List of Prohibited Jobs for westerners in Thailand

You cannot legally do volunteer work in Thailand without a work permit. Bureaucratic silliness, but true.

this thread has said before that your work permit is attached to a company that has 4 thai staff.

Translators have told me that the work permitting law probably forbids you cutting your own lawn, for example.  The law's reasoning is to prohibit non-nationals from taking a job away from a Thai national.

There is one thing that is missing here. For whatever reason I have seen a change and increase of scrutiny by immigration since October, perhaps more so in the Chiang Mai region. Some of the scrutiny and delays could easily add up to an entire year before everything is sorted out. They are making immigration changes and security is one of their concerns, a direct quote. So there appear to be increasing hurdles to over come when working or volunteering in Thailand.

"They are making immigration changes and security is one of their concerns, a direct quote."

Security concerns about what? Can you be more specific regarding the details of (at least) one major Thai gov't security concern issue, according to your stated "direct quote", please?

Since the Thai gov't tends to mind it's own business, and thus has absolutely nothing to be paranoid about, then I am more than just casually curious about that quote.

All things considered, Thailand has become the most popularly chosen retirement location (by a host of western retirees), precisely due to the pronounced absence of any necessary "national security" concerns. Hallelujah!

October 21, 2016 the Thai government hosted an all day work shop in Chiang Mai. In attendance were various Directors of various organizations relative to immigration and tourism. There was even a cabinet minister present. The morning session involved various presentations of what Thailand is doing or offering. The afternoon session was relative to input from the expat population about their concerns. A few Directors repeated their concern for security about Thailand. They may have been referring to the bombings, was it last summer. Right or wrong a few of the Directors first concern was with security.
One aspect of the work shop was interesting. At the start of the program there was the continued reference, by the Thai's, about long term tourists. A few people objected to the term tourists because they were long time residents in Thailand and had grandchildren in Thailand. As the day progressed and objections kept arising the officials started conceding to residents rather then tourists. They were listening. One take away was that the Thai government has noticed that some of the retirement community is finding Malaysia more of an attraction then Thailand. The Thai's were trying to do something to reverse that trend.

Yes, Security was a repeated concern for some of the departments within the Thai government.

My guess is Thailand is responding to happenings around the world like EU refugees, Trump travel ban, and faked news stories in the USA election.  The alert to a small nation is to beware of a vast influx of displaced persons that threaten to overwhelm the current infrastructure, to be alert to influx of terror planners wanting an easy safe haven, and to be alert to the nefarious use of the Internet to peddle real looking faked news which can destabilize even the big USA and its elections.

These are serious matters and finding correct and humane ways to deal with them are a struggle.  The massive trashing of Hillary and boosting of Trump via real looking "news clips" must have affected that election, especially for the angry former middle class looking for ways to justify a crazy vote for Trump.  Due to the authentic look and speed of spread of any calculated lies, any nation must be alert to how this medium is used to spread lies and turn a nation into screaming social disruptions overnight--when things were just ok a day before.  In its delicate evolution of government, Thailand especially needs to be concerned.  How to fix that is the hard question everywhere.

Also, Thailand can not afford to become a staging ground for international terrorism, nor can its currently very monolithic society bear up to a big rush of displaced person with very different ideas and values.  These large problems threaten destabilization here--  major ways of messing up really good places everywhere.  The other part of the threats are the METHODS put in place to meet these threats.  Instituting a crushing grip on Internet access and, for example, on news reporters are very delicate and scary moves.  How to be just tight enough?

I doubt Thailand is very concerned to have long term foreign residents here.  I suspect that if you scratched the paint, under one would find "toleration as long as the numbers do not get too big" but not fear of losing money this way.  We guests have to remember that very real status.  Guests can not angrily thump the table demanding "rights" that are not there. 

I try where ever I can to dissuade foreigner settlement here.... after me, of course.

Ok, thanks for your speedy reply.

FYI ~ Malaysia has a broader English-speaking population base, compared to Thailand. Other than that, Muslim dominated, religiously up-tight , and socially depressing Malaysia offers absolutely no comparative contest. Been there, done that (for one-year), and I've got the Malaysian T-Shirts to prove it.

Thailand certainly does have it's own internal problems, but nothing compared to the "dirt-swept-under-the-carpet" extent of Malaysia. Whew!


Clearly some here want to close the door for any other expats in coming to Thailand and enjoying or maybe even legally prospering in Thailand.   Comments about "how the fake news on the internet" might bring to Thailand what their very slanted view of matters that are happening elsewhere i.e. US election results!  To want "dissuade foreigner settlement here.... after them" is unfortunately an attitude that many want to see the Thai gvmt enact!

Thailand has no need to "respond" to any of the happenings in either the EU, ME or the USA.

The phenomenon of unfounded paranoia/schizophrenia tends to create imaginary monsters, that otherwise would never exist.

People who do no dirt to other people, have "nothing" to be paranoid about. Eh?

Amen to that :top:

Not a lot left really

I do not understand why anyone would want more foreigners of any kind to live in Thailand.

At this time, presently now, Thailand is going through a transition and growing pains. Within the past few days I was listening to an interesting conversation where Thailand shot themselves in the foot, again.

Within the past six month the military government decided to completely stop the border runs where people were doing temporary extensions. All of a sudden Bangkok and other areas found that there were a significant number of English speaking English teachers that were no longer there. Now the government has to figure out how to sort out the problem.

Within the past few days I came across another oxymoron. The Transportation Department (DMV) instituted this new program whereby the Thai Nationals had to pay a 6 k baht fee for a driving school to get a driving license. The country went on social media to tell the government that the normal Thai does not have 6 k baht to pay for driving school. And so the government once again has to rearrange things to figure out what they are going to do.   

I believe it's called a work in progress, and for us Farranges it's just as confusing as it is for the Thai's.

Really glad this post is here and sticky.
Does anyone have a link to a similar list for jobs prohibited to non-western expats. E.g. are Chinese lawyers likewise limited to arbitration?
Is there even such a limit on visitors from the sinosphere?
If this has already been asked and answered, quote from the original will do.


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So IT jobs are still open?

There are several IT nomads working in Thailand, especially Chiang Mai. They work under the radar. The government is working on a system in which to issue some kind of visa for such, but have yet to come up with a solution. Even with that said, there are work permits issued for IT people, but of course Thailand try's to be protective of it's work permits, from what I understand.

new rules for getting caught without a WP - up to 400,000 baht fine and 5 years jail or you could be blacklisted for 10 years

if you are employed by a company then they would get double the fine

IT jobs - wont pay so much as  a western job - digital nomad - still working

could be visa issues as well as there are time limits - with a non B attached to the WP you only have to renew each year, with other visa's you can only renew a couple of times

Yes, work permit visa's are changing on a daily basis. I have a meeting tomorrow about the volunteer work permit visa. The pre information is not exactly encouraging. From what I was told the other day a 200,000 baht fine for the individual and another 400,000 for the business or sponsor. No one wants to play with that. And yes, I understand that the nomad IT people run the risk of being black listed here if they are caught. Even so the Thai government wants to close that loop whole and create some viable alternative to the IT nomads. There is hope, down the road, but for now it's risky.

Honestly I wish they had this law in the United States.  The country should support labor for it's citizens.  The last thing Thailand needs is every nationality taking over the convenience store, hotel, and taxi business or public transportation business.  I like knowing that I'm dealing with Thai citizens and helping to support their economy.  I feel much safer knowing I'm being serviced by a a Thai citizen versus and unknown.

Mitchjoygold wrote:

Honestly I wish they had this law in the United States.  The country should support labor for it's citizens.  The last thing Thailand needs is every nationality taking over the convenience store, hotel, and taxi business or public transportation business.  I like knowing that I'm dealing with Thai citizens and helping to support their economy.  I feel much safer knowing I'm being serviced by a a Thai citizen versus and unknown.

Amen to that :top:

it is a bit more complicated that that.
one example is that foreigners cannot be tour operators and yet there is a BIG shortfall of tour operators that can speak Russian or Chinese. Yet these people make up the bulk of tours that enter into Thailand and generate large income.
So its a catch 22.

There are also other aspects where as Thailand is an international country that attracts a lot of business. THis business is usually done in English and is worth trillions of Baht to the economy.

The Labour Department has said it will be looking into the Labour Laws as they are archaic.

I hope this helps.

"The Labour Department has said it will be looking into the Labour Laws as they are archaic." :cool:



Thanks for the list.

Dog gone, you mean I cannot make rice paper, Alms bowl, Thai dolls and Buddha images !!!!

What was I thinking. My retirement dream is gone !!!! LOL.

But on a serious note, teaching is not on the list. Does that mean that I can start a math and science coaching business or  a franchise?


Foreigners can bring a good perspective about where Thai citizens are in comparison to global competition I believe.

if you are an American under the treaty of amity you can start a business up. However for the rest of us you will need a Work Permit. See more in this thread.

The U.S.-Thai Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations of 1833, commonly referred to as the Treaty of Amity, is a special economic relationship between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand that give special rights and benefits to U.S. citizens who wish to establish their businesses in Thailand. The Treaty of Amity treaty was amended in 1966 and provides two major benefits:

American companies are permitted to maintain a majority shareholding or to wholly own its company, branch office or representative office located in Thailand.
American companies receive national treatment, meaning U.S. firms may engage in business on the same basis as Thai companies, and are exempt from most of the restrictions on foreign investment imposed by the Alien Business Law of 1972.
Despite the Treaty of Amity, there are still certain restrictions on U.S. investment as follows:

Owning land;
Engaging in inland transportation and communication industries;
Engaging in fiduciary functions;
Engaging in banking involving depository functions;
Engaging in domestic trade in indigenous agricultural products;
Exploiting land or other natural resources
Despite the advantages conveyed by the Treaty, some U.S. companies continue to pursue joint ventures with Thai partners and permit them to have a majority stake because of their familiarity with the Thai economy, business culture and local regulations. The U.S. Commercial Service in Bangkok can help U.S. companies identify qualified Thai partners. For more information on services available for U.S. firms see:

Prior to conducting business in Thailand, U.S. firms should be familiar with other restrictions on foreign businesses in Thailand. Important Thai business laws include:

The Alien Employment Act (Decree No. 322) - effective as of 1978, this Act requires non-Thais to obtain a work permit before engaging in any work activity. There are 39 restricted occupations, including accounting, engineering and legal professions. Foreign professionals in these fields sometimes work as consultants in conjunction with local counterparts. Currently, this act is under judicial review.

The Immigration Act of 1979 - grants Americans up to a 30-day visit in Thailand without a visa. For business visits of longer duration, the Immigration Department requires a non-immigrant visa, category B. The visa is valid for 90 days for a single entry of 180 days for multiple entries, and must be obtained before entering Thailand.

The Alien Business Law (ABL) - also known as the National Executive Announcement No. 281 of 1972, restricts business activity of aliens or non-Thais. "Alien" and "Alien Business" is defined as a natural person or juristic person without Thai Nationality. This includes a business at least one-half of the registered capital held by aliens.

Thank you for sharing the info,  :cheers:

I heard from a couple in Chang Mai it is difficult for people over 40 to get a teaching job, because there are so many young English teachers around. Any truth to that?

You could search and then contact some of the international schools and make your own type of inquiry.

Thank you Bill!

Anton&Jacky wrote:

I heard from a couple in Chang Mai it is difficult for people over 40 to get a teaching job, because there are so many young English teachers around. Any truth to that?

Here's the absolute truth. If you are white-skinned (any nationality), possess a degree in anything (including "Basket_Weaving"), together with a 120-hour (in-class) CELTA or equivalent TEFL certification, then you're "politically" eligible (to apply), for an English teaching position, anywhere in Asia, and well into your 70+ years. Just the facts of the matter! Period! :cool:

Well, I guess I can now mark Thailand off my Expat 'bucket list'. Thanks for all tge info. Better to find out these things BEFORE I invested too much time and money into considering it. (If I wanted to live someplace  where I wasn't skilled enough to be allowed to work, I could just stay in the USA. *SIGH*)

Thank you Blackjack and Kruben! :)

Don't you think that there is a surplus of English teachers, that makes it difficult to get a teaching job?

Like anything, the winds of time tell all, or nothing. Last year immigration changed the law limiting the number of border crossings for visa's. The next thing you know Bangkok has a shortage of English teachers because those teachers can't come back across the border. I personally don't know what the status of that is right now.

One idea could be to look into getting your TEFL certification in Thailand and using that time to research the subject of teaching. You could also interview at schools within your target area. I think, not sure, but you might be able to get an education visa to get your TEFL certificate. By the way a BA or BS would carry some weight with your application.

Hi Bill

I am thinking of doing my TEFL already before going to Thailand. Much cheaper here. I will keep checking for jobs online, maybe I will get lucky!

Thank you for all the help.