SMART Startup Visa (SMART Visa S): The best Visa for entrepreneurs in Thailand?
Thailand’s economy has begun to diversify and we can now see a wide variety of both well-established companies and startups in the technology industry.
The Thai Government has been making great efforts to attract foreign entrepreneurs and startups to Thailand. Obtaining a SMART Visa S is a great first step for entrepreneurs to enter Thailand and establish their startup within the tech sector.
However, before you can qualify a SMART Visa S, your proposed company must operate within a special group of targeted industries.
What are the targeted industries a company must participate in?
- Next-Generation Automotive
- Medical and Wellness Tourism
- Agriculture and Biotechnology
- Aviation and Logistics
- Biofuels and Biochemicals
- Digital Technology
- Medical Hub
- Smart Electronics
- Food for the Future
- Automation and Robotics
- Alternative Dispute Resolution
- Human Resource Development in Science and Technology
- Environmental Management and Renewable Energy
What are the eligibility requirements for a SMART Visa S?
In order to qualify for a SMART Visa S, the applicant must be able to satisfy the following criteria, in addition to having the startup project operating within the targeted industries:
- Have a fixed deposit of the equivalent of 600,000 THB (which has been maturing in the account for at three months)*.
- Have a valid health insurance policy.
- Participate in an endorsed incubation, accelerator or similar program,
- obtain joint-venture status, or receive an endorsement from a relevant government industry.
- Establish a company in Thailand within 1 year of receiving the initial Visa. The holder must hold at least 25% ownership in the company, or be a board member of a company operating within the targeted industries.
* Please note that if you’re applying for a 1 year or 2 year Visa and you plan on bringing family members as dependents, you must deposit an additional 180,000 THB or the equivalent local currency, for each family member.
Additionally, these amounts must be deposited three months before submitting the applications. You must also hold valid health insurance policies for yourself and all members of your family for the length of the validity of your visa.
How long is a SMART Visa S valid for?
The SMART Visa S is available for the following lengths of validity:
In order to qualify for a 6 month Visa, the applicant must have their startup project officially endorsed by either the NIA or DEPA. The applicant must also have a health insurance policy that covers the entire duration of the Visa.
Please note that the applicant’s family is not eligible to receive an accompanying SMART Visa when applying for the 6 month Visa.
It is also possible for the 6 month Smart Visa S to be extended for either 6 months or 2 years:
6 month extension:
If the applicant is interested in extending his SMART Visa S but has not yet established a company in Thailand, they can request a 6-month extension (one time only). Applicants must be able to provide proof showing progress of the establishment of their company.
2 year extension:
Applicants who have received a 6-month Smart S Visa can extend their Visa for a further 2 years. In order to do so, the applicant must have established a company in Thailand, and have no less than 600,000 Baht deposited in their bank account (for at least 3 months prior to application).
In order to qualify for a 1 year Visa, the applicant must:
- Attend an accelerator or incubation programme (or an equivalent version which has been certified by the NIA or DEPA)
- Operate a business within one of the targeted industries.
- Applicants can also qualify for this Visa by receiving funding from the private sector, or being endorsed by the NIA or DEPA.
In addition to the qualifications mentioned above, the following is also required:
- Have established a startup in Thailand that operates in the targeted industries mentioned above and has been certified by the NIA or DEPA.
- The applicant must hold no less than 25% of the startup’s registered capital or be a director for the startup.
What are the benefits of a SMART Visa S?
The SMART Visa S comes with the following benefits. These benefits are unique to SMART Visa holders.
- One-year Visa issued and renewable for two years if the requirements are met
- No work permit required for working in the endorsed company
- 90-day Immigration reporting replaced by yearly reports
- No re-entry permit required
- Spouse and children granted permission to stay in Thailand
- Spouse granted permission to work without work permit requirement
What are the alternatives to the SMART Visa S?
The SMART Visa T should not be overlooked by entrepreneurs looking to establish a presence in Thailand. The SMART Visa T is a potential alternative as it allows companies to hire foreigners without the minimum registered capital requirements and quota of Thai employees that other forms of incorporation are subject to. Please note that the minimum salary for employees is 50,000 THB for a startup (and 100,000 THB for companies which have been established for more than 5 years). Companies being established under a SMART Visa T also requires an endorsement from the Strategic Talent Center (STC).
The SMART Visa S is an attractive option for entrepreneurs looking to come to Thailand without the hassle of applying for other, more restrictive Visas. The SMART Visa S also offers a variety of benefits which cannot be gotten through traditional Visas. The process can be completed online at: https://smart-visa.boi.go.th/
If you are in need of assistance with regards to your application, you can browse our Visa services here or book a consultation with our Visa experts to obtain quick and reliable answers.
Please note that this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
The purpose of this call is to provide with you the necessary information to obtain a Visa for Thailand and outline how Thai Visa Belaws can assist you.
Thai Visa Belaws offers the following Visa services in Thailand: Visas (new applications and renewals), Work Permits and Extensions of Stay.
Based on your current situation and your future plans, we’ll advise you on the best options available to you.
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