How to Get a Work Permit in Thailand as a Digital Nomad

by Henrik Bolte, Software Engineer

Are you a digital nomad looking to live and work in Thailand? While the country offers a plethora of opportunities for remote workers, it is important to understand the legal requirements for obtaining a work permit. Without one, you could face hefty fines and even deportation. But don't worry – with some preparation and knowledge of the process, getting a work permit in Thailand as a digital nomad can be straightforward. In this blog post, I'll guide you through everything you need to know about how to get a work permit in Thailand – from who needs one to how much it costs. So let's get started!

Understanding Work Permits in Thailand

If you're planning to work in Thailand, it's important to understand what a work permit is and how it functions. A work permit can be defined as a legal document that permits an individual to engage in lawful employment within the country. It acts as proof of your legitimacy as a worker and ensures that you have the right visa to stay in Thailand.

In Thailand, having a valid work permit is mandatory for anyone who wishes to earn money legally by working or conducting business operations. This means that even if you are self-employed or own a business in Thailand, you still need to obtain a work permit.

It's worth noting that certain jobs are exempt from needing a work permit such as diplomatic personnel and foreign journalists. However, most workers will need one so make sure you research before beginning your journey towards obtaining one.

Who Needs a Work Permit?

Foreigners who plan to work or conduct business in Thailand must obtain a valid work permit before they can legally earn income in the country. Even if you are working remotely for a non-Thai company, but physically present within Thailand, you will still need a work permit.

It is important to note that a tourist visa does not allow you to engage in any kind of employment or business activities. If caught working without the proper documentation, you could face heavy fines and even deportation from the country.

However, there are some exceptions based on the type of work and length of stay. For example, certain professions such as journalists or those participating in cultural exchange programs may be exempt from obtaining a work permit under specific conditions. It is always best to consult with an immigration lawyer to determine your eligibility for exemption.

Prohibited occupations in Thailand

Prohibited occupations in Thailand refer to a list of jobs that are legally restricted or banned for both Thai nationals and foreigners. The Thai government has implemented these regulations to safeguard the country's economy, protect its citizens from exploitation, and maintain social order.

Among the prohibited occupations are positions that involve manual labor, such as construction work and agriculture; certain service industries like hairdressing and massage parlors; retail trading businesses operating on a small scale; street vending activities; and professional jobs reserved exclusively for Thais, including legal consultancy services. Additionally, specific roles related to national security, public safety, traditional medicine practices without proper certification, or those deemed inappropriate by cultural or religious norms are also included on this list.

It is crucial for foreign employees planning to work or invest in Thailand to familiarize themselves with these restrictions to avoid any legal issues during their stay in the country. For a full list please take a look at the notification of the Ministry of Labour.

Requirements for a Work Permit

To obtain a work permit, you need to meet certain requirements set by the government. It is essential that you have a non-immigrant visa as this allows you to stay in the country for an extended period of time. You must also not be on any blacklist or overstayed your visa.

You need to provide a medical certificate issued within 6 months of your application date. The certificate should state that you are free from any contagious diseases such as tuberculosis, drug addiction, elephantiasis and syphilis.

You must have relevant qualifications or experience for the job position offered by the company sponsoring your work permit application. Additionally, some professions may require additional licenses or certifications before being eligible for a work permit. It's important to check with the Thai embassy or consulate regarding specific requirements based on your profession.

In order to sponsor a work permit for a foreigner, the employer must meet a few requirements. These include being registered with the Thai Ministry of Labor and having a valid business license, as well as employing a minimum number of Thai nationals and having 2 million baht of registered capital per work permit. However, those companies that have registered with the Board of Investment or are married to Thai nationals can take advantage of some more relaxed rules. It is recommended to consult an expert to learn what specific qualifications you need.

Basic Steps to Obtain a Work Permit

Obtaining a thai work permit involves several steps that must be followed carefully. The first step is to ensure you have all the necessary documents, including your passport and non-immigrant visa. You will also need a medical certificate from an approved clinic.

Once you have the required documents, you can then apply for a work permit at the Department of Employment or through an authorized agent. Your employer may handle this process on your behalf, but it's important to stay informed and involved throughout.

After submitting your application, it will be reviewed by officials who may require additional documentation or information before issuing your work permit. It's important to follow up with these requests promptly to avoid delays in processing time.

How to Apply for a Work Permit

Applying for a work permit as a digital nomad involves several steps. The first step is to collect all the required documents, including your passport, non-immigrant visa, and proof of employment from your company or client. You will also need to provide evidence that you have the necessary skills and qualifications for the job.

Top tip

If you start a business in Thailand, you may also employ yourself

Once you have collected all the required documents, you can apply for a non-immigrant visa at any Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. This type of visa is essential before applying for a work permit in Thailand.

After obtaining the non-immigrant visa, you can start the process of applying for a work permit by submitting an application with all necessary forms and documents to the Department of Employment (DOE). Once approved, you will be issued with a valid work permit that allows you to legally work in Thailand as a digital nomad.

Step 1: Collect Required Documents

The first step is to collect all the necessary documents. This includes a copy of your passport, non-immigrant visa, and a signed employment agreement from your employer. You will also need copies of your diplomas or certificates that prove your education qualifications.

In addition, you must provide a medical certificate stating that you are free from certain diseases. It's essential to double-check that you have all the necessary documents before proceeding with your application as incomplete applications may lead to delays or rejection. Once you have everything ready, move on to Step 2: Obtain Non-Immigrant Visa.

Step 2: Obtain Non-Immigrant Visa

Once you have collected the required documents, it's time to obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa from the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. This type of visa will allow you to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days, during which time you can apply for a work permit.

To obtain a Non-Immigrant Visa, you will need to provide proof of your purpose of travel and financial means. This can include an invitation letter from a company in Thailand or proof of funds such as bank statements.

It is also important to note that some embassies may require additional documentation or have specific requirements for foreign employees applying for visas. Make sure to check with your local embassy beforehand so that you are fully prepared when submitting your application.

Top tip

If you are already in Thailand on a Tourist Visa, you will not be able to apply for a work permit. You will need to leave Thailand and re-apply for a Non-Immigrant Visa from the Thai embassy or consulate in your home country. In some cases, you may convert your Tourist Visa to a Non-Immigrant Visa within the country, please contact your local immigration office or a Thai visa agent for help.

Step 3: Apply for Work Permit

Once you have obtained your Non-Immigrant Visa and collected all the necessary documents, it's time to apply for a work permit. You can do this at the One Stop Service Center for Visas and Work Permits or the Labor Department.

The application process requires filling out various forms, submitting required documentation, and paying fees. It's important to ensure that all information provided is accurate and complete as any errors could cause delays in processing your application.

After submitting your application, you will receive a receipt that allows you to legally work while waiting for approval of your work permit. The processing time may vary but typically takes up to 7 business days. Once approved, you will need to retrieve your work permit from the same location where you submitted your application.

How Much Does a Work Permit Cost?

Obtaining a thai work permit comes with certain costs that you need to be aware of. The price for a work permit is determined by the type and duration of the permit you are applying for. Usually, you have to pay a fee of THB 100 for the work permit application and the cost for a work permit for 6 month is THB 1,500. For a longer stay, such as for a year, the price may be higher.

3 monthsTHB 750
6 monthsTHB 1,500
1 yearTHB 3,000
2 yearsTHB 6,000

Additionally, there may be extra fees depending on your nationality and the company sponsoring your visa. Some companies may cover these expenses while others will require you to pay them yourself.

It's important to note that if you fail to obtain a valid work permit, you could face hefty fines or even deportation. Thus, it's always best to budget accordingly and make sure all necessary fees are paid on time so as not to incur any penalties later on down the line.

Duration of a Work Permit

Once you've obtained your work permit in Thailand, it's important to note that the duration of validity may vary depending on the type of work permit issued. Generally, a work permit is valid for one year from the date of issue and can be extended annually.

However, if your employment contract ends before the expiration date or if your employer terminates it earlier than planned, your work permit will also be terminated. In this case, you'll need to apply for a new work permit should you decide to continue working in Thailand.

It's crucial to keep track of when your work permit expires and plan accordingly for its renewal. Failing to do so could result in fines or even deportation. Therefore, make sure to set reminders ahead of time and start preparing all necessary documents at least two months prior to expiration.

Extending a Work Permit

Extending thai work permits is possible and can be done through the same process used to apply for the initial permit. A work permit extension must be requested at least 30 days before the original permit expires.

To extend a work permit, you will need to submit all required documents, including your passport and non-immigrant visa. Additionally, you may need to provide evidence that you are still employed by the company that sponsored your initial work permit.

It's important to note that if there have been any changes in employment status or employer since obtaining the initial work permit, additional documentation may be required. It's advisable to begin the application process for an extension well in advance of expiration to ensure sufficient time for processing and avoid any complications or penalties.

Mandatory 90-Day Reporting

If you plan to stay in Thailand for an extended period, it's important to know about the mandatory 90-day reporting requirement. As per Thai immigration regulations, all non-immigrant visa holders must report their current address and contact information every 90 days.

The process involves visiting your local Immigration Office with your passport and a completed TM.47 form at least 15 days before or within seven days after the due date of the next report. This is essential as failure to comply with this regulation may attract penalties such as fines, detention, or even deportation.

Top tip

You can also submit the application online by visiting the Immigration e-Service. After creating an account, you can submit the TM.47 application form online, which will be reviewed by an officer. After approval, which may take a few days, you will receive the approval letter via email. You will even receive an automatic email reminder 2 weeks before the next due date.

Immigration e-Service

It is worth noting that some foreigners may be exempt from this requirement depending on their visa type or length of stay in Thailand. Therefore, it's best to consult with an immigration lawyer or contact your embassy for more information on whether you are eligible for exemption from this regulation.


Obtaining a thai work permit can be a daunting task, but with the right information and guidance, it is achievable. As a digital nomad, understanding the requirements and steps involved in obtaining a work permit will help you stay compliant with Thai laws while enjoying your remote working lifestyle.

Remember that getting a work permit may take some time, so plan accordingly. Also note that rules and regulations regarding work permits may change at any time without notice. It's always best to consult with an immigration lawyer or professional who can guide you through the process.

If you follow the guidelines outlined in this article and have all of your necessary documents prepared ahead of time, applying for a work permit as a digital nomad in Thailand can be straightforward. With patience and persistence, you'll soon be able to legally live and work remotely from this beautiful country!

Disclaimer: This article provides general information only and does not constitute legal advice.

Henrik Bolte is a digital nomad based in Thailand, South East Asia, who excels in software engineering and mobile app development. His location ensures that time zone differences are no obstacle to success. Instead, it gives him the advantage of being able to dedicate himself fully and offer flexibility at any moment of the day. Henrik's travel lifestyle ensures that he can give clients his all, providing adaptability, commitment and reliability so that they can trust him to make their app ideas a reality. He eschews the 9-5 grind - needing only his wits and initiative to achieve success.

Henrik Bolte, Software Engineer

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