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How to Get a Work Permit

Information on how and where to apply to the authorities, and the paperwork required...

In order to get a work permit it is advisable to ask the employer to apply or to contact a professional who has relevant experience, as the application form is in Thai, the procedure is fairly complex and involves the assembly of a large amount of documentation. There are conditions on the type of business that is allowed to submit a work permit application, for example relating to the minimum paid up capital of the company. In general the company must employ at least four Thais for every foreigner whose work permit it sponsors.

There are two distinct procedures for obtaining a work permit:

  1. Application for a Non-Immigrant Visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate outside Thailand
  2. After arrival in Thailand, application for a Work Permit

Although it is possible to gain a Work Permit after arriving in Thailand with another type of Non-Immigrant Visa, the normal procedure is to hold a Non-Immigrant B Visa. (For further information on visas see below)

Occupations exempted from the requirement to hold a work permit

Those in the following occupations do not need to apply for a Work Permit but must contact the Department of Employment in order to gain an exemption:

  • Diplomatic employees
  • Consular employees
  • United Nations employees or representatives
  • Servants of the above
  • Any work that is deemed to be "urgent and essential" not taking longer than 15 days
  • Employees working as part of an agreement between the Thai government and other governments or international organisations
  • Official persons in Thailand to promote education, culture, arts, or sports
  • Those granted specific exemption by the Thai government

Eligibility

In order to apply for a Work Permit the applicant must be the holder of a Non-Immigrant Visa. This can usually be granted by Thai Embassies or Consulates outside of Thailand. It is generally easiest to get this visa from the embassy or consulate in the home country.

The Non-Immigrant Visa will only be issued after certain requirements have been met.

  1. For those undertaking any type of employment a Non-Immigrant B Visa is typically necessary
  2. For those undertaking volunteer work or seeking work a Non-Immigrant O Visa is necessary
  3. For those taking part in seminars, conferences or a training course a Non-Immigrant ED Visa is required

Although it is possible to gain a Work Permit after arriving in Thailand with other types of Non-Immigrant Visa, the normal procedure is to hold a Non-Immigrant B Visa.

It is possible for the employer to make an application in advance of the employee's arrival, but the Work Permit will only be issued to the applicant in person after arrival in Thailand.

The work permit will name the employer, state the activities that may be engaged in and the location in which the duties may be performed. It will usually be granted for one year only, backdated to the date of arrival in Thailand. Where the employer is a company with Board of Investment privileges, the work permit can be issued for up to two years.

Note: The Work Permit expires when the Non-Immigrant B Visa expires. If this occurs, then the applicant has to start the whole process of visa and work permit application from the beginning. Check the date of expiry of the visa and make sure it's renewed before the expiration date.

A Work Permit is not valid after its expiry date; it must be renewed before its expiration. Any change in duties or transfer to another employer must be applied for and approved in advance.

A Work Permit is only valid for a specific job with a specific company at a specific location. If any of these changes, a transfer or new Work Permit has to be applied for. Once issued a Work Permit must be kept at the place of employment ready for inspection.

Documents needed for a work permit application

It is normally the employer's responsibility to submit the application for a Work Permit. This can be done before the applicant has entered Thailand, although the applicant will have to attend in person to collect it when the Work Permit is issued.

If it is necessary to lodge the application personally, it's advisable to check what documents are required with the Department of Employment, before lodging a Work Permit application. A professional company experienced in Work Permit applications can also be very helpful in the whole process. Generally the following documents must be produced when applying for a Work Permit.

  • Non-permanent residents: Passport with a Non-Immigrant visa stamp
  • Permanent residents: Passport, alien book and residence permit
  • Educational qualification certificate/s and resumé or CV. Often a recommendation or reference letter/s issued by former employers with all details is also required
  • Licences: any relevant licence or professional certificates
  • Job description: This must be clearly set out on the application form, including among other things, the type of work, its location and any materials to be used. Extra pages to the application form can be submitted if required
  • Medical certificate issued in Thailand, not more than six months old. The applicant must be of sound mind and not suffer from alcoholism, narcotic addiction, leprosy, acute tuberculosis, elephantiasis or tertiary syphilis. All applicants will be required to have a blood test for tertiary syphilis
  • Three passport photographs 3 x 4 cm. It has been reported that applicants not wearing a shirt and tie in the photo may be refused
  • Applicants married to a Thai should also provide the ID card of the spouse, marriage certificate and any child's birth certificate
  • Fee payable

Any or all documents may need to be translated into Thai, especially if they are written in any other language than Thai or English. Multiple copies of any or all of these documents may be needed.

Where to apply

Applications must be submitted to the Department of Employment in Bangkok or the One Stop Service Center. For applications made outside of Bangkok it is necessary to contact a Provincial Employment Office in the Province where the work will be carried out.

  • Department of Employment
    At
    : Office of Foreign Workers Administration, Department of Employment, Mit Maitree Road, Dindaeng, Bangkok 10400
    Tel: 02 245 2745
    e-mail

The One Stop Service Center is only available for use by certain applicants. It is possible to be granted visa extensions and work permits in one day in one location.

The centre can give advice on registering a company, registering for corporate tax and VAT, applying for a Foreign Business Act and other matters.

On approval

Once the application has been approved it is necessary for the applicant to be present at the Department Of Employment in order to collect their Work Permit.

The Work Permit will only be valid for as long as was applied for on the application form with a maximum length of one year backdated to the date of arrival in Thailand. If the company is promoted by BOI however, the period is two years.

It is vitally important to remember that the Work Permit is only valid for as long as the holder's visa is still valid.

It is also necessary for a re-entry visa to be obtained if the holder of the Work Permit is planning to travel out of Thailand. If a holder only has a single entry visa and travels out of Thailand without a re-entry visa, a new Non-Immigrant Visa and Work Permit will need to be applied for.

It is possible to appeal to the Director General of the Ministry of Labour if a Work Permit application is refused.

Renewal of a work permit

Renewal of a Work Permit must to be applied for in advance of its expiration.

The visa can be extended in Thailand at the Immigration Bureau but many additional documents have to be submitted by the employer. Once the visa has been extended or renewed it is then possible to renew the Work Permit. If the visa is not renewed the Work Permit will not be renewed.

Termination of employment

If a foreigner's employment ends, then the Work Permit must be returned to the Ministry of Labour within seven days of termination for cancellation. In addition, the foreigner must report to the Immigration Bureau who will then, usually, cancel the visa and allow seven days to leave the country. It is therefore wise to arrange to take another job, before resigning from current employment.

Non-Immigrant B Visas (Business Visa)

This type of Visa may be either single entry for three months or a multi-entry 12-month visa. The 12-month multi-entry visa only permits entry for a maximum of 90 days at which time the holder must depart the country, but can return using the same visa. A 12-month multi-entry visa can normally only be obtained at the applicant's home country Thai Embassy or Consulate.

Once a Work Permit has been applied for it is possible to extend the visa from within Thailand, but the employer will have to provide many additional documents.

It is very important to check with the Embassy or Consulate of application before submitting an application as there will be different requirements. Generally the following documents are required and possibly more:

  • Passport valid for at least six months after the date of entry
  • Visa application form
  • Recent passport-size photos
  • Letter from sponsoring company or a copy of the employer's company papers or an existing Work Permit
  • Self Certification Guarantee Form and/or evidence of sufficient funds (in some cases)

For further information contact the Department of Immigration (the phone is frequently busy).

  • Bangkok Immigration Office (Immigration Bureau)
    At
    : Chaengwattana Building B, No. 120, Moo 3, Chaengwattana Road, Tungsonghong Sub-District, Laksi District, Bangkok 10210
    Tel: 1111 / 02 141 9889 
    Fax: 02 143 8228
    For a map of the office location: Click here
  • Immigration Bureau (for citizens of Laos, Cambodia and Myamar)
    At: Soi Suan Plu, off South Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120
    Tel: 1111 /  02 287 3101-10
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