After securing a job, getting the appropriate visa and arriving, an expat would need a work permit for Thailand in order to work in the country.
It is theoretically possible for expats who don't have the benefit of securing a position before they move to Thailand to get a work permit once they are in the country.
Many of the more menial positions in the countryside and along the southern islands even employ expats illegally without a work permit and pay them “under the table” - but this is in strict violation of Thai law and is not advised.
Expats looking to work in Thailand will need to enter the country on a Non-Immigrant visa. Before they can start working, however, they will need to get a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labour.
Work permits for Thailand
After arriving at the Immigration Checkpoint at their point of entry, holders of a valid visa are granted an initial temporary stay permit, usually valid for 90 days.
New arrivals are then advised to apply for a temporary work permit at the Department of Employment (which oversees the labour ministry) as soon as possible.
After receiving their temporary work permit, applicants will then have a limited time to apply for a long-term visa called the Extension of Stay Permit at the Immigration Bureau.
This permit is valid for a maximum of one year, after which an extension has to be applied for.
In many cases, an expat’s sponsoring company will apply for a work permit at the Department of Employment on their behalf. The employee will then be responsible for applying for their long-term visa and re-entry permit.
Work permit extensions for Thailand
Expats wishing to leave the country for a period before returning and going back to work will need to apply for a re-entry permit. Leaving the country without one nullifies the work permit and visa of the expat. To get an extension on a work permit, the Extension of Stay permit must first be renewed. After that, the work permit can also be renewed.
Before leaving the country once they have quit their jobs, expats will need to cancel their Extension of Stay Permit. This would require an employer’s letter that has to be presented to the Immigration Department on their last working day or, if their last day is on a weekend or public holiday, on the next standard business day.
Waiting times for work permits in Thailand
Work permit applications can take weeks or even months to process so it is important for expats to act early, have patience and ensure that their visa does not expire.
A foreign resident with a visa in danger of expiring must apply for the appropriate extension – it is imperative that the visa is current the day they sign for their work permit.
Expats will physically have to retrieve their work permit at the relevant Labour Department with their passport.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice and expats should contact their nearest Thai embassy or consulate for the latest information.