Navigating Business Establishment in Thailand: An In-Depth Guide for Success
This is Your Ultimate Guide to Visa & Work Permits in Thailand to show you all the options and steps involved.
If you’ve been thinking about moving to Thailand, you’re not alone. Every year, thousands of people immigrate to this beautiful country. While some opt for visitor visas or a retirement visa, others choose to continue working. However, to work legally in Thailand, you must first acquire the appropriate visa and a work permit.
Completing the Thailand work visa application and applying for a Thailand work permit can be challenging but with this guide we aim to simplify the steps involved. We’ll review everything you need to know about the Thailand work visa requirements and the best way to stay compliant while living and working in the country.
In Thailand, a work visa is not the same as a work permit. While obtaining a visa in your home country is the first step, in addition, you still need to apply and be approved for a work permit in Thailand.
To work legally, you must possess both a valid visa and Thailand work permit; they aren’t interchangeable.
To simplify the requirements a bit further, a work visa and permit are mandatory for anyone who wants to work in Thailand but isn’t a natural-born citizen.
The work visa is for people who want to live and work in Thailand. You must apply for the Thailand work visa in your home country. It’s important to note that there are several types of work visas a foreign national can apply for including:
All visas are issued by your local consulate or the Thai Embassy, which is documented on your passport. A Thailand work permit is granted after the foreign national enters Thailand with the proper visa. It clearly details the employer, occupation, and position held by the foreign national.
There are several types of visas that permit non-Thai citizens to legally work in Thailand. Since everyone’s situation is different, you will have to choose the visa that aligns with your personal situation and the kind of work you will carry out in Thailand.
Before starting the Thai work visa application, it is best to review the types of work that are and are not allowed, according to the Foreign Business Act.
Some types of work are prohibited in Thailand, which include agricultural work, carpentry, and construction. Applicants must also be of legal age and, for some professions, over 25 years old.
Below are several visas available to foreign nationals who want to pursue employment in Thailand.
The B visa is the most common type of visa issued to foreign nationals who want to work as an employee in Thailand. It is also issued to those who want to launch their own business in the country.
You must apply for a non-immigrant B visa in your home country prior to arriving in Thailand. The visa is good for 90 days. After the work permit is issued, you can then apply for a non-immigrant B visa, which is valid for 1 year.
A non-immigrant B-A visa is typically issued to individuals who want to invest in a business that is already established in Thailand.
This visa is also valid for 1 year, and the business is permitted to assist with processing of this type of visa on the investee’s behalf. It is important to note that this type of visa can be difficult to obtain and are issued after review of the investee’s financial assets.
Foreigners who want to work for companies listed under the Board of Investment of Thailand can apply for an IB visa. These companies or projects are registered by the BOI as being beneficial for the country as a whole.
Foreigners who want to work in film, radio, or television can apply for a non-immigrant M visa. Approval is based on the type of media activities that the applicant wants to carry out.
If the foreign national wants to bring their spouse or other dependents with them, they will need to apply for this visa. This visa is also issued to foreigners who want to perform volunteer work, ones who marry a Thai citizen, and expats who want to retire in Thailand.
Although relatively new, a Smart visa is a type of visa given to foreigners with specific talents and skill sets, startup entrepreneurs, investors, and family members of the Smart visa applicants. These skilled professionals work in the technology, medical or biochemical engineering industry.
You can read more about here in our Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Digital Nomad in Thailand.
It’s also important to note that some businesses in Thailand cannot offer work permits for foreigners. Both the business and the foreign national must meet certain conditions prior to applying for a work permit.
At the very minimum, companies must have verifiable proof of the following:
Any exemption from the above-listed requirements is granted on a case-by-case basis. However, the business must be able to provide a viable explanation as to why hiring non-Thai employees is necessary.
Foreign nationals who want to apply for a work permit in Thailand also need to meet certain criteria. These include for the following:
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Employers usually submit the Thailand work permit application prior to or following the foreign national’s arrival into the country. However, the foreign national must collect the work permit themselves.
Below is a list of the required documents that the foreign employee and employer must submit when applying for a work permit:
Required Employer Documents:
Required Employee Documents:
Each copy of original documentation also needs signed and translated if deemed necessary. For this reason, it is important to have all of the documentation prepared prior to arrival.
After your documents are complete, you or your potential employer will submit the work permit application documents to the Ministry of Labor. Note that if the business is housed under the BOI, your work permit must first be requested through the BOI system. After approval, the work permit will be issued.
As mentioned above, you must apply for a non-immigrant visa in your home country. Once approved, you are then eligible to apply for a Thailand work permit. If you are in Thailand as a tourist, you must convert your tourist visa into a suitable non-immigrant visa.
Required documentation depends on the specific embassy and type of non-immigrant visa.
Below is a list of required documents you need to apply:
The work permit application process needs to be completed three months before your non-immigrant visa expires. Your Thailand work permit will be approved and issued by the Department of Labor.
Both you and the business must meet the qualifications set forth by the Thailand Department of Labor for the work permit to be approved.
After your application and documents are finalized, you will receive notification stating when it can be picked up. You must bring your original passport with to verify your identity.
If you apply in Bangkok, processing time is between 7-10 days. If you apply in Phuket, processing time is up to 60 days.
Unless your work permit is under a BOI company, it is only valid for 1 year. However, it is possible to be extend your permit.
Once you receive your work permit, you can only work for the business listed on the permit. You cannot work for another company or in a different role.
Doing so is punishable by imprisonment or hefty fines. In addition, you are also obligated to perform certain tasks under your work permit.
As a foreign national working in Thailand, you must obtain a tax identification number. Issued by the Thailand Revenue Department, it is a relatively easy process that can be completed in one day. Afterwards, you will use that identification number to file your income tax.
Anyone living and working in Thailand must report their residence to the proper authorities within 90 days of arrival. You can do this at the immigration office or by mail.
Once your work contract ends, it is reported to the Labor Department. If it is not renewed, your work permit and visa will be canceled. You will then be permitted to remain in Thailand for an additional week.
If you want to find a different job, you will have to resign from your current place of employment and the new company will then start the process of applying for an extension and another permit. If your current permission to be in Thailand expires prior the new work permit is issued, you must leave Thailand and reapply for a new visa in your home country.
You must extend your work permit before it expires. Both you and your employer must verify that your visa is also extended prior to submitting the work permit renewal forms. Since the documents you need are the as when you first applied, renewing your work permit is a relatively straightforward process.
A professional Employer of Record (EOR provider) can help your firm fulfill your Thailand staffing requirements and you can save money, paperwork, labor costs, and legal troubles by working with a firm that specializes in Thailand EOR & payroll solutions.
These specialized firms already know and comply with Thai employment law, whether you need a local labor force supplemented by in-person or remote workers, or you just need assistance paying your employees properly.
Reach out to our team for a free consultation to understand the requirements and steps involved in getting you set up and running a business in Thailand.
We’ll help you navigate through the entire process to ensure you’re up and running with the least amount of steps. You can reach us directly on email@example.com or enter your details below and someone from our team will reach out.
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