Are foreigners allowed to work in Thailand?
Yes, foreigners are allowed to work in Thailand if you have a valid visa, a work permit and is employed with an occupation that does not violate the Alien Employment Act.
If you are a foreigner and you intend to work in Thailand, you are subject to the Alien Employment Act, which requires you to have a work permit to be issued by the Department of Employment, Ministry of Labor, or unless it falls within an exception of the said Act.
The term “work” in Thai law is defined very broadly, covering both physical and mental activities, whether or not for wages or other form of compensation. Even volunteer or charity work requires a work permit in Thailand.
According to Thai law, foreigners can work in the country but factors such as the national security, as well as the need of alien labor for the development of the country is being considered. Thai nationals are still to be given priority.
Under the Alien Employment Act, the following occupations are closed to foreigners and is reserved for Thai nationals only:
- Labor work except labor work in fishing boats under the next category below
- Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry or fishery, except work requiring specialized knowledge, farm supervision, or labor work in fishing boats, particularly marine fishery
- Bricklaying, carpentry, or other construction work
- Wood carving
- Driving motor vehicles or vehicles which do not use machinery or mechanical devices, except piloting international aircraft
- Front shop sale
- Auction sale work
- Supervising, auditing, or giving service in accountancy, except occasional internal auditing
- Cutting or polishing precious or semi-precious stones
- Haircutting, hairdressing, or beautification
- Cloth weaving by hand
- Mat weaving or making utensils from reed, rattan, jute, hay, or bamboo
- Making rice paper by hand
- Lacquer work
- Making Thai musical instruments
- Niello ware making
- Goldsmith, silversmith, or gold-and-copper alloy smith work
- Stone work
- Making Thai dolls
- Making mattresses or quilts
- Making alms bowls
- Making silk products by hand
- Making Buddha images
- Knife making
- Making paper or cloth umbrellas
- Making shoes
- Making hats
- Brokerage or agency except in international trading.
- Professional civil engineering concerning design and calculation, systemization, analysis, planning, testing, construction supervision, or consulting services, excluding work requiring specialized techniques
- Professional architectural work concerning design, drawing-making, cost estimation, or consulting services
- Cigarette rolling by hand
- Tour guiding or conducting
- Hawking of goods
- Thai typesetting by hand
- Unwinding and twisting silk by hand
- Clerical or secretarial work
- Providing legal services or engaging in legal work (except arbitration work sand work relating to defense of cases at arbitration level, provided the law governing the dispute under consideration by the arbitrators is not Thai law)
What are the requirements that I must submit if I want to work in or visit Thailand?
According to Thai Immigration, here are the major requirements:
- You must obtain a proper visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Royal Thai Consulate prior to your arrival in Thailand.
- Note that foreigners from the countries listed below are permitted to obtain an entry visa on their arrival at designated entry points in Thailand. An entry visa allows a stay of 15 days:
- Bhutan, China (including Taiwan), Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, India, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Maldives, Mauritius, Oman, Poland, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
- Meanwhile, foreigners from the countries listed below are exempted from visa requirements. They are permitted to enter and stay in Thailand for 30 days without an entry visa. However, these individuals must obtain an entry stamp on their passports at the immigration checkpoint of entry.
Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Iceland, Indonesia, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Kuwait, Luxembourg, Laos, Macao, Malaysia, Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Peru, Philippines, Portugal, Qatar, Russia, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, and Vietnam.
If extending beyond 30 days, all foreigners must have a valid visa which can be obtained from a Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate prior to entry into Thailand. The exceptions are nationals of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the Republic of Korea, and Peru who are currently allowed to stay up to 90 days after obtaining an entry stamp at the Immigration checkpoint of entry.
You must check with the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulate before you travel, as the lists of countries change periodically because the Immigration Bureau adds and removes countries as circumstances dictate. Aliens from all other countries who do not have agreements with Thailand must obtain visas before coming to Thailand.
Due to the revision of some immigration laws, Thailand has become a prime spot for retirees from Japan. This is because the immigration laws and other obstacles to foreign retirees moving to and living in Thailand have been removed. While subject to a yearly extension, foreigners over age 50 who wish to retire to the Kingdom are now free to do so. As a result, Thai retirement services industry is growing owing to these developments. Hospitals, healthcare, and resorts for the elderly in Thailand have been targeted by Japanese investors. The prolonged recession in Japan has prompted investors to move into the region, many eyeing small and middle‐sized hotels in scenic locations.