What is the change? Thailand has expanded its definitions of business activities that are exempt from work permits, including attendance at board meetings, conferences, seminars, lectures and other activities.

What does the change mean? Foreign nationals entering Thailand to perform any of the seven exempted activities listed below will no longer be required to obtain work permits or urgent work permits.

  • Implementation timeframe: March 13.
  • Visas/permits affected: Work permits and urgent work permits.
  • Who is affected: Foreign nationals conducting certain business activities in Thailand.
  • Impact on processing times: The new rules will reduce work permit processing for qualifying business travelers.
  • Business impact: The expanded list of permitted activities will ease business travel.
  • Next steps: Travelers should contact their BAL representative before attempting to travel under one of the new exceptions without a work permit.

Background: As of March 13, the Employment Department began recognizing an expanded list of business activities it now considers “non-work” activities and thus do not require a work permit or urgent work permit.

The list of activities includes:

  1. Attending a conference or seminar, gathering information.
  2. Visiting or viewing an exhibition or trade show.
  3. Visiting businesses or holding meeting discussions.
  4. Attending special lectures and educational forums (audience participation).
  5. Attending lectures for training and technical seminars (audience participation).
  6. Buying products at a trade show.
  7. Attending a board meeting or directors meeting of the foreign national’s own company.

BAL Analysis: As this rule is newly implemented, clients are strongly advised to consult with their BAL representative to confirm that their activities fall within the list of permitted activities and to strictly limit their activities to those that are specifically listed. Companies and foreign travelers should take special note that while they are not required to obtain work permits for general business meetings, a foreigner who travels to Thailand to be a “trainer” or “speaker” for a conference or seminar must obtain a regular work permit or urgent work permit. Additionally, while individuals attending training sessions, seminars or conferences are not required to obtain work permits, foreign workers who will be trained at the company or work site must apply for work permits.

This alert has been provided by the BAL Global Practice group and our network provider located in Thailand. For additional information, please contact your BAL attorney.

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