Changes to Thailand’s work permit laws have, it seems, changed the landscape for foreigners interested in working legally within Thailand.
Thailand’s Department of Labor has issued revised regulations for non-Thai nationals seeking legal employment in Thailand. Under the new regulations, foreigners may apply for Thai work permits under the name of a foreign company, or alternatively may declare themselves self-employed.
Should the aforementioned changes apply, they may, in theory, greatly ease the route for foreign nationals desiring to work legally within the Kingdom. Under previous Thai work permit laws, foreigners interested in applying for work permits could only do so under the names of Thai employers. Those interested in any work remotely resembling self-employment were required to establish their own companies within Thailand and were bound by a host of accompanying regulations, including establishing office addresses and hiring sufficient numbers of Thai staff.
The relevant changes to the work permit applications form, or Form WP. 5, may be viewed on page 3 of the form, where applicants are required to supply “documents and evidences” with their application. Applicants may now apply under the name of employers who have “permanent residence outside of the Kingdom”, provided that they supply either copies of service contracts, sale contracts, or sufficient documents proving that the applicant has sufficient reason to work within the Kingdom.
Alternatively, Form WP. 5 requires individuals “without an employer” to provide documents proving that they possess sufficient knowledge and experience for engaging in work, as well as either a copy of a service contract, a sale contract, or copies of documents indicating that the applicant’s employment situation requires work within the Kingdom.
We encourage interested applicants to approach the recent changes with a healthy amount of skepticism, as the reported “easing” of the work permit regulations – and the hidden caveats that might be lurking in their shadows – have yet to be confirmed as matter of practice. We have contacted the Thailand Ministry of Commerce, the Thai government authority that licenses sole proprietorships. The Ministry of Commerce has informed us that licenses for sole proprietorships are rarely issued. Furthermore, immigration laws have not been amended in accordance with the work permit application changes. If the new Thai work permit law seem to be good to be true, that may be because it is too good to be true.