Getting your Thai work permit
Regardless of the country you are working in the world, if you are a foreign national there is one thing that you can be sure of, and that is that you will need a work permit to legally work. Of course requiring a work permit in Thailand is no different, yet the number of people who flout the rules, either intentionally or otherwise is staggering.
In all honesty, obtaining a Thai work permit is not as easy a task as it is often made out to be. There are a number of rules that are associated with your specific work permit and the many restrictions that may be in place can be quite surprising. For example, voluntary work is an area that has been a number of people’s downfall. To do voluntary work you MUST have a work permit even if you believe yourself to be acting as a Good Samaritan. It is not possible to obtain a work permit if the work that you are doing could be done by a Thai National so take this into account and consider your actions carefully as the penalties can be quite severe.
As mentioned above, work permits will not be granted to a foreign national if the work you are carrying out can be done by a Thai. This is very common in bars. A foreign national can own the bar but they are not allowed to work behind the bar itself or be a cashier. There have even been extreme cases, usually after a complaint by a jealous competitor, whereby the owner of the bar has been penalised for simply being in his own bar. The said bar owner was talking to customers and this was seen as promoting his business and this was something that he was not able to do.
Another restriction is the requirement for there to be four Thai Nationals employed for each foreigner (except in exceptional circumstances). For example, if the company has two foreign nationals working, 2 work permits are required and therefore 8 Thai staff need to be employed in addition to the foreigners. In years gone by many companies got round this by simply paying the National Insurance for friends or relatives of the business owner’s partner. The authorities have now got wise to these actions and frequent checks are made by Immigration to ensure that the laws are complied with.
When you apply for the work permit a few things need to be in place before the application can begin. The first is that the applicant has the correct visa. Generally, this would be Non-Immigrant B Visa or working visa. The fact that this has to be applied for first opens a whole new can of worms and is better left to be debated on another occasion! The company must also have THB2 million of registered capital for every work permit that is applied for and this must again be in place prior to the application being submitted. There are again some minor exceptions to this rule but they are a little complex for a general blog.
Another requirement is that the foreign national earns a minimum of THB50,000 if they are single and THB60,000 per month if they are married. This is a rule that is often overlooked, especially in the case of teachers but it can complicate things further!
There a number of potential pitfalls and loopholes as you organize a Thai work permit, so it always advisable to speak to an expert in the field to ensure you get your application right. The rules and restrictions change frequently so you need to be aware of these changes.
*The information provided here is intended as a general guide and correct at time of writing.