Updated last year

To be able to work in Thailand and stay in the country without needing to regularly apply for visa extensions, you will first need to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa, followed by a work permit. There are strict penalties, including fines or imprisonment, for foreigners who take up employment without a work permit, so don't be tempted to go down this route.

Certain occupations are prohibited to foreigners in Thailand according to the Ministry of Labour (MOL). The criteria for the application of a Thai work permit is modified regularly, so it's worth checking MOL's website for updates.

It is advisable to apply for a Non-Immigrant visa at the Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate-General in your home country, or your country of residence, before you move to Thailand. However, some investors or experts are able to go directly to the One Stop Service Centre for Visas and Work Permits in Bangkok, which was established in 1997 with the objective of facilitating applications for visa extensions and permits in Thailand. It is advisable to contact your nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate-General to find out where you should apply for your visa and when.

Non-Immigrant Visa

Different types of Non-Immigrant Visas are available depending on what your intentions are in Thailand. Whether you want to work, study, perform missionary work, conduct research, stay with family or retire, there is a specific type of Non-Immigrant Visa for which you need to apply.

However, there are four main categories of Non-Immigrant Visa suitable for those wishing to work or invest in Thailand, and applicants can only be granted a work permit from the Department of Employment once they have been issued their Non-Immigrant Visa. You will need to apply for the relevant visa at your nearest Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate-General and a multiple-entry visa with one-year validity will cost the equivalent of THB5,000.

Non-Immigrant Visa Category B (Business Visa)

This is issued to applicants who wish to either work permanently in Thailand, or conduct business in the country for up to 90 days. If it's a question of a permanent position, then the applicant’s prospective employer in Thailand is required to first submit a work permit application form (Form WP3) in order to get a Letter of Approval from the Ministry of Labour. Proof of the work permit application will be required to be granted a Non-Immigrant Visa.

Non-Immigrant Visa Category B-A (Business Approved Visa)

The company in which the applicant will invest, or with which they will conduct business, may apply for this type of visa on behalf of the applicant. Once the application is approved, the Immigration Bureau will advise the concerned Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Consulate-General via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to issue the visa to the applicant. The holder of this category “B-A” visa will be permitted to stay for a period of one year from the date of first entry.

Non-Immigrant Visa Category IB (Investment and Business Visa)

This is issued to foreign citizens who will be employed on investment projects of which the Board of Investment of Thailand (BOI) approves. Such projects must bring benefit to Thailand by either promoting export, increasing employment, utilising local raw matericals, encouraging technology transfer to Thai nationals or engaging the provinces. They must also not hinder any existing domestic businesses.

Non-Immigrant Visa Category B (Teaching)

This visa is issued to foreigners who intend to work as school teachers in Thailand, so long as they have the necessary qualifications, a clear criminal record, and can show a letter of employment from an institute or school in Thailand, as well as a letter of approval from government agencies, such as the Office of the Private Education Commission and the Office of the Basic Education Commission.


Requirements vary depending on the type of Non-Immigrant Visa for which you are applying, and you can find the details here.

For those who wish to be employed in Thailand, you will need to submit the following documents:

  • Your passport with a minimum validity of six months.
  • A completed visa application form.
  • A passport photograph (4x6cm) taken within the last six months.
  • Evidence of THB20,000 per person and THB40,000 per family.
  • Letter of approval from the Ministry of Labour.
  • Corporate documents of the hiring company in Thailand, such as its business license, its balance sheet, the list of shareholders, a list of foreign workers and their positions.

Work permit

Once you have obtained a Non-Immigrant Visa Category B, you will then need to obtain a work permit. You can apply for the work permit at the Thai Labour Department in the province where your company is located. You will need to pick up your blue work permit book in person at the Labour Department and sign it in front of the staff. The Labour Department will put a stamp in the back of your passport at the time of receipt, and the permit will be valid for as long as your visa is valid.

Companies in Thailand can be granted a maximum of 10 work permits, so long as they hire four full-time members of Thai staff for every foreign employee. Exceptions are made if the company is promoted by the country's Board of Investment, which is authorised to grant special rights when it comes to the issuance of work permits and visas for foreign employees.

Thai companies that wish to employ foreigners must have at least THB2 million in fully-paid registered capital. Foreign companies, on the other hand, can employ foreigners if they bring in at least THB3 million baht for every foreign employee.

To apply for a work permit, you will need to submit the following documents, which Thai officials may require to be certified by your country's embassy and be translated into Thai:

  • A signed copy of every page of your passport
  • Your Non-Immigrant Visa
  • Your departure card TM.6
  • A signed copy of your degree
  • Signed copies of any relevant certificates or licenses
  • Your CV, describing in detail your past positions, duties, performance, length and place of employment.
  • Three photos (5x6cm), taken wearing business attire within six months before application.

Once granted a work permit, you are only permitted to work for the company that you detailed on your application. If you change company, you will need to apply for a new work permit. Once you have your work permit, you will also be required to obtain a Tax Identification Card from your employer, which will have your Tax Identification Number (TIN).

Foreigners are required to report to immigration police every 90 days, and those holding a multiple-entry visa will need to depart Thailand and renew their extension of stay after each 90-day entry.

  Useful links:

Thailand Department of Immigration
Ministry of Labour
Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Standard Process for Foreignes wishing to work in Thailand

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.