- Download our Moving to Thailand Guide (PDF)
After securing a job, getting the appropriate visa and arriving in the country, an expat would need a work permit for Thailand. It’s theoretically possible for expats who have not secured a position before they move to Thailand to get a work permit once they are in the country.
Expats looking to work in Thailand will need to enter the country on a Non-Immigrant Visa. However, before they can start working, expats will need to get a work permit from the Thai Ministry of Labour.
Work permit applications in Thailand
After arriving at the Immigration Checkpoint at their point of entry, holders of a valid visa are granted an initial temporary stay permit, which is usually valid for 90 days. New arrivals are then advised to apply for a temporary work permit at the Department of Employment (which oversees the labour ministry) as soon as possible.
After receiving their temporary work permit, applicants will then have a limited time to apply for a long-term visa called the Extension of Stay Permit at the Immigration Bureau. This permit is valid for a maximum of one year, after which holders will need to apply for an extension.
In many cases, an expat’s sponsoring company will apply for a work permit at the Department of Employment on their behalf. The employee will then be responsible for applying for their long-term visa and re-entry permit.
Work permit applications can take weeks or even months to process, so it’s important for expats to act early, have patience and ensure that their visa does not expire. A foreign resident with a visa in danger of expiring must apply for the appropriate extension – it is imperative that the visa is current the day they sign for their work permit.
When the application process and decision-making are complete, expats will physically have to retrieve their work permits at the relevant Labour Department with their passports.
Expats wishing to leave the country for a period before returning and going back to work will need to apply for a re-entry permit. Leaving the country without one nullifies an expat’s work permit and visa.
Expats looking to lengthen the validity of their work permits must secure an extension-of-stay permit. At this point, if an expat quits their job, they will need to cancel their extension-of-stay permit before leaving the country. This would require an employer’s letter, which has to be presented to the Immigration Department on their last working day or, if their last day is on a weekend or public holiday, on the next standard business day.
*Visa regulations are subject to change at short notice, and expats should contact their nearest Thai embassy or consulate for the latest information.
►For more information about the necessary documents to visit the country, see Visas for Thailand
►Working in Thailand gives an overview of the economy and the working environment
What do expats say about Thai visa application processes?
"My visas are run through my language school. The only difficult thing I’ve experienced is sitting on long bus rides to the border. Do your research, ask questions from other expats with actual experience, and be cool and calm at every immigration office." Read our interview with Canadian expat James to learn more about living in Thailand.
"I did the visa applications myself for several years as a journalist. It was painful, but no more so than in any other country. But these days the company I work for handles all my paperwork, which is a lucky situation to be in." Check out our interview with Canadian expat Greg to learn more about his over 20-year experience in Thailand.
Are you an expat living in Thailand?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Thailand. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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