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Thailand is a beautiful Southeast Asian nation with thriving cities, pristine coastlines, and dense jungles. Because of the country's natural beauty, it's not surprising that it comes to mind when digital nomads and other workers mull over potential countries they'd like to move to.
In addition, the Thai government has plans to make continued improvements to internet access across the country and invest in the e-commerce sector, which means promising opportunities for remote workers.
However, there are also particular challenges when expanding to Asia-Pacific (APAC) countries that employers and remote employees should consider, such as facing potential language barriers and navigating Thailand immigration rules when employees and candidates relocate.
Obtaining the necessary work permits in Thailand is a responsibility that both employees and employers will need to take seriously, as the risks associated with improper work entitlements can affect both parties.
This article will provide an overview of Thailand work visas you should know when partnering with remote employees or relocating to the country and the Thailand visa requirements employees will be expected to meet to have their applications approved.
Types of work visas and permits in Thailand
Individuals who plan to work in Thailand will need to receive both a visa that entitles them to work and a work permit. There are numerous types of working visas in Thailand, and the type of visa the individual applies for will depend on their job duties and the type of work they plan to do.
All Thailand work visas are considered non-immigrant visas but are further divided into subcategories listed below.
Non-immigrant visa IB
A non-immigrant visa IB (investment and business) is a short-term investment visa. With this visa, individuals whose jobs center around investment can enter the country for a period of up to 90 days to work on projects approved by the Board of Investment of Thailand.
Although this visa is typically a single-entry visa, there are some instances when an individual may be approved for a multiple-entry non-immigrant visa IB that is valid for up to one year.
Non-immigrant visa B-A
The non-immigrant visa B-A (business approved) is also a longer-term investment visa that differs from the non-immigrant IB visa in its scope and length of validity. Individuals with this visa specifically enter the country with the intent to invest in a specific Thai business; the visa is valid for one full year.
Non-immigrant visa O
Unlike the previous two non-immigrant visas, the non-immigrant visa O is designated for individuals who are visiting Thai family members and is valid for up to 90 days. To be eligible for this type of visa, an individual must meet at least one of the following requirements:
- Their spouse must be a national of Thailand.
- One or more of their parents must be a national of Thailand. However, to be eligible for the visa, in this case, the individual must be younger than 20 or a person with a disability who relies on their parents' support. This counts for both legally adopted and birth children.
- Their child or children must be a national of Thailand.
In addition, the non-immigrant visa O can be used in several other circumstances, including for individuals who plan to travel to Thailand for a volunteer opportunity.
Non-immigrant visa M
The non-immigrant visa M is a short-term media visa that individuals can obtain when they plan to travel to Thailand for periods of 90 days or less to work as a reporter, journalist, or film producer.
Although this visa is typically administered as a single-entry visa valid for three months, some individuals can request to extend their visa and obtain a multiple-entry visa valid for up to 12 months.
Visa applicants should be prepared to provide documentation related to the specific project on which they're working.
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Thailand work permit and visa requirements
Every work visa in Thailand has unique requirements that visa holders will be expected to meet. Therefore, understanding which type of visa allows you to perform your job duties is essential to ensuring compliance and will affect how you complete the relevant visa and permit applications and gather the necessary documentation.
Although you should look up the specific requirements for the work visa you plan to apply for, below is a list of requirements for a standard working non-immigration visa B:
- A valid passport that isn't within six months of expiration and has a minimum of one empty page
- Two additional photographs that meet the following requirements:
- The photographs are two inches by two inches.
- The individual's entire face is visible with no coverings (including eyeglasses).
- The individual's shoulders are not exposed.
- The background is a light color.
- The photos are not more than six months old.
- A recent financial statement that indicates the visa-holder is financially able to visit the country
- Individual statements must show a balance of at least $700.
- Family or partner statements must show a balance of at least $1,500.
- A valid employment offer or contract, including proof that the Thai Ministry of Labor has approved the individual's employment request
- All required employer documents (e.g., tax identification number)
It's important to remember that employees will need to obtain both a Thailand work visa and a work permit to work in Thailand. The Thailand work permit requires both the employer and the employee to complete application forms and provide documentation.
To obtain a work permit, employees will need to provide the following:
- A valid passport
- Three additional photographs that meet the following requirements:
- The photographs are three inches by four inches in size.
- The photos are not more than six months old.
- A certificate of health
- Proof of relevant work experience for the job they're being offered
- Proof of relevant educational history
- Licenses and certificates that prove the employee is qualified and legally entitled to perform the job they're being offered
For an employee to obtain a work permit, employers will need to provide the following:
- Complete a work permit application form
- Provide proof of company registration
- Provide documentation on the following business areas:
- Social security
- Corporate income tax
- Value-added tax (VAT)
- Compile a list of relevant company shareholders
- Include a valid employment contract specific to the employee applying for the work permit
How to apply for a Thailand work permit
Before an employee can start working for a company in Thailand, they must obtain all the necessary documents that entitle them to work. This means employees will need to be in possession of both their work visa and Thailand work permit before their first day of work in Thailand.
Follow the steps listed below to obtain all the necessary documentation to be legally entitled to work in Thailand:
- Apply for a work visa. There are several non-immigrant work visas available. The employee and employer should agree upon which visa is relevant to the role the employee is being hired to fill. They should then submit the Thailand work visa application with the employee's local Thai embassy or online via the Thai e-visa website.
- Apply for a work permit. Once the work visa has been approved, the employee and employer will need to compile the relevant applications and documents and submit a Thailand work permit application to the Thai Ministry of Labor. The employee's work visa must be valid for a work permit application to be accepted.
- Wait for your work permit to be approved. This process typically takes about a week, at which time a representative from the Ministry of Labor will contact the employee and arrange for any final requirements to be met.
The process of receiving a work visa and work permit in Thailand is relatively straightforward and quick. Still, employees should allow extra time in case unforeseen complications arise, such as missing documents causing delays.
Employees are expected to keep their work permits on their person whenever they're actively performing their job duties, regardless of where they work. If an employee is found to be working without a physical copy of their work permit, they may be fined.
Application processing time
Thai visas and permits tend to be processed in a shorter time frame than many other countries, but the processing time for your visa will depend on the type of visa you apply for and which embassy you submit your application with.
Time frames range from overnight to several days, but it's best to provide yourself with enough of a window that your travel plans won't be interrupted if it takes longer than this.
Planning to hire or work in Thailand? Here's how Skuad can help
Because of the rise in remote work, it's common for employees to live in different parts of the world from where their employer is headquartered. In addition, the innovation of new online work platforms and recruiting tools has made it easier for employers and employees to connect without using traditional avenues.
If you're planning to hire or work in Thailand, making a connection with a potential candidate or employer is just the beginning. Remaining compliant across international working partnerships can pose challenges and risks that can impact both parties.
Skuad can bridge the gap between employers and employees, allowing remote workers to live in Thailand and other areas of the world while abiding by local employment regulations.
Thailand work permit and visa FAQs
Below are frequently asked questions regarding meeting Thailand visa requirements and obtaining the correct work entitlements.
How can I get a work permit in Thailand?
The process of getting a work permit in Thailand will differ slightly depending on factors like the type of work permit you’re applying for and your country of origin. Working with your local embassy ensures your ability to navigate the Thailand immigration system relatively easily.
The general process of obtaining a work permit in Thailand includes the following steps:
- Apply for a Thailand work visa. You will need to obtain a work visa before you can apply for a work permit in Thailand. Apply for the relevant visa through the Thai e-visa website or at your local embassy.
- Apply for a Thailand work permit. Apply for a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labor; this will require employee and employer participation to meet the application requirements.
How much is a work permit in Thailand?
The cost of a work permit in Thailand depends on the type of permit you’re applying for, but paying an application fee is part of meeting the Thailand visa requirements.
Work permit fees are set at the following rates:
- A 100 Baht ($2.88) application fee
- A 750 Baht ($21.62) fee for a three-month Thailand work permit
- A 1,500 Baht ($43.24) fee for a six-month work permit
- A 3,000 Baht ($86.48) fee for a one-year work permit
Note: Additional costs may be associated with receiving your Thailand work permit.
Are foreigners allowed to work in Thailand?
If you’re a foreign national considering a move to Thailand, you can only live and work there if you possess both a Thailand work visa and a work permit from the Thailand immigration office.
The visa and work permit you apply for will depend on where you’re coming from, the type of work you’ll do while living in Thailand, and how long you plan to stay.
You cannot legally work in Thailand until your visa and work permit applications are approved.
How long can I stay in Thailand with a work permit?
A Thai work permit is valid for up to one year. However, the amount of time you’re legally entitled to live and work in Thailand depends on the work permit and the Thailand work visa you receive.
Can you work in Thailand as a U.S. citizen?
If you’re a U.S. citizen relocating to Thailand, you can only legally live and work there if you obtain a valid visa and work permit from the Thailand immigration office.
Until both your visa and work permit applications are approved, and in your possession, you do not have the right to work in Thailand.