Thailand: Immigration And Employment Laws

Last Updated: 5 June 2001
Article by Piyanuj Ratprasatporn

Expatriate Relocation

Immigration Laws: An Overview

Immigration into the Kingdom of Thailand is governed by the Immigration Act of 1979 and is administered by the Immigration Bureau of the Royal Thai Police Department, Ministry of Interior. To visit or work in the Kingdom of Thailand, immigration requirements must be met.

The major immigration requirements are:

    1. Any foreigner wishing to enter Thailand, unless otherwise exempted, must obtain a proper visa from a Royal Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate prior to arrival in Thailand. A list of countries whose nationals require a visa upon arrival at the Bangkok (Don Muang), Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai airports is attached as Appendix 1.
    2. Nationals of countries who have agreements with Thailand to visit Thailand for not more than 30 days are not required to obtain a visa before entering the country. However, these individuals must obtain an entry stamp at the checkpoint of entry. See attached Appendix 2.

These lists of countries change periodically. The Immigration Bureau adds and removes countries as circumstances dictate. For a stay longer than 30 days, all foreigners must have a valid visa with the exception of nationals of South Korea, New Zealand, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway, who are currently allowed to stay up to 90 days without a visa.

A visa authorizes entry into Thailand for a specified length of time depending upon the type of visa. The passport or substitute document will show the expiry date of authorized entry. The permissible duration of stay is always entered in the passport.

In Thailand, there are numerous visa categories issued under the Immigration Act. Each category is restricted to the purpose for which the visa has been issued. Foreigners are advised to strictly adhere to the rules governing each visa category.

Exits may only be legally made at designated immigration control points. The crossing of any border is an exit for immigration purposes, whether or not the exit point is controlled. Thus, forays into neighboring countries are deemed exits, legal or otherwise, and returning to Thailand from such trips is a new entry, requiring a proper visa or re-entry permit. A re-entry permit allows a foreigner to re-enter the country and use the time remaining in his/her visa. If a re-entry permit is not applied for, the visa will automatically be canceled although it has not expired. It is advisable to request a multiple visa if one expects to be frequently traveling out of Thailand. This allows him more than one entry into Thailand during his travels. If one leaves Thailand before his visa has expired and wants to return but does not have a re-entry permit, he must apply for another visa.

Expatriate Relocation

Visas: A foreigner wishing to work in Thailand must apply for a non-immigrant type "B" visa (business visa) from a Thai Embassy or Thai Consulate abroad prior to entering Thailand. Once he is in Thailand, his employer can apply for a one-year visa from the Immigration Bureau. When the application is approved, a one-year visa will be stamped in his passport. Dependents of the expatriate shall apply for a non-immigrant type "O" visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate prior to entering Thailand. The visas of the following dependents may be extended to correspond with the expatriate's visa:

    • wife by legal marriage;
    • children under 20 years of age or not married or disabled;
    • parents.

A common law wife is not eligible as a marriage certificate is required to prove the marriage. If the expatriate is a woman, her husband (even by legal marriage) is not permitted to extend his visa based on his wife's visa, unless special consideration is given which is done on a case-by-case basis.

Even though children may be permitted to extend their visas based on the expatriate's, in practice, the officials require that children over 14 years of age apply for a one-year visa under the non-immigration type "ED" visa (education visa). A letter issued by the school they are attending will be required.

Parents may be permitted to extend their visas based on the expatriate's depending on necessity as well as the occupation, financial status and income of the expatriate. However, in practice, fathers over 55 years of age will be required to apply for a one-year visa under the retirement visa category.

All others such as domestic servants, brothers, sisters or even live-in partner are not permitted to extend their visas based on the expatriate's.

Work Permits: Most foreigners who intend to work in Thailand are subject to the Alien Employment Act of 1978. Under the Act, a foreigner cannot perform any act of work or service unless a work permit has been issued. The term "work" is defined very broadly, i.e. "working by exerting one's physical energy or employing one's knowledge, whether or not for wages or other benefits". Therefore, although a foreigner may have obtained a non-immigrant visa from a Thai Embassy or Consulate and is permitted to stay in Thailand according to the length of his/her visa, he/she is not allowed to work until a work permit has been issued. A work permit is good only for the particular job for which it was issued and within the geographic limits specified in the work permit.

A work permit is issued for the individual expatriate. The spouse of the expatriate is not allowed to work unless he/she has obtained a work permit individually.

Facilitating Agencies

The Board of Investment of Thailand: Under the Board of Investment Act 1997, the Board of Investment is empowered to grant permission to a promoted entity to bring into the Kingdom foreign expatriates who are skilled workers or experts, including spouses and dependents of the above persons, in such numbers and for such periods of time as the Board of Investment may deem appropriate even in excess of quotas or periods of time permitted to stay in the Kingdom as prescribed by the Immigration Act.

The Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand (IEAT): Under the Industrial Estate Authority of Thailand Act 1979, the Board of Directors of IEAT is empowered to grant permission to industrial operators and commercial operators (for export) to bring into the Kingdom foreign expatriates who are skilled workers or experts, including their spouses and dependents, in such numbers and for such periods of time as the Board of Directors of IEAT may deem appropriate even in excess of such quotas or periods of time permitted to stay in the Kingdom as prescribed by the Immigration Act.

In addition to the above two government agencies, the Petroleum Committee also has the power to grant permission to companies undertaking petroleum operations in Thailand as concessionaires or as contractors who have firm contracts directly with concessionaires, to bring into the Kingdom foreign expatriates who are skilled workers or experts, including their spouses and dependents, in such numbers and for such periods of time as the Petroleum Committee may deem appropriate even in excess of such quotas or periods of time to stay in the Kingdom as prescribed by the Immigration Act.

General Business Immigration Visa

General Immigration Procedures

Current Procedure for Obtaining a Non-Immigrant Visa

chart.gif

Technological Impact

The Immigration officials have computerized listings of foreigners sentenced for criminal and narcotics offenses in Thailand. The Immigration Bureau plans to submit these lists to the Ministry of Interior with a proposal to blacklist these foreigners. Blacklisted foreigners will be banned from entering Thailand until their names are deleted from the list.

Records of arrival and departure of all foreigners are computerized and updated at the Central Immigration Bureau in Bangkok. In suspicious cases, the officials do use computer reading devices to check the genuineness of a passport and detect any alteration, e.g., change of photograph, change of personal information, falsification of immigration arrival or departure stamps or extension of stay, or fake passports made by unauthorized persons.

Appendix 1

List of Countries that Require a Visa upon Arrival at the
Don Muang, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Hat Yai Airports

American Continent

Antigua & Barbuda
Bahamas
Barbados
Belize
Republic of Bolivia
Republic of Chile
Republic of Colombia
Republic of Costa Rica
Dominica
Dominican Republic
Republic of Ecuador
Grenada
Republic of Guatemala
Republic of Haiti
Republic of Honduras
Jamaica
Republic of Panama
Republic of Paraguay
Republic of Peru
St. Christopher-Nevis
Saint Lucia
St. Vincent-Grenadines
Republic of Surinam
Republic of Trinidad & Tobago
Republic of Uruguay
Republic of Venezuela

Asian Continent

Kingdom of Bhutan
Republic of India
Republic of Maldives



Australian & the Pacific Continent

Republic of Kiribati
Republic of Nauru
Solomon Islands
Republic of Tonga
Tuvalu

African Continent

Republic of Botswana
Republic of Burkina
Republic of Burundi
Republic of Cameroon
Republic of Cape Verde
Central African Republic
Republic of Chad
Comoros
Equatorial Guinea
Ethiopia
Republic of Gabon
Republic of Gambia
Republic of Guinea
Republic of Guinea-Bissau
Republic of Ivory Coast
Kingdom of Lesotho
Republic of Liberia
Republic of Malawi
Republic of Mali
Mauritius
Republic of Niger
Republic of Rwanda
Democratic Republic of Sao Tome & Principe
Republic of Seychelles
Republic of Sierra Leone
Democratic Republic of Somalia
Kingdom of Swaziland
United Republic of Tanzania
Republic of Togo
Republic of Uganda
Republic of Zaire
Republic of Zambia
Zimbabwe


European Continent

Albania
Principality of Andorra
Bulgaria
Republic of Cyprus
Principality of Liechtenstein
Republic of Malta
Principality of Monaco
Republic of San Marino
Vatican City

Appendix 2

List of Countries Whose Citizens May Enter the Kingdom as Tourists for a
Maximum Period of 30 Days Without a Visa

Algeria
Argentina
Australia
Austria
Bahrain
Belgium
Brazil
Brunei
Canada
Denmark
Djibouti
Egypt
Fiji
Finland
France
Germany
Greece
Hong Kong
Iceland
Indonesia
Ireland
Israel
Italy
Japan
Kenya
Korea (North)
Kuwait
Luxembourg

Malaysia
Mauritania
Mexico
Morocco
Myanmar
Netherlands
Oman
Papua New Guinea
Philippines
Portugal
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Senegal
Singapore
Slovenia
South Africa
Spain
Sweden
Switzerland
Tunisia
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland
United States of America
Vanuatu
Western Samoa
Yemen

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
Some comments from our readers…
“The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable”
“I often find critical information not available elsewhere”
“As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”

Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions