Work visas in Thailand
Living and working in Thailand is a dream that many have. However, some may get discouraged by the prospect of having to jump through administrative hoops in order to get the proper permissions to do so.
This guide to getting a Thai work visa will show you that it actually isn’t a daunting task – it just requires preparation and meticulousness.
Without further ado, here’s our insider guide to getting a Thai work visa – broken down into clear steps & documents to prep so you can begin planning for a longer-term stay in the country.
Other helpful guides for expats in Thailand:
- How to buy a condo in Thailand: pricing tips & documents to prep
- How to retire in Thailand: from visas to cost of living
Step 1: Find a job in Thailand
The first step towards getting your work visa in Thailand is to find a job in Thailand, or make one. Residents can either be employed by a company that is eligible to hire foreigners, or start a business that meets the government’s requirements to hire non-Thai nationals.
It should also be noted that there are certain occupations that foreign residents are not allowed to do.
So, should you receive a job offer from, or are starting, a company that meets the criteria, then the next set of conditions you must meet for a work visa are based on an individual’s qualifications.
The company would also need to obtain official permission to hire you from the Ministry of Labour, who will then provide you with an approval letter that is valid for one month.
The basic requirements set out by the government are that applicants are in good health, and hold a bachelor’s degree. For more detailed information, we’d recommend reaching out to your home nation’s embassy at which you’ll be applying for your work visa.
If you and your employer fulfill the criteria provided by the Royal Thai Government and have an official offer from an employer, you can now begin the process of applying for your Thai work visa as well as your work permit.
Thai work visa vs. Thai work permit
In order to legally work in Thailand, you’d need both a work visa and a work permit. While they’re complementary, they’re not interchangeable.
So, before we go any further, let’s first explain the differences between the two.
Image credit: Koh Samui Web
A work visa is the official document that’s placed inside your passport issued by a Royal Thai Embassy and/or Consulate that certifies you are allowed to stay in the country, as well as how long. The application process for a work visa is done outside of Thailand.
Image credit: Thailand Law
The work permit is a booklet provided by the Ministry of Labour that stipulates you are allowed to work in Thailand under the specified employer and under the specified scope in the document. The application for a work permit is done in Thailand.
Step 2: Apply for a non-immigrant visa to enter Thailand to finalise your work visa
As previously mentioned, foreign residents would need both the work visa and the work permit to legally work in Thailand. So, this is where the two start intertwining.
Individuals in Thailand on a tourist visa cannot apply for a work permit. Thus, in order to apply for a work permit, you would first need to obtain a non-immigrant visa.
There are a number of non-immigrant visas you can apply for, including the Permanent Residency Visa, but the Non-Immigrant Visa “B” is what’s commonly known as the “business visa”.
We’d recommend heading over to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ official website to find out the qualifications as well as documents required to apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa “B”, and then confirming your submission with the embassy you’ll submit your documents to.
Each consulate has their own way of operating and processing applications – so, we’d recommend contacting the one at which you’ll be handing in your documents for the exact process.
A not-so-pro-tip, though, is to start early. Most embassies require documents that aren’t in English or Thai to be translated and notarised – be sure to account for enough time for the turnaround period when making your application appointment.
The cost of a business visa depends on the type you get. A Non-Immigrant visa that allows single-entry into Thailand for three months costs ฿2,000 (~USD60), while one that allows for multiple entries into the Kingdom and lasts for one year costs ฿5,000 (~USD155).
Step 3: Apply for a work permit in Thailand
You need to apply and receive a work permit before starting to do business in Thailand.
Foreign nationals who are caught working in Thailand without a work permit can be detained up to three months and fined up to ฿5,000 (~USD155), regardless of whether or not they have a business visa.
Some groups can start working without their permit once they arrive in Thailand, but it’s imperative that you apply for your work permit no more than 30 days after their first day of work.
Here are the steps you’ll need to take in order to get that second document that officially allows you to legally work in Thailand.
How to apply for a work permit in Thailand
Similar to applying for a working visa, you would need to collate the documents required of you and your employer – medical certificates, company registration papers and the like – then bring them to the relevant authorities. These documents need to have been procured no more than 90 days prior to your application date.
In addition to official documents, there are also administrative fees that come with applying for a work permit.
Here’s a quick cost breakdown:
- ฿100 (~USD3) application fee
- ฿3,000 (~USD90) for 12-month permit (most common)
- ฿1,500 (~USD45) for 6-month permit
- ฿750 (~USD23) for 3-month permit
For those who are living in Bangkok, you would provide these documents and fees over to the Ministry of Labour. If you’re residing outside of the capital, then you’d bring them over to the province’s Department of Employment or its equivalent. You can get more details regarding this process via your local office.
Image credit: Board of Investment, Thailand
Take all of these documents over to the relevant administrative location. Once submitted, you’ll receive a receipt stating you’ve applied for your work permit, as well as the date you can come pick up your permit.
Work permit approval process
Just like when you were applying for a work visa, you would need to allow enough time for translation and notarisation.
Once you submit your application, you’ll receive a confirmation slip that details the date you can pick up your permit. Usually, this is no more than seven business days after the application date.
Head over on the date stipulated on the slip, and be sure to bring your passport. On the day that you receive your work permit, the Ministry of Labour will also stamp your passport.
How to maintain your work permit’s validity
Now that you are officially legally allowed to work in Thailand, let’s see what you’d have to avoid doing to have that privilege taken away from you.
One of the most important things you’d need to do as a work permit holder is to report to immigration every 90 days.
In-person 90 Day Reports are done at the Bangkok Immigration Office.
Image credit: onestep4ward
You can do this in-person, through mail, or through an agent. Actually, some workplaces will even do this step for you.
Do not leave the country without a valid re-entry permit
If you have a single-entry visa, then be mindful that you will have to apply for a re-entry permit every time you leave Thailand.
Leaving without one would effectively void your work permit as well as your visa.
Only perform work stipulated in your work permit
Avoid doing other work that is outside your scope of employment listed on the permit.
If your work permit specifies you work in “Communications”, do not dabble in “Engineering” jobs. Doing so can result in you facing imprisonment for up to three months and/or a fine.
Should you abide by the rules stipulated above, you should have no issues maintaining the validity of your work permit, as well as enjoying the privileges that come with it – like not having to worry about being here illegally.
Updating and amending your work permit
When it comes time to renew your work permit, or to change employers, you would need to go through the same process. Except this time, with a letter detailing whether you’re renewing your contract or switching employers.
Like all administrative processes, the work permit application requires little more than meticulousness and preparedness.
Getting a Thai work visa
It’s totally fair to want to settle in Thailand. With so many beaches less than two hours away from the city, as well as an unparalleled variety of food available, we’d wanna move here too if we didn’t already live here.
One of the first steps towards building a life in Thailand is ensuring that you have a means to sustain your lifestyle i.e., a job. It’s also important that we have permission to work.
This insider guide to getting a Thai work visa has hopefully simplified the process so that you can focus on your relocation, without having to worry about researching how to obtain such permissions.
We wish you all the best with your move to The Land of Smiles.
Here’s some more guides on living in Thailand to check out:
Cover images adapted from (L-R): Thailand Law