A foreigner who wishes to work, or conduct any business or investment-related activities in Thailand must obtain an appropriate Work Permit prior to commencing any duties. The definition of “work” provided by the Thai Department of Employment provides that it is “to engage in work by exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits”.
The issuance of work permits falls within the responsibilities of the Ministry of Labour. Section 8 of the Foreign Business Act states that the prospective employer may apply for this work permit on behalf of the foreigner, however the work permit can only be issued once the foreigner has entered Thailand in keeping with the immigration laws and presented herself/himself to receive the permit. A necessary pre-requisite to obtain the work permit is to have obtained a non-immigrant visa first.
A Thai work permit can be issued to a foreigner with the support of a company for a specific position and job role within that company. A work permit shall only entitle the foreign worker to work within that designated company.
The Thai company needs to arrange for the foreigner’s application for a non-immigrant B visa before she/he moves to Thailand. It is possible for the applicant to enter Thailand with this non-immigrant B visa and within the stipulated period apply for the work permit. Several company documents must be provided. After receiving the work permit, the applicant can apply for a visa extension. The one-year visa and work permit will then be extended annually.
A significant number of supporting documents is required for a Work Permit application. They include, but are not limited to: copies of educational certificates, employment certificate, copy of passport with Non-Immigrant ‘B’ visa, medical certificate, and a number of company documents including the business registration, company affidavit, list of shareholders and financial statements.
Marriage and birth certificates in English must be certified by the respective embassy for submission for the accompanying family dependants.
Where a supporting document is not in English or Thai, a copy of the original document and an official English or Thai translation certified by the respective embassy must be submitted.
The Thai company hiring a foreigner must meet the following criteria:
1. Be registered in Thailand
2. Have applied for a Tax ID and VAT registration
3. Have a minimum paid up capital of 2M THB per foreign employee
4. Have sponsored no more than ten work permits (BOI Companies may be granted more)
The processing time for a Non-Immigrant “B” Visa application is approximately two to four working days (depending on the Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate in each country). The approval time for a Work Permit application can range between 7 to 14 working days following submission to the relevant authority. An Emergency Work Permit can be processed within one working day.
A foreigner who stays in Thailand without a valid visa will be fined THB 500 per day (maximum THB 20,000). Penalties for working without a Work Permit can include a fine ranging from THB 2,000 to THB 100,000 and imprisonment of up to five years.