The Foreign Working Act of 2008 requires all foreigners working in Thailand to obtain a work permit prior to starting work in the Kingdom and describes the procedures for issuance and maintenance of work permits and lists certain occupations from which the foreigners may be excluded.
The Act grants exemptions from the work permit requirement 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 into 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 Thai government to enter into and perform any duty or mission in the Kingdom. As a person permitted, with or without any condition, by the Council of Ministers to enter and perform any duty or mission.
While most foreigners must apply for a work permit, and may not begin work until the permit is issued, the Foreign Working Act does provide special treatment in the following circumstances:
Urgent and Essential Work
Exemption from work permit requirements is granted to the foreigner who enters into the Kingdom temporarily, but in accordance with the immigration law, to perform any work of any “urgent and essential nature” for a period not exceeding 15 days. However, such foreigner may engage in work only after a written notification on a prescribed form (WP-10), signed by the foreigner and endorsed by his employer, has been submitted to and accepted by the Director-General or his designee.
The foreigners entitled to this treatment may enter into Thailand with any kind of visa, including a transit visa. The term “urgent and essential work” is not explicitly defined and consequently, the issuance of this sort of exemption is a matter of administrative discretion.
Application to perform urgent and necessary duties for period not longer than 15 days according to Article 9 which is under the following condition/situation:
1. An alien entering the Kingdom of Thailand to engage in necessary and urgent work, which if such work cannot be performed immediately will result in damage, shall has a finish period of within 15 days
2. A work, which has the feature of administration, academic matters and uncertain periods same as the usual except the non-work which one has to perform in suddenly (if failure to perform at the time, the damage will occur), is not necessary and urgent work
– Completed Form of WP-10 and one photograph (3 x 4 cm.) plus one copy
– Letter showing the reason why applicants need to perform urgent and necessary duties such as an invitation letter and agenda etc.
– A copy of the passport (the page which show a photo and entry VISA) - A copy of the company registration (updated within six months) and a copy of VAT registration; Form Phor Por 01 identifying the type of business, which is certified by an authorized director/the owner of work place or the employer - A copy of employer’s work permit incase he/ she is a foreigner.If that employer is not working in Thailand or has no work permit, the Power of Attorney certified by the notary public and Thai Embassy is needed.
– In case of a Thai employer, a copy of the employer’s I.D. card - Power of Attorney from a foreigner and an employer with 10 Baht duty stamp affixed and a copy of the appointee’s I.D. card (if a foreigner and an employer are unable to apply in person).
Source: Office of Foreign Worker Administration, as of November 2018.
Activities Not Requiring a WP-10
On 6 March 2015, the Department of Employment issued an announcement declaring that certain activities would no longer be classified as “work”, and therefore do not require a work permit. The categories are as follows:
– Attending a meeting or seminar - Attending an exhibition or trade fair - Visiting a business or engaging in business negotiations - Attending special or academic lectures - Attending technical training or seminars - Purchase of goods at a trade fair - Attending a meeting of directors of his/her own company
In addition, a foreign national arranging a meeting, seminar, or exhibition in cooperation with a government agency or state enterprise will be given a 30-day exemption according to the Royal Decree (No. 2) B.E. 2528.
A foreigner seeking permission to work in the Kingdom under the Investment Promotion Act must submit an application for a work permit within 30 days of notification by the BOI that the position has been approved. A foreigner in this category may engage in authorized work while the application is being processed.
The Act requires that any foreigner working in Thailand must obtain a work permit before beginning work. Section 11 of the Act stipulates that while a prospective employer may file an application on behalf of the foreigner in advance of his commencing work, the actual work permit will not be issued until the foreigner has entered into Thailand in accordance with the immigration laws and has presented him or herself to receive the work permit.
For a regular position, a work permit will be issued for one year, but for an executive position or experts, a work permit will be issued for two years. A work permit must be renewed before its expiry date or it will lapse
Applicants for work permits must enter into Thailand with Non–immigrant B visa. If they enter with a tourist visa or transit visa or visa waiver, they must change the type of visa to be Non– immigrant B visa. Furthermore, a foreigner who enters into Thailand with a Non–immigrant B visa will also qualify to apply for a work permit, if he marries a Thai woman.
The following documents must be provided by the foreigner and attached to a work permit application:
- For non-permanent residents: Original of passport containing a Non- Immigrant visa (Validity period not less than six months) (except for WP 3 applications, only a copy of passport showing photo page, name and number).
- For permanent residents: Original of passport, residence permit and foreigner book (except for WP 3 applications, only a copy of passport showing photo page, name and number).
- Evidence of applicant’s educational qualifications and letter(s) of recommendation from the former employer, describing in detail the applicant’s past position, duties, performance and place and length of employment. If the documents are in a language other than English, a Thai translation certified as correct by a Thai Embassy (if abroad) or Ministry of Foreign Affairs (if in Thailand) must be attached.
- A recent medical certificate from a first-class licensed physician in Thailand stating that the applicant is not of unsound mind and not suffering from leprosy, acute tuberculosis, elephantiasis, narcotic addiction, habitual alcoholism or syphilis stage 3 (except for WP 7 applications).
- Three 5×6 cm. full-faced, bareheaded, black and white or color photographs, taken no more than 6 months prior to the filing of the application.
- If the application is to be filed by another person, a valid power of attorney in the pre scribed form must be attached with a 10 Baht duty stamp.
- On the application form, the “job description” entry must be completed with a detailed statement as to what job is expected to be performed, how it is related to other people, and what materials will be used in the work (additional paper to be used if necessary).
- If the job applied for is subject to a license under a particular law, in addition to the Foreign Working Act, a photocopy of such license, (e.g. teacher’s license, physician’s license, press card from the Public Relations Department, certificate of missionary status from the Office of Religious Affairs, etc.) shall be attached.
– If the applicant is married to a Thai national, the original and photocopies of the following must be presented: Marriage certificate, spouse’s identity card, birth certificates of children, household registration, and photocopy of every page of the applicant’s passport.
– If the job being applied for is not in Bangkok, the application should be filed at the relevant province’s Department of Employment, or in the absence of such an office, at the province’s city hall. Additional evidence as requested. It may be necessary to translate any or all documents into Thai.
The former law, Foreign Working Act of 1978, prohibited the employers from allowing foreigners to perform any function other than that described in the foreigner’s work permit. The employers must report changes in employment, transfers and termination of all foreigners in their organization within 15 days of any such action. In cases of dismissal, the foreigners must return their work permits 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.
However, according to the Foreign Working Act of 2008, the law does not force the employers to return a work permit of their foreign employees, but if the employers or foreign employees wish to return a work permit, the labor authorities will receive a work permit and record the termination date.
Any foreigner engaging in work without a work permit may be punished by a term of im prisonment not exceeding five years or a fine from 2,000 Baht up to 100,000 Baht, or both. In case of violation of the conditions of his work as stipulated in his permit, the foreigner may be punished by a fine of not exceeding 20,000 Baht.
An employer who permits a foreigner to work in his organization without a work permit may be punished with a fine from 10,000 Baht up to 100,000 Baht for each foreign employee. An employer who permits a foreigner to act in violation of the nature of the work specified in the work permit may be punished with a fined not exceeding 10,000 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 Foreign Working Act does not prevent a foreigner from engaging in work in more than one field or for more than one employer.
A Royal Decree in 1973 listed 39 occupations and professions that were then prohibited to foreigners. This list has been amended on several occasions by subsequent Royal Decrees, the latest one in 2005;
- 1) Labor work;
- 2) Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, or fishery, except work requiring expertise,
specialized work, or farm supervision work;
- 3) Bricklaying, carpentry or other construction work;
- 4) Wood carving;
- 5) Driving motor vehicles, driving a non-mechanically propelled carrier or driving a
mechanically propelled carrier, except for piloting international aircraft;
- 6) Shop/Outlet attendance;
- 7) Auction;
- 8) Supervising, auditing or providing services in accounting, except internal auditing on occasions;
- 9) Cutting or polishing diamond or precious stones;
- 10) Haircutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment;
- 11) Cloth weaving by hand;
- 12) Mat weaving or utensil making from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw or bamboo pellicle;
- 13) Mulberry paper making by hand;
- 14) Lacquerware making;
- 15) Making Thai musical instruments;
- 16) Nielloware making;
- 17) Gold ornaments, silverware or pink gold making;
- 18) Bronze ware making;
- 19) Thai doll making;
- 20) Mattress and quilt blanket making;
- 21) Alms bowl making;
- 22) Hand making of silk products;
- 23) Buddha image making;
- 24) Knife making;
- 25) Paper or cloth umbrella making;
- 26) Shoemaking;
- 27) Hat making;
- 28) Brokerage or agency work, except broker or agency work in international trade;
- 29) Civil engineering works concerning design and calculation, organization, research, project planning, testing, construction supervision or advising, excluding work requiring special expertise;
- 30) Architectural work concerning designing, drawing of plans, cost estimating, construction directing or advising;
- 31) Dressmaking;
- 32) Pottery or ceramic ware making;
- 33) Cigarette rolling by hand;
- 34) Tour guide or sightseeing tour operation;
- 35) Street vending;
- 36) Typesetting of Thai characters;
- 37) Silk reeling and twisting by hand;
- 38) Clerical and secretarial work;
- 39) Legal service or lawsuit work;
As per the Cabinet’s Resolutions, foreign workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have been given an indulgence to work in the Kingdom in 2 occupations, which are 1) Labor work and 2) Domestic work.
Sources : Ministry of Labour / The Ministry of Labour is a Thai government body responsible for the oversight of labour administration and protection, skill development, and the promotion of employment in Thailand. The ministry was founded in 1993 as the “Ministry of Labour and Social Services”, then renamed “Ministry of Labour” in 2002 : http://www.mol.go.th/en/anonymouse/home