you need to go to the One-Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits, change your visa type, and then extend your SMART Visa as needed.
If you live outside of Thailand, you’ll need to go to your nearest Thai embassy or consulate to get your SMART Visa.
Extending Your Visa
Extending your SMART Visa is the same process as applying for the visa. Every one to four years, and depending on your SMART Visa type, you’ll need to re-apply for the visa.
The government fee for the SMART Visa is THB10,000 per year. It’s the second-most expensive visa in Thailand, next to the Elite Visa.
Please note that you should bring enough cash to the Thai immigration office to pay for the visa, they might not accept wire transfers or credit and debit cards.
What to Do Next
If you’re interested in applying for one of the SMART Visas, we can start an application online.
Alternatively, you can contact the SMART Visa Unit.
- SMART Visa Unit
- One Stop Service Center for Visa and Work Permit (OSS)
- 18th Floor, Chamchuri Square Building, Chamchuri Square Building, Phayathai Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
- Tel: 02 209 1100 ext. 1109–1110
- Fax: 02 209 1199
- Email: [email protected]