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Have a job lined up in Thailand? Then you’re going to need a work permit. This lets you legally work in the country, and you won’t have to worry about being blacklisted or deported.
Whether you’re an individual or a company, if you need to apply for a work permit in Thailand, this guide is for you.
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- What Is It?
- What Are the Requirements?
- How to Apply
- How Much Does it Cost?
- How to Extend
- Work Permits for Freelancers
- What Happens if You Lose Your Job?
- Final Thoughts
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What Is It?
A Thai work permit is a legal document that states your position and your job description and lets non-Thais legally work or start a business in Thailand. But if you want to apply for a Thailand work permit, you must first have a non-immigrant visa.
Depending on your type of visa and nationality, you can get a non-immigrant visa from your home country before you come to Thailand, convert your visa if you’re already here, or fly to an embassy near Thailand.
What Are the Requirements?
If you want to apply for a work permit in Thailand, then both the company you’re going to work for and yourself have to meet some minimum requirements.
If the company you wish to work for—or the company you’re going to start—is registered in Thailand and wants to apply for a work permit for an non-Thai employee, the company must have at least two million baht in capital. If the employee the company wants to hire is married to a Thai national, then the company only needs one million baht in capital.
If the company you wish to work for—or the company you run—is not a registered company in Thailand, then the company must have three million baht in capital per employee they want to get a work permit for.
All companies are limited to ten work permits and must have four Thai employees for before hiring one non-Thai employee.
If your company’s promoted by the Thai Board of Investment, or BOI, then it’s is exempt from these requirements. You can hire foreign employees without having to worry about how much capital you have or how many Thai employees you’ve hired.
But this rule only applies if your non-Thai employee meets the minimum requirements set by the BOI and you can make a clear case on why your company needs a foreign employee.
If you want to apply for a Thailand work permit, there are a few requirements you must meet.
You either have to be offered a job by a company that meets the requirements above, or you must start a company that meets the requirements above.
The position must be for a job that foreigners can legally do in Thailand. And you can only have one job with your work permit. You can’t work multiple jobs.
You need to get hired in order to get a work permit in Thailand.
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You need a non-immigrant visa so that you can apply for a work permit. You can get a non-immigrant visa in your home country before you leave, in a country close to Thailand, or in Thailand.
You also need the skills of the position you’re applying for, at least a bachelor’s degree, and work experience. Sometimes positions request that applicants be at least 25 years old as well.
As for your physical condition, you must be relatively healthy. This means no serious diseases or addictions.
Here are the various non-immigrant visas you can apply for before getting your work permit.
Non-immigrant Visa B
The non-immigrant visa B, commonly referred to as a work visa, is for people who want to work and teach in Thailand. It’s the most common visa given to people who come to Thailand to teach, work in a multinational corporations, or work in other legal jobs for foreigners.
Non-immigrant Visa IB
The non-immigrant visa IB is for business and other investment-related purposes. Although most embassies don’t commonly issue this visa. They issue a non-immigrant B visa instead.
Non-immigrant Visa B-A
The Office of the Immigration Bureau in Bangkok will grant you this visa if you’re going to invest in or enter into a business partnership with a Thailand company.
The company involved has to apply on your behalf at the Office of the Immigration Bureau. When Immigration approves the application, the bureau will then tell the concerned Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Consulate-General via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will grant you a B-A visa.
But this visa is not commonly issued by Thai embassies or consulates. So you might want to apply for a non-immigrant B visa. Thai consulates in Australia, like The Royal Thai Embassy in Canberra are one of the few Thai embassies/consulates that will issue B-A visas.
Non-immigrant Visa O
If you want to volunteer, marry, or retire in Thailand then you’ll get a non-immigrant visa O. Volunteers and foreigners married to Thai nationals can get a work permit with this type of visa. But retirees cannot.
Also, not all non-government organizations, or NGOs, and social welfare and development organizations issue work permits, which is a requirement for this visa.
For required documents, fees, validity period, and embassies where you can apply, check out this this Ministry of Foreign Affairs page.
Non-immigrant Visa M
If you work in media, such as in print, online, or in television, you can apply for a single-entry media visa.
Commonly referred to as a journalism visa, it covers news reporters, film producers, and media correspondents of foreign news agencies working for printed newspapers and magazines, TV, radio, or online agencies.
Here’s a few common concerns about the media visa:
- A media visa is only for those who are working for foreign news agencies. If you’re a journalist working for a Thailand media company, then you’ll need a non-immigrant visa B.
- Applications and accreditation for a one-year media visa can be done online via the MFA Media Online Service website.
- Journalists who are working on short-term assignments should apply for a non-immigrant B visa as well.
If you need more info on the requirements for long-term and short-term media assignments in Thailand, including:
- frequently asked questions on accreditation
- obtaining a press card and work permit
- changing visa types from tourist to media (which can’t be done)
- getting visas for freelance journalists
- doing visa renewals
- obtaining a visa for a media worker’s spouse or family
How to Apply
If you want to apply for a work permit for one of your foreign employees, or for yourself, here are the documents you’ll need.
If you want to stay in Thailand but don’t want to work at a Thai company, an Education visa is often the easiest route.
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Here’s a list of all the documents your employer must submit with your work permit application.
- Company Registration Department Certificate
- a list of the company’s shareholders, certified by the Commercial Registration Department
- Factory License (if applicable), certified by the Factory Department of the Ministry of Industry
- VAT certificate Phor Phor 20
- VAT filings Phor Phor 30
- Withholding Tax form Phor Ngor Dor 1
- Social Security payment filings
- employment contract stating position, job requirements, salary, and contract duration
Keep in mind that all documents must be stamped with the company’s seal on each page. And all of the managing directors or directors must sign their names next to the company’s seal.
And here’s a list of all the documents you must submit with your work permit application.
- passport with signed copies of every page
- non-immigrant visa with signed copy
- departure card TM.6
- university or college degree with transcripts
- certificates or licenses, if applicable
- three photos, each 5×6 cm, taken in the last six months
- marriage certificate, if married to a Thai national
- medical certificate issued in the last 30 days
You must submit signed copies of each of the original documents listed above. In some cases, Thai immigration officers may ask for some of the documents to be translated into Thai and notarized by your embassy. So it’s always best to be prepared ahead of time. Check out our guide to hiring a Thai translator.
To apply for a work permit, you need to go to the Ministry of Labour in Bangkok (Google Maps link).
- Khwaeng Din Daeng, Khet Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400
- 319 Phayathai Rd, Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
Once you’re hired to work for a company, or once you’ve hired a foreigner to work for your company, you’ll need to go to the Ministry of Labour and apply for a work permit with all the documents listed above. After that, you’ll have to go to Bangkok Immigration and extend your visa from its current length to one or two years.
If you’ve been hired to work at a BOI promoted company, or you’ve hired a foreigner to work at your BOI promoted company, you’ll have to request a work permit and visa extension through the BOI E-Expert System. Once you’re approved, you’ll have to go to the One Stop Service Center and get your permit and then extend your visa.
How Much Does it Cost?
Before you get a work permit, you’ll need a non-immigrant visa. Initially, the visa will cost you 2,000 baht for a single-entry visa or 5,000 baht for a multiple-entry visa.
As for the work permit, here are some fees that come with the application process.
- 100 baht application fee
- 750 baht government fee for three-month work permits
- 1,500 baht government fee for work permits ranging from three to six months
- 3,000 baht government fee for work twelve-month work permits
There could be a lot of other fees associated with work permits, like fees to change job descriptions, add multiple branches of companies, and so on.
How to Extend
When it comes time to extend your work permit, you’ll need the same documents as when you first applied for it. You’ll also go through a similar application process. The only difference is that when you apply after the first time, you’ll get one to two years on your visa without having to get a 90-day visa first (as is the case if you didn’t get a one-year non-immigrant visa before or after entering Thailand).
Work Permits for Freelancers
If you’re a digital nomad in Thailand and want to work in Thailand legally, then you have a few choices.
First, consider becoming an employee under a BOI promoted company. Getting hired by a BOI promoted company is legal. And the requirements are less stringent than starting your own business.
Get in touch with a relocation service provider to explore this option. If you’re an established digital nomad, they’ll help you relocate and secure a business visa. As their employee, your clients send payments to the relocation service provider, and they pay you a salary.
On our private Facebook group, Thailand Starter Kit, we host live question-and-answer sessions called “Ask Me Anything,” or “AMAs.” In one of our last AMAs on visas and work permits, visa expert Pongkarn “Aom” AomzFondue Khunphasee, who works at Anglo Thai Legal, offered expert advice on moving from a BOI employer to a non-BOI employer, setting up a foundation, and a few freelancer visa questions.
According to Khun Aom, it’s possible for freelancers to get a work permit on a case-by-case basis. But it’s up to the Labor Department officer and depends on the type of work you’re doing.
To apply for a work permit as a freelancer, you have to submit all relevant documents about your freelance work, including all licenses, type of services, and any other documents pertaining to your practice.
The officer at the Work Permit Division at the Labor Department will review and decide your fate. Renewal is subject to approval and the applicant’s practice will be subject to withholding tax.
If all those options don’t work for you, you can apply for Thailand Elite Visa. It allows you to legally live in Thailand for at least five straight years.
With this option, you don’t have to do border runs or extend your tourist visa anymore.
If you decide to stay in Thailand longer than that, you can go for their highest package, giving you 20 years here.
However, you can’t get a work permit with the Thailand Elite visa.
What Happens if You Lose Your Job?
If your work contract expires, you’re fired, or you quit your job, you must leave Thailand ASAP. The only other option is to go to Bangkok Immigration and apply for a 7-day extension, which will buy you some time. The extension costs 1,900 baht.
On the company’s end, every time an employee leaves your company you’ll need to notify Bangkok Immigration and the BOI.
Applying for a work permit is relatively painless as long as you have the right documents and you meet the requirements of the Ministry of Labour or the Board of Investment. And re-applying every year is even easier. Just be sure you follow the rules and requirements and, when working in Thailand, always play by the book.
If you’re a freelancer or digital nomad that wants to work legally in Thailand, you can get in touch with a reputable relocation service provider who can hire you and provide you with a business visa and work permit if you meet the requirements.