List of Prohibited Jobs for Foreigners in Thailand

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:

  1. 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.
  2. Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry, or fishery, except work requiring expertise, specialized work, or farm supervision work
  3. Bricklaying, carpentry or other construction work
  4. Wood carving
  5. Driving motor vehicles, driving a non-mechanically propelled carrier or driving a mechanically propelled carrier, except for piloting international aircraft
  6. Shop/Outlet attendance
  7. Auction
  8. Supervising, auditing or providing services in accounting, except internal auditing on occasions
  9. Cutting or polishing diamond or precious stones
  10. Haircutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment
  11. Cloth weaving by hand
  12. Mat weaving or utensil making from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw or bamboo pellicle
  13. Mulberry paper making by hand
  14. Lacquerware making
  15. Making Thai musical instruments
  16. Nielloware making
  17. Gold ornaments, silverware or pink gold making
  18. Bronze ware making
  19. Thai doll making
  20. Mattress and quilt blanket making
  21. Alms bowl making
  22. Hand making of silk products
  23. Buddha image making
  24. Knife making
  25. Paper or cloth umbrella making
  26. Shoemaking
  27. Hat making
  28. Brokerage or agency work, except broker or agency work in international trade
  29. Civil engineering works concerning design and calculation, organization, research, project planning, testing, construction supervision or advising, excluding work requiring special expertise
  30. Architectural work concerning designing, drawing of plans, cost estimating, construction directing or advising
  31. Dressmaking
  32. Pottery or ceramic ware making
  33. Cigarette rolling by hand
  34. Tour guide or sightseeing tour operation
  35. Street vending
  36. Typesetting of Thai characters
  37. Silk reeling and twisting by hand
  38. Clerical and secretarial work
  39. 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:

  1. Labor work
  2. 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.