Restrictions on working in Thailand
Most foreigners who intend to work in Thailand are subject to the Alien
Employment Act (B.E.2251) of July 28, 1978. Under the provisions of this
Act, a foreigner cannot perform any act of work or service unless a work
permit has been issued by the Employment Department or the individual or the
work performed falls within an exception to the Act.
The term "work" is defined very broadly i.e., "working by exerting one's
physical energy or employing one's knowledge whether or not for wages or
other benefits". Theoretically a foreign housewife doing volunteer or
charity work requires a work permit. Volunteer teachers are required to
obtain work permits even though they receive no remuneration for the work
Visiting speakers at seminars and conferences, whether or not receiving
remuneration for their services presently do not need work permits. However
except in cases where a government agency or state enterprise is a
co-organizer, the Employment Department must be informed before the seminar
or conference is held.
An applicant for a work permit must have either a non-immigrant visa or a
residence permit. Generally a non-immigrant visa must be obtained before
entering Thailand. A residence permit is usually issued only after foreigner
has resided in Thailand for a number of years under a non-immigrant visa.
An employer or potential employer my file an application for advance
permission before the foreigner enters the country. However the work permit
itself will not be issued until the individual enters Thailand on a valid
Regardless of the length of time approved in the work permit, it is valid
only as long as the foreigner's visa permits him to remain in Thailand. Also
a work permit is good only for the particular job for which it was issued
and within the geographic limitations specified in the work permit.
Foreigners may hold more than one position with one or more employers but
must obtain permission for each position and for each employer. Generally,
the permission for each position is entered in the original work permit
A person holding a tourist visa or a transit stamp may apply for a work
permit to perform urgent essential work that can be completed within 15
Exemptions of Work Permit
There are seven categories of foreigners who are exempted from work permit
Members of the diplomatic corps.
Members of a consular mission.
Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and
its specialized agencies.
Personal servants coming from abroad to work regularly for persons under 1.2
or 3 above.
Persons who perform any duties or missions in the Kingdom under an agreement
between the government of Thailand and a foreign government or and
Persons who enter the Kingdom for the performance of any duties or missions
in the Kingdom under an agreement between the government of Thailand and a
foreign government or an international organization.
Persons who are permitted by the government of Thailand to enter and perform
any duties or missions in the Kingdom.
Penalties for working without a work permit
Penalties for working without a work permit of doing work not specified in
one's permit include imprisonment not exceeding three months of a fine of up
to Baht 5,000 or both. People who do work reserved solely for Thais are
liable to imprisonment of up to five years or a fine of Baht 2,000 to Baht
100,000 or both.
Please note that this information in not inclusive of all the answers to
questions involving work permits and related matters but is intended to
address general issues. Whenever appropriate, please consult a lawyer versed
in labour matters or the nearest Employment Department official. Policies and
procedures may change rapidly and without notice.
Related Application Forms & Requirements
Form Tor Thor 2 (WP2) : Basic work permit applications for airlines.
Form Tor Thor 3 (WP3) : Application prior to alien's arrival in Thailand.
Form Tor Thor 7 (WP7) : Changes in Employment situation.
Form Tor Thor 10 (WP10) : Notification by employer of change in employee
Form Tor Thor 11 (WP11) : Work permit for urgent and essiential work,
changing address or company address in work permit.
Supporting documents to be attached to Tor Thor (WP) 2,3,7 Forms.
Documents to be supplied by the individual.
For non-permanent residents a valid passport containing a non-immigrant
Not required for application for Tor Thor (WP) 3.
For permanent residents a valid passport, Residence Permit and Alien Book.
Not required for application for Tor Thor (WP) 3.
Evidence of educational qualifications obtained by the applicant and Letter
of Recommendation from the former employer, describing in detail the
applicant's past position, duty performance, place and length of employment.
If the above is in a foreign language other than English, a Thai translation
must be attached after being certified as correct by a Thai Embassy (if
abroad), or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (If in Thailand).
A recent Medical Certificate from a first-class licensed physician in
Thailand stating that the applicant is not a person of unsound or habitual
alcoholism. (Except Tor Thor (WP) 7 application).
Three 5 x 6 cm full faced bareheaded black-and-white or colour photos, taken
not more than six months prior to 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 ten-baht duty stamp
On the application form complete the "job description" entry 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 (use additional
paper if necessary).
If the job applied for is subject to a license under a particular law, in
addition to the Alien Occupation Law, 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 following originals and
photocopies must be presented: marriage certificate, spouse's identity card,
birth certificate(s) of children, household registration, as well as a
photocopy of every page of the applicant's passport.
If the job being applied for is not in Bangkok, file the application at the
relevant provincial Employement Office, or in the absence of such office, at
the Provincial City Hall.
Additional evidence as requested. It may be necessary to translate any or
all documents into Thai.
Documents to be supplied by the employer
Organization Chart, to indicate positions and names of persons in charge. If
these are aliens working in the company, state how many and include their
Work Permit numbers. The Chart must show the position to be filled by the
applicant, and must bear the seal of the firm and signature of the person
authorized to authenticate same.
Letter of Employment from the applicant's prospective employer written in
the prescribed form.
Certificate issued by the Commercial registration Department showing that
the Origanization for which the applicant is going to work, has been duly
registered as a juristic person, giving the name of the managing partner
and/or director, and its objectives and capital.
A copy of the list of shareholders of the applicant's prospective company,
certified as correct by the Commercial Registration Department.
If the business is owned by aliens, a copy of the Alien Business
Registration, Certificate issued under National Executive Council
Announcement No. 281, must be attached.
If the company maintains a factory, a factory license and/or license to
operate a factory, renewed by the Factory Department, Ministry of Industry,
are to be attached.
Map of the office or place of work.
A photocopy of the Tax Certificate issued by the Revenue Department.
Photocopies of the Work Permits of all aliens who work in the company.
If the applicant is applying for a position previously held by a alien, a
photocopy of predecessors Work Permit, together with their Notice of
Resignation from the company, or a letter confirming when they will be
The last annual financial statement of the firm, and the two preceding years
if the former shows a loss.
If the job applied for is with an import/export company, the following are
Photocopies of Export Entries;
Customs Department manifest of goods exported and Bank of Thailand Form.
E.C. 61 together with a declaration of the total value of such exports and
imports in Thai currency.
Under the Thailand Immigration Act 1979, Aliens entering the Kingdom on a
temporary basis to carry out an urgent and essential assignment within a
maximum 15-day period, shall be allowed to start the assignment only if Form
Tor Thor (WP) 11 has been filed.
A period of at least one month must be allowed for the Employment Department
to consider each application.
All the above documents are required and must be produced. If any are
omitted, the application will not be accepted.
Privileges of a Work Permit
Purchase of vehicle.
Subscription to Mobile Phone network.
Subscription to Fixed Telephone Line.
Opening of Current Account with Cheque Facilities.
To Obtain Bank Loan.
Application for Credit Cards.
Application for Visa to travel to another country.(Required by most
Application for Permanent Residence.
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