Understand the activities which don’t need a Thai work permit
Good news for business people visiting Thailand. An announcement by the Thai Department of Employment on March 6th 2015 declared that effectively immediately the following types of work-related activities would no longer be classified as ‘work’ under the country’s Alien Working Act B.E. 2551 and therefore not require an application for a Thai work permit.
- Attending a meeting, conference, or seminar
- Visiting/viewing an exhibition or trade fair
- Taking part in a business meeting or business negotiations
- Attending a special or academic lecture
- Attending training lectures
- Purchasing products at a trade fair
- Attending a Board of Directors meeting at the foreign national’s own company.
This should certainly make it easier for foreign business travellers to enter Thailand when participating in or undertaking any of the above listed activities as they will be able to enter Thailand using any type of visa (the visa exemption scheme, visa-on-arrival, or a non-immigrant vise – the “B” visa). However it should be noted that a work permit or urgent work permit will still be required, in such cases as, when representing a company at a trade fair or when asked to be a speaker at a conference.
As a non-Thai working without a valid Thai work permit in Thailand can lead to fines, possible imprisonment and deportation.
Under Thai law the term “work” is defined very broadly. It covers both physical and mental activities compensated or not. A work permit in Thailand is required even for volunteer or charity work. Foreigners are allowed to work in Thailand provided that they are in possession of a valid visa, a work permit and are employed in an occupation that is not prohibited to them by the Alien Working Act B.E. 2551.
All foreigners seeking to work in Thailand must be in possession of a Thai work permit prior to the commencement of that work. The possession of a Non-Immigrant ‘B’ visa alone does not give non-Thais the right to work in Thailand. A work permit application may be filed on behalf of the foreign national prior to the applicants arrival in Thailand but the Thai work permit itself will only be issued to the applicant in person. The Thai work permit will describe what the foreigner is allowed to do and where as far work is concerned.
Once the permit is issued any changes to the location or the description of the employment must be notified to the authorities on a timely basis. If not, the foreign national risks a fine. If coming to Thailand on business, it may well be worth speaking with the local Thai embassy or consulate regarding the exact administrative requirements prior to departure.