Thailand’s New E-Work Permits Bring An End To Blue Books

By Piyawannee Watanasakolpunt and Suthasinee Neamsum

Foreigners employed in Thailand are required to obtain an appropriate visa as well as a work permit.  Work permits are issued by the Ministry of Labor and take the form of a small, passport sized “blue book”, containing details such as the employee’s position, name and location of employer, date of birth, and nationality, along with multiple pages for work permit renewal stamps.

The “blue book” will now be replaced with what is being referred to as an “E-Work Permit”, which is credit card sized ID card containing much of the same information as in the “blue book”.  The E-Work Permit will also include security and fraud prevention features such as a barcode and QR Code.  This change has been brought about via the Ministry of Labour’s Ministerial Regulation  on “Application for and Issuance of Work Permits and Notification of Employment of Foreign Workers” (No. 2) B.E. 2560 (2017) which came into effect on April 1, 2017.

In addition to introducing the E-Work Permit, the new regulation also provides for work permit applications and other relevant notifications  to be filed electronically.  All existing “blue book” work permits issued under previous ministerial regulations, treaties or other investment promotions (such as BOI and IEAT) will be replaced by E-Work Permits.  Timing of the implementation of the electronic filing system and the replacement of all existing “blue books” has not been clarified, so existing “blue books” should still be valid until their expiration date.