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Work Permits

The Alien Occupation Law, adopted in 1973, requires all aliens working in Thailand to obtain a Work Permit prior to starting work in the Kingdom. An updated version of the Act, adopted in 1978, describes the procedures for issuance and maintenance of Work Permits and lists certain occupations from which aliens may be excluded.

A. Exemptions
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 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.

B. Special Cases
While most aliens must apply for a Work Permit, and may not begin work until the Permit is issued, the Alien Employment Act does provide special treatment in the following circumstances:

  • 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 any "urgent and essential nature" for a period not exceeding 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.

    Aliens entitled to this treatment may enter 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.
  • Investment Promotion
    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.

C. Procedures
The Act requires that any alien working in Thailand must obtain a Work Permit before beginning work. Section 8 of the Act stipulates that while a prospective employer may file an application on the alien's behalf in advance of his commencing work, the actual Work Permit will not be issued until the alien 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 the alien's Non-Immigrant visa permits him to remain in Thailand under the Immigration law. The Work Permit will be subject to renewal in accordance with the renewed or extended visa. For aliens who are holders of a Thai Certificate of Residence, the Work Permit can be renewed 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.

D. Required Documentation
The following documents must be attached to a Work Permit application:

  • For non-permanent residents: A valid passport containing a Non- Immigrant visa (except for WP 3 applications)
  • For permanent residents: A valid passport, residence permit and alien book (except for WP 3 applications)
  • 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 or habitual alcoholism (except for WP 7 applications).
  • Three 5x6 cm. full-faced, bareheaded, black and white or color photographs, taken no more than six 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 prescribed 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 Alien Occupation Law, 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, as well as a 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.

E. Permitted 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, or in violation of the conditions of his work as stipulated in his Permit, may be punished by a term of imprisonment not exceeding three months or a fine of up to 5,000 baht, or both. Aliens engaged in work prohibited to them by Royal Decree (see below) shall be liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or to a fine ranging from 2,000 to 100,000 baht, or both.

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 punished with imprisonment not exceeding three years or fined up to 60,000 baht or both.

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.

F. Restricted Occupations
A Royal Decree in 1973 listed 39 occupations and professions that were then prohibited to aliens. This list has been amended on several occasions by subsequent Royal Decrees, the latest one in 1979.

  • Labor
  • Work in agriculture, animal breeding, forestry, fishery or general farm supervision
  • Masonry, carpentry, or other construction work
  • Wood carving
  • Driving motor vehicles or non-motorized carriers, except for piloting international aircraft
  • Shop attendant
  • Auctioneering
  • Supervising, auditing or giving services in accounting, except occasional international auditing
  • Gem cutting and polishing
  • Hair cutting, hair dressing and beautician work
  • Hand weaving
  • Mat weaving or making of wares from reed, rattan, kenaf, straw or bamboo pulp
  • Manufacture of manual fibrous paper
  • Manufacture of lacquerware
  • Thai musical instrument production
  • Manufacture of nielloware
  • Goldsmith, silversmith and other precious metal work
  • Manufacture of bronzeware
  • Thai doll making
  • Manufacture of mattresses and padded blankets
  • Alms bowl making
  • Manual silk product making
  • Buddha image making
  • Manufacture of knives
  • Paper and cloth umbrella fabrication
  • Shoemaking
  • Hat making
  • Brokerage or agency work, except in international business
  • Dressmaking
  • Pottery or ceramics
  • Manual cigarette rolling
  • Legal or litigation service
  • Clerical or secretarial work
  • Manual silk reeling and weaving
  • Thai character type-setting
  • Hawking business
  • Tourist guide or tour organizing agency
  • Architectural work
  • Civil engineering work
Sat, 29 March, 2003

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