How to Work in Thailand: The Work Visa and Permits You Need

Make your dream of moving to the Land of Smiles a reality.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

Illustration of two people working on their laptops and sitting at a desk and another woman standing there while holding a tablet, there is a backdrop of Bangkok and the Thai flag

With its picturesque landscapes, vibrant culture and amiable people, Thailand is a popular destination for travelers from around the world. Besides being a tourist favorite, the Southeast Asian country also attracts international talent through attractive employment opportunities.

Are you interested in making a new career move? In this article, we cover everything you need to know about working in Thailand.

Do US citizens need a visa for Thailand?

Whether you’ll need a visa to travel to Thailand as a US citizen depends on the duration of your stay.

US travelers can enter the country visa-free for as long as 30 days if arriving by air or land. What’s more, you’ll be required to show an onward or return ticket, indicating when you’ll be leaving the country. Your stay can be extended by an additional 30 days by paying a fee to the Thai Immigration Bureau office later on.

An alternative way to stay in Thailand for longer than 30 days is to obtain a visa before arrival. In both cases, ensure that your passport will be valid for at least six months beyond the date of your arrival in Thailand to avoid being denied entry.

If you would like to take the latter route and get a visa before your trip, then make sure to apply for the right one. There are three types of visas available to US citizens:

  • Tourist visa: Intended for individuals who plan on staying in Thailand for more than 30 days.
  • Work visa: Required to be eligible to work in Thailand, valid for one year.
  • Retirement visa: Available for foreigners over 50 years old, permitting them to stay for a year.

Requirements for each visa type will vary, so it’s wise to familiarize yourself with the specifications of the one you’re interested in before initiating your application. It’s also important to note that travelers who stay in the country after their visa expires will be required to pay an overstay fee of 500 baht (approximately $14) per day.

Who needs a working visa to work in Thailand?

For any foreign national to be able to work legally in Thailand, they must acquire a non-immigrant work visa and a work permit.

The former must be obtained before you arrive in the country, and the latter once you have found an employer who can provide the necessary documents for this process and file an application on your behalf.

It’s crucial to know that you won’t be able to legally work until you have received your work permit. Once granted, the permit is only valid for the specific occupation and company stated in your application.

What kind of jobs are available in Thailand?

While foreign workers are welcome in Thailand, the Thai government imposes some restrictions concerning employment opportunities to protect the local workforce. As a result, there are some jobs that you’ll be prohibited from holding as a foreign national.

With that being said, there are also numerous work opportunities available to you, including:

  • Teacher: Working at an international school, college or university in Thailand as part of the teaching staff is a great option for foreigners with the right credentials.
  • Chef: This is a high-in-demand job with restaurants, bars and hotels in search of international talent to work at their establishments.
  • Hotel staff: A popular option for foreign nationals is to work as part of the international teams in hotels as waiters, maids, receptionists and managers.
  • Multinational company employee: Many expats in Thailand work for international companies in tech, cybersecurity and finance, often receiving lucrative packages to relocate there.
  • Digital marketer: Companies headquartered in Thailand often recruit talent from abroad to assist with international clients and extend their global reach.

What is the average salary in Thailand?

Salary amounts will vary greatly based on occupation, experience level, professional skills and industry. However, on average, a monthly salary in Thailand stands at approximately 15,753 baht ($434), as of January 2024.

Some of the highest-earning professions in Thailand, based on average monthly salary data, include:

  • Business development manager: 45,000–150,000 baht ($1,240–$4,133)
  • Financial analyst: 40,000–140,000 baht ($1,100–$3,857)
  • Full-stack developer: 70,000–140,000 baht ($1,929–$3,857)
  • Graphic designer: 25,000–80,000 baht ($689–$2,204)
  • HR specialist: 30,000–90,000 baht ($827–$2,480)

How to apply for a work visa

If you’re set on relocating and working in Thailand, then you’ll need to apply for a non-immigrant type “B” visa. To ensure that your application is successful, make sure to follow these steps:

Step 1: Collect the required documents

If you’re applying for this type of visa to work at a Thai company, you’ll need the following documents:

  • A passport that will be valid within six months from the travel date
  • A passport-sized photo that has been taken within the past six months
  • Proof of current location (driving license, bank statement, etc)
  • Copy of a recent bank statement with evidence of adequate funds (an ending balance of no less than $1,000 per person)
  • An approval letter from the Ministry of Labour (acquired once the prospective employer has submitted Form WP32)

A non-immigrant “B” visa is also reserved for frequent business visitors, interns, academic and teaching staff, and sports personnel, each of which requires different specialized documents, so make sure to check the specific sub-categories under this visa type if any apply to your work purposes. This will ensure that you will include all the required information and documents before submitting your application.

Step 2: Submit the documents and visa application

You can apply for a non-immigrant visa via the official Thai e-visa website. First, you’ll need to create an account, and then you can fill in your application form, upload the necessary documents, and pay a non-refundable visa fee.

Ensure that you have included all the necessary documents and that the information you have provided is correct before submitting your application. If there are any discrepancies, you’ll be required to re-submit and pay the visa fee again for it to be processed a second time.

Processing time can last up to 15 business days, and if you’re required to provide additional documentation, then it could take an additional 5 business days for your application to be processed. You can check the status of your application on your account’s dashboard, and you’ll receive an email confirmation from the embassy once your visa has been approved or rejected.

Step 3: Apply for a work permit

Once your work visa has been approved, the next step is to apply for your work permit at the Ministry of Labour’s Office of Foreign Workers Administration in the Department of Employment. As already mentioned, this is a mandatory document needed alongside your work visa to be able to work legally in Thailand.

According to the Thai Embassy website, the process can take up to seven business days and must be initiated by the company you will be working for.

Once received, make sure to keep your work permit with you at all times. In case your address changes, you must apply for revisions to the document. What is more, if you decide to leave your place of work, you’ll be required to return your work permit to the labor department within a week of your resignation.

How to get an extension to stay

Once issued, your work visa will be valid for 90 days and can only be used for a single entry to Thailand. However, you can extend your stay to one year, allowing multiple entries in the country, once you have received your work permit.

To do so, you’ll need to apply to the Office of Immigration Bureau once you are in Thailand. You can initiate this process online through the Thailand E-Extension platform or in person at the Immigration Bureau. Once you have provided the necessary details and documents, you’ll need to pay a visa fee and receive a visa stamp at the Immigration Bureau.

Final thoughts

Relocating to a new country for work can be challenging with the various visa requirements, competitive job market and overall moving process. However, the experience of living and working abroad is also incredibly enriching, leaving you with a global perspective, cultural awareness and the ability to adapt to new surroundings.

So, if working in Thailand is your dream, you can make this your reality by following this guide.

Got a question? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on September 9, 2019.