While it is relatively easy for foreigners to come to Thailand as tourists, potential issues often arise when they come for “work”, which includes such activities as academic seminars, business meetings, or market research, just to name a few. These issues result from the broad definition of “work” (see here) under Royal Ordinance Administration of Alien Working B.E. 2560, which states that foreigners cannot perform any act of work or service without first obtaining an appropriate work permit from the Department of Employment of the Ministry of Labour.
Although the Department of Employment has limited the scope of the definition of “work” (and thus the requirement to obtain a work permit) though past notifications (see here), the definition still covers many activities for which a work permit is required, and obtaining a work permit is an expensive and time consuming process. Recognizing this, the Department of Employment has allowed foreigners who come to Thailand on a short-term basis for certain types of work to obtain what is known as an “urgent work permit”, which allows them to work in Thailand for up to 15 days. The scope of “work” covered by urgent work permits has changed over time, and earlier this year the Department of Employment has cleaned the slate on the scope of activities for which an urgent work permit can be issued The activities for which an an urgent work permit can be issued are as follows:
(1) organisation of a meeting, training or seminar;
(2) special academic lecture;
(3) aviation administration;
(4) occasional internal auditing;
(5) technical monitoring and problem solving;
(6) product or goods quality inspection;
(7) manufacturing process inspection or improvement;
(8) machinery and electric generating system inspection or repair;
(9) machinery repair or installation by a mechanic;
(10) electric train system work by a technician;
(11) aircraft or aircraft equipment system work by a technician;
(12) machinery or machinery control system repairing consultation;
(13) machinery demonstration and testing;
(14) filming and photography;
(15) selection of jobseekers to send to work abroad; and
(16) skill testing of workers to send to work abroad.
Foreigners engaged in other activities outside of these sixteen categories that constitute “work” (or who will engage in any of these sixteen categories beyond fifteen days) will still be required to obtain a regular work permit.