Work Permit Procedures
Any foreigner working in Thailand must obtain a Work Permit before beginning work. While a prospective employer may file an application on the foreigner’s behalf in advance of his starting work, the actual Work Permit will not be issued until the foreigner has entered Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and has presented himself to receive his Work Permit.
The Permit initially will be valid only for the period of time that the foreigner’s Non-Immigrant Visa permits him to remain in Thailand under Immigration Law.
The Work Permit will be subject to renewal in accordance with the renewed or extended visa. For foreigners who are holders of a Thai Certificate of Residence, the Work Permit can be renewed annually. Foreigners who have a one year extension of stay based on marriage to a Thai national or supporting a Thai national will also be able to renew their Work Permit annually. The Labor Department, subject to subsequent renewal, will in principle grant an initial duration of one year for the Work Permit. A Work Permit must be renewed before its expiry date or it will automatically lapse.
Applicants for Work Permits may not enter the Kingdom as tourists or transients.
Exemptions from the Work Permit requirement are granted to persons occupying the following professions:
- Members of the diplomatic corps
- Members of consular missions
- Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and its specialized agencies
- Personal servants coming from abroad to work exclusively for persons listed under the above items
- Persons who perform duties on missions in the Kingdom under an agreement between the government of Thailand and a foreign government or international organization
- Persons who enter the Kingdom for the performance of any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports
- Persons who are specially permitted by the Government of Thailand to enter and perform any duty or mission in the Kingdom.
Urgent and Essential Work
Exemption from Work Permit requirements is granted to aliens who enter the Kingdom temporarily, but in accordance with the immigration law, to perform any work of an “urgent and essential nature” for a period not more than 15 days. However, such aliens may engage in work only after a written notification on a prescribed form, signed by the alien and endorsed by his employer, has been submitted to and accepted by the Director-General or his designee.
An alien seeking permission to work in the Kingdom under the Investment Promotion Law must submit his application for a Work Permit within 30 days of notification by the Board of Investment that his position has been approved. An alien in this category may engage in authorized work while the application is being processed.
Permitted and Prohibited Activities
Thai law prohibits employers from allowing aliens to perform any function other than that described in the alien’s Work Permit. Employers must report changes in employment, transfers and termination of all aliens in their organization within 15 days of any such action. In cases of dismissal, aliens must return their Work Permit to labor authorities in Bangkok at the Alien Occupation division or, if they are in a provincial area, to the province’s Department of Employment. Failure to do so will result in a fine of up to 1,000 baht.
Any alien who engages in work without a Work Permit, may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding five years or a fine ranging from 2,000 Baht to 100,000 Baht, or both. Any alien who violates the conditions of his work as described in his Permit may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of up to 20,000 Baht.
Any alien who does not have their Work Permit with them while working, may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of up to 10,000 Baht.
An employer who permits an alien to work in his organization without a Work Permit or to act in violation of the nature of the work specified in the Permit may be fined from 10,000 baht up to 100,000 baht.
Permit holders must obtain prior permission to change their occupation and/or place of work. Change of employer location or the residential address of the permit holder must be properly endorsed in the Work Permit by the labor authorities. The Alien Employment Act does not prevent an alien from engaging in work in more than one field or for more than one employer.