This is an ultimate guide on obtaining a work permit in Thailand.
A work permit is a document needed for foreigners who intend to work in Thailand legally. Securing a work permit is necessary as foreigners could face several punishments without a valid work permit.
Continue reading to find out more about work permits.
Who can sponsor a work permit for foreign employees?
Companies must meet certain conditions before hiring foreign employees.
These conditions include:
- Officially registered in Thailand
- Have applied for a tax ID and VAT registration
- In the case of a Thai limited company with Thai majority ownership, must have a minimum paid-up capital of THB 2 million per foreign employee
- For foreign majority ownership, must have a minimum paid-up capital of THB 3 million per foreign employee
How to apply for a work permit in Thailand?
Step 1: Securing a non-immigrant B visa
Before applying for a work permit, the foreigner must obtain a non-immigrant B visa from a Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. However, it is important to check with the embassy or consulate whether a WP.3 letter is also required or not.
WP.3 is a pre-approval system that needs to be completed by the employer in Thailand while the employee is out of the country. In some case, the applicant can only apply at an embassy or consulate within the country of their passport. You can read more about the WP.3 letter giving pre-approval of a work permit in our guide here.
The documents needed to obtain a non-immigrant B visa include:
- An invitation letter from the employing company in Thailand signed by the company directors
- A request from the company that the applicant shall be given a non-immigrant B visa so that the company can apply for a work permit for the applicant
- Company attestation stating that the applicant is upstanding, law-abiding and guarantees that the employee will respect Thai culture and laws
You should apply for the non-immigrant B visa at least 30 days before travelling to Thailand. The consular officer may ask for copies of the company’s registration certificate and financial statements, which the company must issue.
Once the non-immigrant visa is secured, a temporary stay in Thailand for 90 days is allowed.
Step 2: Obtaining the work permit
The applicant must provide the following documents to apply for a work permit:
- Work permit application form
- Six photographs
- Valid passport, copies of every page which each copy is signed by the applicant and:
- For non-permanent residents – a non-immigrant visa
- For permanent residents – a certificate of permanent residence and certificate of alien
- Copy of education certificates and CV to prove the applicant’s educational qualifications
- Recently issued medical certificate from a recognised hospital in Thailand showing that the applicant does not suffer from prohibited diseases:
- Mental illnesses
- Drug addiction
- Power of attorney to an agent if the foreigner does not submit the applicant himself
- Signed copy of certificates or licenses (if any)
- Marriage certificate (if married to a Thai national) and:
- Thai spouse’s identification card
- Birth certificate of children
- Household registration
The Thai government may require applicants to have the above documents certified by the embassy and translated into the Thai language.
The employer must provide the following documents:
- Commercial Registration Department certificate stating the name of the Managing Director and/or director, its objectives and registered capital
- The shareholders list certified by the Commercial Registration Department
- Factory license issued by the Factory Department, Ministry of Industry (if required)
- VAT certificate
- VAT filing
- Withholding tax
- Social security payment filing
The employing company must have four Thai employees per work permit.
Once the documents are submitted, it may take seven business days to issue the work permit.
For BOI companies, the process takes less than six hours to complete.
Step 3: Tax ID card
While the work permit is being processed, the employer is required to apply for a Thai taxpayer identification card for the applicant at the Revenue Department.
The tax ID card contains the tax identification number (TIN), which will be used for documents that need the TIN.
Renewing a work permit
The stay visa must be renewed before renewing the work permit, which can be done inside or outside of Thailand. The work permit needs to be renewed before it expires.
The following documents are required when renewing a work permit:
- Non-immigrant visa
- Current work permit
- Copy of your passport
- Map of the company location
- Copy of a medical certificate
- Tax certificate showing that you are registered and has paid personal income tax in Thailand
Documents required from the employer include:
- Copy of the registration certificate
- Copy of VAT registration
- Copy of the business license (if any)
- Social security payment filing
Work permit restrictions
Once a work permit is granted, the foreigner must only work with the company specified in the work permit.
If the employee is assigned to another location of the company, it is required to obtain a new work permit covering the new location. The same applies to when the employee is going to work with another company.
In the case that the employee resigns or has been laid off by the company, the employee must return the work permit to the Labour Department within 10 days.
Work permit exemptions and special cases
The following individuals do not need a work permit to carry out their duties in Thailand:
- Members of diplomatic corps or consular missions
- Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and specialised institutions
- Personal servants from abroad to work for persons listed in (1) and (2)
- Persons who perform duties on missions in Thailand under an agreement between the Thai government and a foreign government or an international organisation
- Persons who enter Thailand to perform any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts or sports in Thailand
- Persons who are specially permitted to enter and perform any duty or mission in Thailand by the Thai government
There are cases in which foreigners are granted special treatment, which are:
- Foreigners who enter Thailand temporarily, but in accordance with the immigration law, for a period not more than 15 days to perform work of an urgent and essential nature. Foreigners will need to have a written notification signed by the foreigner, endorsed by the employer and accepted by the Director-General.
- Foreigners entering to work under a BOI-promoted project (Investment Promotion Law) can start working while their work permit application is still pending. The work permit application must be submitted within 30 days after the approval of the BOI.
A foreigner or employer may face the following punishments when violating regulations regarding work permits:
- A foreigner who works without having a work permit shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or a fine from THB 2,000 to THB 100,000 or both.
- A foreigner who engages in work or at a place other than permitted in the work permit shall be liable to a fine of not exceeding THB 20,000.
- An employer hires a foreigner without a work permit shall be liable to a fine from THB 10,000 to THB 100,000.
- An employer who engages a foreigner in work or at a place other than permitted in the work permit shall be liable to a fine of not exceeding THB 10,000.
Overview of work permit fees in Thailand
The following table provides an overview of the work permit fees.
|Work permit application||100|
|Replacement of the work permit||500/book|
|Change or add job description||1,000|
|Change or add employer||3,000|
|Change or add a location or workplace||1,000|
|Change or add other conditions||150|
|Suspension of work permit||100|
Obtaining a work permit in Thailand is crucial as it allows foreigners to legally work in the country. Working without a work permit is illegal and would lead to fines, imprisonment or even both. Acclime has a dedicated work permit team that can help guide you through the process of securing a work permit easily.