A non-Thai citizen may work and operate a business in Thailand as long as he has procured a work permit. It is illegal to work in the Land of Smiles without a work permit.  Without this legal requirement, an expatriate employee or employer could be arrested and be sent to jail even after paying a huge fine.  An expatriate with the intent of working in Thailand should be informed about the application process for obtaining and retaining a work permit in Thailand.

Work Permit Application

A working permit may be granted to an expatriate if his employer can provide the necessary documents for a work permit, and if his proposed occupation is allowable to foreigners.  However, any or most of the following conditions must also be satisfied.

  • The business establishment must have a registered capital of 2,000,000 Baht. If the applicant has a Thai spouse, capitalization may be 1,000,000 Baht only. The norm is to hire one expatriate for every 2,000,000 Baht capital, but up to 10 expatriates only.
  • The business establishment deals with export trade, with a 3,000,000 Baht foreign currency remittance. One expatriate could be hired for every 3,000,000 Baht, but up to 3 foreign employees only.
  • The business establishment should have paid at least 5,000,000 Baht to the Revenue Department in the course of three years. One expatriate is allowed for every 5,000,000 Baht.
  • The business establishment should have at least 50 Thai employees. An expatriate can be hired for every 50 Thai employees, but not more than 5.
  • Any expatriate with a computed personal income tax of at least 18,000 Baht, or has already paid such amount to the Revenue Department may apply for a work permit.

Non-Immigrant Visa Application

Before an expatriate can secure a work permit in Thailand, he needs to have a non-immigrant visa or in some cases, a resident visa. This initial visa must be obtained before going to Thailand.  Below are the requirements for obtaining a non-immigrant visa in one’s country.

  • The applicant must have been offered a legitimate job by a credible Thai company, or will start his own Thai company with himself as an employee.
  • The Thai company has requested a non-immigrant visa for the potential expatriate employee so that the company may apply for the applicant’s work permit.
  • The Thai company can vouch for the applicant’s moral character in terms of his being respectful to Thai culture, and following the laws of the country.

It is best to apply for a visa at least 30 days before he leaves for Thailand. It is the responsibility of the consulate to secure copies of financial statements and registration documents of the Thai company. If a potential expat employee or employer has already secured a non-immigrant visa, he may begin the process of applying for a work permit. The Ministry of Labor processes the work permit application, and if every requirement has been satisfied the process takes 7 business days.

Employee Requirements

  • Non-immigrant Visa
  • Photocopied and signed pages of the passport
  • Departure Card
  • Authenticated copy of educational degree
  • Authenticated Transcript of Records
  • Signed copy of the licenses of certificates of the applicant
  • Curriculum Vitae of the applicant
  • Required photos – 3 copies of 5 x6 cm full face photographs of applicant in business attire.
  • Original and authenticated photocopy of marriage certificate if the applicant is married to a Thai national, including Thai ID of a spouse, birth certificates of children, household registration.

The employer must also provide required work permit documents such as the Commercial Registration Department certificate of the company, certified list of shareholders, a license issued by the Factory Department and Ministry of Industry. VAT certificate and filing, Social Security payment filing and Witholding Tax.  Each document must be duly stamped, sealed, and duly signed by the managing director.  All government-issued certifications must be dated not more than 90 days of the application for the work permit.

If the work is in Bangkok, the foreign applicant should apply at the Ministry of Labor. If the potential job is not in Bangkok, application should be filed at the province’s city hall or the Department of Employment.

Exemptions on Work Permit

According to the Foreign Business Act, there are some occupations that do not necessitate a work permit.  First, any member of the consular missions or diplomatic corps, including their family and personal staff, is exempted from securing a work permit.  Officials of the United Nations and representative of member countries, including their family and personal staff are also exempted from securing work permit. Any individual working for the Thai Kingdom under an official agreement between the Thai government and the employee’s government or affiliated international organization may work in Thailand without a work permit. There are times when the Thai government gives special permission for individuals to work in Thailand.  Any individual working for the benefit of Thai education, sports, arts, and culture may be exempted from getting a work permit.

Regulations

Once an expatriate receives his work permit, he is expected to keep it in his office to carry it during office hours in case of government inspection.  The employee is expected to perform work according to the job specification in the work permit.  If he expects to continue to work in Thailand pass the work permit’s expiration date, it is best to apply for an extension. Lost or damaged work permits must be replaced 15 days from the date of disappearance or damage.  Changes in personal information must be reported to the Employment Service office.  If the employee resigns or is terminated prior to the expiration of his work permit, he must return the work permit within 7 days of his resignation or termination.  Related fines are applied in each case.

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