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ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryThailand Corporate LawStaff of Amity Treaty Companies Still Need Thai Work Permits

Staff of Amity Treaty Companies Still Need Thai Work Permits

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests we're discussing Amity Treaty Companies and we are talking about Thai Work permits in the context of those Companies.

There is some information that has been swirling around the internet that in my opinion is over exaggerating a rather fine point and may in fact be just completely erroneous depending on sort of how you look at some of the more nuanced aspects of law. But that being said, I want to preface this video by saying my staff has contacted the Ministry of Labor directly and asked them the direct question, "Do Directors or Staff of an Amity Treaty Company need to have a work permit in Thailand?" And the answer to that question was an unequivocal "Yes" when we contacted that Ministry. Moreover as discussed in a prior video on this channel, Immigration for purposes of visa extension is still going to go ahead and need a work permit. There are various other aspects of living in Thailand that are going to require a work permit. Where this seems to have created some confusion seems to sort of revolve around an exclusion within some of the recent changes, the Emergency Decrees on work permits in Thailand, which basically exclude the operation of business of the person and in this case it can be the Juristic Person that holds a Foreign Business License under the Foreign Business Act in Thailand. 

As discussed in another video on this channel, Amity Companies operate not under the Foreign Business Act in Thailand. They operate pursuant to the provisions of the US - Thai Treaty of Amity and the provisions of that Treaty stipulate that any company which receives certification as an American company operating in Thailand shall be granted what is called National treatment. Now that being said, the Foreign Business Act also has specific provisions which note that there are treaties etc. which have language which may operate to supersede the provisions of the Foreign Business Act and so they take note of that. But what should be noted here is an Amity Company does not receive a Foreign Business License. An Amity Company receives an Amity Treaty certificate. It is certified as American and once the certification occurs it is granted National treatment pursuant to the Treaty, it is treated as if it were a Thai company and Thai companies all have to deal with work permit rules like any other companies.

Another thing that has gotten people had worked up into a tizzy is the exclusion applies for the operation of a business and I have gone through this with other lawyers, specifically Thai lawyers, I am trying to parse out what this means. There seems to have been something of, for lack of a better term, an exception made to I think allow foreigners who are coming in for example to a shareholder meeting in Thailand to not require those folks to have to have a permit. I think they were providing a little bit of breathing room for those kind of people; sort of short-term entrants who are just coming in to go ahead and as I say sit through a shareholder meeting or something rather innocuous. They're not going to qualify that as "work" per se.  That being said, an active director on the ground here in Thailand operating their business is going to need a work permit because anything short of a very narrow range of activities pertaining specifically to the paperwork involved with maintaining a Thai company is going to be classified as work in the Kingdom. I mean work is pretty broadly defined. It is exerting effort basically in furtherance of a cause, for lack of a better term; and I am paraphrasing there but it does pretty much sum up how Thai Labor officials review labor and labor activities in the Kingdom.

As discussed in prior videos on this channel, Yes the Ministry of Labour has relaxed the rules regarding work permits rather exponentially compared to relaxations in the past and scope of work, scope of services, geographic scope of work being done; the regulations pertaining to that have all been drawn back significantly. Geographic work for example, where once it was interpreted that an individual could only work within the confines of their particular registered address or the address noted in their work permit, and then that was kind of interpreted a little more broadly to allow kind of a little bit broader scope of activities within a province, now geographically sort of "the gloves are off" and you can pretty much work and do as you like throughout the country. So this is very dependent that what was once very dependent on interpretations is now rather broad.

But the things take away from this is ‘Yes, Amity Companies, the staff of Amity Companies, Directors, employees etc., if they are foreign, they need work permits in order to work in the Kingdom for that Company regardless of the relaxation of the work permit rules and regardless of this sort of narrow notion of the business's operation which I think is basically narrowly defined as perhaps a director meeting or a shareholder meeting. Even then I am not certain that they are not going to go ahead and say without a doubt you need a work permit because when we contacted Labour Ministry they were very clear. They said "everybody who is a foreigner working on an Amity Company needs a work permit". Now parsing out these little exceptions, okay whatever as I preface this video with, “Labour Ministry said a work permit was still necessary so that is basically what I would go ahead and take to the bank with respect to being able to do business here in the Kingdom.

So the thing to take away from this video is: short answer “Yes, Amity Companies, the staff on them, are still required to have a work permit to operate here in the Kingdom of Thailand.”