What’s Required: Legal Working Papers

Teaching English Legally in Bangkok and in Thailand

Jobs in Thailand and the Legal Paperwork

Seriously consider taking only jobs that make you 100% legal.

In Thailand there are a few employers with a tradition of delaying or not providing legal working papers at all, or requiring you to complete a probationary period before they will do your paperwork.

But it shouldn’t be that way and there are plenty of quality employers who will make you legal. Do it for your own peace of mind if nothing else.

Part of the problem in Thailand is that the rules change from time to time without clear explanation to those whom the changes effect. And people are sometimes left guessing.

Anyway, it can be difficult to really get a handle on what is required as you may hear different things from different people and different websites. The solution? Find a reputable employer and let them worry about it for you.

What is required to get legal working papers?

In Thailand there are sometimes ways around rules and they change all the time.  A TEFL Certification is required and other than that, requirements can vary by city and province.

There are constant rumors afoot of changes in the rules – but rarely anything concrete.


If you enter Thailand on a tourist visa, you will usually – not always – need to leave the country to change your visa to a Non-Immigrant-B visa. That visa is the basis on which your work permit AND teaching license will eventually be issued.

The best way to deal with the whole mess? Seek employment ONLY with employers that offer a work permit. Most people end up working before the papers are actually issued, but know at least that things are in process.

You will know this as you will need to take one or more trips, usually with someone from your employer, to immigration and/or the labor office.

If you enter the country on a tourist visa, keep a little money in back up for a trip to either Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Vientiane, or Phnom Phen to change your visa.

Good Links for Resources:

Thai Visa’s discussion forums on Visas, Work Permits and Residency

Royal Thai Embassy in the UK — Their Teacher Visa pages

Thai Embassy in Washington DC — Their Consular Visa Page

Know that the issues and specific rules about teaching licenses and work permits seem to be in constant flux. The best way to deal with it is to let your employer worry about it.

Away from the major cities schools are in dire need of EFL teachers and can usually tell the immigration and labor offices that they can not find someone with a degree and there you go – you can get working papers without a degree.