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Thailand Work Permit Rules

This page gives you a general idea of the rules and things to keep in mind regarding Thailand work permit.


Alien (or foreigner): a natural person who is not of Thai nationality.
Work: engaging in work by exerting energy or using knowledge whether or not in consideration of wages or other benefits.

Who must have a Work Permit?

The law requires all foreigners obtain a work permit before starting work in Thailand.


The foreigners having the following status do not need a work permit to perform their duty in Thailand:

1. Members of the diplomatic corps;
2. Members of consular missions;
3. Representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations Organizations and specialized institutions;
4. Personal servants coming from abroad to work exclusively for persons listed in item (1), (2) or (3) above;
5. Persons who perform duties on missions in Thailand under an agreement between the Thai Government and a foreign Government or international organization;
6. Persons who enter Thailand for the purpose of performing any duty or mission for the benefit of education, culture, arts, or sports in Thailand;
7. Persons who are specially permitted by the Thai Government to enter and perform any duty or mission in Thailand.

Special Cases:

1. Urgent and Essential Work:
Exemption from Work Permit requirements is granted to foreigners 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 exceeding fifteen days. However, such foreigners may engage in work only after a written notification on a prescribed form, signed by the foreigner and endorsed by his employer, has been submitted to and accepted by the Director-General or his assignee. The foreigners 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.

2. Investment Promotion:
A foreigner seeking permission to work in the Kingdom under the Investment Promotion Law must submit his application for a Work Permit within thirty days from his entry into Thailand; if the foreigner is present in the Kingdom, the thirty-day period begins on the date he is granted permission to work under such law. A foreigner in this category may engage in the permitted work while his application is being processed by the authorities.

How to apply for a Work Permit in Thailand?

  • The foreigner must enter Thailand with a nonimmigrant business visa and has a prospective employer. He files an application for a Work Permit to work for that employer at the Alien Occupational Control Division. If his work will be in a province other than Bangkok, the application must be filed at the Provincial Office of Employment.
  • An employer may file an application for a Work Permit on behalf of the prospective foreign employee who wishes to work in Thailand before he enters Thailand. This is usually the case now because most Thai consulates overseas, when considering issuing a non-immigrant business visa for a foreigner, ask the visa applicant for the letter of work permit approval issued by the Office of Foreign Workers Administration, Department of Employment of the Ministry of Labour, and many more papers from the prospective employer. The actual Work Permit will be issued only after the foreigner has entered Thailand with appropriate visa and has presented some more documents to receive his Work Permit at the Office of Foreign Workers Administration.

Qualifications of a foreigner entitled to apply for a Work Permit

1. Having residence in the Kingdom or having permission to stay in the Kingdom temporarily under the immigration law (i.e. not as a tourist or a transit-traveler).
2. Not applying for work in any or the 39 reserved occupations prescribed in the Royal Decree B.E. 2522 (1979).
3. Having the knowledge and/or skills to perform the work as stated in the application for a Work Permit.
4. Not being insane or mentally sick.
5. Not being sick of leprosy, tuberculosis, drug addiction, alcoholism and elephantitus.
6. Not having been imprisoned due to violation of the immigration law or the alien employment law within one year prior to applying for a Work Permit.

Validity of a Work Permit

A Work Permit is issued for a one-year period and may be renewed every year thereafter.

If the duration of employment of a foreigner is less than one year, a Work Permit will be granted for not longer than the period requested.

An authorized official may grant a Work Permit to a foreigner for a period that is necessary for the completion of work, but not longer than one year.

Other interesting points

The law prohibits employers from allowing foreign employees 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. Failure to do so may result in a fine.

Work Permit holders must obtain a 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 Law does not prevent a foreigner from working in more than one field or for more than one employer. He has to have his Work Permit covering all the jobs or employers.

The occupations and professions prohibited to foreigners

From 1 June 2020, the jobs prohibited to foreigners have been put into 3 lists. List one is strictly reserved for Thais only. List two is for Thais, except some accounting, engineering and architectural related works where Thailand is a party to international agreements. List three is only for Thais, but if the foreigners have some skills and employers, they can do these jobs. Here you can read the full lists of jobs prohibited to foreigners.


  • A foreigner who engages in work without having the work permit for it shall be liable to imprisonment for a term of not exceeding 5 years or to a fine from THB 2,000 to 100,000 or both.
  • A work permit holder who engages in work or at the place other than permitted in his permit shall be liable to a fine of not exceeding THB 20,000.
  • A work permit holder shall keep the permit on himself or at the place of work during work in order that it may be readily shown to the competent official or registrar. Failure to do so may result in a fine of not exceeding THB 10,000.
  • An employer who engages a foreigner without a work permit to work for him shall be liable to a fine from THB 10,000 to 100,000 per foreigner.
  • An employer who engages a work permit holder in the work of the category or nature and at the working area or work place other than specified in the permit shall be liable to a fine of not exceeding THB 10,000.

Click here to read the latest law concerning foreigners working in Thailand, Working of Alien Act B.E 2551.