2022 Guide to Work Permit Exemptions

Thai Work Permit

Despite Covid and the world economic crisis, Thailand’s business scene remains one of the most dynamic amongst Southeast Asian countries. With efforts from both the public and private sectors to recover from the current instability, the economy will get back on track in due time.

Owing to many opportunities for expats and the recent border reopening, many foreigners might consider starting a business or working in Thailand. Generally, in order to engage in any kind of work in the Kingdom, a foreigner is required to obtain a work permit with support from the hiring company before beginning their work legitimately. 

It is crucial to acknowledge that not all companies in Thailand are able to provide foreign employees with work permits. To be eligible, the company must fulfill the requirements of the Ministry of Labor. 

These typically include:

  • The registered capital of at least 2 million THB per one work permit for a Thai registered company where a majority of the shareholders are Thai.
  • There must be at least 4 Thai employees to apply for one work permit.
  • If the company is not registered in Thailand, the investment capital from overseas should be at least 3 million THB per work permit.

However, these conditions do not apply to the foreign companies that successfully obtained the promotion from the Thailand Board of Investment (BOI).

Nonetheless, the Alien Working Act 2008 outlines work permit exemptions for foreigners who meet the specified conditions.

Who Are Exempted from Work Permit in Thailand?

  1. Government and Diplomat Representatives
    1. Members of the diplomatic delegations.
    2. Members of the consular missions.
    3. Representatives of the member countries and officers of the United Nations and its specialized agencies
    4. Personal assistants traveling from overseas to support the individuals listed in a., b., and c.
    5. Individuals who execute the missions as per the agreement by the Thai government and foreign governments or international organizations.
    6. Individuals who carry out duties for the benefit of the Kingdom in the areas of education, culture, arts, sports, and others as stated in the decree.
    7. Individuals who acquired permission from the Thai cabinet to perform duties or missions in the Kingdom.
  2. Those Who Enter the Country for Urgent, Short-Term, and Essential DutiesUnder this special case, individuals who enter Thailand for business that is considered essential and urgent can engage in their tasks in the Kingdom for a maximum of 15 days without the need to apply for a work permit. However, the foreigners must request permission from the Ministry of Labor and obtain a written notification prior to their entry into Thailand.

    Foreigners who are permitted to work under this circumstance can enter the country with any kind of visa. Yet, the definition of ‘urgent and essential duties’ is somewhat ambiguous. Therefore, the cases mostly depend on the discretion of an authorized person.

    These are some of the activities that do not require a work permit:

    • Participation in conferences, seminars, business meetings, or lectures.
    • Participation in technical works such as machines repair and installation, demonstration and testing of machine tools, etcetera
    • International recruitment activities, such as recruitment of workers and skills test.
    • Participation in legal services, such as arbitration.
    • Other activities as agreed by the authorities in charge.
  3. Investors or Founders of Foreign BusinessesA foreigner who intends to work in Thailand under the promotion of BOI can first enter the country, then begin the application process for a work permit within 30 days. During these 30 days, the foreigner can engage in his/her duties while waiting for approval from BOI and the official work permit from the Labor Department.

    In addition, representatives of a foreign entity under the Foreign Business Act are excluded from the requirement to apply for a work permit. These representatives may include Directors, board members, or high-level foreign executives and managers who work for an entity such as a representative office or a branch office with a valid Foreign Business License.

  4. Those Who are Granted Smart VisasIn 2021, the Thai government launched a Smart Visa program to attract foreign talents with certain qualifications. If approved by BOI and the National Innovation Agency, the foreign professionals who are granted this special visa and their families can stay in Thailand for a maximum of 4 years without having to apply for a work permit.

    There are 5 categories of Smart Visa program that foreign professionals can select to apply based on personal circumstances. The categories consist of Talents, Investors, Executives, Startups, Spouses and Children of the Smart Visa Holders.

    Additionally, to be eligible for this privilege, the professionals must be working in the 13 targeted industries, such as smart electronics, agricultural and biotechnology, automation and robotics, etcetera. More information regarding the Smart Visa program can be found on this official page.

It is worth noting that a foreigner who is not exempted from a work permit and is engaged in work in Thailand without permission from related authorities will be liable to severe punishment. 

These exemption policies help accommodate qualified foreigners in investing and working in Thailand. Yet, some regulations can be complicated and obscured. To help lighten the effort and ensure a smooth process, interested foreign professionals should seek more details and recommendations from legal experts in Thailand. Contact us to help assess your requirements and assist you with the best solutions.

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Category: Business in Thailand, Immigration

About the Author (Author Profile)

Siam Legal is an international law firm with experienced lawyers, attorneys, and solicitors both in Thailand law and international law. This Thailand law firm offers comprehensive legal services in Thailand to both local and foreign clients for Litigation such as civil & criminal cases, labor disputes, commercial cases, divorce, adoption, extradition, fraud, and drug cases. Other legal expertise of the law firm varied in cases involving corporate law such as company registration & Thailand BOI, family law, property law, and private investigation.

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