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Thai Work Permit

How to Start a Business in Thailand
How to Start a Business in Thailand Thailand, the land of smiles, ranked 28th as the best country in the world. It is a country that has a lot to offer. From their rich history to traditional & cultural wonders, to many beautiful places to wander around to and their delicious cuisines. Undoubtingly, Thailand is a place that has a lot of potential in many areas, and knowing that there are a lot of potentials that the country has, one specific area that stands out from the rest, that you might find interest in, is opening up a business in the country. Throughout the years Thailand has been consistent in being the 2nd largest economy in SouthEast Asia. In this current year, 2021, out of 190 countries all over the world, Thailand is ranked 26th in GDP ranking. Also, not forgetting to mention that in the U.S. News and World Report report, Thailand is ranked 10th in the best countries to start a business. Why is Thailand known as one of the best countries to start a business? Well, Thailand is known as the Gateway to Asia. They are known for their strategic location, the country’s position between India and China makes them the home of the largest growing economic market in the world. They are also known to having a government that supports any business size, it is one of the factors as to why it attracts foreigners in starting a business in the country. The country is also known for their consistency, strong exports, and their vibrant domestic consumer market. They are rich in natural resources and a skilled and cost-effective workforce which helps them to attract foreign investors and it enables them to grow in Thailand.

Starting a Business?

There are things that you might want to know before setting up a business in Thailand. It was stated in the Foreign Business Act of 1999, that there is no general prohibition in owning a business in Thailand, but there are, however under Section 8 of the Act, limitations for foreigners in carrying out a business in Thailand.  Under Section 8, there were three listed limitations of businesses that a foreigner can have but only the 1st in the list is 100% not permissible, unlike the 2nd and 3rd which is allowed with approval. Listed below are the following businesses that foreigners cannot engage in: 
  1. The Press, radio broadcasting station, or radio and television station business
  2. Rice farming, plantation, or crop growing
  3. Livestock farming
  4. Forestry and timber processing from a natural forest
  5. Fishery, only in respect of the catchment of aquatic animals in Thai waters and specific economic zones of Thailand
  6. Extraction of Thai medicinal herbs
  7. Trading and auction sale of antique objects of Thailand or objects of the historical value of the country
  8. Making or casting Buddha Images and monk alms-bowls
  9. Land trading

How to Start a Business

There are different ways that you can start your business depending on the type of business that you are going to have. But, listed below are general steps on how to start a business in the country that you will surely grow, and be successful with.
  1. Choose your Type of Business/Company
    Here are some types of business that you could choose from: 
    • Registered Ordinary or Limited Partnership
      • In this type of business, this run by 2 persons. One having limited liability and the other having unlimited liability.
    • Representative Office, Regional Office, and Branch Office
      • Representative office and Regional office are options for any international companies who want to obtain a juristic person number from the Thai government authority without having to set up a separate entity or apply for a Foreign Business License (FBL). And able to open physical offices in Thailand to conduct activities and engage in the "non-income related activities," as permitted by Thai law.
      • Branch office can obtain a juristic person number and do any "income-related activity" on behalf of its head office in Thailand.
    • Limited Company (which you have two options)
      • Private or closely held company has limited numbers of shareholders.
      • Public company which requires you to have a minimum of 15 shareholders for it to be formed and registered.
  2. Choose your Name of Business/Company

    If you are going to proceed with starting up a business in Thailand, it is best to prepare a name for your business. Choose 3 possible business names for you to check if the name is already taken or already registered by someone. Choosing or preparing a name is for you to have a smooth process in registering your business.

    Also, to remind you, that along with the business name one must also already have a business address that you could set up your business within Thailand.

  3. Plan your Business/Company

    One must prepare and have detailed information about the business. From visions and missions to goals of such a company. Identify what the business is all about, the services, the products, identify those kinds of things in your business.

  4. List your Shareholders
  5. Have a list of your shareholder. One important thing to remind you of listing your shareholder is that at least one of your shareholders is Thai. One purpose of having a Thai shareholder is the fact that they know Thailand better than you. They know how they run business in their own country and another thing is the fact that they are local and know how to communicate with other Thai citizens.

    Once you already have a list of shareholders, one must have an agreement with each other of each other’s shares, liability, and other responsibilities within the business. And make sure to have documentation or proof of the agreement.

    Now, this is the part where one might hesitate in starting a business in Thailand. One important thing to know about owning a business in Thailand is that foreigners cannot own more than 49% of the business. But there is a way to own 100% of your business, it is different and it is the Amity Treaty. Another downside is that the Amity Treaty can be only set up for Americans.

  6. Register your Business

    Now that you have your proposed name of the business, details that describe your business, the address of your business, and the list of your shareholders. You can register your company in the Department of Business and Development (DBD). Along with the registration, are the payments required. A reminder to those who cannot read the Thai language, the language used upon registering will be in the Thai language. So, one might need assistance in filling up some forms.

    In this part of the process, you will obtain licenses to open the business and taxpayer identification for your business. If you register a private business, it will take weeks to obtain it. If it is a public business, it will take months. And, once you are registered, you can open a bank account for your business.

Visas and Work Permits

In Thailand, a non-immigrant visa B is required before you may apply for or be granted a work permit. It is best if you can get it before you arrive in Thailand.  Though it takes a lot of effort, a lot of processes for you to have a business in Thailand. It will be easier once already registered. A reminder once you are done with all the processes: Always be responsible, pay taxes and follow rules to avoid troubles and added complications in your stay and business in Thailand.
Thailand Law of Work Permit

Like other countries around the world, Thailand requires foreign nationals who have the intent to work in the Kingdom to have the appropriate visa and work permit. Non-compliance thereof merits stiff penalties as afforded by current immigration and employment laws of the country.

Prior to 2017, aliens are required to obtain work permits before they were to start working in Thailand. However, from the period mentioned above and then in 2018, the current king of Thailand, King Vajiralongkorn, issued two decrees that repealed few items of the Alien Workers Act of 2008.

Decree No. 1

Under this Royal Decree No.1 of 2017, a foreigner issued with a work permit must work in accordance with the details of the document he was issued and granted with. This, therefore, the foreign worker must work at the same company, at the same location and capacity as what had been emphasized on his work permit. If he had to transfer to an affiliate of such company or that he had to transfer to a branch of his company at another location, he had to inform and obtain permission from the employment office otherwise potential legal issues may arise.

Decree No. 2

Royal Decree No. 2 of 2018 have repealed some sections of Royal Decree No. 1 including Section 71. With this, work permit holders may now work at another location, on a different company or working condition as long as this new type of work is not among the list of jobs foreign nationals are restricted from engaging with.

Further, the requirement on foreign workers to inform the employment office of any changes on their work details such as work location has also been repealed by the 2nd decree though it remained in certain instances as an option. Nonetheless, it also worthy to highlight that names of the new employers must still be reflected on the work permit.

If a foreign worker has been transferred by his company at another work location in Thailand then such employer is duty bound to inform the employment office of such change. Updates such as this may now be done online.

Other Updates on Thai Work Permit

Foreign workers may now file for their work permit applications online far from the previous system wherein a tedious process on personal filing is needed.

In case of violations of the decrees, both the foreign employee and employer may now be imposed with reduced fines. As an example, under the previous law, if a foreign worker failed to report with the employment authorities his new work location, he may be imposed with a 100,000.00 fine THB. After March 28, 2018, violations thereof may be given with a reduced fine from the previous amount to 50,000.00 THB.

After the amendments, a foreign worker is not required to carry his work permit at all times. He may still be asked by the employment to produce his permit but he does not have to show the document during an inspection. He may do so based on the date or time-frame given to him by the employment official.

Personal Income Tax Thailand
Personal Income Tax Thailand

Personal income tax is a tax on an individual's earnings or income. One of the very basic things that one should know about the personal income tax in Thailand is that whoever receives assessable income from sources in the Kingdom of Thailand, whether Thai national or foreign national, is responsible to pay personal income tax, regardless of whether the income is paid within or outside Thailand.


In the year 2019, Thailand has shown a number of 3.9 million documented and undocumented migrant workers. In 2020, only a number of 2,065,742 migrant workers are documented. This means there are over a million who are undocumented migrant workers in Thailand.

Over a million undocumented workers mean over a million workers are illegally working in Thailand. If ever that you are an undocumented worker, and want to learn more about the consequences of working illegally and what to do to work legally, it is best to continue reading.

Foreigners Working in Thailand

It was stated in Thai law that a foreign national is allowed to work in Thailand. 

But though given the opportunity to work in Thailand, it does not mean that you are to just work in a country, that you did not originate from, without any notice from the Thai government, specifically in the Thai Department of employment or labor department.

It is important to know that if you wish to work in Thailand as a foreigner, you must obtain a non-immigrant visa, work permit and comply with the Alien Employment Act of Thailand.

Non-Immigrant Visa and Thai Work Permit Needed

Working in Thailand as a foreigner requires you to obtain a non-immigrant visa (B) and a work permit in Thailand.

A non-immigrant visa (B) is provided to foreigners who wish to conduct business or work in Thailand. Other visas, like a tourist visa used for the purpose to work in Thailand, are not accepted and will be considered illegal. It is suggested to apply for a proper visa in accordance with your purpose in Thailand to the Royal Thai Embassy or Consulates.

A Thai work permit which must be granted by the Ministry of Labour Department of Employment is a need for proof that you are a legal and is a documented worker in Thailand. Again, working without a Thai work permit will be considered illegal.

Alien Employment Act in Thailand

Alien Employment Act is a law set by the Thai government to accommodate, take charge, to keep a record of the activities of non-Thai nationals working in Thailand.

What can be found in this Alien Employment Act? Well, to give you an overview, the following are some information that can be found in the Alien Employment Act of Thailand, which will also be discussed as you continue to read:

  • Works that are Prohibited for Foreigners to engage in Thailand
  • Works that are Permitted for Foreigners to engage in and are to be granted a Work Permit.
  • What to do with a Work Permit once Received
  • Offenses and Penalty of Illegal Working in Thailand

Works that are Prohibited for Foreigners to Engage In

Given the opportunity of foreigners to work in Thailand, it is still the responsibility of Thailand to prioritize the opportunities of their own citizens. This means, there are specific works that are to be handled only by Thai nationals that non-Thai nationals are not allowed to handle.

The following are the types of works that a foreign national are not allowed to handle according to the Alien Employment Act of Thailand:

  • Pottery
  • Stonework
  • Hat making
  • Knifemaking
  • Goods selling
  • Dressmaking
  • Wood carving
  • Lacquer work
  • Making shoes
  • Front shop sale
  • Hand-typesetting
  • Auction sale work
  • Making Thai dolls
  • Making alms bowls
  • Niello ware making
  • Cloth weaving by hand
  • Making Buddha images
  • Cigarette rolling by hand
  • Making rice paper by hand
  • Clerical or secretarial work
  • Tour guiding or conducting
  • Making mattresses or quilts
  • Making silk products by hand
  • Making paper or cloth umbrellas
  • Making Thai musical instruments
  • Hand-twisting and unwinding silk
  • Haircutting, hairdressing, or beautifying.
  • Brokerage or agency except in international trading.
  • Labor work, with the exception of fishing boat labor.
  • Precious or semi-precious stone cutting and polishing.
  • Goldsmith, silversmith, or gold-and-copper alloy smith work.
  • Mat weaving or making utensils from reed, rattan, jute, hay, or bamboo.
  • Whether it's bricklaying, carpentry, or other types of construction work.
  • Supervising, auditing, or providing accounting services. Except for infrequent internal auditing.
  • Professional architectural work concerning design, drawing-making, cost estimation, or consulting services
  • Driving motor vehicles or vehicles that do not employ machinery or mechanical devices. Except for piloting international aircraft.
  • Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, or fishing, with the exception of employment requiring specialist knowledge, farm supervision, or labor work on fishing boats, particularly in the maritime fishery.
  • Professional civil engineering services, excluding tasks needing specialized skills. But include design and computation, systemization, analysis, planning, testing, construction supervision, and consulting services.
  • Engaging in legal activity or providing legal services (except arbitration work and work relating to the defense of cases at arbitration level, provided the law governing the dispute under consideration by the arbitrators is not Thai law)

Works that are Permitted for Foreigners to Engage In and are Granted Work Permits

Now that you have knowledge of what works are not allowed to be engaged by a foreigner in Thailand, you will now know what works can be engaged by foreigners that will be granted a Thai work permit by the Thai authorities.

Listed below are the following:

  • If you work for a Thai or non-Thai company with a registered capital of at least THB 2,000,000, you are eligible.
  • If you work in an establishment that has paid at least THB 5,000,000 in income tax to the Revenue Department in the previous three years.
  • If you work for a Thai or non-Thai company that does export business and remits at least THB 3,000,000 in foreign currency last year, you are eligible.
  • If you work in a place with more than 50 Thai employees.
  • If you are a working expatriate with an income of equivalent or more than THB 18,000 and are required to pay personal income tax to the Revenue Department, or if you have already paid personal income tax in the previous year of equivalent or more than 18,000 Baht.
  • If working for a representative office in charge of quality control, procurement, or market research.
  • If working in investment consulting, administrative consulting, technical and technology consulting, or internal auditing on a regular basis.
  • If working as a Tourism representative who brings in foreigners to travel in Thailand.
  • If working under International financial institutions approved by the Bank of Thailand.
  • If working in the temporary business of entertainment, religious, social welfare, cultural or sporting without intention to make a profit and paying income tax to the government.
  • If working as a contractor on projects with any government bodies or state enterprises.
  • If working on local raw material as an essential component in the production process or work that can reduce the use of imported raw material.
  • If working involves supporting the export of Thai products.
  • If working to produce new technology, which Thai people are not capable of, in order to distribute and transfer to Thai people.
  • If working in an area where there is a shortage of Thai labor.

What to do with a Work Permit once Received

A work permit is not just an ordinary permit where you can leave it in your house and only take it with you if needed. Work permits are a big deal in Thailand and will be checked by authorities. So, what do you do if you have a work permit?

  • You must have with you your work permits all the time
  • You will only perform the work that is written on the work permit.
  • You will have to apply for an extension of your work permit before the expiration of the work permit.
  • You will apply for a replacement within 15 days if ever the work permit is lost and damaged.
  • You will inform Thai authorities, to the Employment Service Office, if ever there are changes needed in your work permit
  • You will return your work permit if you are resigning from your work.

Offenses and Penalty of Illegal Working in Thailand

What happens if you do not follow rules set by the Thai authorities? What are the possible consequences? Will you get a prison sentence? 

Shown in the table below are the possible offense and the consequences you receive:



Working without a work permit

  • 5 years in prison or; 
  • A fine ranging from 2,000 to 100,000 Baht, 
  • Or both

Having a work permit but engaging work that are not stated on the permit

  • A fine of not more than 20,000 Baht

Having a work permit but not having it with you when the Thai police ask for it

  • A fine of not more than 10,000 Baht

Employers employing a foreigner who does not have a valid work permit

  • A fine of not more than THB 100,000 Ba per person will be imposed.


Foreign Journalists working in Thailand
Foreign Journalists working in Thailand

Being a journalist is not just covering news, but also delivering stories of truth to other parts of the world. 

It is important to note that journalists are not only reporters that you see in front of the television in news. Journalists include the cameramen, photographers, writers, and others that cannot be seen on the television screens because they work behind the camera.

In the year 2014, foreign media visa applications of foreign journalists are being scrutinized more closely by Thai ministry personnel. Which requires foreign journalists residing in Thailand to renew their visas, work permits, and press cards on a yearly basis, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs' discretion.

In other words, rules for foreign journalists of foreign media have been tightened since Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-Ocha seized power in a May 2014 coup.

Whether you are a new applicant looking for a guide or just an applicant for renewal of a media visa to work as a journalist in Thailand, what lies here is information that you might need and want to know.

Members of the Media Eligible to Apply for Media Visa

In order for you to work as a journalist in Thailand from a foreign media entity, there are criteria that will be checked on you before you are considered fit or eligible to work as a foreign journalist in Thailand.

The following are the requirements for members of the media that wish to apply for media visa:

  1. Must be a part of or employed by a credible and trustworthy media outlet or entity. At the time of submission of the visa application, the specified media entity must have been duly registered with the appropriate government in Thailand or overseas for a minimum of 6 months.
  2. During your whole stay in Thailand, you have worked entirely as a media professional and did not engage in any other occupation;
  3. Perform media obligations in the Kingdom of Thailand for at least 90 days and generate at least 10 stories each year about Thailand or the region;
  4. Must not have previously created any coverage or acted in a way that would pose harm to society, public order, or public safety, nor been a sought person on a foreign government's arrest warrant; and
  5. Must not have ever given false information on a visa application before.

Guidance for Application of Media Visa

To those media foreign reporters or journalists who are on set for their application for the media visa, here are the things that you should take note of:

  • A member of the media who wishes to work in Thailand as a correspondent in foreign news or feature stories and also wishes to live in Thailand for up to 1 year or more without having to extend his or her visa every 3 months, can submit a request to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs through MFA Media Online Service (MMOS) website. 
  • Along with the submitting of request is to also submit the following needed paperwork or documents:
  • A letter of introduction or assignment addressed to the "Director-General of the Department of Information, Ministry of Foreign Affairs" from the applicant's agency's headquarters confirming the applicant's appointment and job title. 

The original letter must also be sent to the Ministry as well.

  • Detailed information on the agency, including its history or origins or background, the scope of work, distribution, list of owners and editors, and names of related publications (if available).
  • A recent photo of the applicant (not older than 6 months).
  • A photocopy of the applicant's passport (valid for a minimum of 6 months).
  • At least 3 pieces of work by the applicant from the last 1 year, with credit on their name supplied, are required. If the samples aren't in Thai or English, they'll need to be translated.

The following supplementary documents are required for members of the media who desire to bring members of their immediate family into Thailand as dependents:

  • The names of dependents and details of their relationship to the applicant must also be mentioned in the letter of introduction or assignment.
  • Dependents' photos (not older than six 6 months old).
  • A copy of each dependent's passport (valid for a minimum of 6 months).
  • Copy of dependents’ documentation proving their relationship to the applicant, such as marriage or birth certificates.

Note: Each of the abovementioned documents’ file sizes should not exceed 2 MB, and the file formats required are PDF, JPG, video, or audio.

Approval of the Application for Media Visa

Getting the approval after the interview, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will authorize the issuance of a media visa or the Non-Immigrant Visa M to the accredited applicant, as well as letters of acknowledgment to the relevant governmental agencies

It will also allow the applicant to obtain the necessary documents, like Thai work permit, press card, and other documents, to work in Thailand as an accredited member of the media.

To get the documents, the applicant must contact the appropriate agencies to obtain a visa extension, work permit, and press card, namely:

Thai Foreign Office



Thai Government Press Division



Public Relations DepartmentDepartment of Information
7th floorMinistry of Foreign Affairs
9, Phaholyothin Road Soi 7 (Soi Aree Samphan)Si Ayutthaya Road
Phyathai, Bangkok 10400Phyathai, Bangkok 10400
Tel: 02-6182323 ext. 1713, 1715Tel: 02-2035000 ext. 22005, 22008
Fax: 02-6183637Fax: 02-6435106-7
(BTS: Aree Station) 
One-Stop Service Center for Work PermitThe Foreign Correspondents Club of Thailand
Jamjuree Square Tower, 18th floorPenthouse, Maneeya Center Building
319, Phayathai Road518/5, Ploenchit Road
Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
Tel.: 02-2091100Tel: 02-6520580-1
 Fax: 02-6520582
(MRT: Sam Yan Station)(BTS: Chitlom Station)

Do's and Don'ts in Applying for Media Visa

To help you with speeding the process for applying for a media visa, the following are some suggestions to assist speed up the accreditation process:


  • Both new and renewing applicants should apply at least one month ahead of time. Each application may take a different amount of time to process.
  • Include as much information as possible to aid in the verification of the applicant's status as a journalist.
  • Before traveling to Thailand, make sure you apply ahead of time. Before entering Thailand, it is always a good idea for all new applicants to have their accreditation process authorized.

Once the accreditation has been approved, this will save the applicant time and money while going in and out of Thailand to obtain a media visa or Non-Immigrant Visa M


  • Other visas should not be used. Other types of visas, excluding visa category M to work in Thailand as a member of the media, will not be accepted if you apply for a Non-Immigrant visa B for business or O for others.
Thai Work Permit Fees
Thai Work Permit Fees

The Thai government fees for a work permit in Thailand varies according to the length of time of the work permit. Most work permits in Thailand tend to be 1 year work permits as it is normally based on the length of the contract. Most employment contracts in Thailand are 12 month contracts hence the work permit will be as long as the contract is for. If you have a 3 year contract the government fees with be for a 3 year work permit.