Employing Foreigners in Thailand

Occupations Exclusive to Thai Nationals -- Corporate Lawyer Phuket

Thailand has successfully attracted foreign investment in the country, accounting for the many foreign companies registered in Thailand. A direct result of having foreign-owned or managed companies is the employment of foreign nationals to work for said companies. In most foreign-registered or –owned companies, employees or workers are local and foreign nationals.

The principal law that governs the employment of foreigners in Thailand is the Alien Employment Act BE 2521 (1978). The Act does not apply to foreigners working as members of diplomatic or consular mission and representatives of member countries and officials of the United Nations and its specialized agencies; personal servants coming from foreign countries to work regularly for members of diplomatic or consular missions and the United Nations member countries; persons who perform mission under an agreement concluded between Thailand and a foreign government or international organization; persons who perform a duty or mission for the benefit of education in culture, art, sport or other activities as may be prescribed by Royal Decree; and persons permitted by the Government of Thailand to enter and perform any duty or mission.

The Alien Employment Act lists down the specific occupations reserved exclusively for Thai nationals, including engineering, architecture, accounting, law, brokerage and carpentry, amongst others.

Employing Foreigners in Thailand -- Legal Services Phuket
Occupations Exclusive to Thai Nationals

The following are the occupations limited to Thai nationals and may not be approved for foreign nationals.

  • manual work
  • work in agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry or fishery excluding specialized work in each particular branch or farm of supervision
  • bricklaying, carpentry of other construction work
  • wood carving
  • driving mechanically-propelled vehicle or driving non-mechanically-propelled vehicle, excluding international aircraft piloting
  • shop attendance
  • auction
  • supervising, auditing or giving services in accountancy excluding internal auditing on occasions
  • cutting of polishing jewelry
  • haircutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment
  • cloth weaving by hand
  • weaving of mats or making products from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw or bamboo pellicle;
  • making of Sa paper by hand
  • lacquerware making
  • making of Thai musical instruments
  • nielloware making
  • making products from gold, silver or gold-copper alloy
  • bronzeware making
  • making Thai dolls
  • making mattress of quilt blanket
  • alms bowls casting
  • making silk products by hand
  • casting Buddha images
  • knife making
  • making paper or cloth umbrellas
  • shoemaking
  • hat-making
  • brokerage or agency excluding brokerage or agency in international trade business
  • engineering work in civil engineering branch concerning designing and calculation, organization, research, planning, testing, construction supervision or advising excluding specialized work
  • architectural work concerning designing, drawing of plan, estimation, construction directing or advising
  • garments making
  • pottery or ceramic ware making
  • cigarette making by hand
  • guide or conducting sightseeing tours
  • street vending
  • type-setting of Thai characters by hand
  • drawing and twisting silk-thread by hand
  • office of secretarial work
  • legal or lawsuit services 

Work Permits for Foreign Workers -- Phuket Lawyers
Work Permits for Foreign Workers

The Act provides that a foreigner may engage in work only for an occupation not exclusive to Thai national, and only upon receipt of a work permit from the Director General of the Department of Employment or his entrusted official.

A work permit issued to a foreigner must be kept with him or at the place of work for easy and fast presentation in case of inspection. A foreign worker is only allowed to work in occupation as prescribed in the work permit and may not otherwise change the locality or place of work without the approval of the Department of Employment. Click here for more information on who can assist you in applying for work permit as a foreign national in Thailand.

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