Thai Work Permit Explained

Working legally in Thailand involves getting a non-immigrant visa, a Thai work permit and in the case of English teachers' , a teaching license. It is illegal to work on a tourist visa or without a work permit.

Prohibited Occupations for Foreigners

There is a long list of prohibited occupations, issued by the Alien Control Division of the Department of Employment, which a foreigner cannot perform. These include working in a shop, a bar, or as a tour guide.

In some cases it is possible for a foreigner to own a business but not be allowed to work in it. Thai Visa .com gives an example of a recent case in Phuket involving the arrest of a foreign bar owner who was sitting talking to customers on the customer side of the bar. Police arrested him on the pretext that talking to customers was the equivalent of promoting his business and he was fined 30,000 Baht and ordered to leave Thailand.

The criteria for the application of a Thai work permit are modified regularly, so check with the Ministry of Labor, Department of Employment for updates.

WP3 – Application for Thai Work Permit

The Royal Thai Embassy, U.K. website ,( under its section: basic documents for applying for a non-immigrant visa -see note 2 ) states that "For those foreigners who wish to work in Thailand, their employer in Thailand should submit Form WP3 (Application for applying a work permit on behalf of alien according to Section 3) at the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare"

Nowadays embassies and immigration departments usually ask for proof of a work permit application (form WP 3) before granting a non-immigrant B visa. This demonstrates that your employment details/documentation have been submitted to the work permit office, and in principle, the WP3 form confirms that the paperwork is satisfactory. The labor department cannot physically issue a work permit though until you have first been issued a non-immigrant visa, as they are interdependent on each other.

Work Permit for English Teachers

The exception to this is for English teachers' who cannot make a work permit application without first obtaining a teacher's license. However, once the teacher's license has been issued, it is usually a formality to be granted the work permit, as in principle the teacher's details have already been checked by the Education department.

Getting a Teaching License

The employing school should make the application on the teacher's behalf as copies of educational certificates; resume etc need to be translated into Thai. Employment details, health certificate, copies of certificates and transcripts and the required employer's documentation (including school license, principal's license, teaching schedule) need to be submitted.

A bachelor's degree and a TEFL certificate is usually the required minimum to satisfy the Ministry of Education, although if the degree major is in English then a teaching certificate is not normally required. The days when teachers could get legal employment without a degree are disappearing fast. This is now the exception rather than the rule.

On receipt of the teacher's license, this is then submitted to the Thai work permit office along with the other standard work permit documentation.

For more information on Thai work permit applications visit the Department of Employment's website.

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