We are getting a lot of questions about work and job opportunities in Thailand. Foreigners can work in Thailand but under certain conditions. This means that foreigners who intend to work in Thailand must obtain a valid relevant visa (usually Non-immigrant B) and Work Permit, which prevents them from entering certain occupations.
The main law related to foreigners working in Thailand is called the Aliens Employment Act B.E. 2521 (1978) that has been modified in B.E. 2551 (2008). Foreigners are also restricted to have businesses in certain fields under the Foreign Business Act of 1999.
Prohibited Jobs for Foreigners in Thailand
The following occupations are strictly reserved exclusively for Thai nationals only and are not allowed to be exercised by foreigners:
- Labor work except labor work in fishing boats. The said work which is forbidden to aliens shall not apply to aliens who have entered into Thailand under an agreement on hire of labor concluded between the Government of Thailand and other nations, and also aliens whose status has been prescribed as legal immigrant and who possess a residence certificate under the law governing immigration.
- Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, or fishery, except work requiring expertise, specialized work, or farm supervision work
- Bricklaying, carpentry or other construction work
- Wood carving
- Driving motor vehicles, driving a non-mechanically propelled carrier or driving a mechanically propelled carrier, except for piloting international aircraft
- Shop/Outlet attendance
- Supervising, auditing or providing services in accounting, except internal auditing on occasions
- Cutting or polishing diamond or precious stones
- Haircutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment
- Cloth weaving by hand
- Mat weaving or utensil making from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw or bamboo pellicle
- Mulberry paper making by hand
- Lacquerware making
- Making Thai musical instruments
- Nielloware making
- Gold ornaments, silverware or pink gold making
- Bronze ware making
- Thai doll making
- Mattress and quilt blanket making
- Alms bowl making
- Hand making of silk products
- Buddha image making
- Knife making
- Paper or cloth umbrella making
- Hat making
- Brokerage or agency work, except broker or agency work in international trade
- Civil engineering works concerning design and calculation, organization, research, project planning, testing, construction supervision or advising, excluding work requiring special expertise
- Architectural work concerning designing, drawing of plans, cost estimating, construction directing or advising
- Pottery or ceramic ware making
- Cigarette rolling by hand
- Tour guide or sightseeing tour operation
- Street vending
- Typesetting of Thai characters
- Silk reeling and twisting by hand
- Clerical and secretarial work
- Legal service or lawsuit work
Note: As per the Cabinet’s Resolutions, foreign workers from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia have been given an indulgence to work in Thailand in 2 occupations:
- Labor work
- Domestic work
This regulation was modified and a new announcement was made in June 2018 on the Ministry of labor website.
Visa and Work Permit
To work in Thailand, foreigners generally need a visa and work permit for any type of work or service, unless there is an exception provided for it in the law.
A work permit is only issued if the applicant has either “Non-Immigrant Visa" or has a Permanent Residence Permit.
The "Non-immigrant visa" is issued before the entry into Thailand and can be granted from an embassy or consulate abroad.
The residence permit is usually only issued after the foreigner has been staying permanently for several years in Thailand on the basis of a "Non-immigrant visa".
The work permit is usually restricted to a specific activity at a specific one work place. If the employee wants to perform different activities (even with the same employer), you must apply for a new work permit.