List of Prohibited Jobs for westerners in Thailand

Khnom answering......... I did not eliminate teaching nor the other jobs you mention;  mine was not a banned list--that was the other guy.   The bottom line remains that it is very, very difficult for a foreigner to legally work in Thailand.  My own six year real legal job here was by virtue of my doctorate in a field no other person here had, none.  Still, the process is onerous at best, and impossible in most people's cases.

That is the irony, that it really is nearly impossible for a random person without very unusual qualifications to find work here, except as an English teacher, but at the same time I do work here and know a number of other expats that also do, legally, none with a doctorate in anything as far as I know, none teaching English.  How can they?  Different in every case. 

It seemed it was a lot easier 20 years ago, when just being foreign was a type of qualification, due to language skill and whatever other stigma related, but that's certainly not true now.  Strong IT skills and training also wouldn't do the trick; there's too much of that possessed by Thais now.  Association and transfer through a foreign company with a branch here is the "easiest" route, but of course it's not really easy at all to set that up.  Another simple path is to gain at least Master's degree level education in a field and teach it at university level in another country, then transfer education and teaching skill to apply it here--again not simple.

One might wonder, what if I could learn Thai.  That wouldn't hurt, but 70+ million people here are native speakers, and many of those speak and read English as well, so it's almost beside the point.

So what job do you have and your known others also????????
Whatever your situation, there is also the practice of being an Internet gypsy and working where ever a person is ... like in Thailand.  That situation is a "dont ask, dont tell" now, but is a good question, such as... working on Web, like Web design, and paid by non-Thai company into a non-Thai bank account.  Or. writing for a travel mag where the typing is done by you in Thailand but for a non-Thai magazine company paying into your non-Thai bank account.  Thailand should leave that situation alone, because that person is not taking a job away from a Thai.

Is it "work" to administer a stock market account outside Thailand but live here?

I should not even mention this stuff.

Hey, I never find English speakers and certainly not readers except in Pattaya.

P.S., also do not mention FATCA.

you have hit the nail on the head i was refused an extension of my retirement visa because i did not have the money in a normal savings account but a blocked 1year better interest account move it to a normal interest account no problem simple you can spend has much has you like in thailand BUT you can not make money in thailand

This is a good question, what jobs are people here doing legally.  It is legal to be a "digital nomad" but that's a grey area, because any tie to local business and it's no longer purely online.  So I'll list what I do and what others I know do.

I work in IT, in a data center company, and I know others doing this same general type of work.  I've known other expats legally employed working in education, teaching young children, at high school level, and at a university.  I've known Chinese expats working in manufacturing management positions here, but transferred related to being employed by the same large company in China, a well-known international company.  Other expats I've known work in IT implementation and project support, and quality assurance, or normal IT management, and two as lawyers.  I knew an expat working in auditing in the past but potential Thai candidate training and experience would probably restrict that availability now.  I indirectly know people online working as a baker (business owner in that case though), and food critic, and I've met expats working in an online travel booking company, and in international relief agencies

All that said, expat work opportunities are being reduced, not expanding.  Various teaching positions remain the best opportunity but these require significant documented qualifications.  A related degree is required with relevant experience preferred, so the average person asking "what can I do there?" wouldn't relate, unless they happened to be working in elementary education, or as a university professor, or high school science teacher or something such.

Anybody know anything about starting a band in Thailand. One farang and 3 or 4 Thai players?   dcb

Broader stroke of the brush: Doing something that creates work for the nationals.  dcb

The band member still needs a working permit.

Another subject is that the ASEAN will have a big impact on jobs that can and cannot be done in Thailand.

You can do most jobs in Thailand as long as you are the manager or the CEO. But you need to back this up with relevant qualifications.

For example you can work in a Law office as a manager, Director or CEO.

Australians due to the free trade agreement can work in the tourist area. This work is restricted for Thai's normally. However, Thai students in Australia are allowed to work up to 40 hours as long as they attend their study classes and pay their own health insurance.

So its different strokes for different folks

Interesting. Thank you. I will be in Thailand March 5 to March 20 for another look around. My gf is a restaurant owner, manger, chef in Bkk.  She would like me to organize a house-band for her next restaurant ... possibly in Hua Hin. I will have to look into this further.  I have also read that it is not easy  to do volunteer work in Thailand. I will have to look into all of this.  Thanks again. Very much appreciated.  dcb

It's the kind of thing people are quick to comment about but per repeated claims in lots of places someone needs a work permit to do volunteer work as well.  I can't say more about that from personal experience or knowledge; best to research it though if that is planned.

From the Embassy:
Non-Immigrant Visa "O" -- Voluntary Services


This type of visa is issued to applicants who wish to participate in voluntary services in Thailand.


    Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months
    Visa application form completely filled out
    Recent (4 x 6 cm.) photograph of the applicant
    Recommendation letter addressed to the Consulate
    Copy of registration certificate of the employer/foundation/organisation
    Copy of the previous/current work permit (if any)
    Copy of the employment contract (if any)

    Consular officers reserve the rights to request additional documents as deemed necessary


80 USD


The validity of a visa is 3 months.


Holder of this type of visa is entitled to stay in Thailand for a maximum period of 90 days.  He or she may apply for an extension of stay at the Office of the Immigration Bureau and may be granted such extension for a period of one year from the date of first entry into Thailand.


Nationals of certain countries are required to apply for a visa only at the Thai Embassy or Consulate-General in their home/residence country or at the designated Thai Embassy. Therefore, travellers are adivised to contact the nearest Thai Embassy or Consulate-General to find out where they may apply for a visa to Thailand before departure.

All the needed documentation to get a legal work permit will have to come from your employer or volunteer organization.  You will have to help out, but without their OK, immigration and labor offices will stop you in your tracks.

Just buy a Thai Elite card, see Web by that name, for grin 2 million THB and forget about it until next year when the renewal fee of 20000 comes up..... just read about it and gulp at the price.

You have a wealth of practical information.  Thank you very much.  I will be in and about Bkk March 5 to March 20 with weekend trips planned.  The rest of the time, I will be staying with my gf, dining at here restaurant, and just hanging out this time around rather than traveling all over Thailand. If you live in Bkk, it would be great to get together over a beer or whatever.  dcb

the Elite card keeps changing and benefits have been reduced.

I live and work in Pattaya and dont get time off due to running my own business.

But thanks for the offer.
And I hope your GF's restaurant works out.


Thank you.  Best to you with your business, too.
Here is my humble website re my music:
I'm also a professional ESL / EFL teacher, teacher trainer, so I'm mobile.
Really want to focus on my writing as well as the music.
Went back to U of Toronto to brush on my genre writing skills ... Good to go.
Anyway, thanks again for the info.  All the very best.  dcb

to point 2: I am a cattle/ rice/ chicken/ vegetable farmer without any problems - so long to keep low profile all will be fine

Moderated by Bhavna 7 years ago
Reason : Please make your offer in the Musical intruments in Thailand section of the website. Thanks
We invite you to read the forum code of conduct

well good luck with juggling those knives as if you are caught you will be deported and possibly blacklisted.

The old days are gone and the new boys are in town.

I have heard that whoever puts in a foreigner may actually get a reward.

not so long he makes no money and just for fun

Thailand does not really want foreigners living there which is evident in their immigration policies, 90 day reporting rules, money in the bank etc. They want the 14 day or 30 day tourist who spends his money and leaves. Corruption is rampant and most casual single males only visit for prostitution, after all isn't that what Thailand is famous for.

But if they can give you a GM or marketing manager title you can.

There is also an Elite card for 500K, validity is 5 years.

So I'm guessing running a restaurant/bar with a friend that's a Thai national is out? or is it? I mean considering He'd have the required 51% ownership, getting a work permit for the place would/should be relatively easy thing to get in theory right? Funny thing is, He's a Falang that is also a Thai national lol. Long story short, he got adopted shortly after we got out of the military by a Thai, changed his name, did his rites and became a monk for a year and now He's living up in Khon Khaen working a restaurant with his dad and has invited me to stay there for a year or so with some other business venture he has lined up.

he doesnt need a work permit
but you will
his restaurant should be registered as a company and not a business
then your WP will be attached to that
but what work will you do?

Working on the edge....... All people doing anything called work/volunteering, here, should get a work permit.  However, with most everything in Thailand, you are seldom investigated for any violations of anything UNLESS there is a complaint about you.
Complaints (and your own mistakes) light up the enforcement system and can bring lots of problems for you.
Keeping a pleasing low profile in Thailand is paramount for foreigners.  This is beyond the saying, "Don't start nothing, won't be nothing."   Be super kind to neighbors and customers, smile all the time, give treats to mail people, gate guards, and others who you have regular service from, and watch for negative gossip in small villages.

So far it would just be creating menus, training on the menu items and dj-ing music. Other than that all the details haven't been fully sorted out yet. The good thing is, I'm very familiar with restaurant operations and they have owned a restaurant back in Alaska so it's almost second nature. I prefer to cook though.

Serviceman, I advise you to disappear from all Internet venues forever.  You are not following the low profile advice to your possible determent.

How so? We've both researched visa to no end and quite comfortable with the outcome. Besides, Already looked at an education visa. Just to clarify I won't have to find work while I am there. It was something that would be entertained if need be. Anything else would have to be researched beyond what we have done already. No harm in enjoying myself is there? I'm already receiving a decent disability check from the military. Just deciding to take it easy and relax.

many people are confused with visa and work permits.

An ED visa does not allow you to work.

Your work permit states the type of work you do and where you will do the work.

If you are caught working the penalties are sever.

The ED visa is also under the spot light as it is the most abused visa and the authorities are aware of this. They will check your paperwork and the school you are attending. If your paperwork doesnt match then you will be fined and deported.

As of August 2016 Immigration will be restricting the amount of border runs that you do. There will be no more hoping over the border to extend your visa.

Good luck,.

Where can I find more information on border runs?

Working in Thailand..
-The final answer of 'can I work in Thailand' is obtained from your potential employer;  If employer is willing to make the application with you for a work permit and if you get the permit..... answer is THAT work is ok right now in Thailand.

-The potential employer has to assemble and present to labor dept. a large pile of papers to support your application for a work permit.  This paper includes lots of descriptive and economic facts about the business and a statement that YOU specifically are the only person available for this specific job.  You also supply supporting documents, like sheepskin degree (not a grade transcript), passport, etc.
Your employer must supply his part of what labor dept demands, but you may have to pay ALL the fees charged.  If the employer does not support you at labor dept, you are 99% out of luck.

-If you intend to be self employed, like a fashion or web designer or cook, you must be employed by an established company in Thailand (majority owned by Thai citizens) even if you employ yourself.  The best advice is that a foreigner can not just start working at ANYTHING without a work permit.... and self-employed is apparently not strictly possible.

-Overwhelming way to get employed in Thailand is to appear here in person.  Thai employers will not think you are coming in unless you are already here.  Applying in person also helps answer "can I get a work permit?"  Exception is a foreign branch office wants you here working for them--then, more smooth sailing but you still must have a work permit.

-If you are a digital Internet nomad living in Thailand, working on the Web for a non-Thai business and paid off-Thailand-shores, know that some people do this, but the smart ones never mention it to ANYONE.... keep low profile because no one seems to actually know about this "no work permit" situation,  including Thai govt.--- and if or how to tax you, also.

-for doctors or teachers, again contact with your potential employer can tell you if or how to get a work permit WITH THAT COMPANY.  It appears that private practice or tutoring is work and not allowed outside working for a company (see self employed herein).   Volunteering for free for these and any other jobs is SAME AS WORK for pay and requires a work permit.... likely including you taking in a Saturday morning English class for local children free.

To Lindsay......  Periodically Thai authorities attempt a crack down on genuine border runners, defined here loosely as more than three rapid turn-arounds which are obviously an attempt to continue living in Thailand.  The rules seem to prohibit that, but enforcement seems to be spotty; meaning you are at risk after the third trip.

One way to tell about this situation is to look at the Border Run transportation companies that have stopped advertising that and some seem to have redirected their van transport to other purposes.  Thai are never stupid about money-- if there is no one in the business, likely the system has clamped down for a long time.

Wise old foreign heads here say that the border runs are a thing of the past.

Remember, Thailand is trying to re-brand itself as a high end vacation spot for people with money... which does not include foreigners too poor to get a real visa.

-A genuine EDucation visa/remaining in Thailand permit is ONLY for taking classes in a real, established school which has provided paperwork showing you a student there.  There are lower limits on how many classes or hours per week you are actually in class (no one-hour token students).

-You can not get a work permit while on an ED visa.  (And not while on a retirement visa either.)

-If you already have a work permit, likely you can not get a concurrent ED visa.

-All real and final answers come from your in-person applications---- if you got one of these visas, permits, etc. THEN that situation, yours, is possible and approved.  I doubt you can KNOW any other way about these matters.

Thank you. Get the feeling not wanted too lol

We all know that there are and will always be a large number of people who work without the proper visas and without work permits.
Thailand could not be profitable without countless immigrants from the neighboring countries, mainly Cambodia and Burma. The Thais pay them half of what they must pay a Thai worker and look down on them. There is a minimum wage now in Thailand of 300 Baht per day, but like all other laws it is not enforced.

Many of the prostitutes in Thailand are brought in from other countries, as in people smuggling, again the Thais are running the show. Corruption stars at the top and permeates all of society.

Do the police bother the Russian prostitutes working in the larger areas, with their pimps, Russian men, or prevent them from working illegally in the hostess bars!!!

Then of course there is the problem of other more fortunate people from richer countries wanting to work in Thailand as an excuse to be able to live in the country for extended periods, with the proper documentation, or without.

I got sick of teaching school directors the proper paperwork they had to complete for a foreigner to obtain a Non B Visa and or Work Permit applications. So on many occasions worked without the proper documents, most people do not care.

Many schools do not bother, and are complicent in the problem as are the Army,  police and immigration officers, who all gain for the tea money paid.

The new visa rules coming into effect August 12, 2016 may eliminate border runners, who regularly leave and return within 24 hours to extend their stay, while working illegally in Thailand, but again will they really be enforced!

Thailands immigration policy reflects the fact that it does not really want people staying a long time here. Needing 800,000 Baht in a Thai bank for a Non O visa to marry, or an income of 65,000 Baht a month for a visa to spend your life here a Non O visa, incorrectly called a "Retirement Visa". Foreigners cannot own land and get a "Chanote" deed, nor can they own a house and get a "Tambien Baan", house book.

If you want to freeze up 2,000,000 Baht you can start a business, but need 4 Thai employees with proof of wages paid to them and the taxes on their salaries paid to the government.

Thailand is more interested in short time tourists who come for 2 weeks to a month, spend their money and go home.

It will not be long before those of us who do live here will be forced to wear ankle bracelets to keep track on us full time.

Thailand could learn from Cambodia, where a business visa costs about $275.00 per year, allows you to open a business for a licence fee of $140.00. No police reporting, no money needed to be kept in a local bank. Many expats have left Thailand for the more relaxed way of life, less police harassment and no immigration problems here in Cambodia, less police=less graft and corruption.

Colb....   Your comment about the ankle bracelet is a big over reaction, and I think offering Cambodia as an option is great.  I strongly favor Thai very strict immigration rules, work permits, no border runs, money in the bank, and 90-day reporting.  I think having limits on land ownership is smart (given this small nation) and on biz ownership.

A small nation (which is also extremely enticing to live in) is at significant risk-- which these rules address.  Heck, even big USA is seeing many of their prime items (like NYC property and the docks of LA !) being bought up by foreigners.

I think Cambodia as an alternative is good for the adventurous.  Burma even more so.  Lao PDR very unique situation.  VN is exploding with foreign investment, seems a lot of that is in land ownership, don't know for sure but can see lots of construction cranes, the national bird of VN.

I admire Thailand for protecting itself from foreigners.  That makes, selfishly, a better place for me to retire because the--pardon--riff-raff is at a minimum.  I think those burned-out old Westerners holding on here by hook or crook just use the situation and help nothing.  My guess is that Thailand's economy would do just fine without resident foreigners of all kinds.

And yes, I am sometimes grumpy.

This topic is really useful for everyone especially to expats who may want to venture in any particular career they want to be part with. I never expect that the list will be long as I thought they only have restrictions to medical profession.

Hi Sharon. How did you go working on Koh Samui? I am a homeopath and psychotherapist thinking of doing the same . Philip

Does anyone know if Speech Pathology is a prohibited profession in Thailand?

Thank you.