Have a question about obtaining a work permit or visa? Check out the questions below; chances are we've got your query covered! If not you can submit a question to us by clicking here.

If your question regarding work permits and visas hasn't already been addressed on this page, we may be able to help! Submit your question using the form fields below.

Can my employer refuse to give me my teacher's license when I leave?

This information comes from an ajarn reader.

It's common for schools to hang on to your teacher's license (both the permanent version and the version issued to that school for your current contract period) while you're working there.

Schools sometimes like to hang on to your passport and your blue work permit book too, officially for safekeeping, unofficially perhaps in an attempt to stop you disappearing at the end of the month.

Remember that your passport is yours, the school has no right to keep it and it should be kept with you.

The work permit has to be kept with you OR at your place of work during working hours: again the school has no automatic right to keep it in the school safe forever.

At the basic minimum, keep a copy of the work permit in case you need it to refer to the number or issue/expiry date.

When you leave your work, the school must give you your permanent teacher's license (but not the current one issued for your employment) whether you leave Thailand or remain to go on to a new job.

Check you have the original license with the original photograph and stamp on it. They have no right to keep the original permanent license and give you only a copy. It's yours, not theirs.


What happens if I overstay a visa?

Don't overstay a visa in Thailand. It's as simple as that.

The overstay rules are getting stricter and stricter.

At best you will have to pay a fine depending on the number of days you have overstayed. At worst (if the overstay is a long one) you will be barred from entering the country for X number of years.

There's little point going into detail. DON'T OVERSTAY A THAI VISA. 



What is a re-entry permit?

If you have a non-immigrant visa (possibly one that has been extended for a year) it will be cancelled if you leave Thailand.

So to avoid your visa being cancelled, get a re-entry permit from your local immigration office. 

This is very important if you have a work permit, because canceling your visa also cancels the work permit and you have to start the process all over again.

If you have a multiple entry non-immigrant visa which has been extended on a work permit (or you have a work permit application in process) then you still need a re-entry permit, because a new entry is considered to be a new visa, and everything will have been cancelled.

If in doubt, check with immigration first, because the consequences of getting it wrong are troublesome.


My school will get me a work permit if I sign a one-year contract. What happens if I break that cont

Well, the school will be pissed off for a start (unless you're an awful teacher and they can't wait to see the back of you).

In addition to that, you will probably be required to reimburse the school for the costs of work permit, teacher's license, admin staff's shoe leather, etc, etc. You can expect to cough up something in the region of 5,000 baht. 

More importantly, once you quit a job, your work permit and one-year visa are null and void. You now have 7 days to leave the country and get a new visa.

Make sure that you keep tabs on exactly when the school hands back your work permit to the labor department, because that's when the 7-day clock starts ticking. I've heard numerous stories of schools failing to tell the teacher that they've already cancelled the work permit and the teacher suddenly staring at a hefty overstay fine.

Needless to say, breaking a contract is something you really should avoid doing if at all possible.

Paully also adds the following - In addition to the advice already given, remember that if your written employment contract has a notice period clause in it (as is common), for example, allowing your employer or you to terminate the contract on one month's written notice to the other party, you are NOT breaking your contract by giving your employer one month's written notice of leaving.

You are terminating your contract by agreement. This is as valid in Thai law as in US or UK law.

Your employer may still be pissed off, but there's nothing in law he can do about it other than try to hold up your application for a new work permit.

Keep a copy of your letter of notice and contact the Ministry of Labour if your old employer refuses to give you the Min of Labour a release form (Tor Dor 11) agreeing to your leaving and allowing you to get a new work permit.

Update from a teacher regarding the '7-day rule'

In my case, the employer wrote on whatever form it was that they presented to the Labour Department that my last date of employment was 12 June.

They actually notified the Labour Department on 14 June and subsequently notified Immigration on 15 June. Immigration gave me until 18 June (ie, the clock started ticking the first second into 12 June) to leave the country.

I was expecting a date of 21st June, so this was a bit of a surprise, but not a problem.


What are the costs involved in doing a border run and will my school pay?

Very difficult to answer this question. You could take a cheap minibus from Bangkok to Aranya Pratheet on the Cambodian border and still have change from thirty dollars. Or you could fly to Singapore and stay a night in a swanky Orchard Road hotel.

Border runs can be tailored to fit most budgets.

Schools almost rarely/never pay for a teacher to do a border hop or consulate run.

Can I change my non-immigrant O visa to a non-immigrant B visa if I get offered a job?

Not sure why you would want to do that because you can legally work on a non 'O' visa as the rules currently stand.

It would be better to get the work permit on the Non-imm O visa then you don't have to rely on the teaching job to keep your legal status going.

You must have a salary of at least 40k baht per month, or show sufficient funds in a bank account in order to be approved and renew.

If I need to get a non-immigrant visa from a neighboring country, what documentation do I need?

The requirements can vary from embassy to embassy.

Decide which Thai embassy you are going to and then take a look at their website for the latest updated requirements.

If you are relying on a school to provide you with documentation, then the school should know exactly what is required.

Briefly, what is the process of obtaining a teacher's license and getting a work permit?

Briefly, you give your school whatever documents they ask you for, and they process them.

You need to be tolerant and helpful at this point even if you personally think the school has no need to ask for certain things. If you don't co-operate, the process will get stuck and you'll be the one leaving the country to get a new visa.

First they obtain a teacher's license for you, and then they use this to get a work permit. Once you have a work permit, your visa can be extended.

Lengthily, (and the details may vary between schools and provinces) the first step is the teacher's license. This requires more or less the following:

A personal information document, up to 12 one and a half inch photos, up to 12 two inch photos, a current health certificate (50 baht any hospital - are you alive? yes - you passed), copies of your degree and other certs (originals may be requested along with transcripts) certified Thai translations of your degree and other certs, copies of every page of your passport, school director's license, school principal's license, map of school, teaching schedule of teacher, list of other work permit holders at the school, a new blank teacher's license book (blue), form Sor Chor 10, form Sor Chor 17, form Ror 11.

And if you've had a license before, then you can add Ror 12, Sor Chor 19, Sor Chor 18, and your blue license book (not to be confused with the work permit book, plus some provinces don't issue them, in which case you might need to fabricate a police report saying you've lost it)

These are all submitted in quadruplicate to the Thai Ministry of Education - and don't forget to sign every single page.

After a while (one week to who knows) you will get the license back. You take this, along with most of the same documents as above to the Labour Department, who will issue a receipt of application.

You can use the receipt to extend your visa - the implication being that your application won't be turned down at this stage.

After about three weeks you pick up your new work permit.

When the time comes for renewal, it's a good idea to remind your school about one month before the expiry date, though they really should be on top of things by that stage.

Which visa will I need in order to become a legal teacher?

A Non-immigrant 'B' visa is generally the visa you need to obtain if you are looking to work here as a teacher.

If you are applying for a non-immigrant 'B' visa, it's a good idea to call your nearest embassy or consulate ahead of time and find out exactly what they require if you want to apply for a non-immigrant B, - although this information is usually on their website and updated regularly.

What is a consulate/embassy run?

A consulate run is when you physically need to get a new Thai visa in your passport and that means schlepping to a Thai consulate/embassy in a neighboring country.

It goes without saying that consulate runs are more expensive, more time-consuming (and dare I say more stressful) than border hops.

Depending on what time of day you arrive, Thai embassies / consulates will issue you a new visa within 48 hours.

One of our ajarn bloggers - Sam Thompson - did a visa run to Laos in 2015 and his detailed account is well worth a read.

What is a border run or border hop?

A border hop means taking a train, a bus, a plane or anything with wheels, and crossing one of Thailand's borders to enter a neighboring country (Malaysia, Laos, Myanmar, etc). Then usually coming straight back into Thailand again.

A border hop is usually done to 'activate' a second or third entry on a double or triple entry visa.

Does a work permit cover you for all types of teaching work and in any location?

Your work permit usually allows you to teach in ONE location only - the location written on the inside cover of the work permit.

However, several ajarn readers have informed me that it is now possible to add a second or other locations to a work permit book.

Do people teach on tourist visas for a long time? Why?

The main reasons that teachers work illegally (on tourist visas) are

1) they don't possess the necessary qualifications to obtain a teacher's license
2) their school / institute can't get them a work permit / won't get them a work permit / don't know how to get them a work permit
3) they actually prefer to remain a 'free spirit' often juggling around freelance work and not tied down to one particular establishment.

Be warned though: teaching without a work permit can land you in serious trouble. Jail / fine / deportation - take your pick.

What's the difference between a legal and an illegal teacher?

A legal teacher has a teacher's license (from the Thai Ministry of Education), a work permit (from the Thai Labor Department) and a one-year visa (from the Thai Immigration Dept)

The one year visa is issued on the strength of you having a work permit. If you don't get the work permit, you don't get the one year visa. They are inextricably linked.

An illegal teacher has no teacher's license and no work permit, and of course - no one year visa.

Illegal teachers are resigned to doing border hops and consulate runs to neighboring countries. Life is getting far more difficult in Thailand for this kind of teacher.

Can i get a 3-month class 'O' visa in Laos?

Can I get a three-month category 'O' visa in Laos? What about a double-entry non-immigrant B in Penang?

To be honest I hate answering these kind of questions because there is no such thing as a straight yes or no in my experience.

My advice is always to either call or fax the Thai consulate you intend to go to (calling is better) and get the answer from the actual consulate officers. Ask the name of the person you are speaking to so you have a reference point.

I wouldn't plan a visa run - transportation, accommodation costs, etc - unless I had some sort of guarantee.

If you turn up at the consulate with ten bits of paper, and the consulate want eleven, then it's too late. You're screwed.

Find out exactly what you need before you make the journey.

Do you need two WPs if you work full-time at a school and part-time at a language institute?

You would probably have a work permit for the full-time job at the school, but the part-time work at the language institute would just be for a few hours in the evening.

One of Bangkok's biggest private language schools only employs part-time teachers who already have a work permit for their full-time job. This means that at the very least, the teacher is legally entitled to work in Thailand, albeit not for the part-time job.

However, an ajarn reader got in touch to say that at the back of the work permit book, there is space to add a 'second employer'. So it seems you can possibly cover two jobs at two different locations with just one work permit book.

How long can a teacher stay in Thailand after they cancel a work permit?

What should officially happen when a teacher quits a job and hands the work permit back to the employer is that both teacher and employer should go to the immigration department and inform the officer that the teacher has terminated his / her employment.

The officer will then cancel the teacher's visa and the teacher has 24 hours to leave the country. However there are many 'ifs' and 'buts'. If the teacher needs to organise transportation out of the country, etc, - as is often the case - they can ask the immigration officer for a 7-day visa extension (at a cost)

In reality, when many teachers quit their jobs, their employer simply can't be bothered to go and do the right thing at the immigration office and the teacher ends up staying in Thailand for the remaining period that their visa allows. 

This is something of a risky game to play because if you, the teacher, are stopped by police for a passport spot-check, you no longer have a work permit to support the visa in your passport.

My advice - do the right thing. Get a one-week extension and then leave the country.   

How can I make sure that leaving a job goes smoothly in terms of handing back the work permit?

Firstly, this is by and large the employer's responsibilty and not the teacher's.

You need to liaise with your school's admin person and tell them that you are leaving (hopefully you gave them 30 days notice) and discuss this issue.

Ask the employer to inform you as soon as your work permit has been cancelled and returned to the labor department. You must ensure that this procedure has been carried out or else getting your new work permit for the next job could be a problem.

Years ago, it was the responsibilty of the employer to give the teacher a chit to show that the permit had been cancelled but that's no longer the case. Therefore the current system is open to all sorts of administrative procrastination if your school is that way inclined.  

I have a criminal record having spent a very short time in prison. Could this be problematic?

It's actually not a requirement to bring a criminal background check document (CBC) to Thailand, although some employers may ask to see one. 

The vast majority of employers have realised that generally teachers arrive in Thailand without the CBC and getting one from their own country or state is just too time-consuming and too much hassle.

The real problems can occur though when a teacher goes to a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring Asian country to apply for a non-immigrant B visa on the basis of obtaining work as a teacher. At some embassies and consulates, they will ask to see a CBC. Not all of them but some.

Getting yourself a CBC while you are in your own country is always a wise idea. There's every chance you won't need to show it but always be prepared for a first time.

The fact that you've been in prison for the crime committed (information withheld) won't matter.   

How do I stay working as a teacher here for longer than two years?

I presume you are talking about the two-year waiver that the TCT (Teachers Council of Thailand) granted teachers that were not qualified enough to apply for a teachers licence but could show they were making the effort to actually get qualified.

Well, for many teachers - especially those who have done nothing about getting qualified in the past two years - that two-year period is up.

In many cases though, employers have been successful in getting a second extension to the waiver agreement (or so I'm led to believe) but other employers have been knocked back and teachers now face losing their jobs.

As with so many rules and regulations in Thailand - the colour is grey!    

Do I have to return to my own country to obtain a work visa?

Firstly, there is no such thing as a work visa in Thailand. You mean a non-immigrant B visa, which allows you to apply for a teacher's licence, etc.

Many people take the option of returning to their home country because non-immigrant B visas can be more difficult to obtain in the Asian countries bordering Thailand, especially if you don't have the correct paperwork.

Do schools contact the authorities in your home country about a criminal record?

No. It's the responsibility of the teacher to provide criminal background checks to the employer (if required)

Most school admin departments wouldn't have the first clue how to go about the process anyway,

Can I get a visa to do substitution work at different schools?

Firstly, there isn't a lot of demand in Thailand for some kind of substitute teacher who flits between different schools perhaps covering for absent teachers, etc. In truth, there never has been a demand for this sort of position.

Maybe one or two of the larger private language schools who supply teachers to Thai secondary schools might sometimes have a vacancy for a supply teacher, but you would still be classed as a 'full-time' teacher for that particular private language school (agent)

The thing is you still need a work permit to do this type of work so technically you need a non-immigrant B visa in order to start the work permit process.

Visas don't entitle you to work legally (there is no such thing as a 'work visa' in Thailand) To work legally, you still need a work permit. And it would be nigh on impossible to get a work permit as a substitute teacher working for several different employers. 

What are the minimum number of hours you need to work to qualify for a work permit?

I've asked around and no one has come up with a straight answer to this.

Someone did mention the minimum as possibly being 20 hours a week but the general concensus seems to be that there is no set figure. I'll update things when and if I hear something more concrete.  

What paperwork should I bring with me to Thailand?

You should ideally bring your original degree certificate and originals of any transcripts. And also a criminal background check if you can get one (although these seem to be less and less of a requirement as time goes by)

Don't fret about how many copies of each document you need to bring. It's not as though Thailand doesn't have photocopiers (as some people seem to think!)

Can I convert a tourist visa into a non-immigrant B without leaving Thailand?

Yes, this can be done if you are a teacher with a guaranteed job offer but surprise! surprise! there is a certain amount of hassle involved.

A lot of the responsibility rests with your employer, who will need your paperwork in order to apply for a letter from the Thai Ministry of Education. This letter can take anything from 3-6 weeks to obtain.

Because of the hassle involved, many employers take the easy option of asking the teacher to go to a neighboring country such as Laos or Malaysia and apply for a new non-immigrant B visa from a Thai consulate or embassy in that country.

Can you get a work permit without a degree?

This is one of those 'ask ten different people and you'll get ten different answers' type questions. There are a lot of those in Thailand trust me.

Although the official line is 'no you can't get a work permit without a degree' there are plenty of examples of agencies managing to get one for their teaching staff and in some cases, teachers at government schools out in the sticks have had no problem at all.

As in most cases, it can depend on contacts and being in the right place at the right time. If you're looking for some hard, fast rule that applies 100% of the time - forget it. This is Thailand.

Who should pay for the work permit - employer or employee?

There is no rule or law stating who is responsible for payment. Sometimes it's the employee that forks out but in most cases it's the employer.

Should I trust my employer with my passport if they need it for certain processes?

There will probably come a time when your employer needs to show your original passport as part of the visa / work permit process, etc and photocopies won't suffice.

If at all possible, ask if you can accompany the school staff on these processing trips. In other words, don't let your passport out of your sight.

There have certainly been instances of school admin staff losing passports and while it isn't the end of the world, it can be a real hassle and inconvenience to get a passport replaced.

Asking to accompany the school staff on a processing trip is certainly not an unreasonable request.  

Can a visa and work permit be transferred to another job?

Technically, the answer is no.

If a teacher leaves a job for whatever reason, they need to hand back the work permit to the labor department and the visa that goes with that work permit becomes null and void.

You then have to leave the country (usually within 7 days) to obtain a new visa at a Thai embassy or consulate in a neighboring country.

However, there are rarely any black and white answers in Thailand, and some teachers (probably very few I might add) have had success transferring the visa but not the work permit, while others have had success transferring both work permit and visa due to the fact that the paperwork for the new job was completed in time (before the end of the first contract)

If that doesn't sound like a straight answer, then that's because it isn't one. This is another one of those situations where as the teacher, you need to rely on both your past and previous employers to get all their ducks in a row.

It rarely happens that way in truth - so be prepared to leave the country for a visa run.

Is there an age limit to working in Thailand according to visa requirements?

I've never heard that there is an age limit for a visa, but 60 is apparently the age where you can't get into the social security scheme.

In my experience, there is no problem getting a work permit after you turn 60.

(Thanks to Terry LH for answering this question)

Is it possible to secure a visa / teachers licence that also covers you for your child?

Yes, as long as you have a non-B visa which entitles you to get a teaching licence and work legally in Thailand.

You can then obtain a non-O visa for your children or spouse (qualifying them as dependents) 

What are the penalties on being late for your 90 day reporting?

The fine is 2,000 baht and the rule is certainly enforced.

Don't forget though that you are allowed a 7-day grace period once your 90 days is up.

Why is it so difficult to get a straight answer to a visa-related question?

Thailand has a very complex visa system and sometimes it seems like it's forever changing.

My advice to anyone who has an important visa-related question is to go to your local immigration office or Thai embassy and get the answer from the people who make the rules.

Don't rely on info from well-meaning 'experts' (including me) who think they know the ropes. Their info might be correct at the time of writing but they could also be wrong.

For that reason the answers to the questions in this section should never be taken as absolute gospel.

The level of customer service at Thai immigration offices has improved a great deal over the past years and I always find them very helpful. Even in the smallest provincial immigration offices there will invariably be an officer who can speak enough English to help you.

How long does a work permit renewal take?

If your school knows what it is doing, then a work permit renewal should only take a day or two - provided there are no unforeseen problems. 

Can a potential employer cancel my 90 day non-b visa should I wish not accept employment?

An ajarn reader writes - "I came into Thailand a week ago on a non-B visa with the intention of working at a school here.

I discovered on the first day that the terms of employment were not as they appeared to be. I informed the school that I would not continue with them and that I would need to look for other work.

Naturally they were not pleased and said they would go to immigration and cancel my non-B. Can they do that? Please help!"

Phil says "I'm not getting the full story here but I assume you fixed up a job while you were still in your home country and the employer sent you a letter of 'intent to employ' and you used that letter to get a non-immigrant B visa at your local Thai embassy.

The truth is that you haven't done anything wrong. It's not your fault that now you are actually here, the job has not turned out to be what you expected. 

It seems I can never repeat this enough but NEVER fix up a job before you arrive. Wait until you get here and then start looking for jobs.

Back to the original question - the employer can't waltz into immigration and start demanding that visas be cancelled. There's no contract between the two of you for starters. It's nothing but an idle threat. A pretty nasty one at that. I'm sure you've learned a lesson or two from all this though.  

Is it legal for a potential employer to ask for original documents?

There is no legality issue here. It falls under the heading of common sense.

You should NEVER let original documents out of your sight and even if you have to hand them over to someone (let's say in a Thai government department) for a fleeting moment, you should know exactly where they are.

So make sure wherever possible, that you accompany those original documents on their journey. 

How long does the process take to get a teachers licence, and do I have to do it myself?

You need a school backing you up in order to get yourself a teacher's license. If the school can't do the paperwork then your own chances of doing it will be slim to non-existent.

Many schools do not actually know how to get licenses and work permits for foreign teachers, or do not have a member of staff who has ever done it. In this case things can get very drawn out with the application being postponed indefinitely. If you're the first or only foreigner in a school, good luck.

The actual process need not take a long time. The important thing is to get the teacher's license because that will enable you to file your work permit application, which is then enough to extend your visa.

The process shouldn't take more than a month according to several school admin people that I have spokn to.

Featured Jobs

Corporate Teacher near Talatplu BTS

1 day, 10 hours ago

฿600+ /hour


Native English Speaking Teachers

1 day, 20 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month


Kindergarten Teacher

2 days, 19 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month


Grade 4 Homeroom Teacher

3 days, 10 hours ago

฿40,000+ /month


P/T Corporate & In-House Teachers

3 days, 14 hours ago

฿600+ /hour


Native English Teachers for May 2016

3 days, 14 hours ago

฿30,000+ /month

Various locations

TEFL Courses & Training

Get off to a good start...

Take your course
in Thailand!

Training Directory

Featured Teachers

  • Brian


    British, 60 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Aidan


    British, 24 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Russell


    American, 45 years old. Currently living in United States of America

  • Keith


    American, 54 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Gregg


    American, years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Asger


    Dane, 43 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Scott


    American, 58 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Antony


    British, 43 years old. Currently living in Thailand

  • Abdul


    Pakistani, 23 years old. Currently living in Pakistan

  • Sainath


    Indian, 36 years old. Currently living in Thailand


English Planet

To be internationally recognized as the leader in quality English language training.

Space available

Put your banner on the ajarn homepage. Contact us for details.

Siam Computer & Language

Competitive teacher packages with benefits and bonus incentives

Kajonkietsuksa School

First bilingual school in Phuket. Vacancies for kindergarten, primary and secondary teachers.

Kasintorn St Peter School

Progressive English program school near Bangkok employing NES and Filipino teachers

Inlingua Thailand

Premier language school with many branches and corporate training.

The Hot Spot

Fun Quiz

Fun Quiz

Find out how employable you are in Thailand as an English teacher. Is it a case of 'welcome aboard' or "Mom, I need you to send some money again"

The dreaded demo

The dreaded demo

Many schools ask for demo lessons before they hire. What should you the teacher be aware of?

Can you hear me OK?

Can you hear me OK?

In today's modern world, the on-line interview is becoming more and more popular. How do you prepare for it?

Will I find work in Thailand?

Will I find work in Thailand?

It's one of the most common questions we get e-mailed to us. So find out exactly where you stand.

Teacher mistakes

Teacher mistakes

What are the most common mistakes that teachers make when they are about to embark on a teaching career in Thailand? We've got them all covered.

Renting an apartment?

Renting an apartment?

Before you go pounding the streets, check out our guide and know what to look out for.

Contributions welcome

Contributions welcome

If you like visiting ajarn.com and reading the content, why not get involved yourself and keep us up to date?