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Expats Working in Thailand

Author: Jim Newham
Submitted: April 2017

Permission to Work

To work in Thailand, you must first obtain a non-immigrant visa (‘working’ subtype), secure a job, arrive then obtain a work permit. If you have a job already lined up, your prospective employer will help you to do this. Although it is in theory possible to arrive in Thailand, secure a job once in the country then apply for a work permit, this approach is not recommended.

In order to be permitted to employ an expat, a Thai company must first prove that there are no locals who could do the job. Even if this is the case, there is no guarantee that the company will be awarded a work permit for a given prospective employee, especially if they have applied for any in the past or are already near their quota.

The rules for obtaining a work permit are complicated and involve a lot of red tape. Nevertheless, it is very unwise to attempt to do any work without a work permit. This may lead to your arrest, and, in a country currently under military rule, is likely to be dealt with severely.

Documents you will need to provide include your passport and arrival/departure card, educational certificates and proof residence in Thailand. In addition, your employer will need further documentation and possibly a medical check-up too. Note also that there is a fee payable. Once it is ready, you will have to go and collect your passport from the appropriate employment ministry building.

It will take weeks or even months for the work permit application to be completed, so do allow for this, and ensure that your visa stays current in the meantime. It is possible to apply for an extension to your work permit, so long as you continue to have a job, naturally. Once you have a work permit, you are free to apply for a residence visa.


For wealthier expats, conditions are very comfortable. Wages are not great, but that’s not the point of living in Thailand. It is about living a more integrated, simpler life and not chasing material things. And of course enjoying the sea and the sunshine.

There is a certain degree of flexibility in the Thai workplace. The finer details of your contract or arrangement may be negotiable, it can’t harm to ask.

For sedentary positions, the normal number of working hours is 8 per day. For more strenuous work, it is 7 hours and a maximum of 42 hours per week. Which is only for the

There are 16 paid public holidays in Thailand; they follow Buddhist customs and national celebrations. If you have worked for the same company for at least a year, you are legally entitled to a minimum of six days’ annual leave. Most companies, however, will give you considerably more than this. Maternity leave is for a minimum of 90 days, of which 45 days must be paid.




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