All foreigners who intend to work in Thailand have to apply for a work permit before they start working. A work permit is required for every foreigner who engages in work by “exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits.”
The issuance of work permits falls within the competences of the Ministry of Labour. Section 8 of the Alien Business Act states that the future employer may apply for this work permit on behalf of the foreigner, but the work permit itself can only be issued once the foreigner has entered Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and presented himself to receive the permit. Moreover, a work permit will not be issued to the foreigner who does not have a Non-immigrant visa.
In Thailand, a work permit is issued to an individual with the support of a company for a specific position and job role within that company. A work permit does not allow a foreigner to work outside of that company designation.
In practice this means that, if you found a job before you actually move to Thailand, the Thai company should arrange for your application for a Non-immigrant B visa.You can enter Thailand with this Non-immigrant B visa and within that period you should apply/collect your work permit for which, again, multiple company documents should be provided. Having received your work permit (valid for the same amount of time as your visa), you can apply for an extension of your visa (from 90 days to one year). From that point on, if you are a resident in Thailand, both your visa and work permit can be extended every year (and before the year elapses).
Basic Requirements for Work Permit
Per foreign employee:
- 2M THB in registered capital
- Four Thai employees registered in social fund
- VAT registration
- The individual must have a valid, proper type, Non-Immigrant type visa to apply
- Some employment classes may require proof of educational qualifications
- A proper/formal/realistic working environment for all employees is required based on the registered objectives of the company
The Work Permit Application
A proper work permit application should contain the following documents provided by the applicant (in English or Thai):
- A duly completed application form with amongst others the job description, a map showing the location of the work place and an explanation of why the company hires a foreign employee
- A valid passport (including a signed copy of all pages) and:
- for non-permanent residents, a Non-Immigrant visa
- for permanent residents, a residence permit and alien book
- A signed English or Thai version of the Curriculum Vitae to proof the applicant’s educational qualifications
- A medical certificate not older than six month from a recognised hospital in Thailand stating his blood type and that the applicant is of good mental and physical health (does not suffer from leprosy, acute tuberculosis, elephantiasis, narcotic addiction or alcoholism)
- Six photographs
- A proxy to the person who is filing the application (it other than the applicant himself), including a 10 THB duty stamp
- A copy of additional licenses, if required
- In case the applicant is married to a Thai national, the following additional documents should be annexed to the request:
- The marriage certificate
- Spouse’s identity card and household registration
- A copy of every page of the applicant’s passport
The application has to be completed with certain corporate documents:
- Commercial Registration Department Certificate proving that the company is a registered juristic person, the name of the director(s), the objections and registered capital
- Shareholders List certified by the Commercial Registration Department
- Factory License, if any
- VAT Certificate
- Withholding Tax (in case the work permit is being renewed)
If the job is in Bangkok, the application should be done at the Ministry of Labor. If the job being applied for is not situated in Bangkok, the application should be filed at the province’s Department of Employment or at the province’s city hall.
Requirements to Be Fulfilled by the Employer
The Thai company hiring a foreigner needs to have the following characteristics:
- Registered in Thailand
- Having applied for a Tax ID and VAT registration
- Having a minimum paid up capital of 2,000,000 THB per foreign employee (3,000,000 THB for foreign employers)
- Having four Thai Employees per work permit
- Having maximum ten work permits (BOI companies may be granted more)
Exemptions and Special Cases
The Alien Business Act foresees some exemptions. Some occupations do not require a Work Permit:
- Members of the diplomatic corps or consular missions, as well as their family and personal servants
- Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and its specialised agencies, as well as their family and personal servants
- Persons who perform duties on missions in the Kingdom under an agreement between the government of Thailand and a foreign government or international organisation
- Persons who enter the Kingdom for the performance of any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports
- Persons who have been received special permission from the Thai government
Other people may be granted special treatment because of the situation they are:
- Foreigners who enter the Kingdom temporarily – but in accordance with the immigration laws – to perform any work of any “urgent and essential nature” for a period not exceeding 15 days, may be exempted of the work permit for this period of time. They have to receive a written notification, signed by the foreigner and endorsed by his employer and accepted by the Director-General.
- Brought in to work under a BOI-promoted project (Investment Promotion Law), he can start working while his application for a work permit is still pending. He has to submit his application for a work permit within 30 days after the approval of the Board of Investment. The Labor Department will issue the work permit within seven days after receiving the notification that the BOI has approved this employee.
Some – 39 in total – occupations can however not be exercised by foreigners. It concerns for example: labouring or agricultural work, wood carving, shop assistant, casting of Buddha images, auctioneer, cutting or polishing jewellery, shoe and hat making, tour guide of conducting guided tours, street vending, legal or litigation services, garment making, architectural work, haircutting or beauty treatment…
Overview of the Applicable Work Permit Fees
|The permit itself (also in case of extension):|
|Replacement of a permit||500 THB/book|
|Change or add job description||1,000 THB/time|
|Change or add employer||3,000 THB/time|
|Change or add a location or place of work||1,000 THB/time|
|Change or add other conditions||150 THB/time|
|Suspension of work permit||100 THB/time|
Once the New Working Act of 2008 is enforced, the Labor Department will be able to charge an additional fee of 10,000 THB when a company hired a foreign employee that is an unskilled or unspecialised worker.
If all documents as stated above are in order, it takes the Labor Department only seven days to issue the work permit in Bangkok but almost two months in Phuket. Only after issuance of a work permit, an employee of a non-BOI company can start working. As mentioned above, an employee of a BOI company can start working as from the moment he applied for the work permit.
Changes to the Above Conditions
If the job content and/or place of work would change, the employer must report these changes within 15 days. If the employment contract would be ended, the foreigner is obliged to return his work permit or he risks a fine of up to 1,000 THB.
Violations & Penalties for Working Without a Work Permit
If a foreigner is working in Thailand without a work permit, he/she risks imprisonment up to three months and/or a fine of up to 5,000 THB. Foreigners who exercise an activity which is prohibited to them, they can be imprisoned for five years and/or fined (between 2,000 to 100,000 THB). The employer himself may be punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years and/or fined up to 60,000 THB.
The related forms and documents can be downloaded here.
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