- 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 climate, 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 from the Migration Policy Institute, more than 25 countries around the world offer remote work visas. This includes Portugal, which requires remote workers to earn at least $2,750 per month, as well as Spain, Italy and Malta.
Currently, however, only two Southeast Asian countries offer visas specifically for digital nomads: Malaysia and Thailand. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering applying for a Southeast Asia digital nomad visa.
How to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Malaysia
Applications for Malaysia’s DE Rantau Nomad Pass opened on October 1. Malaysia Digital Nomad Visa applicants must have an annual income of at least $24,000. It costs 1,000 Malaysian ringgits, or $215, to apply for the visa.
The visa allows remote workers to stay in Malaysia for up to 12 months, with a minimum stay requirement of three months, according to the official Malaysia Digital Economy website. It can be extended for up to another 12 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 who work in digital industries like IT and online marketing, and remote workers who are employed by non-Malaysian companies, are eligible.
How to Get a Digital Nomad Visa in Thailand
According to the official visa website. Remote workers can apply in the last category.
Applying for a Thailand visa from inside the country will cost you 50,000 baht, or about $1,320.
The visa includes tax exemption on income earned abroad, but it 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 in intellectual property or, in the case of business owners, have received Series A funding.
Applicants must also be employed by a publicly traded company or, if employed by a private company, they must have a combined income of at least $150 million in the three years preceding the visa application.
And that’s not all – remote workers must have at least five years of professional experience in “relevant areas of current employment”.
Which other Southeast Asian countries have digital nomad visas?
Indonesia has announced plans to launch a remote work visa.
In September, Indonesian Tourism Minister Sandiaga Uno said in an Instagram post that digital nomads can work remotely with the B211A visitor visa, as quoted by Reuters.
But remote work does not officially appear as a valid activity under the visitor visa, according to the Indonesian immigration website. There are currently no officially dedicated visas for remote work in Indonesia, according to a September report from the South China Morning Post.
Indonesia’s coastal province of Bali is one of the region’s most popular tourist destinations. According to Reuters, more than 3,000 digital nomads entered Indonesia from January to August, citing data from the Ministry of Tourism.
The report did not specify which visas these digital nomads held.
According to the Indonesian immigration website, the B211A visa prevents visitors from taking up employment in Indonesia, but it is unclear whether this includes remote or digital work.