Work Permit Rules

Here we have summarized Thailand work permit rules for your easy understanding. Foreigners working in the kingdom and their employers need to understand Working of Alien Act B.E 2551. Thailand work permit rules start with the definition of an “alien” (or foreigner) as a natural person who is not of Thai nationality. “Work” is defined as engaging in work by exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits. The law requires all foreigners to obtain a work permit before starting work in Thailand.

Some foreigners do not need a work permit to perform their duty in Thailand. They are the following people: diplomatic corps; consular missions; representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations Organizations and specialized institutions; personal servants coming from abroad to work exclusively for persons listed above; persons who perform duties on missions in Thailand under an agreement between the Thai Government and a foreign Government or international organization; persons who enter Thailand for the purpose of performing any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports in Thailand; persons who are specially permitted by the Thai Government to enter and perform any duty or mission in Thailand. If you are not one of the above, you need a Thailand work permit before start working in the country.

A foreigner may be exempted from Work Permit requirements if he enters the Kingdom temporarily, but in compliance with Thailand immigration law, to perform any work of an “urgent and essential nature” for not more than 15 days. However, he may not engage in work until he has submitted a written notification on a prescribed form, signed by himself and endorsed by his employer, to the Director-General of the Department of Employment. However, because the term “urgent and essential work” is not explicitly defined, thus this type of exemption is upon the discretion of the authority.

If the employer company has investment promotion by the Board of Investment, the foreigner must submit his application for a Work Permit within 30 days from his entry into Thailand. If the foreigner is already in the country, the 30-day starts from the date he is approved to work under the investment promotion law. Such foreigner may work while his application is being processed by the authorities.

Foreigners who can apply for a Work Permit:

1. Having residence in Thailand or having permission to stay temporarily under the immigration law entering Thailand with a Non-immigrant Business Visa (in some cases, non-immigrant “O” visa). Note that a tourist or a transit-traveler cannot apply for a work permit;
2. Not applying for work in any of the jobs prohibited to foreigners;
3. Having the knowledge and skills to perform the work;
4. Not being insane or mentally sick;
5. Not being sick of leprosy, tuberculosis, drug addiction, alcoholism and elephantitus; and
6. Not having been imprisoned due to violation of the immigration law or the alien employment law within one year prior to applying for a Work Permit.

Here is how to apply for a Thailand Work Permit

  • The foreigner needs his prospective employer to file an application for his Work Permit at the Alien Occupational Control Division. If his work will be in a province other than Bangkok, the application must be filed at the Provincial Office of Employment.
  • The employer must be a Thai limited company with a paid up capital of at least Baht 2,000,000 per work permit. In case the foreign employee is married to a Thai person, the capital needed to sponsor his work permit is Baht 1,000,000. Note that in case of a BOI company, these ratio do not apply.
  • If the employer is a foreign business operating in Thailand such as a Treaty of Amity company, or Representative Office or Branch Office, the company must show the evidence of bringing foreign money into Thailand as the minimum capital required by the Foreign Business Law of Baht 3M per work permit.
  • Visa needed: Most Thai consulates overseas, when considering granting a non-immigrant business visa, ask the visa applicant for the letter of work permit approval (Tor Tor 3) issued by the Office of Foreign Workers Administration, Department of Employment of the Ministry of Labour. The prospective employer in Thailand must file an application for a Work Permit on behalf of the foreign employee before he enters Thailand. Then they will get the Tor Tor 3 and send it to the foreigner with their company documents so that the Thai consulate will issue the work visa for the expat. The Work Permit will be issued only after the foreigner has entered Thailand with the visa and submitted some more documents.

Work Permit validity and changes

A Work Permit is issued for a one-year period or less depending on the officer’s discretion. In case the employers are BOI companies, it may be valid upto 2 years depending on a few factors.

The law prohibits employers from allowing foreign employees to perform any function or at places other than those described in the foreigner’s Work Permit. Changes in employment, transfers and termination of expat employees must be reported by the employer within 15 days. Failure to do so may result in a fine.

Work Permit holders must obtain a prior permission to change their occupation, and/or place of work. Any change of employer location or the residential address of the expat must be informed to the labor authorities who will endorse such changes in the Work Permit.

The Law does not prevent a foreigner from working in more than one field or for more than one employer. He has to have his Work Permit covering all the jobs or employers.

It is advised that you also read Thailand Work Permit – How to apply / Process / Documents needed.