Nordic people moving out of Thailand

The number of Nordic businesspeople in Thailand and the number of Nordic people on retirement visa or visa linked to their Thai family have been declining during the first five months of this year. This is the first decline in 12 years. If the trend continues, there will only be 861 Nordic people on a business visa left in Thailand by the end of the year.

In 2018, 435 Nordic businesspeople renewed their business visa during the first five month of that year. This year, only 395 businesspeople renewed their visa. While some new businesspeople may have moved in, more must have decided to move out, leaving a net decline in Nordic businesspeople in Thailand of 40 people or 10 percent.

The downward trend is stronger than the total for all foreign nationalities in Thailand, where the decline in business visa renewals went down 2 percent during this period to a total of 5536 renewals.

Nordic people on retirement visa or visa related to their Thai family also declined. Last year, 3837 Nordic people renewed their O-visa during these first five months of the year. This year during the same five months, only 3788 people renewed their O-visa. The net decline was 49 people.

The category “others”, which includes students on E-visa declined 89 people from 1174 last year to 1085 this year. A decline of 7.5 percent.

Even applications for extension of tourist visas went down with 65 renewals to 11,752 renewals.

Danes had the largest decline

In the business communities, not all Nordic nationalities declined in equal proportions.

  • The number of Norwegian male business visa renewals went down from 40 to 39 men, while the businesswomen renewals went up from 5 in 2018 to 12 in 2019, giving a net increase of 7 business people renewing their visas.
  • The number of Finnish businessmen and business woment remained unchanged with 47 men and 13 women renewing their visas.
  • The number of Swedish male business visa renewals went down with 10 from 176 to 166 while the businesswomen renewals went down equally with 10 from 47 to 37, giving a total decline of 20 or 9 percent.
  • The largest decline was in the Danish nationality. The number of Danish male business visa renewals went down from 70 to 66, while Danish business women declined from 18 to 11. The net decline of 11 business visa renewals equals 12.5 percent.
  • The number of Icelandic businesspeople went up with 3 males and down with 1 female renewal to a total of 4 Icelandic people – doubling the 2 Icelandic people who renewed their visa during the first five months of last year.

Making the same comparison regarding people on O-visa also shows also an unequal pattern.

  • The Norwegians went down 21 O-visa renewals.
  • The Finns went down 11 O-visa renewals.
  • The Swedes went up with 37 O-visa renewals.
  • The Danes went down with 92 O-visa renewals – the largest drop of 14.5 percent in these categoeries.
  • The Icelandic people went up 3 renewals.

Prognosis for 2019

If the trend during the first five months continues the rest of the year, there will by year end of 2019 be 128 Norwegians on business visa, 133 Finns on business visa, 426 Swedes on business visa, 164 Danes on business visa and 10 Icelandic people on business visa.

The total of 861 Nordic people on business visa will be a decline of 44 persons from the total number of 905 business visa renewals in 2018, equal to a decline of 4.9 percent.

As for retirement and family visas, there will by year end of 2019 be:

  • 2846 Norwegians,
  • 533 Finns,
  • 3096 Swedes,
  • 1096 Danes and
  • 62 Icelandic nationals.

That will be a total of 7633 Nordic persons by year end, down 165 persons from 7798 Nordic persons on retirement visa or family visa by the end of last year, 2018.

Reversal of growths since 2007

The Nordic business community used to grow steadily with 10 percent annually. In 2007, there were 423 persons renewing their business visa. In 2013 the community had grown to 774 people. The last couple of years, the annual growth has slowed down to 1.1 percent. From 885 persons in 2016 to 905 persons in 2018.

This year, 2019, is the first year where the growth in the business community can be expected to be a negative of 4.9 percent.

All figures are based on statistics provided by the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police.



Nationality Gender Applications for visa extensions, excl. tourist visa extension, all year 2018 Total
Business Government Lives with Thai family Lives with Thai family with land Retirement Special laws Other
BOI Oil&Gas
Sweden Male 367 19 403 81 2,206 161 0 683 3,920
Sweden Female 101 8 29 118 179 68 0 370 873
Total 4,793
Norway Male 89 16 159 17 2,201 31 3 289 2,805
Norway Female 22 4 27 23 459 13 2 169 719
Total 3,524
Denmark Male 160 15 232 7 964 87 2 455 1,922
Denmark Female 28 9 10 34 37 29 0 127 274
Total 2,196
Finland Male 96 18 97 10 393 210 0 265 1,089
Finland Female 37 21 13 26 18 36 0 96 247
Total 1,336
Iceland Male 3 2 6 1 48 1 0 25 86
Iceland Female 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 8
Source: Immigration Bureau, Royal Thai Police

About Gregers Møller

Editor-in-Chief • ScandAsia Publishing Co., Ltd. • Bangkok, Thailand

View all posts by Gregers Møller

6 Comments on “Nordic people moving out of Thailand”

  1. To a large degree Uffe is unfortunately spot on!

    Having been a permanent resident of Thailand for 52 years, please observe that both traffic and pollution were horrific also in 1967, – I will argue even worse!

    At that time we were also munching away on pesticide “covered” fruits and vegetables.

    During the last decades we have fortunately witnessed an evolution both in terms of knowledge as well as attitudes towards past norms of acceptance. Mai pen rai attitudes have been replaced by critical attitudes and limited tolerance, – put differently we are now prioritizing/focusing on a healthier life style as well as environments.

    As Uffe is alluding to, – Thailand is increasingly failing to deliver on our expectations!


  2. The reason people are leaving is the ridiculous new immigration laws/requirements. In addition to this, the cost of living is almost higher than in my home country, horrible pollution, traffic, eating food/vegetable loaded with pesticides Glyphosate/paraquat which is banned in Europe and the U.S. but still heavily sprayed on crops and fruit. so if you want to stay and eat yourself to death, and put 800K in the bank by all means stay, I for one have chosen to leave after 18 years.
    If this doesn’t get you, take a good healthy breath of the good clean air. Not a place for kids.
    And let’s not forget censoring of tv and anything on your laptop.
    I just love watching tv and then the government takes over for 2 hours. forget what you were watching. dont you just love it? amazing Thailand

  3. I dislike the pingback comment above for 2 reasons. 1. The story is copied straight from this website to his. 2. The headline has been changed, trying to put the blame on immigrarion laws. This author believes there are a number of reasons for the decline which has hit also the larger Western expat community in Thailand. I don’t like to be highjacked for someone elses battle.

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