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Thai Law Insights

Foreign Representatives of an Alien Business: A new exemption for the need of a Thai Work Permit

Apisit Rangpetch

apisitr@csbc-law.com

The Emergency Decree on Foreign Employment Administration of 2018 (No.2) (“Work Permit Law as amended”) was announced to amend the Emergency Decree on Foreign Employment Administration of 2017 (“Work Permit Law”). The Work Permit Law as now amended changes substantial provisions in the Work Permit Law, providing some exclusions to the requirement for foreigners to have a Work Permit.

One of new salient exemptions is that aliens who are representatives of legal entities deemed to be ’foreigner’ or ‘Alien’ under the Foreign Business Act of 1999 (“FBA”) and have already acquired a business permit, are no longer subject to the Work Permit Law (Section 4(8) of the Work Permit Law as amended). This new exemption means that Thai work permit acquisition is no longer needed for such representatives to work in Thailand. ‘Representatives’, in this context, means responsible persons domiciled in Thailand at a branch office or non-trading representative office or regional office or board member of any foreign company with a valid ‘Alien Business Permit’. This was confirmed by our research and inquiry with the legal team of the Thai Department of Employment (“DoE”), Ministry of Labor.

Based on our research and discussion with a DoE’s legal officials, the reason for this new exemption is that the process for a Thai work permit application seems redundant, considering that an alien business has already passed the intense scrutiny to acquire an alien business permit from the Ministry of Commerce.

This exemption should be beneficial to high-level foreign managers who work in certain business organizations which have an Alien Business Permit. This new exemption could very well be another step towards Thailand 4.0.