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Work Permits

2.           Work Permits


The Foreign Working Act of 2008 requires all foreigners working in Thailand to obtain a work permit prior to starting work in the Kingdom and describes the procedures for issuance and maintenance of work permits and lists certain occupations from which the foreigners may be excluded.


2.1.        Exemptions


The Act grants exemptions from the work permit requirement to persons occupying the following professions:

          Members of the diplomatic corps;

          Members of consular missions;

          Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and its specialized agencies;

          Personal servants coming from abroad to work exclusively for persons listed under the above items;

          Persons who perform duties on missions in the Kingdom under an agreement between the government of Thailand and a foreign government or international organization;

          Persons who enter into the Kingdom for the performance of any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports;

          Persons who are specially permitted by the Thai Government to enter into and perform any duty or mission in the Kingdom.


2.2         Special Cases


While most foreigners must apply for a work permit, and may not begin work until the permit is issued, the Foreign Working Act does provide special treatment in the following circumstances:


Urgent and Essential Work
Exemption from work permit requirements is granted to the foreigner who enters into the Kingdom temporarily, but in accordance with the immigration law, to perform any work of any “urgent and essential nature” for a period not exceeding 15 days. However, such foreigner may engage in work only after a written notification on a prescribed form (WP-10), signed by the foreigner and endorsed by his employer, has been submitted to and accepted by the Director-General or his designee.

The foreigners entitled to this treatment may enter into Thailand with any kind of visa, including a transit visa. The term “urgent and essential work” is not explicitly defined and consequently, the issuance of this sort of exemption is a matter of administrative discretion.

Activities Not Requiring a WP-10

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom as “a participant” of a conference or seminar, who does not engage in arranging such event

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom as “a visitor” to an exhibition or trade fair, and who does not engage in arranging such event

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom as “a visitor” to a business site or as “a participant” of a business meeting, who does not engage in arranging the business site visit or meeting

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom to be a member of “an audience” at a special or academic lecture, and who does not engage in arranging such event

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom to be a member of “an audience” at a lecture or seminar on technical training, and who does not engage in arranging such event

·         A foreign national entering the Kingdom as “a purchaser” at a trade fair, who does not engage in arranging such event

In addition, a foreign national arranging a meeting, seminar, or exhibition in cooperation with a government agency or state enterprise will be given a 30-day exemption according to the Royal Decree (No. 2) B.E. 2528.

Investment Promotion

A foreigner seeking permission to work in the Kingdom under the Investment Promotion Act must submit an application for a work permit within 30 days of notification by the BOI that the position has been approved. A foreigner in this category may engage in authorized work while the application is being processed.


2.3         Procedures


The Act requires that any foreigner working in Thailand must obtain a work permit before beginning work. Section 11 of the Act stipulates that while a prospective employer may file an application on behalf of the foreigner in advance of his commencing work, the actual work permit will not be issued until the foreigner has entered into Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and has presented him or herself to receive the work permit.


For a regular position, a work permit will be issued for 1 year, but for executive position or experts, a work permit will be issued for 2 years. A work permit must be renewed before its expiry date or it will lapse.


Applicants for work permits must enter into Thailand with Non–immigrant B visa. If they enter with a tourist visa or transit visa or visa waiver, they must change the type of visa to be Non–immigrant B visa. Furthermore, a foreigner who enters into Thailand with a Non–immigrant B visa will also qualify to apply for a work permit, if he marries a Thai woman.


2.4         Required Documentation


The following documents must be provided by the foreigner and attached to a work permit application:

          For non-permanent residents: Original of passport containing a Non-Immigrant visa (Validity period not less than 6 months) (except for WP 3 applications, only a copy of passport showing photo page, name and number).

          For permanent residents: Original of passport, residence permit and foreigner book (except for WP 3 applications, only a copy of passport showing photo page, name and number).

          Evidence of applicant’s educational qualifications and letter(s) of recommendation from the former employer, describing in detail the applicant’s past position, duties, performance and place and length of employment. If the documents are in a language other than English, a Thai translation certified as correct by a Thai Embassy (if abroad) or Ministry of Foreign Affairs (if in Thailand) must be attached.

          A recent medical certificate from a first-class licensed physician in Thailand stating that the applicant is not of unsound mind and not suffering from leprosy, acute tuberculosis, elephantiasis, narcotic addiction, habitual alcoholism or syphilis stage 3 (except for WP 7 applications).

          Three 5x6 cm. full-faced, bareheaded, black and white or color photographs, taken no more than 6 months prior to the filing of the application.

          If the application is to be filed by another person, a valid power of attorney in the prescribed form must be attached with a 10 baht duty stamp.

          On the application form, the “job description” entry must be completed with a detailed statement as to what job is expected to be performed, how it is related to other people, and what materials will be used in the work (additional paper to be used if necessary).

          If the job applied for is subject to a license under a particular law, in addition to the Foreign Working Act, a photocopy of such license, (e.g. teacher’s license, physician’s license, press card from the Public Relations Department, certificate of missionary status from the Office of Religious Affairs, etc.) shall be attached.

          If the applicant is married to a Thai national, the original and photocopies of the following must be presented:

            -           Marriage certificate, spouse’s identity card, birth certificates of children,             household                                     registration, and photocopy of every page of applicant's passport.

          If the job being applied for is not in Bangkok, the application should be filed at the relevant province’s Department of Employment, or in the absence of such an office, at the province’s city hall.

          Additional evidence as requested. It may be necessary to translate any or all documents into Thai.


2.5         Permitted Activities


The former law, Foreign Working Act of 1978, prohibited the employers from allowing foreigners to perform any function other than that described in the foreigner's work permit.  The employers must report changes in employment, transfers and termination of all foreigners in their organization within 15 days of any such action. In cases of dismissal, the foreigners must return their work permits to labor authorities in Bangkok at the Alien Occupation division or, if they are in a provincial area, to the province’s Department of Employment. Failure to do so will result in a fine of up to 1,000 baht.


However, according to the Foreign Working Act of 2008, the law does not force the employers to return a work permit of their foreign employees, but if the employers or foreign employees wish to return a work permit, the labor authorities will receive a work permit and record the termination date.


Note that, although, the law does not force the employers or employees to return a work permit but if the foreigners wish to work in Thailand with the other employers, such foreigner should return their work permit to the labor authorities so that they can record of termination date and the foreigners will then be allowed to apply for a new work permit with the other employers.


Any foreigner engaging in work without a work permit may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding 5 years or a fine from 2,000 baht up to 100,000 baht, or both. In case of violation of the conditions of his work as stipulated in his permit, the foreigner may be punished by a fine of not exceeding 20,000 baht.


An employer who permits a foreigner to work in his organization without a work permit may be punished with a fine from 10,000 baht up to 100,000 baht for each foreign employee. An employer who permits a foreigner to act in violation of the nature of the work specified in the work permit may be punished with a fined not exceeding 10,000 baht.


Permit holders must obtain prior permission to change their occupation and/or place of work. Change of employer location or the residential address of the permit holder must be properly endorsed in the work permit by the labor authorities. The Foreign Working Act does not prevent a foreigner from engaging in work in more than one field or for more than one employer.


2.6         Restricted Occupations


A Royal Decree in 1973 listed 39 occupations and professions that were then prohibited to foreigners. This list has been amended on several occasions by subsequent Royal Decrees, the latest one in 2005;

1          Labor work, except crewmen engaging in fishery activities included under Item 2 below;

2          Cultivation, animal breeding, forestry and fishery work, except for labor work in maritime fisheries and work requiring specific skills in farm supervision;

3          Masonry, carpentry, or other construction work;

4          Wood carving;

5          Driving motor vehicles or non-motorized carriers, except for piloting international aircraft;

6          Shop attendant;

7          Auctioneering;

8          Supervising, auditing or giving services in accounting, except occasional international auditing;

9          Gem cutting and polishing;

10         Hair cutting, hairdressing and beautician work;

11         Hand weaving;

12         Mat weaving or making of wares from reed, rattan, kenaf, straw or bamboo pulp;

13         Manufacture of manual fibrous paper;

14         Manufacture of lacquerware;

15         Thai musical instrument production;

16         Manufacture of nielloware;

17         Goldsmith, silversmith and other precious metal work;

18         Manufacture of bronzeware;

19         Thai doll making;

20         Manufacture of mattresses and padded blankets;

21         Alms bowl making;

22         Manual silk product making;

23         Buddha image making;

24         Manufacture of knives;

25         Paper and cloth umbrella fabrication;

26         Shoemaking;

27         Hat making;

28         Brokerage or agency work, except in international business;

29         Engineering work, civil engineering branch, that concerns planning and calculation, systemization, research, planning, testing, construction supervision or advisory work, except work requiring specialized skills;

30         Architectural work concerning designing, drawing, estimating, construction supervision, or advisory work;

31         Dressmaking;

32         Pottery or ceramics;

33         Manual cigarette rolling;

34         Tourist guide or tour organizing agency;

35         Hawking business;

36         Thai character type setting;

37         Manual silk reeling and weaving;

38         Clerical or secretarial work;

39         Legal or litigation service, except

            (a)   Working as arbitrator

(b)   Conducting law suits in Arbitration Court in cases where the law which enforces the dispute is not Thai Law or in cases that do not require judgment of Arbitration in the Kingdom of Thailand



Reviewed June 2015

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