This article has been written with direct inputs from US citizen Nicole Gonzalez who worked in Thailand as an ESL teacher.
So you got a job in Thailand to teach English or Maths or Science in Chonburi? Maybe some other wonderful place in this tropical paradise? Then you need a Thailand work permit to legally work in Thailand.
Now, I have known people working in Thailand on a tourist visa and acting like it is no big deal. Just know that it is totally illegal and Thais take these things rather seriously.
Now if you want to travel, Thailand is a gorgeous country with spicy food, breathtaking nature, and expansive views. From mountains to islands to waterfalls this place has everything and more for a holiday destination or a place to live.
People are so friendly and love to smile. No wonder they named it “The Land of Smiles.”
But you have a job lined up? Then the right way is to get a Thai work permit to work in Thailand legally.
Is It Thailand Work Visa or Work Permit?
To work in Thailand you need a work permit (not called a Thailand work visa). It allows a non-Thai citizen to work legally and operate a business in the Kingdom of Thailand as an employee/employer or a professional.
Some expats also refer to it as a Thailand work permit visa or Thailand employment visa, but that is not correct actually. The work permit is the working visa in Thailand in order for you to legally work.
Here is the Caveat. You Need a Thai Non-immigrant Visa firstSo you need a visa first to apply for a work permit. But it is not a work visa.
It’s a non-immigrant visa (this will be a full page stamp in your passport). Although you can get a work permit based on a residence permit, that’s another story.
The whole thing is a three-step process that goes like
Get a job offer & get a non-immigrant visa for Thailand in a Thai embassy.
Enter Thailand and apply for the Thai work permit in the Thailand ministry of labor.
Get an extension of stay based on employment before the non-immigrant visa expires.
DON’T work until you have both the Non-B visa and a valid work permit.
Why Do You Need a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa First?
A Thai non-immigrant visa is issued for teaching English, working as a sports coach, work in a company, or conduct business etc. You can get it in the Thai embassy your home country or in some other country.
Once you have this visa, your job, (usually the ones that apply for the work permit) or you can begin the steps to getting your work permit; which will be another stamp in your passport.
There are two types of Non-Immigrant visas in Thailand.
Non-Immigrant Visa B
This one is very common. The Thai non-immigrant visa B, is for people who want to work in MNCs or teach or do any other legal jobs in Thailand.
Non-Immigrant Visa IB
The non-immigrant visa IB is for business and other investment-related purposes.
There are two ways to get a Non-Immigrant visa for Thailand.
- You can enter Thailand with a tourist visa, leave Thailand, and then go to another country’s Thai embassy to get the proper Non-Immigrant visa that is for foreigners who want a work permit.
- You can enter immediately with the non-Immigrant visa you got at a Thai embassy. You can’t get a work permit with a tourist visa.
Please read Kirstyn’s experience here on how to apply Thailand non-immigrant visa to understand the step-by-step process.
Thai Non-Immigrant Visa Requirements
The requirements for Thai non-immigrant visa might differ a little from embassy to embassy, but these are more or less all the documents you would need.
- Original passport with 6 months of remaining validity
- The applicant must have a job offer in Thailand (the most common) or start a Thai company to employ him/herself.
- A filled out Thailand Non-Immigrant visa application form.
- Your home country’s background check.
- Letter of invitation: The Thai company must request for the applicant to be issued a Non-Immigrant visa, with details of job position, salary, and employment duration.
- Proof of funds: They might or might not ask you for this. This purely depends on the embassy you are applying at.
- Copy of Work Permit issued by the Ministry of Labour and alien income tax or Por Ngor Dor 91 (only in the case where the applicant has previously worked in Thailand).
Single Entry Thai Non-Immigrant Visa
A Single entry Non-Immigrant visa costs $80 USD. Most people usually get this one. This is valid for 90 days.
Multiple Entry Thai Non-Immigrant visa
A multiple entry Non-Immigrant visa costs $200 USD. This comes with multiple 90-day entries into Thailand within a one-year window.
Now, if you want to travel outside Thailand, then fork up an extra $120 and get the multi-entry visa. Otherwise, go for a single entry.Not all embassies issue multiple entry Non-Immigrant visa.
After I got my Non-Immigrant B visa, I entered Thailand and got a work permit.
To get a work permit, the applicant and the employer/ company has to provide different sets of documents.
Thailand Work Permit Requirements
To apply for a Thailand work permit, you and your employer need to furnish different documents.
Here are the list of Thailand work permit documents.
1. Applicant Document Checklist for Thai Work Permit
- Copies of every page of the passport which you need to sign later.
- A signed copy of your non-immigrant visa
- Departure card TM.6 which you got when you entered Thailand.
- Educational transcripts: University degree with transcripts in original. Note that most jobs don’t hire someone without a Bachelor’s degree.
- Signed copies of certificates or licenses held by the applicant, if applicable. For example, if you have a TEFLF or TESOL certificate, provide a copy of it.
- Resume: Describe in detail the foreign applicant’s past positions, jobs, etc with length and city/country of employment.
- Thailand work permit photo size: Each pic 5×6 cm, taken in the last six months: Must have full face, preferably wearing business attire.
- Marriage certificate and identity card of the spouse, if married to a Thai national.
- Medical certificate issued in the last 30 days.
- Thailand work permit application form
2. Employer Document Checklist for Thai Work Permit
Your employer needs to submit the following documents with your work permit application.
- Employment Certificate: A contract stating position, job requirements, salary, and contract duration. This certificate of employment needs to be prepared in accordance with the form prescribed by the Immigration Bureau (Sor.Tor.Mor.1).
- Having a minimum paid-up capital of 2M THB per foreign employee (3M THB for foreign employers)
- Proof of Registration: Commercial Registration Department Certificate to prove that the company is registered or partnership certified by the Registrar with validity for 6 months
- Shareholders List certified by the Commercial Registration Department, certified by the Commercial Registration Department.
- VAT certificate
- Factory License (if applicable), certified by the Factory Department of the Ministry of Industry
- Balance Sheet: A copy of the latest balance sheet and income statement, together with the corporate income tax return (Por.Ngor.Dor.50) and receipt
- Withholding Tax: Copy of 3 latest monthly withholding tax return (Por.Pro.1) displaying the name of employees and the foreign applicant, along with the receipt.
- Social Security payment filings: Copy of 3 latest monthly social security contributions return filed with the Social Security Office (Form Sor.Por.Sor. 1-10)
- Proof of the need of the business to employ the foreigner which implies no Thai candidate has applied after advertising such a position
- Photographs showing the location of the business. Exterior photographs showing the address and the sign of company name. Interior photographs showing the employee while working
- Office map
Keep in mind that all documents must be stamped with the company’s seal on each page. And the managing directors or directors must sign their names next to the company’s seal.
Medical Certificate for Thailand Work Permit
They test for these things when you get your medical exam
- 3rd stage Syphilis (blood test)
- Elephantiasis: Clinical Evaluation
- Drug Abuser / Alcoholic: Clinical Evaluation
- Leprosy: Clinical Evaluation
- Insanity: Clinical Evaluation
Thai Work Permit Minimum Thai Employees Requirement
There must be 4 Thai employees in the company to apply for a Work Permit for a foreigner. This is a rule of the Ministry of Labor.
Many expats living in Krabi have mentioned that this is not a requirement there as long as a company can show that there is enough capital for the business. It is totally unofficial although it happens now and then.
Thailand Work Permit Minimum Salary Requirement
Here is the thing. There is no minimum salary requirement set by the Ministry of Labor to apply for a Work Permit or the Thai Non Immigrant B visa.
But in order to get the Thailand extension of stay based on employment, you need to fulfill the requirements of a minimum salary as well as other requirements like income tax payment and work permit. You will be getting this at the immigration office.
The Thai work permit minimum salary requirement varies depending on where you are from.
If your country is not on the list, you have to ask your local Immigration office.
Note that while it is technically possible to work in a job that doesn’t pay minimum wage, this will create many issues down the line. A person can have more than one job. In that case, but the total income needs to add up to match the minimum wage.
Teachers are usually exempt from the minimum wage requirements for getting extensions of stays based on employment.
Where to file Thailand Work Permit Application
Bangkok Work Permit
If you are going to work in Bangkok, the application should be filed at the Ministry of Labor: Khwaeng Din Daeng, Khet Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400
Work Permit outside Bangkok
If the job is not in Bangkok, the application should be filed at the province’s Department of Employment or at the province’s city hall. You will need to get approval from that particular province’s Department of Employment
How much Does Thailand Work Permit Cost?
The Thailand work permit price can vary depending on its validity.
|Application fees||100 THB/form|
|Thailand Work permit fee:|
Up to 3 months validity
Between3-6 months validity
Between 6 months-1 year validity
Renewal for 1 year or more
3,100 THB + the amount exceeding 1 year
|Change or add employer||3,000 THB|
|Change or add a location or place of work||1,000 THB|
|Change or add other conditions||150 THB/time|
Receive Thai Work Permit
Once the work permit is granted the applicant will get a blue colored book with their picture, information, and work permit information. It can take from 7 days or up to 2 months to receive.
Once given, you must appear in person with your passport and sign the Thai work permit book in the presence of the Labor Department staff. You will receive a stamp in your passport at that time.The work permit is only valid with the said company and location.
Once granted, the foreigner has to bring the work permit all the time especially at the workplace and during working hours. Please note that the foreigner can only perform the job stated in the work permit and on the specific employer.
If a new job and location are found, then the applicant must get a new Non-Immigrant visa and work permit for Thailand.
Individuals MUST notify Thailand immigration every 90 days about their residence status in Thailand. If you leave the country and stay with the current visa/work permit, you must apply for a re-entry permit.
If not, the visa and work permit will be canceled immediately. You CANNOT let your Thai Non-Immigrant visa expire. Therefore, the applicant must apply for an extension of stay before the current Thai Non-B visa expires.
Thailand Extension of Stay based on Employment
You can get an extension of stay based on employment at any immigration office in Thailand by paying 1900 THBs in cash.
You need the following documents.
- TM.7 form (visa extension form)
- Valid passport
- One 4×6 CM passport photo.
- Copy of your current non-immigrant visa
You may be asked to provide a phone number and Thailand address as well.
The extension will be valid for the length of your work permit in Thailand. Normally, it will be granted for a period of one year from the date of first entry into Thailand.Your extension of stay is dependent on your work permit and is not valid for stay in Thailand after your work permit ended. Date on extension of stay is irrelevant. Date of the work permit IS relevant.
So if your work permit expires before the date mentioned in the Thai extension of stay, you need to find other ways to legally stay in Thailand such as doing a Thai work permit renewal, leaving Thailand to get a new visa etc.
Staying in Thailand on an extension of stay if your work permit has expired would be a case of overstay and would result in fines or more.
8 Month Rule to Get Non-B Visa using Work Permit
The work permit needs to be valid for at least 8 months when you apply for another year-long, multi-entry visa. Note that this is needed only if you need a new visa, otherwise you can stay and work legally with the extension of stay and work permit.
No need to bother if you are not leaving Thailand.
Getting a Re-entry Permit when Leaving Thailand
If you plan on leaving and re-entering Thailand while on a Work Permit, you will first need to get a Thai re-entry permit in order to not lose your visa when you leave.
A re-entry permit can be secured from a Thai Immigration Office or International Airport. It costs 1,000 Baht for a single re-entry, and 3,800 Baht for a multiple Thailand re-entry permit.
Thailand Work Permit Renewal
You can renew Thai Work Permit at the Ministry of Labor inside Thailand with help of your Employer. It will cost 1,900 THB. You will need all the documentation you provided during the initial application process and they must be stamped and signed.
But in case your Thai work permit expired, then you would need to leave Thailand, get a new Thai non-immigrant visa- the same one you got in the beginning. Then with this visa, you can return and start the process again by applying for a work permit for Thailand.
How to Cancel Thailand Work Permit?
You would need to cancel the Thailand work permit in the following situations.
- You are planning to leave Thailand before your work permit expires for some reason.
- You lose your job. Your contract is terminated and you can’t renew Thai work permit.
- You want to switch jobs.
In these situations, you would need to cancel your work permit and cancel your Extension of Stay. Know that they belong to you, not your employer.
Do not hand out your WP and passport to your employer or anyone else with the hope that they would cancel it even if they say so. They can accompany you, but you need to be present.
Basically, Thailand work permit cancellation a two-step process where you first cancel the work permit and then the Thai extension of stay.The labor office cancels the work permit, and the immigration office cancel extension of stays.
Step 1: Cancel Work Permit for Thailand
In order to cancel a work permit for Thailand, you need to visit your employer and sign some papers to stop working on a particular date, say 21/12/21.
You visit your employer, sign some papers that you stop working on day 21/12/21. Then get copies of this document, and go to the Ministry of Labor. This is the office which you visited to get the Work Permit in the first place.
Once you are there, ask them to cancel the work permit on day 21/12/21. They will give you a receipt for the work permit cancellation.
Step 2: Cancel Extension of Stay in Thailand
Take the receipt you received in the Ministry of Labor for the Thai WP cancellation and the other documents such as the letters from your employer and documents of the Ministry of Labor, and visit the Immigration Office and cancel your Extension of Stay with the last day 21/12/21.
Canceling your work permit and extension of stay would ensure that you wouldn’t have nay problems down the road.
How Long Can I Stay in Thailand after Thai Extension of Stay is Cancelled?
I have heard from many expats that you automatically get 7 days once your extension of stay in cancelled. In an ideal world, that would be true. You would expect it to be true. It is not, however.
When you cancel your extension, it is totally up to the immigration officer how many days if any they stamp you. Usually when they cancel the extension the same day and you need to leave the country that day.
If you want to buy some time, you can go to Bangkok Immigration and apply for a 7-day extension for 1,900 THBs. It would be an application for an extension denied stamp to give you a week to get out of the country.If you are on a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa and NOT on extension of stay, then you are fine. You can continue to border bounce and stay until the end of the visa.
Can You Bring in Your Family Members?
Applicant’s family members (i.e., spouse, parents and children who are unmarried and under 20 years old) are eligible to apply for a Thai Non-Immigrant Visa (category “O”) and will be allowed to stay for a period of 90 days but no longer than 1 year.
Working in Thailand: Prohibited Occupations
There are some occupations that foreign nationals are not permitted to do within Thailand. These include:
- Agricultural work.
- Wood carving, garment making, shoe and hat-making, and other craft work.
- Haircutting or beauty and cosmetic role.
- Shop assistant.
- Cutting or polishing jewelry.
- Street Vending.
- Legal or litigation services.
- Architectural work.
Penalties for Working without Thai Work Permit
From the last few years, Thai authorities have been cracking on people working on tourist visas. So, don’t take it lightly. If a foreigner works in Thailand without a work permit, he/she risks imprisonment up to 3 months and/or a fine of up to 5,000 THB.
Also, the employer may be punished with imprisonment not exceeding 3 years and/or fined up to 60,000 THB.
How Was Your Experience with the Thai Work Permit?
If you have tried obtaining a Thai Work Permit, let us know in the comments. The visa process is constantly changing and it will help me update the article if there is any change. Please feel free to ask any questions you might have.