Visas and Work Permits 12 min

Work permits and visas in Thailand: an employer’s guide

Written by Sally Flaxman
Sally Flaxman

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If you want to hire in Thailand or relocate a team member to the country, you’ll have to obtain the right visa and work permit so that they can legally work and live there. It’s essential to ensure that all paperwork is in order, as failure to do so can lead to problems for both the employee and the employer.

Without localized expertise, hiring or relocating employees to a foreign country can be a tedious affair. You’ll have to open your own local entity in the country or work with a global employment service to hire workers on your behalf. A global HR platform like Remote can help you handle onboarding, payroll, benefits, and taxes so that you can focus on business growth.

In this article, we will provide an overview of the key considerations when applying for work visas and permits in Thailand. We’ll also look at eligibility requirements, long-stay visa types you can apply for, and how Remote makes it easier to comply with local laws when you’re hiring in Thailand and beyond.

The importance of immigration compliance in Thailand

If your business is found to be non-compliant with local labor and immigration laws in Thailand, it can be subject to severe financial penalties, and the employee could be deported. It is therefore essential to ensure that all necessary documents and permits are in order before sending employees to work in Thailand.

Even if your company has unintentionally fallen out of compliance, it will still be subject to the same penalties and sanctions. For instance, if an employee continues to work for an organization beyond the time allocated under their tourist visa. 

Many countries have been taking stringent actions against individuals who fail to follow the right processes and procedures while remote working. The margin for error is minimal when working with labor and immigration laws. Most companies looking to remove legal liabilities work with an employer of record (EOR) who relies on legal experts to ensure their compliance in the country of work.

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Which workers need a right-to-work check in Thailand?

Any employee of your company who intends to move to Thailand will need a right-to-work check performed before they can start working on any projects. Employers are responsible for performing right-to-work checks on all relocating employees and new hires. This includes both expatriate and local employees, regardless of their nationality or length of employment.

The right-to-work check is a screening process that confirms that the employee has all the necessary permits and visas required to work in Thailand. The process usually involves a review of government-issued documents, such as passports or employment contracts, before the start of any assignment.

Residents born in the country will not require one before starting work. Non-citizens who require a right-to-work check include:

  • Temporary residents

  • Permanent residents

  • Work permit holders

Keeping up with local laws and immigration compliance is a full-time job that requires consistent effort and dedication. Companies looking to establish or expand operations in Thailand will benefit from working with an EOR that can accelerate the various processes involved in hiring international employees

Do non-citizens need a work visa or work permit in Thailand?

Any non-citizen looking to work in Thailand will need to obtain a Thailand work permit as well as a Thailand work visa. Individuals will need to secure a work visa first before qualifying for a work permit.

Employees who have moved to Thailand are not permitted to work until they have obtained both of these documents. The most common visa for a non-citizen to get is the non-immigrant B visa. The visa allows employees to work in the area for either a single 90-day entry or one year with multiple entries. Once this visa is obtained, a worker can legally apply for a work permit.

The work permit is a document that establishes the legal right of an employee to work in Thailand. It is subject to approval and outlines the specific type of work being performed, length of employment, and basic information on the location of the employee and the business they are employed with. 

What are the eligibility requirements for a work visa in Thailand?

There are several eligibility requirements and documents that must be gathered before an employee is deemed eligible for a non-immigrant visa.

An employee will be ultimately responsible for filing for their own visa paperwork; they are only allowed to work if a visa is approved and a subsequent work permit is awarded. You, as the employer, are responsible for filing your employee's work permit. Therefore, your company will be invested in the entire immigration process and will need to monitor every step to achieve compliant status for your employee. The eligibility requirements for an employee filing for a work visa in Thailand include:

  • Valid passport with at least six months before expiration, along with two blank pages. One-year visas will require a valid passport with at least 18 months before expiration.

  • Completed and signed work visa application form.

  • Passport-sized photo taken within the last six months.

  • 20,000 Thai Baht for individuals traveling to Thailand and 40,000 Thai Baht for families. This is considered proof of financial means during your stay.

  • Clearance certificate from the police 

  • Letter of approval issued by the Thailand Ministry of Labour. You, as the employer, will be responsible for submitting the request for the letter to the Office of Foreign Workers Administration.

After receiving a work visa, your employee will still need to apply for a work permit, and your business will be responsible for filing the work permit application.

What are the long-stay visa types in Thailand?

Employees will have several options for obtaining a visa that allows them an extended stay in the country. Once a visa is obtained, the worker will need to obtain a work permit with the help of their employer.

The types of visas offered are primarily based on the type of work being conducted in Thailand. Other factors include the length of stay or the official reason for moving to Thailand.

Below are the different types of long-stay visas offered in the country, along with details on what each one requires.

Thai Elite Visa

The Thai Elite Visa is categorized as a tourist visa, but it is more specifically considered a privileged entry visa that allows residency in the country along with benefits. The visa is a 5-year, renewable, multiple-entry visa and holders can extend their stay up to one year in length per entry. Thailand Privilege Card members are eligible for this type of visa and the membership is valid for either 10 years or 20 years.

What makes this visa more appealing for employees is they don't need to leave the country after 90 days, which is what other visa types offer. Instead, they can stay in the country for an uninterrupted amount of time. Holders of this type of visa will also enjoy expedited passport control processing and immigration formalities after they arrive in Thailand.

This type of visa can be perfect for digital nomads who don't want to constantly deal with Thailand's visa system for renewals or extensions. It can also be helpful for employees who intend to leave the country while being employed but need to return frequently.

Non-immigrant visa

The visa most employees will apply for is the non-immigrant visa. Any foreigners who are entering Thailand for reasons that do not involve tourism or leisure will need to get this type of visa. The visa typically lasts for 90 days, but employees may extend their stay by seeking an extension or applying for a different type of visa.

Below are the different types of non-immigrant visas and what they are used for.

Category B

This is the most common type of visa for employees moving to Thailand because it is mainly to conduct business in Thailand. This visa is also known as the Thai Business Visa. It also allows you to work for a Thai company or as a teacher in any Thailand school.

The visa has become popular because it streamlines the process of getting a work permit, which is required before an employee performs job functions for your business.

Category F

A category F visa is primarily for any foreigner who already has a passport but is traveling for official duties like working with a government agency, a consulate, an embassy, or an international organization.

Category M

Any employee who will be performing media work like a film producer, reporter, or journalist will need to apply for the category M visa in Thailand. People working on a film will need to seek approval from the Thailand Film Office before arriving in the country. Journalists and reporters will also need approval before arriving in Thailand, but they'll go to the Department of Information within the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Category RS

If your employee intends to conduct scientific research in Thailand or will train others for scientific purposes, then they'll need to obtain the Non-Immigrant Visa RS.

Category EX

Highly skilled workers who are traveling to Thailand to conduct work will need the Non-Immigrant Visa EX. The employee will be considered an expert in their field and allowed to have an extended stay in the country.

SMART visa

Thailand has made recent improvements to drive innovation within the country to jumpstart the economy and keep up with other developed nations.

To attract the brightest minds from around the world, the country has developed the SMART visa which is intended to develop targeted S-curve industries. Some of these industries include:

  • Smart electronics

  • Agriculture and biotechnology

  • Food for the future

  • Next-generation automotive

  • Aviation and logistics

  • Medical hub

  • Biofuels and biochemicals

  • Automation and robotics

  • Affluent, medical, and wellness tourism

Employees who apply for the SMART visa will be able to stay in Thailand for a maximum of 4 years, with one-year check-ins with the local immigration office. It's one of the few visas that do not require a work permit or re-entry permit.

How do you get a work visa for Thailand?

Before an employee can obtain a work visa in Thailand, they will need to meet a set of requirements imposed by the government. First, the employee must gather a valid passport, employment contract, proof of financial funds, and any supporting documents.

Then, the employee must submit all the required documentation to the Thai embassy or consulate in the home country in which they live. Employees may also have the option of applying online, which will simplify the process and shorten the timeline. Before applying, the employee should make sure to confirm payment methods.

Once the application and all documents are submitted, the employee will wait anywhere between two weeks to three months before receiving the proper visa. Employees will have a set period in which they are allowed to enter the country, or else the visa will expire.

What is the process for employee work visa sponsorship in Thailand?

Relocating an employee to Thailand will require you to sponsor the employee throughout the work visa process. Your company will need to provide the employee with a work contract that is signed by both parties. The contract should stipulate pertinent information, such as:

  • What work is being performed

  • Where the work will be performed

  • Length of employment

  • Benefits offered

It's also the responsibility of the business owner to apply for a work permit on behalf of the employee. An employee cannot perform any job duties without first obtaining a work permit. A work permit can only be acquired with the employee first applying for and receiving a work visa. Therefore, your company should be involved throughout the entire work visa and work permit process.

What are the visa requirements for digital nomads in Thailand?

 Since the pandemic, Thailand has created its own digital nomad visa that applies to remote workers looking to stay in the country for extended periods.

The visa allows digital nomads who are interested in traveling to Thailand the ability to live there for up to 10 years while enjoying a lower tax rate of only 17%. In comparison, citizens of Thailand typically pay around 35% in taxes. Officially, this visa is labeled as the Long-Term Residence Visa, but the catch is that it comes with very strict and stringent requirements.

How Remote makes compliance in Thailand so much easier

Hiring or relocating an employee to any country is a lengthy and extremely stressful process. Navigating the complexities of Thailand's immigration laws can also be difficult, even for established businesses. 

Your best bet is to rely on an EOR partner that can make it simple to hire abroad. From compliance with local employment laws to handling the tedious processes involved in handling taxes, benefits, and payroll, Remote makes it quick and easy.

Download Remote’s Relocation Guide for useful information on what is required when sending an employee to another country. For specific questions about sponsoring employees’ work permits abroad, contact our Mobility team, who can offer advice on employee relocation.

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