The Urgent Work Permit for Thailand

The Urgent Work Permit for Thailand

On March 5, 2017, Thailand’s Labour Department released “The Announcement of the Employment Department – Subject: Acts not Counting as Works under the Work of Aliens Act B. E. 2551 (2008). This announcement further clarifies the definition of working in conjunction with other Thai employment regulations. The Employment Department stated that the announcement was issued to promote Thailand as a center of trade and investment. The cabinet approved the Employment Department’s expanded list of activities that are consider as “not working” according to the Work of Aliens Act (2008) in order to encourage foreign companies to set up Regional Operating Headquarters (ROH), International Headquarters (IH) or International Trading Centers (ITC) in Thailand. As a result, due to the new definition, an Urgent Work Permit (UWP) or work permit is not required to undertake any of the seven (7) activities listed in the announcement.

1. Attendance at meetings, gatherings of information or seminars
2. Attendance at exhibitions or trade exhibitions
3. Visit at business operations or attendance at business meetings
4. Participation to listen to special lectures and academic lectures
5. Participation to listen to lectures in any technical trainings and seminars
6. Purchasing of goods at trade exhibitions
7. Attendance at the alien’s company board meeting

Of particular interest, according to the new regulation, a foreign director attending a company Board or Director’s Meeting will be considered as “not working.” If a foreigner is coming for general business meetings or discussions, an Urgent Work Permit (UWP) is no longer required.
As a result, we highly recommend that careful advance discussion and consideration be made concerning the reason for the visit to Thailand. We strongly recommend that if a foreigner claims to be in Thailand for business meetings, or for any of the other “non-working” activities listed above, his/her activity should be strictly limited to only such activities.

The Urgent Work Permit (UWP)

An urgent work permit, as the name implies, is granted in certain situations when a foreign expert or consultant is required to provide service for one specific matter for not more than 15 calendar days. The applicant must be able to explain the nature of the work that needs immediate attention that will cause damage to the company if not completed. An urgent work permit will only be issued for a maximum of fifteen (15) days period and can only be obtained after the expatriate has entered into Thailand. An urgent work permit cannot be extended. A person granted an UWP is expected to leave Thailand once the work is completed, without any attempt to obtain a regular work permit. If it appears that the expatriate has been trying to change the type of work permit, they may face a charge of giving false information to the officers. To obtain a second UWP, the assignee must wait for 45 days from the last day that the first UWP was valid. The Employment Department is very strict about the 45-day gap between UWPs. It is possible to obtain a second UWP; however, a third would be very difficult. Activities determined to be “Urgent” include:

  • Organizing or setting up conferences, training and/or seminars
  • Conducting special educational lecture
  • Aviation superintendent work
  • Occasional internal audit
  • Inspection, follow-up and technical solution works.
  • Inspection of products/goods quality
  • Inspection or improvement of production process
  • Inspection or repairing machinery and electricity generation equipment/systems
  • Machine repairing or installing work
  • Electric train system technical work
  • Aircraft or aircraft equipment system technical work
  • Advisory on machine repairing or machine control system
  • Machinery demonstrative or testing work
  • Movie taking and photography work
  • Recruitment of job seeker for overseas job placement
  • Skill testing work for overseas job placement


The Urgent Work Permit application process takes one full working day and can only commence after the applicant has entered Thailand. The applicant can hold any type of visa when applying for an UWP, except a 15-day visa on arrival available at Thailand’s international airports or a 60-day tourist visa obtained from a Thai embassy overseas. This is because both of these visas are granted with the stamp “Employment is prohibited.”

The material contained herein is only provided for information purposes. No part thereof may be deemed to constitute legal advice or the opinions of this law firm or any of its attorneys. Whilst every effort has been made to verify the contents of the material contained herein, we do not represent, warrant, undertake or guarantee that the information contained in this newsletter is correct, accurate, or complete. Legal advice must be sought before acting on any information contained herein.

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