The work permit is a booklet that must be requested by all foreigners intending to work or run a business in Thailand. Pursuant to the Working of Alien Act 2008, any foreigner working in Thailand must apply for a work permit. The term “work” is very widely defined as engaging in work by “exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits.”
A prerequisite to obtaining a Thai work permit is possessing a valid Non-Immigrant Visa that a foreigner can apply for at a Thai Embassy abroad prior to traveling to Thailand. Alternatively, it is also possible to convert an existing tourist visa to a non-immigrant visa at the Immigration Office in Bangkok without the need to leave Thailand.
In most cases, the non-immigrant visa will be a type B visa – business visa – but a type O – marriage visa – for foreigners married to a Thai national will also suffice.
Note that some nationalities and Embassies require the foreign applicant to obtain a pre-approval letter from the Labour Department before they will accept the visa application documents. This pre-approval letter would serve as a confirmation from your employer/company in Thailand that you would indeed be travelling to Thailand to work for that particular company.
The Labour Department is responsible for issuing work permits for foreigners in Thailand. A company applying for a work permit to support each of their foreign directors and/or employees need to meet certain criteria. In addition to the requirement for VAT registration to be done at the Revenue Department, the company must also comply with the following conditions to support each work permit.
Capital of the company that should be registered as paid up:
Number of Thai employees that should be registered for Social Security Funds:
Once the required conditions have been met and the company has the necessary documents to evidence compliance of legal, tax and accounting regulations, the company will be ready to support the foreigner’s work permit application. It must be noted that unlike in some countries, the work permit in Thailand cannot be issued independently. The foreigner must have a fixed employment prior to the application, and must work only in the company, scope, position and at the address indicated in the work permit booklet. One foreigner may have more than one position, address, or company/employer listed in his work permit booklet.
Once submitted, the consideration of the application takes between 7 – 10 business days, after which the foreigner must personally appear at the office of the Labour Department to collect the work permit booklet. Our legal team would of course accompany you to the Labour Department for collection of your work permit booklet on the date specified by the Labour officials.
The work permit is generally valid for one year, but sometimes issued for a shorter period such as six or three months, depending on several factors including but not limited to the nationality of the applicant, the fact that a company is newly established and/or the validity of the applicant’s passport. It should therefore be renewed as required in order to allow the foreigner to legally work in Thailand.
The company’s obligations have not finished with obtaining the work permit. Once the foreign director or employee is in possession of the work permit and is able to legally work in Thailand, they must also obtain a Tax Identification Card from the Revenue Department through the company. This card contains a tax identification number, a tax ID, that will be used for withholding tax and personal tax return purposes on an annual basis. Umpire Legal can also assist you in applying for your personal tax ID card with the supporting documents from the Company, as well as the annual personal income tax filing to be done at the Revenue Department.
The work permit of a foreign director or employee can be renewed once their validity is about to come to an end. This can be done at the Labour Department where the work permit was initially issued. In order for the work permit to be renewed, the non-immigrant visa has to be valid or renewed first.
Foreigners resigning from their positions or being dismissed by the company must have their work permits cancelled at the Labour Department within 10 days as from the last working day of the foreigner.