Work Permit Application Process & Checklist
What is a work permit?
A work permit is a document issued by the Labour department which permits a foreigner to work within Thailand.
It comes in the form of a small blue book, or more recently as a digital file.
It is not a "work visa" and such a thing does not exist in Thailand. A work permit must be accompanied by a suitable visa, the most common of which will be a Non-B (Non-Immigrant Visa under business category.
What Visa's are eligible for a Work Permit?
Foreigners who wish to work must have one of the following types of visas:
- Non - Immigrant - B ( Business / employment) To conduct business / to be employed/ internship (extra-curricular).
- Non-Immigrant B (Teaching) to teach in Thailand.
- Non Immigrant IB ( Investment through BOI-Thailand Board of Investment). To invest or perform other activities relating to investment, subject to the provision of the established laws on investment promotion.
- Non-Immigrant O (Marriage or Thai child support)
- Non-Immigrant F (Official) – To perform official duties (using ordinary passport).
- Non Immigrant M ( Mass Media) – To work as a journalist, reporter of film production team.
- Non Immigrant R ( Religion) – To perform missionary work or other religious activities with the concurrence of the Thai concerned Ministry or relevant Government agencies.
- Non-Immigrant EX – To work as an expert or specialist in a specific field.
- Non-Immigrant RS – To conduct scientific research, training or teaching in a research institute (with an approval from The National Research council of Thailand).
If you have 1 of these visa, you can apply for work permit.
The exact process for obtaining the visa will vary depending on which category you are applying under.
If you are currently outside of Thailand then you should apply for the Visa at a Thai Embassy or Consulate, if available in your country. If you are currently travelling then you will normally be able to apply for a visa at an Embassy in a country other than your home, however exceptions do apply so it is best to check with the embassy before visiting.
If you are already in Thailand then you may be able to convert your visa at any Thai Immigration office within the country. While Embassy's outside the country can issue Visa's, Immigration department does not issue any Visa's, instead issuing Extension of Stay's. Technically these are different, but they perform the same key task of allowing you to remain in Thailand legally.
If you would like to convert a tourist visa or visa exemption to Non B visa, you will need to present some important documents from the company that would like to hire you, plus your personal documents, to the immigration department in the area that the company is located.
Qualifications and Requirements
In order to receive a work permit you must have suitable and relevant qualifications for the role that you are being hired for.
For most roles you will need a degree or equivalent certification, with your educational certificates from school, college or university.
Teachers will require a bachelor degree and specialised roles will require qualification in that area.
You will also need a medical certificate issued in Thailand that confirms that you are not a person of unsound mind or mental infirmity, plus don't have any of the diseases below.
- Tuberculosis of Dangerous Stage
- Syphilis stage 3
- Drug Addiction
If you have been imprisoned in Thailand having breaking immigration or labour laws you will be prohibited from applying for a work permit for 1 year.
The company that is hiring you also needs to meet certain requirements.
Every work permit issued requires a minimum of 4 Thai staff and 2M THB in registered capital, unless the applicant is married to a Thai national, in which case those figures are cut in half. So 2 work permits would normally need 8 Thai staff and 4M registered capital, but if one of the foreign employees were married to a Thai then the company only needs 6 Thai staff and 3M registered capital. Exemptions to these requirements are available for companies promoted by the Board of Investment (BOI).
In addition your employer is required to demonstrate that they have tried to hire local staff but are unable to find with the required skills or expertise. Taking low level jobs from a Thai has a high chance of being rejected, but when skills, experience and language ability are required this is a simple step.
Thai law prohibits foreigners from working in any of the occupations below.
It is still possible to work for companies who conduct some of this work, but the actual work under these fields must all be carried out by Thai nationals, with the foreigner restricted to higher level roles such as management.
- Manual work
- Work in agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry or fishery excluding specialised work in each particular branch or farm supervision
- Bricklaying, carpentry or other construction works
- Wood carving
- Driving mechanically propelled carried or driving non-mechanically-propelled vehicle, excluding international aircraft piloting
- Shop attendance
- Supervising, auditing or giving service in accountancy excluding internal auditing on occasions
- Cutting or polishing jewellery
- Hair-cutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment
- Cloth weaving by hand
- Weaving of mate or making products from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw or bamboo pellicle
- Making of Sa paper by hand
- Lacquer ware making
- Making of Thai musical instrument
- Niello ware making
- Making of products from gold, silver or gold-copper alloy
- Bronze ware making
- Making of Thai dolls
- Making of mattress or quilt blanket
- Alms bowls casting
- Making of silk products by hand
- Casting of Buddha images
- Knife making
- Making of paper of cloth umbrella
- Shoe making
- Hat Making
- Brokerage or agency excluding brokerage or agency in international trade business
- Engineering work in civil engineering branch concerning designing and calculation, organisation, research, planning, testing, construction supervision or advising excluding specialised work
- Architectural work concerning designing, drawing of plan, estimating, construction directing or advising
- Garments making
- Pottery or ceramic ware making
- Cigarette making by hand
- Guide or conducting sightseeing tours
- Street Vending
- Type setting of Thai characters by hand
- Drawing and twisting silk-thread by hand
- Office or secretarial work
- Legal or lawsuit services
Penalties for conducting illegal occupations in Thailand
Employees are fined 5,000-50,000 baht and deported to their country of origin.
Employer fined 10,000-100,000 baht per foreigner conducting prohibited work.
Repeated offences are punishable by a fine of 50,000-200-0000 baht, imprisonment for not more than 1 year, and a foreign worker ban for another 3 years.
Minimum Salary for Foreign Workers
Europe and Australia Japanese, American and Canadian nationality, minimum salary 50,000 baht / month
Korean, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, minimum salary 45,000 baht / month
Indian, Middle East group, China, Indonesia, Philippines Minimum salary 35,000 baht / month
Burma, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia and Africa. Minimum salary 25,000 baht / month
Newspaper business Minimum salary 20,000 baht / month
Applying For A Work Permit - within Thailand
If you don't yet have an eligible visa, but are able to convert your visa to an allowed type, complete this first, then move onto the work permit application.
You will need to submit WP-1 to labour department, with the required documents listed in the relevant checklist (see attachments at the bottom of the page; note different lists for certain professions).
You will pay 100B application fee and be issued a receipt.
After 7 days you should phone the labour department to check whether the application has been approved, if so the applicant needs to visit the labour department in person to sign & collect their work permit and pay the work permit fee.
If there are issues with the application then labour department may ask for additional documentation, or may arrange an inspection of the workplace. If inspecting the workplace this will happen within 14 days of the initial application.
Applying For A Work Permit - outside Thailand
If you are not yet in Thailand then the process for the work permit is slightly different.
This also applies if you are in Thailand, but cannot change to a suitable visa within the country, which means you will need to leave Thailand and visit a Thai Embassy to get a new visa.
First your employer will need to submit form WP-3 at the Thai Labour department. This form is a pre-approval of a work permit, which will only be issued later once you have the right visa.
Labour department will then issue a WP-3 receipt, which you will take to a Thai Embassy, along with other supporting documents, to apply for a Non-B visa. In some cases you may be instructed to apply for a different Non-Immigrant category, but Non-B is most usual.
This visa will generally be issued as a 3 month, single entry visa. Once you have arrived in Thailand and received your work permit it can then be extended with a 1 year extension of stay.
To receive your work permit you will visit the labour department with your WP-3 receipt, medical certificate and your passport with new visa. This final stage is a formality with the main verification of your documentation at the time the WP-3 was issued. A fee will need to be paid, depending on the duration being issued with the work permit.
Work Permit Duration
Work Permits will typically be issued and renewed for 1 year at a time.
However when the visa type is tied to the work permit (eg. Non-B) the date of the work permit will often be linked to the date of the Visa. So if you enter on a 3 month Non-B visa you will typically be issued with a 3 month work permit initially. Once you receive a 1 year extension on your visa you will then be eligible to renew your work permit for a full year. This can vary between labour departments so make sure to check the stamped expiry date carefully.
Another exception is with Board of Investment (BOI) supported applications it is often possible to receive 2 year visas and work permits.
Work Permit Fees
(1) Submitting an application 100 baht each ( any type , each time).
(2) Work permit
(a) Work permit valid for not more than three months 750 baht each
(b) Work permit that are valid for more than three months but not more than six months 1,500 baht each.
(c) Work permit that are valid for more than six months but not more than one year 3,000 baht each.
(3) renewal of Work permit or extension of working period
(a) Renewal of a Work permit or extension of a period of work not exceeding three months 750 baht each time
(b) a renewal of a Work permit or an extension of a period of work exceeding three months but not exceeding six months 1,500 baht.
(c) Renewal of a Work permit or extension of a period of work exceeding six months but not exceeding one year 3,000 baht each time
(4) Substitute of Work permit 500 baht each
(5) Permission to change or add the nature of work 1,000 baht each time
(6) Permission to change or add employer 3,000 baht each time
(7) Permission to change or add locality or workplace 1,000 baht per time
(8) Permission to change or add conditions in permission 150 baht each time
Changing or Cancelling a work permit
A work permit is tied to a specific employer, job role and location which will all be listed in the work permit.
It is possible to add or change working locations, if your company moves office or has multiple branches.
You can also add a secondary employer, providing the new employer meets all normal requirements and the current employer issues a letter approving the addition.
It's not possible to change employer on a work permit, this requires cancelling the old work permit and applying again from scratch. Process for this is explained in next section.
When a work permit holder ceases employment (whether resigning or fired) the employer must notify the labour department by submitting Bor Tor 53 and issue the work permit cancellation letter to the employee . Failing to cancel the work permit, the employer shall pay a fine unto 20,000 baht.
If the visa was issued based on employment (eg. Non-B) then it is also necessary to take the work permit cancellation letter to immigration department and cancel the visa on the same day. When cancelling the visa you will need to choose between paying for a temporary extension of stay, or leaving Thailand on the same day.
If you are changing employer then you can also apply for the new visa and work permit right away, while on the temporary extension of stay. This varies depending on the immigration office so check your local department for their local rules and requirements. You must be very organised to do this as timing is tight and any issue could see you needing to leave the country and obtain a new Non-B at a nearby embassy. In Bangkok it is often possible to get a 21 day extension of stay when cancelling your visa, in Pattaya only 7 days is issued, during which time you must have both new Visa and Work Permit approved.
Things are a lot less complicated if your visa is not tied to employment (eg. Non-O based on marriage or Thai family).
In this case your visa is unaffected by cancelling your work permit and you can continue to stay until the expiration date of your visa.
Emergency Work Permits
A different process exists for foreigners needed to perform emergency, temporary work within a maximum of 15 days.
This is applied for using form WP-34 and can be issued alongside any visa, including tourist visas or visa exemptions.
A Thai company is still required to sponsor the applicant and submit documentation to the Labour Department.
Available DownloadsApplicant_s personal documents for work permit application
Bor Tor 25 New work permit for other occupations ( not teaching)
Bor Tor 25 New work permit for teacher in private school
Bor Tor 32 ( WP3)