If you are an expatriate working in Thailand, a Thai Work Permit should be one of your basic must-haves.

As a matter of fact, it would be illegal to work in Thailand without your Work Permit. It doesn’t matter what kind of work you are doing, for example, standing behind the counter of your Bar and cleaning glasses without a work permit can cause you problems.

First of all, you will need to have a Non-Immigrant Visa before being able to apply for a work permit. The Thai Work Permit can be granted to expatriates who satisfy any or most of the following conditions:

  • Working for an establishment with a registered capital of at least 2,000,000 Baht. One expatriate can be hired for every 2,000,000 Baht of capital but not more than 10 expatriates.
  • Working in an establishment, which has already paid income tax to the Revenue Department in the past 3 years not less than 5,000,000 Baht. For every 5,000,000 Baht tax payment is allowed to hire 1 expatriate.
  • Working for an establishment, which engages in export business and remit foreign currency of at least the equivalent of 3,000,000 Baht last year. For every 3,000,000 Baht, an establishment is allowed to hire 1 expatriate but not more than 3 expatriates.
  • Working in an establishment, which employs 50 Thai employees. An establishment is allowed to hire 1 expatriate for every 50 Thai employees but not more than 5 expatriates in total.
  • An expatriate who has an income and duty to pay personal income tax to the Revenue Department of equivalent or more than 18,000 Baht, or already paid personal income tax in the past year of equivalent or more than 18,000 Baht.

The Employment Service office may consider work permit approval, renewal, and modification of employment descriptions regardless of the previous requirements as stated if you are under the following conditions:

  • If you are an expatriate working for a representative office conducting quality control, procurement, or marketing research.
  • If you work for investment consulting, administrative consulting, technical and technology, or periodical internal audit.
  • If you are a Tourism representative who brings in foreigners to travel in Thailand.
  • If you are employed under International financial institutions approved by the Bank of Thailand.
  • If you are in the temporary business of entertainment, religious, social welfare, cultural or sporting without intention to make profit and paying income tax to the government.
  • If you are working as a contractor on projects with any government bodies or state enterprises.
  • If you work using mostly local raw material as an essential component in the production process or work that can reduce the use of imported raw material.
  • If your work involves supporting export of Thai products.
  • If you are working to bring in new technology, which Thai people are not capable of, in order to distribute and transfer to Thai people.
  • If you work in the area where there is a shortage of Thai labour.
  • If you can provide certificate of residence in Thailand.
  • If you are married to a Thai citizen with a legalized marriage registration, publicly cohabiting as husband and wife, and with a legal profession.

Once you receive your Thai Work Permit, you must follow these regulations:

  • You must carry your work permit or keep it in the office during working hours to show to government officers any time. A fine of not more than 1,000 baht will be paid by those who violate this.
  • You must only perform the work according to the occupation stated in your work permit. You should apply for the revisions should you change occupation or office address. If you violate this rule you can be imprisoned for not more than a month or fined not more than 2,000 baht or both.
  • You must apply for an extension before the expiration date if you intend to continue working in Thailand. Should you fail to do this, you can be imprisoned not more than 3 months or fined not more than 5,000 baht or both.
  • If your work permit is damaged or lost, you must apply for its replacement within 15 days from the date he/she knows about the damage or disappearance of the work permit. If you fail to do so, you will be fined not more than 500 baht.
  • You need to inform the Employment Service office to update your personal information should you change any of it as stated in your Work Permit.
  • In case of resignation, you must return your work permit within 7 days from the date of your resignation. If you are found violating this, you will be fined not more than 1000 baht.

What do I have to do to get a work permit

To get a work permit, you must have either a non‐immigrant visa or a residence permit. Ideally, you must also have a non‐immigrant visa obtained before entering Thailand. A residence permit is usually granted only after you have lived in Thailand for at least 3 consecutive years under a non‐immigrant visa. Your employer or potential employer may file an application for advance permission for permission to work before you arrive in Thailand. However, the work permit itself will not be issued until you arrive in Thailand on a valid non‐immigrant visa.

If you are not working in Bangkok, the application has be filed at the nearest Provincial Department at the Employment Office. All supporting documents must be translated into Thai with the appropriate certification.

You will need the following documents when you apply for a work permit. Be aware, that Thai labor officials may make changes in the list of required documents whenever they consider appropriate:

  • Application form (Tor. Thor. 2) and 3 ID photos, front view and 5X6 cm. in size, wearing a suit and a tie (not older than 6 months)
  • Letter from employer certifying employment and reasons for not employing Thai national
  • Employment agreement
  • Copy of the company’s affidavit certified by the Commercial Registration Department (taken not more than 6 months)
  • Copy of list of shareholders certified by the Commercial Registration Department (taken not more than 6 months)
  • Copy of certificate of incorporation
  • Copy of Taxpayer Card, VAT certificate or Phor. Por. 01 and 09
  • Copy of current balance sheet with profit and loss showing total assets
  • Copy of Phor. Ngor. Dor. 50 (Corporate Income Tax Return) including receipt
  • Organizational chart
  • List of all foreigners in the company indicating position and work permit numbers
  • Copies of educational certificates and letters of recommendation from previous employment
  • Copies of all pages of passport showing the valid Non-Immigrant Visa (B or O)
  • Copies of all pages of the work permit of the authorized director showing the valid date (if the authorized director is a foreigner)
  • A medical certificate certifying that the applicant is free from prohibited diseases (taken not more than 3 months)
  • Power of attorney affixed with Baht 10 duty stamp
  • Map of the company’s location and photos of the place
  • Official form for notification of commencement of work (Tor.Thor. 10)
  • Other relevant documents if any
  • Copy of Phor. Por. 30 for the previous 6 months including receipt (for new companies only)

All photocopies of documents must be certified as true copies by the authorized directors) and affixed with the company seal. If the application is to be filed by another person, a valid Power of Attorney in the prescribed form must be attached with an affixed Baht 10 duty stamp.

On the application form, the job description entry must be completed with a detailed description of the job to be performed, how it is related to other employees, and what materials will be used in the said job. If the job applied for requires a license under a particular law in addition to the Alien Employment Act, a photocopy of such license, e.g., a teacher’s license, physician’s license, press card from the Public Relations Department, etc. must also be attached.

If you are married to a Thai national, the marriage certificate must be presented along with your spouse’s identity card, birth certificates of children, household registration certificate, and a photocopy of every page of your passport. If you are applying for a position previously held by another foreigner, a photocopy of your predecessor’s work permit, together with his/her notice of resignation from the company or a letter confirming his/her intended date of departure must be presented.

How long are Work Permits valid?

Work permits are valid now for 1 year. A work permit is good only for the particular job for which it was issued within the geographic limitations specified in the work permit. Working in a position or at a location other than that specifically approved is grounds for termination of your permit. You may hold more than one position with one or more employers but you must obtain permission for each position and for each employer. Generally, the permission for each position is entered in the original work permit record.

Exceptions to the Alien Employment Act permit foreigners to perform work without a permit if they are deemed necessary and urgent which can be completed within 15 days. However, the Department of Employment must be informed before such work begins.

Exemptions from Work Permits

The following are exempt from work permit requirements:

  • Members of the diplomatic corps
  • Members of a consular mission