Let RWT provide you a step-by-step guide to the Work Permit process in Thailand

The Work Permit Process in Thailand

Let RWT provide you a step-by-step guide


by R.W.T Immigration, Visa and Work Permit Department 

Understanding your way thru the work permit and visa process can be a nightmare in the Kingdom of Thailand if not properly informed and accompanied by an experienced and licensed law firm. As the employment process and visa restrictions are in a constant state of modification, RWT Immigration and Visa Services are available 24 hours day/7 days a week with the guidance and purpose to provide results for our clients! 

For those wishing to stay in the Kingdom of Thailand and earn a living, your work permit status is of the utmost importance. Below you will find the entire process explained in an easy step by step process.

What is a Work Permit?

A work permit is an official document that allows a foreigner to work legally in Thailand. The document is a blue color booklet that specifies the identity of the owner (similar to a passport), the name of the company, and the specific occupation of the foreigner in question. The foreigner is only entitled to work for the company listed and at the position that is specified within the work permit. No outside work other than what is stated on the work permit is allowed.

 Is it mandatory?

According to the Working Alien Act [1], all foreigners need to hold a work permit to be authorized to work in Thailand. Actually, there are few exemptions if you are member of a diplomatic corps, conducting specific mission with the agreement of the Thai government or coming temporary for attending meetings for example [2]. However, regular workers must obtain and need to have valid work permits.

 What are the requirements?

  • The applicant should have in their possession an employment agreement with a company located in Thailand
  • The qualifications of the applicant should be in accordance with the position
  • The position should not be listed in the restricted activities [see the list below]
  • The applicant should have a place of residency in Thailand
  • The applicant should have entered into Thailand temporarily using any visa other than tourist or transit passenger (it means entrance into the Kingdom of Thailand with a Non-immigrant visa, the most common visa used in such cases is the Non-immigrant Business visa or Visa “B”)

Usually the work permit is valid for 1 year and should be renewed accordingly. In upper level supervisory roles and positions, it is valid for 2 years.

 What is the process?

Step 1. Obtaining A Non-Immigrant Visa

The most reliable way to understand the requirement for getting a visa in general is to check the websites of the Thai embassy of the country where you want to apply. Documents that are requested are sometimes a little bit different from one embassy to another.

Officially any Non-Immigrant visa should be acceptable in order to apply for a work permit. According to the Foreign Alien Act, the foreigner should have been “permitted to enter into the Kingdom temporarily under the law on immigration in any status other than tourists or transit passenger”

In most cases, the visa that is suitable in order to get a work permit is the Non-Immigrant B visa (business) even if theoretically any Non-Immigrant visa works.

Indeed, if you are holding an Non-Immigrant ED (Education) visa, then you should respect a minimum attendance in class or at university. This is not consistent with a full-time position in a company. Consequently, the applicant should change to a Non-Immigrant B visa.

A visa cannot be obtained in Thailand. If the applicant is already in Thailand, he or she should visit an embassy in a country around Thailand. For some nationalities, it is requested to do the visa in their home country only.

Step 2. Obtaining the work permit

In general, the company that is hiring a foreigner will assist the applicant during the process as there are some documents to provide and some fees to be paid. In addition, all forms and discussions with the Thai administration are in Thai language. The work permit is issued by the Ministry of Labor office.

The employer has to provide the following documents:

  • company certificate and objectives
  • list of shareholders
  • application for VAT
  • withholding tax of the company
  • financial statement
  • photocopy of the director’s passport and work permit with signature affixed
  • office map
  • letter of employment stating position and salary of applicant
  • employment agreement 

The foreigner has to prepare the following documents:

  • 3 (3cm x 4cm) photos
  • medical certificate
  • original passport
  • letter of employment
  • certificate of degree
  • address in Thailand

All documents (except the passport) must be written in Thai language or have been translated by a certified and authorized translator (Notarization is also applicable in this area).

 Where to keep the work permit

Officially, the foreigner has to bring the work permit all the time. In practice, it is better to keep it at the workplace. by experience, it is not requested to show the work permit when re-entering Thailand as a special Re-Entry Permit is also displayed on the passport after having received the work permit.

 90 days notification

Holding a work permit does not exempt the foreigner from reporting his or her presence in Thailand every 90 days. A specific form (TM.47) has to be filled [3]. It is not necessary to report in person at the immigration office. In case you are late for few days, the fine is 2,000 THB and you have to go yourself. In case you do not declare after few months, the penalty is much higher including being banned from Thailand for few months or years.

 List of restricted activities

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 dolls 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 rolling of cigarettes;

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

Let RWT deliver the qualified expertise needed in this area to help your company or independent work permit/visa issues. Please feel free to contact Mr. Kongwod Worasart, Senior Attorney and International Director of Immigration services at Kongwud.w@rwtlaw.co.th for more information on how RWT can assist you in a quick and cost-effective manner

[1] WORKING OF ALIEN ACT,B.E. 2551 (2008), Official website of the Ministry of Labor, link

[2] LEGAL ISSUES FOR INVESTORS – WORK PERMITS, Official website of the Board of Investment (BOI), link

[3] LIST OF FORMS ISSUED BY THE IMMIGRATION BUREAU, Official website of the Immigration Bureau, link

Living in Thailand

Download our Bangkok Networking App - Great for doing business in Thailand