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ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryThailand Corporate LawDo Foreign YouTubers in Thailand Need a Work Permit?

Do Foreign YouTubers in Thailand Need a Work Permit?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are discussing You Tubers and Work Permits here in the Kingdom. 

 Now I have had You Tubers ask me this has asked me this. I have had various people ask me this because we have this channel and they know we do a fair amount of you tubing ourselves and the question has come up "Do You Tubers need a Work Permit?" and my short answer to that is "Yes, probably depending on the circumstances."  Let's be clear. Thai Law is rather unambiguous in my opinion that foreigners working in the Kingdom need to have a Work Permit. Now the definition of work is sort of where the rubber meets the road with respect to this analysis, because what is defined as working? This has always been something that has been sort of a bone of consternation if you will amongst expats especially here in the Kingdom. You hear stories of people volunteering in Thailand thinking they don't need a work permit and lo and behold it turns out that they are cited for work permit violations. In fact there are various organizations that have had problems over the years for having workers, foreign workers specifically, that didn't have any type of work authorization. 

Where does that leave You Tubers? A couple of things as a background. First of all, the Emergency Decree that was issued back in 2018, back in March, greatly increase the scope of activity that a Work Permit holder can do. So those that hold a Work Permit, where once they were sort of circumscribed to a specific activity or to a specific geographic location or sometimes even to a specific office, they have taken a lot of that away and they take sort of a more laissez-faire attitude with respect to foreigners working in the Kingdom if they have a Work Permit. So if you have a work permit, so long as you are not doing something that specifically runs counter to the restricted occupations list noted by the Ministry of Labour, then I don't think you tubing per se violates that list. That being said, my opinion should not be viewed as definitive. I am not a Thai Attorney and at the same time that list is subject to some interpretation and ones activities are certainly subject to analysis and interpretation given the specific set of circumstances at issue.

The thing to take away from this is, I think those who have a Work Permit and are out there you tubing, I think they are on safer ground then those who do not have a work permit and are you tubing. 

Another thing that I think that would go into the analysis of this is probably, and too much lesser of a degree than having a work permit vs. not having work permit, but to some extent whether or not one is making money, whether their YouTube channel is monetized, would probably go into the analysis of a Labor Department official or an Immigration Department official in association with an analysis of you tubing and whether or not the act of being on YouTube violates the Thai Labor Code

The thing to take away from this video, for those who are looking at this to try and get a definitive answer is there really isn't one. I would say "yes, it is a very good idea. I would strongly recommend anybody who is you tubing, especially those you tubing on a monetized channel, to seriously, seriously consider if you don't already have a work permit, it would be a darn good idea to go ahead and get one even if it is for a job that is not really related to your you tubing endeavors because as stated, the prior relaxation of the Labor Code under the Emergency Decree back in 2018, I think that allowed for a broader scope of activity so long as one had a Work Permit.

Now the other thing to think about is work permit violations or violation of the rules regarding restricted occupations and the rules regarding working without a permit in Thailand can also lead to problems with Immigration as Immigration can determine that that individual is working illegally in Thailand and that can subject them to deportation or fines or both or possibly blacklisting from the Kingdom if one is viewed to be operating illegally or running a business illegally in the Kingdom. Again, although YouTube is nebulous and working online for lack of better term is nebulous, that vagueness can operate against an individual when they are sort of backed up against the wall in the context of being inspected by Immigration oh by the Labour Department. So while it is a good thing as a day-to-day practical matter, to have this sort of nebulous situation where you are doing things on YouTube, again that can turn against an individual especially an individual without a work permit in the Kingdom because if it is determined by a given officer adjudicating a given set of circumstances that an individual is in fact working illegally in the Kingdom, that can result in a lot of negative consequences most notably and not least, deportation and blacklisting from the Kingdom of Thailand.