A work permit in Thailand is arguably the most important document that you can have if you are thinking of working in the country. Like anywhere else in the World a work permit is essential if you are looking to work legally. Of course there are a number of people who flout the rules, either intentionally or otherwise but the consequences can be quite frightening. There are a number of restrictions on work permits that perhaps people don’t consider including for voluntary work or any job that a Thai National could carry out.
To further highlight the point regarding jobs that can be carried out by a Thai you only have to look a bar – a prime case in point. 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 in which the owner of the bar has been penalised for actually being in his own bar. In one particular case the bar owner was merely chatting to customers and this was viewed by Immigration Officers as acting in a PR role – a role for which he did not have a work permit.
A common error that people make or perhaps don’t realise or appreciate is the fact that 4 Thai nationals need to be employed for each work permit (although there are exceptions with regards to the BOI). For example, if the company employs two foreign workers, 2 work permits are required and therefore 8 Thai staff need to be employed in addition. In years gone by many companies got round this by simply paying the National Insurance (SSF) for friends or relatives of the business owner’s partner. The authorities are now aware of these actions and frequent checks are made by Immigration to ensure that the laws are complied with.
When it comes to actually applying for the work permit a few things need to be in place before the actual application process can begin. The first is that the applicant needs to have the correct visa. Generally, this would be Non-Immigrant B Visa or working visa although Marriage Visas are acceptable. The company must 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 exceptions to this rule with regards to the BOI but these are best covered separately.
There a number of potential pitfalls and loopholes so it always advisable to speak to an expert in the field. 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.