Applying for and renewing teacher work permits in Thailand

Applying for and renewing teacher work permits in Thailand

The work permit application and renewal process


As you are probably aware, the whole system in Thailand of teacher work permits, teacher licenses and the visas that go with your work permit (often mistakenly called a 'work visa') is very complex. So it's always good to hear things from a teacher who has very recently gone through the process. The majority of the text and information below comes from Teacher Mike, and any extra comments in bold type are from ajarn.com.

(This blog has been reproduced with the very kind permission of Mike, a teacher in South Thailand. Mike runs an excellent website called 'Southern Thai Expat' which contains many blogs based around the daily life of an expat living and working in Thailand. Please pay Mike's website a visit and show him your support)  

OK, down to the nitty gritty.

This is a two part blog which demonstrates the typical process of applying for and renewing a work permit and visa if you are a teacher in Thailand.

Those who live in and work in the kingdom of Thailand know that whether they like it or not, once a year they will be required to renew their documentation to remain in the country for another year. This has always been a contentious issue for a large number of long term expats who feel aggrieved that they have to effectively ask permission to remain in the country each year with no consideration or reward given for their investment in the country.

Part one (Applying for a Visa & Work Permit)

There are a number of different visas that foreigners can obtain to remain in Thailand. The vast majority of the foreigners you will see here will be in possession of tourist visas or visa exemption stamps, these give them permission to remain for a limited time for the sole purposes of travel. It is however not uncommon for teachers to work on these tourist visas, particularly if they perhaps don't have the required qualifications to obtain a work permit.

Ajarn.com says - Mike originally wrote this information in March 2014. Since then, there have been significant changes in Thai immigration law. From mid-August 2014, Thai immigration will be clamping down on teachers (well, anyone really) using tourist visas to constantly leave and re-enter the country in order to work illegally for an extended period. One tourist visa is OK but you may face problems being let back into the country with a second tourist visa. In a nutshell, if you are using back-to-back tourist visas, you need to prove to the immigration officer that you are indeed a tourist.

Long term residents of Thailand normally have possession of a 'non immigrant visa'. These are split into a number of categories but the most common are 'non o' (marriage) and 'non b' (working). I myself am not married and work in a local government school on a non immigrant b visa.

Signing a contract with a school

When you first sign your contract with the school you will be issued with the documentation to obtain a non immigrant b visa. In order to get this visa stamped into your passport you will need to apply at either an embassy or a consulate outside of Thailand. The vast majority of people in the south of Thailand choose to do this at the consulate in Penang, Malaysia and the whole process can be completed in a just a few days. I actually had my documentation sent to my home in England before I came to Thailand and I received my visa from the Thai consulate in Hull.

Upon your entry to the country you will be given permission to remain for three months. It is your responsibility to obtain a work permit during this period so that the visa can be extended for a full calendar year or until the end of the term of employment (whichever comes first).

Ajarn.com says - It is not always necessary to leave the country in order to obtain a non-immigrant B visa. Many teachers have been successful in changing a tourist visa to a non-immigrant B visa at the main immigration office in Bangkok. Yes, it requires a lot of paperwork. Yes, it requires your school (employer) to be pro-active and yes, you should probly contact immigration to find out the correct procedure. 

Licence or licence waiver?

Teachers who are teaching in OBEC Schools (basically every school with the exception of universities and private language companies) will be required to obtain the required documentation from the TCT (Thailand Teaching Council). This takes the form of either a full teachers licence or a waiver to teach without a licence.

A full teachers licence can be obtained by having a degree in education e.g. PGCE and having taken part in the 'thai culture course'. Most people however will be applying for a waiver to teach without a licence. This waiver gives the holder permission to teach at the school for a period of two years.

Applicants who wish to apply for a waiver to teach without a license must have a degree from a recognised university, TEFL certificate and a recent criminal records check. The degree can be in any field and does not have to have any relation to teaching whatsoever. It is worth noting that those applying to the TCT from countries considered not to be 'native english speaking' (all countries except AUS, CAN, NZ, IRE, UK, USA) will be required to sit a TOEIC examination prior to application.

Once the process has been completed you will be the proud owner of a blue work permit (cost 3,100 baht) and an extension of your visa until the end of the contract (cost 1,900 baht). The whole process will normally take the better half of the three months on your initial visa but it has been known for the process to take longer, resulting in applicants having to do another visa run and start the application process again from scratch (not fun!!!)

90-day reporting

If you thought that the reward for that long-winded process was to be required to have nothing to do with immigration for twelve months, I'm afraid you were wrong. You are required to report to immigration every three months to 'confirm' your current address. It's actually more of a minor inconvenience then a problem because the whole process is completed in a couple of minutes (providing you don't live in an area with many foreigners) and is free. The date is confirmed by a slip being stapled into your passport and you are free to attend 7 days before, if this is more convenient for you to do so.

Ajarn.com says - The 90-day reporting can also be done by post and the system works very well. There is no need to make a personal appearance at immigration every 90 days.

Part two (Renewing Visa & Work Permit)

In part one of this post we talked about the typical process one would go through when applying for a work permit and visa in Thailand.

If you are offered a new contract from your current employer and you would like to stay for another year you will be required to extend your work permit and obtain a new visa for the forthcoming year. The paperwork involved with both the application and renewal of a work permit are mammoth including various copies of the directors i.d, maps of the school and even details of the schools financial position (if private). This should however not be your concern and either your school or agency will know exactly what is required for the work permit renewal.

The first stage of renewing your work permit is to check the status of either your teachers licence or waiver to teach without a licence. Teachers licences are valid for five years before they need renewing, whereas waivers to teach without a licence are only valid for two years. Teachers who hold a waiver to teach without a licence are given an initial two years which can be extended subsequently for another two years providing they have taken part in the 'thai culture course'.

The official rules from the TCT state a maximum of two waivers (maximum four years) will be given and that during this time the teacher must become 'fully qualified' to receive a full teachers licence. It is worth noting at this stage that the waiver you receive is permission to teach in your current school. If you change school at any point you will be given a new waiver and you will lose any time on your current waiver.

*Please note that I believe that if you were only at the school for a short period of time (i.e. less then four months) that this waiver will not count towards your total count. I was at my first school for six months but only held a work permit for three months and the TCT gave me a new waiver for my next school without taking part in the thai culture course.*

The current route to becoming a 'qualified teacher' is to either take a degree in education or to sit the TCT professional knowledge and ethics tests. Both methods require that a thai culture course certificate be obtained as well. Let's be honest the vast majority of teachers are not going to want to pursue a degree in education merely for the purposes of teaching in a Thai government school. If they did want to obtain a degree in education they would then be suitably qualified to work at an international school, which attracts more pay and doesn't actually require a thai teachers licence, so most people will look to taking the TCT tests.

There are four tests each with varying levels of difficulty which in theory can be taken in one day (nobody passes them all at once though). The main complaint about the tests is that the standard of English used in the tests makes the answers ambiguous and very difficult to work out. In theory you will have multiple attempts at these tests providing that you start the process early enough. It is worth noting that the thai teachers who wish to obtain a licence have to take nine tests, so maybe we should feel lucky to only have to take four (just a thought)

Current Situation (March 2014)

The TCT has currently suspended the thai culture course and has not announced when it will be running again.
The TCT has also not announced the details for the next set of tests which had been due to be announced in January 2014.

Teachers who are needing to obtain new waivers to extend their work permits (myself included) are being given work permit and visa extensions for a full year without the usual requirements due to there being no possible way for them to comply at the current time. I can confirm this to be 100% true because I have just extended my work permit and visa until 31st March 2015 but my teachers licence ends in July 2014. I cannot confirm whether a new two year waiver has been given at this point though.

Once you are in possession of a waiver to teach without a licence for a full year, you can apply to extend the work permit. This is done at the local labour office and the renewal of the work permit is actually quite an easy stress-free process (providing all the documents are in order). The process typically takes 7 days but smaller offices take much less then this. You must leave your work permit at the office during this period.

Keeping the tax man happy

Just because you live in Thailand doesn't mean the tax man is off your back, but I'm guessing that he's not going to be as much of a burden then in your home country. The truth is that the tax situation in comparison to most other countries in extremely generous. I am no expert on the Thai tax system but I have been told that the rate is 3% of your total salary for employees but much more for businesses or those who are self employed.

There is no universal monthly tax system i.e PAYE(UK) so most people settle their tax bills at the end of the financial year. I am going to assume that there is a minimum threshold of which you can earn before you pay tax because my last tax bill was (thankfully) much less then I had anticipated. My income comes from my teaching job of which i'm paid 30,000 baht per month. My last tax bill was 870 baht so I cannot accurately conclude how this was calculated.

The cost of it all

Armed with your renewed work permit and the receipt for your paid tax you can head to immigration to extend your visa for another year. The immigration official will check through all of your paperwork and providing everything is in order you will receive a brand new stamp in your passport (full page). Please see below a full list of what was required for my latest work permit and visa renewal and their costs.

Work Permit (3,100 baht)
Visa (1,900 baht)
Tax (870 baht)
Official Stamp (400 baht)
Health Clinic Certificate (40 baht)
Total: 6,310 baht

Re-entry permits

If you would like to leave the country at any point during the time you hold your visa you will be required to purchase a re-entry permit. Those who travel frequently in and out of the country should purchase a multi reentry permit (3,800 baht) which entitles you to unlimited trips throughout your visa period. I myself who only anticipates taking two trips out of the country find it more cost affective to purchase two single reentry permits (1,000 baht each).

In order to apply for these permits all that is required is a passport photo and the fee. It is vitally important that you obtain these permits prior to leaving the country because if you leave without one you effectively cancel your visa. If you do not obtain these prior to travel you WILL only be given a tourist visa on reentry to the country and will have to reapply for a work permit and visa again from scratch. I am sure your employer will not be amused particularly if they have paid for the work permit and visa!!!.




Comments

I'm a fully qualified teacher and I have been teaching for 1 year and 7 months post passing my PGCE.

Is that acceptable to obtain a work visa in Thailand? As I am being told I have to have a full 2 years post PGCE qualification.

By Alexander Martin-Pitt, Sidcup (12th June 2018)

I have been working in Thailand, and in the same school for two going three years now. My Teacher's Licence has to be renewed. I want to find out if Toeic is one the requirements?

By Nyou vanessa Kum, Wachirabarami, phichit (24th April 2018)

I have working with a school for about 2 years already. My contract will expire on 28th February so as my visa, the school says they cannot renew the contract now as they are allowed to hire foreign teacher for 10 months only and they made a contract of 10months which will expire at the end of February. They are willing to make a new contract in May. Can I extend my visa without the contract as the school says they will provide other documents needed to renew my visa?

By Rumana, Bangkok (23rd January 2017)

Was recently left with a mind boggling issue at an international program school

School said work permit would cost 17,000 Baht, visa extension would cost 13,000. Not including a 3,000 baht monthly guarantee the school subtracts, I made copies of my documents and the school said the whole process would take 3 to 5 days to complete and I would have my work permit. It's been three months and still nothing. No communication about the work permit.I informed them about my application for naturalisation and told them that I would need tax statements.

The school informed me that they cannot support me with any tax papers. I then concluded my theory that this school refuses to declare tax, which is the reason why there has been no mention of the work permit. As it is a private school it needs to declare tax to the Ministry of Labour before the foreign teacher can get permission from the Ministry of Labor to teach legally.

They kept deceiving me in order to keep me at the school under the impression that they were in fact in the process of doing the work permit. My wife who is a government worker, contacted the Ministry of Labor and they confirmed that no application has been submitted by that school.

Wife contacted the NCPO to inform then of malpractice and failure to declare tax and all hell broke loose. Every foreign teacher was examined and removed from their positions for failure to provide work permits or some no documents at all and the school is currently under investigation for fraud and tax evasion.

We filed a defamation case against the school and won.

Please watch out for schools like these and don't hesitate to report them. This school was apparently on a list of top ten private international Thai program schools in Thailand.

Make sure you get video recordings of events like whenever discussing legal paperwork and work permits, in the end it will protect you from whatever they try to throw back at you.

Thailand has certainly turned into a hell-hole for foreign teachers.

By Dee, Bkk (4th October 2016)

What are the requirements to get temporary Teacher's Licence here in Thailand?

By Riza Valerio, Bangkok (4th April 2016)

I was forced to leave Thailand as I could not get a 3rd license waiver. I entered my name only into the TCT's website and no waiver details came up. Then I entered my passport number ... and got the details of my previous two waivers.
Question: If I returned to Thailand with a new passport/number ... would I be able to "Start from scratch" so to speak?

By MarkCM, Sydney (27th January 2016)

I am applying for a second temporary license teaching permit. Do I really need a new TOEIC result?

I already had toeic last 2012.

By kim, chonburi (12th January 2016)

I am have a contract with a school in Udon, i do not have a degree but i got a letter from the Krusapha last year.Last year NO PROBLEMS visa extended until the end of my contract. This year immigration refused my extension i have been to Lao at least 5 times because of immigration cost for me about 30.000 baht thinking of going to Cambodia Thanks great site

By Stephen Maitland, Udon Thani (2nd October 2015)

Yesterday (28 Sep 2015) I (South African) went to apply for my 2nd khurasapa (temp (valid for 2 years))...
NO TOEIC WAS NEEDED.
We phoned them during this month like 4 times.
1. Do you need a toeic?
2. Does a "non native" need a toeic?
3. Does a South African need a toeic?
4. Does a South African applying for the 2nd time need a toeic?
The answer came back NO..

They (khurasapa) told us that they have scraped toeic..

By Raya, Lopburi (29th September 2015)

Hello.. I am holding a temporary teaching license in my precious school and I worked there for only 6 months, now I am in a new school and would like to request a new waiver to teach without a license at Krusapa. Do I really need to attach in the supporting documents a copy of my previous temporary teaching license? Because I don't have any copy of it now. Hope you could enlighten me with my query coz even my previous school and the department of labor don't have the copy of it anymore. Thanks a lot

By Lina, thailand (9th September 2015)

I passed the IELTS test at home instead of Toeic. Is the IELTS also accepted by immigration and what is the score required? Thanks

By Anna, Spain (13th July 2015)

I'm curious to know if they will issue another (3rd) teacher's license waiver for those of us who were unable to take the Thai Culture Course in the past year due to them not offering it. I'm hopeful since this article states they are extending work permits and visas, but none of my schools have been so courteous. I'm always thrown back into limbo at the end of the year. I would really like to stay in Thailand, so if anyone can give me advice... My agency doesn't seem to know what to do since I've already had my 2 waivers. Is my time here really up?

By Grace Yusckat, Chainat (20th May 2015)



* The Teachers' Council of Thailand distributed on January 19, 2015 :
Thank you for your interest in teaching in Thailand. Foreign teachers must obtain the following document in advance before the next round of requesting for a 2-year teaching permit:
An original official degree confirmation letter for graduates of university/college. The letter from the university/college shall be on the official headed paper of the college and clearly confirm that you have successfully completed your course, including the classification you
receive, the dates of attendance and graduation. This letter must bear an original university/college seal or stamp and signature of the Registrar sent in a sealed envelope with the university/College's stamp. Void if envelope is opened prior to receipt. The confirmation letter must be sent to the Teachers' Council of Thailand address, as provided above.

Question: could this method be used to extend for a further 2 years after already having extended once (i.e. having taught 4 years already)?

By Jon, Thailand (10th March 2015)

hi.i just want to ask if i can renew my work permit and visa for another year having a temporary teacher license that will expire on August 2015 (1st temporary teacher license). Is there any possibilities that i can't renew for another year(until march 2016)using my license because it will expire this year?thanks in advance.

By Vickie, Chiangmai (10th March 2015)

All of the complications with trying to obtain and extend visas and permits in Thailand has now taken its toll on my patience.

I have now left the Land of Smiles (and headache) and I am now teaching in China. A completely different culture but a magical and rewarding place to live and work. No more headaches with visas and permits, just a straight forward process all done with the schools assistance.

Good luck in Thaiand to all those that are going through the long winded and sometimes costly process of being allowed to work in the country. Luck, Patience and Money are definitely needed in Thailand to enable an uncomplicated living and lifestyle.

By Stephen Roxburgh, China (16th February 2015)

I hope everyone realizes that sitting the PK tests actually affords you very little benefit, but at a great cost (time and money). My co-worker completed the PK tests thinking that she could then go and collect her teacher's license and be sorted for the next 5 years. All she got was a 3 year letter allowing her to work at THAT SCHOOL ONLY. If she had to change schools for some reason, she is back to square one. Needless to say, she will not be wasting any more time/money on re-sitting the exams 3 years from now.

By Joe, Nakhon Pathom (16th February 2015)

* The Teachers' Council of Thailand distributed on January 19, 2015 :
Thank you for your interest in teaching in Thailand. Foreign teachers must obtain the following document in advance before the next round of requesting for a 2-year teaching permit:
An original official degree confirmation letter for graduates of university/college. The letter from the university/college shall be on the official headed paper of the college and clearly confirm that you have successfully completed your course, including the classification you
receive, the dates of attendance and graduation. This letter must bear an original university/college seal or stamp and signature of the Registrar sent in a sealed envelope with the university/College's stamp. Void if envelope is opened prior to receipt. The confirmation letter must be sent to the Teachers' Council of Thailand address, as provided above.
Please note:
1. Without the above requested document, your application may not be processed.
2. Forging or using forced documents may lead to imprisonment or a fine.
(Offenses Relating to Documents as provided in Section 264 and 268, Thailand Penal Code).

By Latest from TCT ...., Chonburi (9th February 2015)

Good day. (2 questions). (I'm permanent employed by the school)

1. I have been teaching at my school for 4 years. I'm on my 1st teachers permit (the 2 year one). Can I get a second TCT permit for my school?

2. If I can... Please advice me what documents I need.
The first time my documents were....
1 contract
1 degree
1 toeic
and school documents (I don't know as the were in thai)
Is it still the same or is there somewhere I can download a check list for TCT (the 2 year)

Thank you.
(If it's unclear (my question) please tell me and I'll explain again

By Raya, Thailand, lopburi (11th January 2015)

Hi, can anyone help me? I'm turning 2 years here in Thailand and my first temporary teaching licence is due to expire this coming March 2015. Do you think Khrusapa or TCT will still allow me to have another waiver (for the 2nd time) ? Please help me..

By Alyssa, Ubon Ratchathani (28th December 2014)

I would like to share this information of my recent events at the Korat Immigration Office, and I would be very interested indeed to learn of any other person encountering similar problems.
So here goes...
After submitting all the correct documents required, a day later I obtained a Non-B visa in Laos, no problem at all. Back at the school, i handed to the director, my passport and further copies of my certificates. He promptly whisked my documents away to the labour department and within a week I went to collect my work permit. Easy... No worries at all (well that's what I thought)

I have been to and from the immigration office and labour department, with each not giving in. And this is why... My non B visa is stamped with the wording that I will be employed, at the said school, as a teacher, but my work permit has printed on it, I will be working, at the said school (same named school) as an EXPERT. Now from what I can gather, the labour office tell me that this is normal for them to input this on a working permit and they've never encountered any bother before with this method. Yet immigration are refusing to stamp my extension because the wording is not teacher on the work permit.

I've 3 days until my visa expires and then I will be required to leave the country and try to start again. But I dare say, the Thai consulates will be asking questions before contemplating before they issue another visa, if any at all.

The complications of trying to live and work in Thailand.

By Steve , Korat (25th November 2014)

There is one main flaw in this information. To get a permanent licence you need to have a degree, yes, but either a) education degree or b) a teaching diploma or c) sit the PK tests. The diploma is what most international school teachers possess and its realistic to study in Thailand through a number of online university programs that sit exams in Bangkok. This will become the biggest solution to the whole TEFL industry in due course.

By Andrew, Chiang mai (18th August 2014)

can you explain the part ' Teachers who are needing to obtain new waivers to extend their work permits (myself included) are being given work permit and visa extensions for a full year without the usual requirements due to there being no possible way for them to comply at the current time. I can confirm this to be 100% true because I have just extended my work permit and visa until 31st March 2015 but my teachers licence ends in July 2014. I cannot confirm whether a new two year waiver has been given at this point though.'
So you went to the imm. and they extended your visa another year without a new waiver? So my waiver will end in September, and my school wants to renew my contract for 3rd year.. I don't need to go to KRUSAPA? just walk in imm with my school papers?

By EiEiEiEi, BKK (6th August 2014)

I would agree with most of what is written here. A note on Ajarn.com statement: Many teachers have been successful in changing a tourist visa to a non-immigrant B visa at the main immigration office in Bangkok. Yes, it requires a lot of paperwork. (You must have a minimum of 30-days remaining on the visa that you wish to change). Also my last tax bill was about 48,000 Baht for 12-months. What ever you pay be sure to keep the original very small yellow/brown receipt because immigration officials love to see it. The tax man was happy:)

By Donald Patnaude, Thailand (6th August 2014)

Just as a tag line to the Tax question. From previous experience the tax allowance for a single person or what you can earn prior to paying tax is 150000 baht so most teachers who are on work permits and paying tax mainly on a 33000 - 35000 per month salary should be looking at about 600-900 baht per month.

By Jonathan, Thailand (4th August 2014)

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