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Expats in Thailand: Full Guide to Live and Work



Thailand is a magical country that attracts people from all over the world.

Some move there looking for a better quality of life. Others go looking for sun and good weather for their retirement.

Whatever is your case, joining the community of expats in Thailand is easier than you might think. But there are some important formalities you need to take in mind.

In this article, you will find all you need to know to become an expatriate in Thailand. From visas to health insurance, and other requirements.

How to Become an Expat in Thailand

Visas for Expats in Thailand

It is possible to enter the country with a simple tourist visa. But any expat living in Thailand needs to obtain one of the following 4 types of visas to stay long-term:

  • Business Visa (non-immigrant B): for people who wish to work
  • Smart Visa: for investors and high-skilled profiles (executives, experts, etc.)
  • Dependent Visa (non-immigrant O): for people accompanying beneficiaries of B or Smart visas who do not work
  • Long stay (O-X and O-A Visas): for people over 50 years old.

These visas are not all multi-entry and their validity period ranges from 90 days to 10 years.

They can be extended, but you may have to leave the country to renew your residence permit.

Some supporting documents may also be required depending on the visa:

  • Letter from your employer
  • Insurance certificate
  • Proof of income
  • Etc.

The rules and the conditions for obtaining residence permits change regularly. It’s necessary to inquire at the embassy.

Being an Expat in Thailand: some Steps not to Neglect Before Moving

The visa is the key to move to Thailand. But there are more mandatory requirements you need to observe.

First, if you travel with an animal, you need to ask about the customs formalities. To expatriate in Thailand with a pet, you will have to show:

  • Valid identification documents
  • A certificate of vaccination.

Taxes are also applied to personal goods. And the importation of certain products is prohibited or strongly regulated.

Although it is not mandatory, registration at the consulate is very useful for security reasons. It also facilitates certain administrative procedures.

The international driving license is not enough in Thailand. You will have to get a Thai one if you are planning to drive there.

How is Work for Expats in Thailand?

The Importance of Knowing the Job Market

Expatriating to work is not something you can improvise. The best advice is to have a job offer before leaving your country.

Sometimes you have to be ready to change your path because the job market is not comparable to other places.

Employers always favor Thai workers. And nearly 40 professions are even forbidden to expats in Thailand, such as:

  • Accounting
  • Tourist guides
  • Hairdressing
  • Carpentry
  • etc.

On the other hand, some fields are promising for foreigners. It is the case of:

  • High technologies
  • Hotel industry
  • Education
  • Marketing
  • Communication
  • Finance.

It is also possible to find small jobs in some touristic areas or to become a self-employed worker.

Rules to Take in Mind when Working as an Expatriate in Thailand

In general, foreigners who work in Thailand have already a contract before their departure. And their company takes care of all the steps for obtaining the work permit.

For the others, it is necessary to make a request. It should go together with an explanation of why is not possible to recruit a local worker.

It takes about three weeks to obtain this permit, but not all companies are allowed to apply for it.

Being an expat in Thailand to create your own company can be an exciting experience. If that is your goal, take in mind:

  • A foreigner can’t own more than 49% of the shares of a company
  • It is compulsory to recruit 4 Thai employees for each foreigner.

Healthcare in Thailand for Expats

Mandatory Affiliation to the Public System for any Expat Living in Thailand

There is a public health system in the country. And it’s mandatory for all expats in Thailand to affiliate with it.

Seconded workers are the only exception. It offers free care in public hospitals. But these infrastructures are often overcrowded and poorly equipped.

For this reason, is highly recommended to get private expatriate health insurance in Thailand.

The service is faster, better, and gives the chance of receiving attention from English-speaking doctors. In the case of obtaining OX and OA visas is mandatory.

Find the Ideal Expatriate Health Insurance for Thailand

In some countries, you still have Social Security coverage when you go to work abroad.

The rules are different depending on your home country. But you can ask them how to become an expat in Thailand and keep affiliated with it.

If it’s not possible, or the reimbursements are low, you can get private healthcare in Thailand for expats. The most common policies are the insurances “from the 1st euro”.

Given the multitude of offers available on the market, it is useful to use an online comparator to make your choice.

It will be easier and quicker to compare all the guarantees offered and the rates.

This type of coverage will allow you to benefit from:

  • An efficient coverage
  • Satisfactory reimbursements
  • Coverage of health expenses during stays in your country
  • Repatriation assistance.

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This is also interesting:

What countries should I move to? The best countries to move to are not the same for everyone! Finding the ideal destination depends first of all on what is expected on a personal level.


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