If you would like to work in Thailand you have two main options: (i) either work for an existing company, in which case, the existing company will be responsible for arranging your relevant documentation; or (ii) set up our own company (for further information see ‘Want to start doing business in Thailand, know the Thai corporate environment- here are a few guiding practical insights in a nutshell for you…’), in which case, you will be responsible for arranging the relevant documentation on the name of your own company.
Under either option a person cannot work in Thailand unless it has a valid Visa, Work Permit and a Social Security Number. There are further perks which a company may offer to its employees such as: health insurance, provident fund (i.e. pension fund), relocation costs, residence allowance, bonuses, etc., however, these are not required under law and the company may chose not to provide such optional employment benefits. In addition, any employee is subject to taxes and the employer is liable to pay and deduct from the salary at source Personal Income Tax (PIT) and social security payments on behalf of the employee. To the extent the employee has other sources of income in Thailand (rent income for example), he must make a yearly declaration on such and it will be added and taxed according to the PIT progressive tax scale applicable to that person’s relevant level of income.
A person who wish to work in Thailand must be issued with a ‘Non-Immigrant Type B Business Visa’ at the Thai embassy of its country, meaning, that prior to arriving to Thailand to either conduct business or seek employment, a person must have this type of visa already issued to it when he enters Thailand. In order to obtain this visa, a person must visit the Thai embassy in his country and present various documents from its future employer company (such as: letter of invitation, company corporate documents, location of office, VAT registration, etc.), this applies whether you plan to work for another Thai company or whether you plan to set up your own Thai business and company, which means that the company must be set up prior to obtaining this visa.
Characteristics of Non-Immigrant Type B Business Visa:
- a period of stay of maximum 90 days (which may be extended for up to one year, with the approval of the Immigration Department) after which you must have obtained a Work Permit
- this visa alone is not sufficient for working legally in Thailand and this visa holders are entitled to work in Thailand only once they have been granted a Work Permit.
- This visa can be made as a single entry visa or as a multiple entry visa (if you intend to travel outside Thailand, it is suggested to opt for the multiple visa option)
- There is 90 days reporting, and a person granted with this visa must attend the local Immigration Office, present himself (with his other official documents such as: work permit, passport, etc.) and make a registration every 90 days.
You must attend and submit to the officer in the Labor Department the relevant documentation (including your visa, passport, etc.) to be issued with a work permit and to the extent you meet the requirements the Labor Department will issue it to you. Work permit is renewed on yearly basis.
Social Security Number
Same process applies, you must attend and submit to the officer in the Social Security Office the relevant documentation (including your visa, passport, etc.) to be issued with a number and a card to the extent you meet the requirements.
Minimum Employment Requirement
It is noted that the work permit and the social security number issuance go hand in hand and a company must have both for its foreign employees. In addition, the Labor Department requires under its regulations that for every 1 foreign employee, the company (whether it is your own business or whether you work for another company) will have 4 Thai employees, and for every additional foreign employee another 4 Thai employees and so on and so forth (This also used to be a requirement for obtaining the visa, but the Immigration department abolished such requirement).
In essence, if you try to obtain a Social Security Number registration, you will be required to present 4 Thai employees, and in the absence thereof, the Social Security Office will not issue you a number and a card, in which case, you will not be able to obtain a work permit. However, if you do not intend to be an employee or actively participate in the company (including being a director or a general manager in the company) but merely a shareholder, you may still set up a company with local Thai officers, in which case, the 1:4 ratio requirement does not apply.
Needless to say that there are some people that work in Thailand without complying with the above requirements and procedures, however, they doing so at their own risk and it is not uncommon for the immigration authorities to make surprise inspections and take the owners for questioning and more. It is noted that if a person entered into Thailand under Tourist Visa, Retirement Visa or other type of visa which does not allow employment, he risks severe fines, deportation, and even worse, ban from entering Thailand for a prolonged period of time (recent legislation has been amended to place more adverse restrictions and penalties on breach of such rules and regulations).
It is also worth mentioning that if you intend to stay for a long period of time in Thailand, in would be in your best interests to make and seek a prudent immigration pre-planning in order to build your immigration status to a Resident Permit status and eventually to a Citizenship status.