Clarification on Work Permits, Business Visas, Authorized Directors, and Certain Business Entities in Thailand

Recently, we have been trying to clarify an issue regarding work permit exemptions for authorized directors as they relate to foreign business license requirements. We have received an answer from the Ministry of Labor’s legal department that we would like to share.

Certain Authorized Directors No Longer Need Work Permits

Last year, Foreigner Working Management Emergency Decree Number 2, B.E. 2561 (link to Thai document), declared that responsible foreign persons for a branch office (“branch”), foreign representative office (“rep”), regional office (“regional”), or company limited (“company”), which received a foreign business license (“FBL”), are not required to obtain a work permit. Currently, a “responsible foreign person” is considered an authorized director of a company or an authorized representative of a branch, rep, or regional office (collectively, “authorized person”), whose signature can bind the entity according to the entity’s charter (i.e. company’s affidavit or registration certificate).

Certain Entities Do Not Require a Foreign Business License

However, another recent ministerial regulation released rep and regional offices from needing an FBL (since they technically do not trade in Thailand). This created some ambiguity between the decree and the regulation:

Do authorized persons of rep and regional offices require a work permit since the entity no longer requires an FBL?

When asked to clarify, the Legal Department of the Ministry of Labor confirmed that authorized persons of rep and regional offices still must obtain a work permit.

So, as it stands, the authorized persons of branch offices and companies with FBLs do not have to apply for work permits.

Rules Pertaining to Business Visas are Separate and Different

It is important to note the criteria for Non-Immigrant “B” visas are different from Work Permits:

  • Companies must maintain a 4 to 1 ratio of Thai to foreign employees for all foreign staff (whether an authorized person or not) that require a Non-Immigrant “B” visa;
  • Branch, rep and regional offices must maintain a 1 to 1 ratio of Thai-to-foreign employees for all foreign staff (whether an authorized person or not) that require a Non-Immigrant “B” visa.

GPS Legal Can Help Navigate

Relatively new regulations combined with separate rules for work permits and visas lead to confusion among potential investors and business owners, as well as with the various government officials. GPS Legal has been keeping abreast of these developments and is ready to help you determine what is the best path for you.