Being a digital nomad is illegal

WARNING! There is no country in the world where it is legal for you to work off your laptop whilst on a tourist visa, visit visa!!

Digital nomand Bali, digital nomad Indonesia…

In reality, most countries don’t ask and don’t assume that you are breaking the rules, but countries in South East Asia and places like Bali are now being flooded with digital nomads, and the sharp-eyed immigration officials know how to make some money from a digital nomad.

A Visa on Arrival (tourist visa) or Sosbud for Bali or Indonesia does not allow you to do any work, not so much as a single blog post. If you have a travel website, or a freelannce website with your name and photo, then you will walk right into the trap. Immigration will pick you up, hold you in a cell, threaten you with deportation, unless of course you pay a fine.

The stated amount is $20,000, but they will tell you that they wish to help you and that $2,000 will do.

NOTE WELL. If you pay the money then you are in even more trouble.

If you get picked up later on in a place, after paying the fine (bribe), you are subject to arrest and 5-10 years in a hell-hole prison, sleeping with the cockroaches. In many places in Asia the anti-corruption unit wants to catch the immigration official and deal with him, and you are the opportunity. If you pay the fine and get caught your life is over. So is it worth it?

The number of digital nomads heading to Asia is growing exponetially, and the sharp-eyed immigration officials now know how easy it is to find you online and make some money for their family (fines are paid in cash, you don’t get a receipt). I have known people pay the fine in Starbucks or in a car park.

Deportation means that you are held in a shit cell, no water, then handcuffed and taken to the plane, and the handcuffs often stay on when you fly – taken off when you land in your home country. You also get a red stamp in you visa, which means no country in the world will let you land except your home country.

NOTE. You cannot ask to be deported from Malaysia to Vietnam if you are Western.

The good news is that they will pay for the ticket – a free ride home!

When you get back you will be arrested and held, your home police assuming that you did something serious to get deported, maybe drugs – or having sex with kids! You will have to explain why you were deported.

You will then have to get a new passport, and sit an interview with a lawyer to convince the passport office that you are not travelling the world selling drugs and murdering people. They can refuse a new passport if they wish. There will certainly be a delay as they contact the authorities that deported you, a few weeks to visit relatives in your home town.

You may also be placed on a no-fly list, and that will crimp your digital nomad lifestyle. Being deported is very serious, don’t risk it. Get deported twice and you could be banned from flying.

Being a digital nomad is not legal in most countries, but some like Malaysia tolerate it – but are now asking for tax to be paid at 28%. If you spend a year in Malaysia they will ask how you funded yourself, then you are in trouble. If you don’t pay the tax, you go to prison. If the back cover of your latest paperback says that you live in Bali and write there, you are screwed. In Malaysia you will have to pay over %28 tax on all royalties.

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