Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘Thailand Work Permit’ Category

6th November 2017

In a recent announcement in the Royal Thai Gazette, it came to this blogger’s attention that new regulatory protocols are likely to soon take effect with respect to foreign labor in Thailand. Below is an English translation of the announcement, for the full un-translated announcement please see the aforementioned link:

Dated November 2,

Order of the Security Council

On Proving the Identity of foreign labour

As the system which is presently used for screening some category of people who enter the Kingdom cannot provide enough proof of identity which is needed to protect the stability of the country. Presently, many people are coming into the country to work as labour, both legally and illegally and it is not easy to confirm the identity of the labour force. The collection of the data which is needed to confirm the identity is presently confusing because the responsibility for the information is scattered between various departments depending on the duty and authority of the person involved.  Also, different methods are used creating confusion and delays in accessing the data if needed.  Therefore, a committee will be set up to oversee the collection and storage of data from the workers and set up a date base with all the history clearly shown. A system will be set up which will be legal and also maintain the confidentiality of the information and also prevent the information from being used against the wishes of each person. This is to prevent any destruction of the peace and also to ensure the safety of the country, in labor, economy and society.

The order following Matra 265 of the Constitution of Thailand and section 44 of the Constitution of Thailand (temporary) is as follows:

1. Committee refers to the Committee who will study how the data should be kept.

“22 provinces along the coast refer to Krabi, Chantaburi, Chachoengsao, Cholburi, Chumporn, Trat, Trang, Nakornsritammarat, Naratiwas, Prachuab, Pattani, Panga,  Petchburi, Phuket, Ranong, Rayong, Songkla, Satul, Samutprakarn, Samutsongkram, Samutsakorn and Surattani.

2. The member of the Committee are comprised of …………[list of committee members]

3. Duties  and Authority of the Committee

(1) Consider a method to set up a system to prove the identity of the immigrant laborers by collecting and keeping the data of the laborers in the fishing sector which the Harbor Department and the Labour Department are both handling at the moment. (2) Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority to collect the data which contains the relevant information on the identities including setting the criteria and method to be used and also linking the various agencies involved in collecting, maintaining, and proving the identities of the immigrant laborer so the data can be accessed conveniently and efficiently.

(3). Appoint a department which will have the duty and authority of saving the data under no (1) and (2) so it is safe and trustworthy enough to use in proving the identity of the laborers.

(4) Carry out duties delegated by the Prime Minister

4. The method of saving the data referred to in 3 (1) should commence with data of immigrant laborers in the fishing industry and sea food factories in the 22 coastal provinces. This must be completed by 31 March, 2018.

The committee may expand the area to include additional provinces as instructed by the Cabinet.

5. With regards to labor in other sectors, the committee should advise the Cabinet as to which department is responsible for the collection and saving of data and the time frame required to complete data base.

6.  The data on immigrant laborers already collected by the Labor Department prior to this new announcement should continue to be used until instructed otherwise by the Committee.

7. The Department of Budget should consider how much budget the Committee and departments authorized by the Committee will require to carry out the instruction.

8. If the Prime Minister or Cabinet member deems it necessary, the Council for Peace (not sure of the name) are allowed to change these instructions.

9. This instruction comes into force on the day of announcement.

The above translation should not be construed as a definitive interpretation of the material in Thai, but is simply provided for informational purposes of a general nature.

Although it appears that this announcement pertains specifically to migrant labor in the fishing sector it remains to be seen whether or not this announcement could have an impact upon labor matters in Thailand more generally. Meanwhile, as has been pointed out in prior postings on this blog regarding Thai work permit protocols: Thai labor regulation, and the enforcement thereof, has become increasingly strict in recent months. A previously proposed overhaul of the labor regulations and fines has been put on hold until the beginning of 2018 in order to allow employers and migrant labor time to adjust to the new regulations. How the enforcement mechanism will operate from January 2018 onward remains to be seen, but if the above announcement is any indication, the Labor authorities in Thailand appear committed to tracking and monitoring foreign workers in Thailand.

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29th July 2017

If there is one overriding notion that can be gleaned from the whole of this blog it should be this: over time the process of obtaining immigration and work authorization benefits (regardless of the nation in which such benefits are sought) tends to get more time consuming and difficult over time.

In Thailand, over the course of recent months there have been dramatic changes to both the Thai visa process as well as the process by which Thai work permit authorization is granted.

Initially, this trend began with the promulgation of the so-called “Good Guys in Bad Guys Out” policy which was initiated by a newly appointed Thai Immigration Chief. At first, the program focused upon those who were clearly in Thailand with less-than-optimal intentions. In fact, the beginning of the sea change in immigration policy could be said to have occurred when there was a rather significant round-up of suspected criminals and over-stayers which culminated in significant numbers of deportations. Quickly thereafter it became clear that those wishing to effectively live in Thailand using things such as 30 day stamps and tourist visas would be a thing of the past as a clear cap was placed on issuance of 30 day visa exemption stamps and those with multiple tourist visas began to become the subject of enhanced scrutiny at border check points. This scrutiny has been recently evidenced by the fact that those entering Thailand on tourist visas with a history of multiple tourist visas are being asked to show that they have 20,000 baht in their possession at the time of entry into the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, recently promulgated legislation has created more severe penalties with respect to working illegally in Thailand. Enhanced civil and criminal penalties are at the forefront of the recent changes. As of the time of this writing a sort of moratorium has been placed upon the implementation of these new rules, but it has been made very clear by relevant authorities that these new provisions are set to come into effect as of January 1, 2018. It is this blogger’s opinion that the moratorium was only enacted to stem the exodus of migrant workers from neighboring countries and will effectively have no bearing upon foreign workers in Thailand from Western countries or countries further afield than those which border the Kingdom.

What can be taken from these developments? First, certain aspects of the immigration and work authorization regimes were outdated and needed to be upgraded. Meanwhile, Thai authorities have made it clear that they expect those who wish to live and work in Thailand to make appropriate efforts to obtain proper immigration and employment documentation. Where there was something of a lax attitude regarding these issues in the past such laxity cannot be expected to exist moving forward. Therefore those wishing to live and work in Thailand in the future are well advised to do substantial research before traveling to Thailand and after ascertaining the correct legal documentation, take necessary steps to only be physically present in Thailand on appropriate documentation.

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26th June 2017

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that there are new penalties associated with violation of the laws and rules regarding foreign nationals working in Thailand as set forth by the Thai Ministry of Labor. Specifically on June 22 of 2017 an Emergency Decree was promulgated stipulating some new rules and new penalties associated with both new and old regulations. Please see below for a distilled translated summary of the important points noted in this recent decree:

  1. Should an employer employ a foreign national to work in a position specifically restricted to Thai nationals, such employer shall be fined between 400,000 and 800,000 Baht per employed foreign national.
  2. Should an employer allow a foreign national to work outside the scope of the employment specifically noted in the work permit they shall be fined no more than 400,000 Baht for each employed foreign national.
  3. Should a foreign national work without first obtaining a work permit or work in a position specifically restricted to Thai nationals, they may be subject to imprisonment of no more than five years and/or fined between 2,000-100,000 Baht, or both.
  4. Should a foreign national work on a matter which is deemed immediate and important and do so without acknowledgment of a Labour Ministry officer by receiving form WP-10, they may be fined not more than 100,000 Baht.
  5. Should a foreign national work outside the scope of the job description set forth in the work permit, they may imprisoned not more than 6 months and/or fined not more than 100,000 Baht, or both.
  6. If an individual, through deceptive means, explicitly or implicitly advertises that they are able to bring a foreign national to work in Thailand in a dmestic capacity without a work permit, they may be imprisoned 3-10 years and/or fined 600,000-1,000,000 Baht, or both.
  7. Anyone found operating as a foreign job placement agency without a proper license shall be subject to possible imprisonment for 1-3 years and/or fines ebtween 200,000-600,000 Baht, or both.
  8. There appears to be a deposit/pre-authorization requirement being imposed by this decree, but the implications of this section are somewhat unclear. We will update this posting or post again to provide clarification on this point if necessary.

It should be noted that the above summary and translation is for informational purposes only and should be viewed as neither exhaustive nor as a substitute for fully analyzed legal research and translation. Those interested in delving further into this topic are urged to view the full decree in its entirety by following this link provided by the official wesbite of the Royal Thai Gazette.

As has been noted, in recent weeks and months there has been increased scrutiny from the Royal Thai Immigration Police with respect to Thai business visa applicants in the form of surprise inspections. This recent announcement regarding heightened penalties associated with imporperly obtained Thai work permits leads this blogger to infer that heightened scrutiny and possible inspections could be imposed upon foreign nationals working in Thailand in the relatively near future.

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2nd March 2016

In a recent posting on the website of the National News Bureau of Thailand the possibility of issuing Thai work permits with a validity of two years was discussed. To see the announcement please read this quotation from the aforementioned website:

The Cabinet has approved the extension of the work permit for foreign nationals to two years while giving employers four months to bring their workers to apply for the document. Director-General of the Department of Employment Arak Prommanee revealed that Cabinet approval has been granted to the proposal of the committee in charge of foreign labor management policies to have the life of foreign workers’ temporary work permit, or the pink card, extended from one year to two years. As a result, workers whose permits will expire on March 31, 2016 will be allowed to stay in the Kingdom for two more years, pending the nationality verification process. To apply for the new permit, employers will be required to take their foreign employees to report themselves at registration spots designated by the Department of Employment within 120 days from April 1. The Cabinet also assigned the Department of Employment to adopt regulations in support of the permit extension within 120 days, with consideration to be given to the prevention of foreign labor shortage, national security, prevention of permanent residency, assurance of workers’ protection and establishment of an efficient management system.

It should be noted that the announcement above seems unclear regarding the type of work permit discussed. Some foreign nationals, such as Burmese, Cambodian, and Lao nationals, have a different work permit regime compared to other foreign nationals and from the above information it is difficult to ascertain whether the proposed 2 year Thai work permit scheme is meant for all foreign work permits or a specified subset. Further information will be provided for clarification should a further announcement be made.

Meanwhile, while it appears from the above announcement that Thai officials may be poised to implement more favorable conditions regarding foreign labor regulations, Thai immigration rules are poised to become much more stringently applied. New immigration rules have been on the horizon for some time now as evidenced by a January 2016 articlein the Bangkok Post discussing the proposed rule changes:

In just under two months, the Immigration Bureau will officially begin arrests and tough new penalties against foreign law-breakers. The programme is in the hands of Pol Lt Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn, one of the most experienced immigration officers. He has spent some time drawing up new laws, rules and regulations, as part of the first major overhaul of immigration enforcement in decades.

Those overstaying a visa in Thailand will soon face strict fines and penalties. Moreover, those caught committing a crime while overstaying could see themselves barred from entering Thailand for as long as ten years. There are some who would argue that these changes are long overdue. For decades, Thailand’s immigration rules have been quite lax when compared with the rules and regulations of other countries (notably the United States which has, since the mid 1950s, had severe bars for overstaying enshrined in the provisions of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act), but that era appears to be coming to an end. In the future, those overstaying more than 90 days could see themselves barred from reentering Thailand for varying periods of time depending upon the amount of time they have overstayed.

In a more recent article in the Bangkok Post further clarification was provided regarding how far immigration officials are seemingly willing to go in enforcing the soon-to-be enacted rules for overstayers:

Overstaying just got serious. After decades of treating visa-overstay less seriously than jaywalking, there now will be real and lasting consequences…the computerised blacklist operators at every airport and border crossing are going to kick out those who have overstayed, and not let them back. This is the really new part of the plan – exile.

Finally, notwithstanding the previously noted implementation of stricter overstay rules, it appears that those in Thailand as journalists may face increased scrutiny from immigration. In the aforementioned article, new rules for M visa holders (“M” standing for Media) was discussed:

The Foreign Ministry announced tweaked rules for the M-class non-immigrant visa and extension. Minister Don Pramudwinai himself helped to write, signed off, defended and will oversee the new rules for journalists.

Although presently there are no clear guidelines yet set regarding the new regime for administering M visas the consensus seems to be that M visa issuance may become more selective. Some have surmised that fewer freelance journalists will be granted M visas moving forward. This blog will continue to provide updates on the situation as the rules come into effect and the methods of enforcing new rule changes become clearer. Readers are strongly encouraged to follow the links above and conduct their own research on these matters as failure to adequately understand these policies could lead to problems in the future. New rules for overstay in Thailand are set to be implemented in mid-March 2016.

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18th September 2013

Officials at Thailand’s Ministry of Labor are currently in the process of promulgating guidelines pertaining to the issuance of Thai work permits for ASEAN citizens, according to an official report from the Government Public Relations Department. These measures are being implemented in an attempt to better manage what are perceived to be substantial future inflows of skilled and professional labor coming from the other jurisdictions which comprise the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). For those unaware, the ASEAN economic community (AEC) is currently poised to economically integrate in 2015.

According to officials at the Ministry of Labor, initially work permits may be issued for citizens of other ASEAN nations in twenty-five career fields. This prospective policy is in keeping with the provisions of the ASEAN Agreement on the Movement of Natural Persons (MNP). Professionals operating in areas involving: computers, advertising, marketing research, research and development, agriculture, telecommunications, management, education, finance, health, translation services, construction, engineering, and transport services (to name a few areas) may be eligible for a Thai work permit. Labor Ministry officials are apparently poised to utilize the National Skill Standard in order to ascertain whether approval of a work permit application for an ASEAN citizen is warranted. This measure is being undertaken in an effort to insure that only qualified workers are granted a work permit. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Labor and the Ministry of Commerce are preparing to work in conjunction with the Management System Certification Institute (Thailand) in an effort to set policies aimed at providing temporary status for qualified ASEAN citizens wishing to enter the Kingdom of Thailand.

All of these measures appear to be designed to provide ASEAN citizens with the rights and privileges that come with work authorization in Thailand. It is thought that as ASEAN becomes increasingly integrated larger numbers of foreign workers will descend upon Thailand as increasing numbers of Thai nationals seek employment opportunities in other ASEAN countries.

At the time of this writing, virtually all foreign nationals working in the Kingdom of Thailand are required to obtain work authorization in the form of a Thai work permit. Except in the case of a foreign national married to a Thai, such individuals are also required to obtain a Thai business visa in order to be eligible to apply for a work permit. As can be inferred from the information noted above, notwithstanding the integration of the ASEAN economies, foreign nationals from ASEAN countries are also likely to be required to obtain business visas and work permits before being able to legally undertake employment in the Kingdom.

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30th April 2011

Over the years this blogger has seen large numbers of tourists flock to the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the neighboring nations of Laos, the Union of Myanmar (referred to by some as Burma), Malaysia, and the Kingdom of Cambodia. At the same time, this blogger has also witnessed the metamorphosis of some of these tourists into entrepreneurs by remaining in some of these countries (as well as other jurisdictions in Greater Asia such as Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Nepal, Macau, India, and Sri Lanka; to name only a few) in a business context for many years and; for some, even decades or a whole lifetime. Whatever the circumstances of those Americans Resident Abroad remaining in the region of economies increasingly being labeled by both the mainstream and alternative media outlets by their affiliation with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) one thing is clear: the economies of Asia are set to expand at an incredible rate by relative historical comparison. Therefore, it stands to reason that there are likely to be more Americans doing business in these jurisdictions. This state of affairs is occurring at a time when the potential of the internet and the World Wide Web first noted little more than a decade ago is beginning to become fully realized by businesses large and small. As e-commerce becomes an evermore ubiquitous facet of virtually every enterprise’s business strategy it is becoming more clear that many business functions are increasingly being performed by businesses of all sizes online and, in some cases, these businesses are even being maintained from an entrepreneur’s home.

This phenomenon is interesting for this blogger to note from the perspective of an American who is resident in Bangkok, Thailand as the Thai shop-house business model of maintaining a residence and business premises within close proximity has lead to a thriving small business community in the vast metropolis that is Greater Bangkok. This thriving business community, coupled with many of the other positive factors associated with doing business in Thailand, has lead to a vibrant economy that remains conducive to further foreign investment by entrepreneurs and businesses seeking to derive economic benefits both in Thailand and throughout the Asian markets. Of possible importance to Americans resident abroad or those thinking of residing abroad are the issues noted above as well as those associated with ownership of Thai property or Thai real estate especially in the form of a Thai Condominium.

In Thailand, as well as throughout many jurisdictions in Asia, there are restrictions placed upon foreign ownership of real estate. Although there are provisions allowing for foreign ownership of Thai property in many cases it is difficult, if not impossible, for a foreign national to secure freehold title (referred to as Chanote title in Thailand) in Thai real property such as land. However, it may be possible for a foreign national in Thailand, such as an American Citizen, to conveniently secure freehold title to a Thai Condo if the provisions of various laws and regulations on this issue, such as the Thai Condominium Act, are adhered to. Meanwhile, a foreign national who owns a Condo in Thailand may be qualified to receive a Foreign House Registration Booklet (referred to as a Tabien Baan for Thais or a Foreign Tabien Baan, or Yellow Tabien Baan for foreign nationals). Taking the aforementioned factors into consideration, in conjunction with the fact that for American Citizens and American Companies in Thailand there may be benefits pursuant to the provisions of various legal instruments such as the US-Thai Treaty of Amity which may provide the privilege of virtually 100% ownership of a Company in Thailand with “National Treatment” for certain business undertakings, one is left with little doubt that there are tangible legal benefits which could be accrued to the favor of Americans resident in Thailand conducting business in the ASEAN region as well as the regions of Greater Asia. Therefore,  investing in what this blogger would refer to as a “Thai Pad” (which non-literally alludes to the IPad-like gadgets allowing for increasingly easy real time access to the internet as well as the exponentially beneficial combination of privileges accruing to owners of Thai property registered on a Yellow Tabien Baan in conjunction with the advantages which may be had for Americans resident abroad utilizing a Thai company certified under the US-Thai Amity Treaty) could prove to have been prudent by future analysts in both tangible as well as intangible terms.

For related information please see: US Company Registration.

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7th January 2011

It recently came to the attention of the administration of this blog that a new trade complex is to be erected in Bangkok for the purpose of facilitating the trade of Chinese goods in Thailand and Greater South East Asia. To quote directly from the Voice of America News website:

Chinese state media say work will begin this month on a massive trading complex in Bangkok where Chinese manufacturers will be able to re-export their goods.

The China Daily newspaper said Thursday that the China City Complex will cost $1.5 billion and sprawl over almost three-quarters of a square kilometer. Chinese manufacturers will be able to import goods to Thailand, taking advantage of a new free trade deal, and then ship to the United States and Europe under more advantageous quotas and tariffs.

It is interesting to note that China officially became the second largest economy in the world in 2010. This plan will likely result in an increasingly prosperous trade relationship between the Peoples’ Republic of China and the Kingdom of Thailand. The Voice of America News website went on:

China has been using trade and commercial projects to improve its diplomatic and strategic standing in Southeast Asia. Thailand’s deputy minister of commerce, Alongkorn Ponlaboot, is quoted by China Daily saying the China City Complex corroborates “a strategic business-partner relationship” between China and Thailand.

China’s free-trade agreement with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations was concluded last year.

Putting aside diplomatic and strategic matters, the ambitious project could result in economic benefits for many ASEAN countries (Association of South East Asian Nations) especially Thailand. The creation of a new commercial project such as the one proposed will likely come with the added benefit of new jobs for Thais near Bangkok, new business opportunities for Thai entrepreneurs, new trade opportunities for Thai, Chinese, and other foreign investors; and an overall increase in the flow of goods, capital, labor, and resources to the Kingdom of Thailand and the Greater ASEAN region.

Each year, foreign companies and individuals opt to pursue business ventures in the Kingdom of Thailand. In some cases, entrepreneurs incorporate a Thai Company in order to maintain limited liability while conducting business. Sometimes individuals opt to do business under a Thai sole proprietorship. Partnerships often prefer the added layer of limited liability that can be conferred upon certain members of a Limited Liability Partnership in Thailand. Large ventures conducting business in Thailand occasionally opt to take their enterprise public through the registration of a Thai public company. In any case, those wishing to conduct trade or business in the Kingdom of Thailand are well advised to contact a Law Firm in Thailand as advice and counsel regarding the unique aspects of Thai law can be highly advantageous for businesses making their first appearance in the Thai market. Foreign nationals employed or working in Thailand should note that all foreigners working within the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of Thailand are required to have a Thai work permit in order to lawfully take up virtually any type of employment.

Matters pertaining to the acquisition of Thai property or Thai Real Estate within the context of multi-jurisdictional business transactions can be complex and multifaceted. For this reason it is highly advisable that foreign nationals or foreign companies conducting business in the Kingdom of Thailand retain the services of a firm to assist with Thai property matters prior to making an irrevocable decisions regarding the acquisition of Thai real estate or property.

For related information please see: US Company Registration or Legal.

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16th December 2010

Those who read this blog may likely have noticed that the issue of Thai immigration is a frequent topic of discussion. Recently, this author came upon an interesting announcement regarding the issuance of Thai reentry permits at the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand. The following is quoted directly from the official website of Suvarnabhumi International Airport:

The Re-Entry Application Procedures and Requirements At Suvarnabhumi Airport
Date : 07 – 12 – 10
1. Aliens must submit the applicatoin by themselves.
2. The date of submitting application must be the date of departure.
3. Gather the required documents as below
- Passport or travel document (1 original plus 1 copy)
- One recent photograph (4X6 CM.)
- Fees – Single 1,000 Baht
- Multiple 3,800 Baht
4. Submit the application and required documents at Immigration Departure Division (East Zone), Suvarnabhumi Airport.
5. The service open daily from now on

In a previous posting on this blog, the administration pondered the prospect of Thai reentry permits and whether they would ever again be available at the airport as opposed to the Royal Thai Immigration Headquarters at Chaeng Wattana. It would appear that from this point onwards, Thai reentry permits will be available to departing foreign nationals at the airport.

For those who are unfamiliar with the protocols and rules associated with Thai immigration, anyone present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a Thai visa must obtain a reentry permit prior to leaving the Kingdom of Thailand. Those who fail to obtain a Thai reentry permit prior to departing Thailand may lose their Thai visa status upon departure. For this reason, reentry permits should be obtained by anyone in Thai visa status who wishes to return to Thailand. A frequently asked question in this vein is: do I need a reentry permit if I am present in the Kingdom on a visa exemption? The short answer: no. Those who enter the country on a Thailand visa exemption cannot obtain a reentry permit as they are not technically in possession of a valid Thai visa. Those present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a Thai visa extension are required to obtain a Thai reentry permit prior to departure lest the foreign national fall out of status entirely upon departing Thailand. The same can be said for those who are present in Thailand with lawful permanent residence. A Permanent Resident in Thailand must receive authorization to leave the country whilst simultaneously maintaining lawful status in the Kingdom or else face the prospect of falling entirely out of status upon departure.

Those who are present in the Kingdom of Thailand on a multiple entry one year Thai visa should not need to obtain a Thai reentry permit when departing the Kingdom, but those with a multiple entry visa are generally required to depart the Kingdom at least every 90 days in order to maintain lawful status.

Fore related information please see: Thailand business visa or Thai Work Permit.

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26th September 2010

Those who track this blog may have noticed that there has been an increase in political activities which have disrupted the otherwise calm political and economic environment in the Kingdom of Thailand. There are many who feel that these disruptions are only temporary and will not prove detrimental over the long term. In the short term, individuals and businesses in Thailand are analyzing some new risks which have manifested themselves over the past 9-12 months. To quote directly from Westlawbusiness.com:

Several companies have recently disclosed risks arising from the political turmoil in Thailand. For example, Priceline.com, an online hotel auctioneer, recently disclosed that “civil unrest in Thailand, a key market for our Agoda business and the Asian business of Booking.com. This may result in “significant year-over-year declines in booking volumes in this market….Thailand has experienced disruptive civil unrest in prior years as well and continued or future civil or political unrest could further disrupt Agoda’s Thailand-based business and operations.”

Communication cable manufacturer General Cable is also reporting that it is subject to business risk arising from unrest in Thailand. The copper, aluminum, and fiber optic wire and cable products provider recently disclosed that its “business is subject to the economic, political and other risks of maintaining facilities and selling products in foreign countries. . . Thailand recently experienced significant political and militant unrest in certain provinces. The country’s elected government was overthrown in September 2006, with an elected government only recently restored.” [emphasis in original]

Political turmoil can have substantial unforeseen consequences for some businesses and business models operating throughout Asia. This is why retaining the assistance of local legal counsel can be advantageous for multinational corporations as professionals with on-the-ground knowledge of local business customs and practices can guide clients away from unforeseen legal, and in some cases; business, risks.

There are many, this author included, who feel that the current political turbulence in Thailand is simply a “bump in the road” eventually leading to overall tranquility and economic prosperity in the Kingdom of Thailand as well as the South East Asia region. Bearing that in mind, those wishing to establish a business or corporate presence in Thailand are well advised to conduct research and due diligence before making irrevocable business decisions as  maintaining a corporate presence in Bangkok, or the emerging markets in Cambodia, Laos, Burma (Myanmar), Malaysia, and Vietnam can be fraught with unforeseen legal and business issues which may not arise in jurisdictions such as the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Australia, or Canada.

Many wishing to do business in Thailand opt to do so under a Thai Limited Company as this type of juristic person provides a measure of limited liability. Limited Liability is often one of the first methods employed by those wishing to hedge against unforeseen future business risks. American businesses may also enjoy many benefits pursuant to the language of the US-Thai Treaty of Amity. Regardless of the type of corporate structure, any foreigner wishing to work in the Kingdom of Thailand must obtain a Thai work permit prior to taking up employment pursuant to Thai labor law.

For related information please see: Bangkok Lawyer or Amity Treaty Company.

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26th June 2010

In a recent posting on the Chiang Mai Mail website, issues surrounding foreigners’ rights in Thailand were discussed. The issues came up in the context of a recent road show conducted by the Thai Ministry of the Interior. Foreigners residing in Thailand sometimes find it difficult to fully exercise their rights as the rules themselves can be somewhat vague. For example, the issue of alien registration on a Thai Tabien Baan can be confusing as few foreign nationals are fully aware of their right’s regarding registration. To quote the Chiang Mai Mail’s report about the recent Interior Ministry Roadshow:

Holders of Permanent residency can get a blue book (Tor Ror 14) and holders of temporary visas can get on the yellow book (Tor Ror 13) before they can apply for naturalization. The Provincial Administration reiterated an important point, that foreigners have the right to be listed on the census registration, “It is not well known even among officials. We have contacted registration officials that you have this right and you should insist on it.”

For many, registration on a Yellow Tabien Baan is beneficial because many Thai government offices view a Tabien Baan as definitive proof of lawful presence in Thailand and use the information in the Tabien Baan accordingly. Another issue that came up at the aforementioned roadshow was the issue of naturalization of those seeking Thai Citizenship. In the past, the language requirements for naturalization were rather stringent. During the recent roadshow the spokesperson for the Interior Ministry commented upon the revised linguistic requirements for naturalization to Thai Citizenship:

The requirements for naturalization were laid out, including the income requirements for both those married to Thais and those not married to Thais. The linguistics requirement has been reduced but the applicant must be able to sing the National and Royal anthems. Speaking and listening is mandatory but reading and writing is no longer required.

Finally, of particular interest to many foreign nationals in Thailand is that of the 90 day “check in” for foreigners present in the Kingdom on a “temporary” visa such as a Thai business visa or a Thai O visa. Regarding the Ministry of Interior’s stance on the issue, the Chiang Mai Mail was quoted as saying:

The next issue under discussion was Immigration and the right of habitation. Immigration officials discussed the various visas and how to obtain them as well as how to obtain Permanent Residency. The main issue of contention brought up by multiple Consul Generals, including Japanese Consul General Junko Yakata, was that of the 90 day reporting required of all foreigners on long stay visa extensions. Consul General Yakata told the officials that there are 3,000 Japanese nationals living in Northern Thailand. She requested a simplification of the process, perhaps by extending the length of time needed in between reports.

Chinese Consul General Zhu Weimin requested a change in the 90 day reporting procedure as well, citing the large numbers of Chinese students who attend Chiang Mai schools who cannot take time off from school to travel to Immigration to report. He suggested they open on the weekends for those who have jobs and classes.

The official justified the 90 day reporting by saying “it allows us the best possible protection. If someone goes missing then we have more recent information as to their whereabouts to give to the Embassy.”

90 day reporting is currently required of those foreigners remaining in Thailand on a Thai visa extension. Anyone in the Kingdom on an extension must report their address every 90 days. As can be gathered from the above quotation, some foreign nationals in Thailand feel that the 90 day reporting requirement is cumbersome. However, Thai authorities seem unwilling to change the rules as the current system would seem to provide the most efficient method of maintaining records as to the last known addresses of foreign nationals in Thailand. This is important as Thai authorities can use the data from 90 day reporting to apprise foreign governments of the location of their citizens for purposes of death or disappearance in Thailand. In this author’s opinion, the 90 day reporting scheme is rather cumbersome, but no one, as of yet, has provided a feasible alternative which would comport to the needs of all concerned.

For Related Information please see: Thailand Permanent Residence.

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