Working in Bangkok
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Find out how to get a job and work in Bangkok
Working in Bangkok will give you an insight into a dynamic city and Thailand’s major business hub. However, it can also be quite challenging for many expats. The InterNations GO! guide to working in Bangkok provides you with information on employment, visa rules, taxation, and more.
Employment in Bangkok
Working in Bangkok, expatriates will participate in the commercial activity of Thailand’s economic center and a pivotal location for Southeast Asian business. The national GDP has even overtaken those of Malaysia, Hong Kong, and the Singaporean tiger, although currently the growth is not on par with the development in these countries.
Bangkok is definitely the motor of Thailand’s economy. Indeed, the laborers, employees, and executives working in Bangkok create an annual gross domestic product which dwarfs that of Thailand’s poorest province.
Recovering from the Recession
The country’s political crisis of the past few years and the recession that hit the global economy at first led analysts to dire predictions about the immediate future of Bangkok’s urban economy.
Thailand’s economy has indeed experienced some major ups and downs in the past few years. The floods of 2011 had a negative impact on the economy of the whole country, hitting the local microelectronics industry especially hard. The economy recovered, but in 2013 and 2014, political issues caused the economic growth to decline once more. It seems unlikely that the high growth rates the country had in the early nineties will be achieved again anytime soon.
As of 2014, the growth rate was only 0.7%, with the World Bank estimating a renewed growth of about 3.5% for 2015.
A Wide Range of Employment Options
Expats working in Bangkok are likely to be either part of an intra-company transfer or to find a position with the Thai branch of a multinational company, such as Unilever, Tesco Lotus, or Sony. Bangkok is also home to Thailand’s stock exchange and a major financial hub in Southeast Asia.
It should thus not come as a surprise that quite a few expatriates are employed in Bangkok’s finance sector. Most of them are working for one of the commercial banks that have their regional headquarters in Bangkok.
Working in Bangkok is also an attractive option for specialists from communications, real estate, transport, or the field of tourism. The latter in particular is an important employer in the Bangkok area.
As far as industry is concerned, working in Bangkok’s manufacturing plants focuses, to a large extent, on processing the crops from agriculture and forestry or creating popular arts and crafts. Convenience food, processed rice, and lumber are among the most important products made in Bangkok, as are gemstones and jewelry.
Moreover, Bangkok is a center of textile production, as well as of the petrochemical industry. With regard to high-tech and consumer products, expats could also be working in Bangkok’s electronics industry or in the automotive plants of Greater Bangkok.
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Visas and Taxation in Bangkok
Getting a Visa for Work and Business
Before you start working in Bangkok, it is essential to sort out your paperwork. First of all, you need to obtain a non-immigrant visa for the category B (business and work). This has to be applied for from abroad. The process requires a lot of documents from your employer in Thailand.
For this reason, anyone who would like to work in Bangkok should secure a job there first, or sign a contract for an expat assignment. Then you can take care of obtaining the necessary visa
A Lot of Red Tape
Among the paperwork required for a non-immigrant B visa, you definitely need:
- a valid passport
- a completed application form
- two recent passport-sized photographs
- a recent bank statement
- letter of approval from the Ministry of Labor (obtained by the Thai employer from the Office of Foreign Workers Administration)
- employment contract from a Thai company allowed to employ foreigners
- CV, educational records, and references from previous employers
- corporate paperwork of your employer in Thailand (business registration, business license, shareholder list, company profile, details of business activity, list of foreign staff, location map, tax balance sheet, alien income tax return, and VAT registration)
Such legal issues can be complicated for foreigners without previous experience of working in Bangkok. That is why we strongly advise you to ask your employer’s HR department or an immigration lawyer for help.
Different visa rules apply to people working as an EFL teacher. Please contact your Thai embassy for more details in this case.
Getting Your Taxpayer Identification Number
As soon as you have your non-immigrant B visa, you can legally enter Thailand to take up gainful employment. However, you first need to apply for a visa extension and register as a resident alien. See our article on moving to Bangkok to learn more about the details.
You will also need to get a so-called TIN (taxpayer identification number). The taxpayer identification number must be obtained within 60 days from the date when you start earning taxable income in Thailand.
To get the TIN, you have to go to the Revenue Department (Building 21, 23F, 90 Soi Phahonyathin 7, Phahonyathin Road, Khet Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400) or one of its branch offices. Bring along several documents:
- your passport (with your visa stamp)
- a copy of the passport
- your certificate of residence.
The clerk might ask you for your ta bien baan (house registration book), too, which is a kind of proof of residence that every Thai resident of Bangkok has. However, since you are a foreigner, the alien registration certificate may often be enough.
Just don’t be confused in case the house registration book is mentioned and produce your alien registration as issued by the immigration office instead. Fill out the necessary forms and show the required documents for the TIN, and you should be good to go.
Fiscal residency, avoiding double taxation, and international tax minimization are tricky issues for the average employee. Thus, we recommend you to look for a good tax accountant’s services as soon as you get your TIN.
Teaching English in Bangkok
Teaching English: How to Do It?
The English language is becoming more and more important for Bangkok’s growing urban middle class. Thus, teaching English as a foreign language is an attractive option for younger self-made expatriates who would like to immerse themselves in Thai culture. The rising demand for English teachers has led to an increasing professionalization of the fast-changing foreign-language industry in Bangkok, though.
If you are interested in spending a couple of years in Bangkok in a teaching position, you should have the following qualifications:
- English native speaker
- Bachelor’s degree
- definite bonus: proof of relevant work experience as a teacher or TEFL qualifications like the CELTA course
Potential Discrimination in the TEFL Field
According to some people who have worked in various educational institutions, it is also a sad reality that ageism and racism can lead to implicit discriminatory hiring practices. As becoming an English teacher in Thailand can be a bit of dead-end job, career-wise, younger candidates are more popular than middle-aged or older ones.
It has also been reported that farangs (i.e. white English native speakers) may be preferred to those of African or Asian descent. So, an African-American college graduate or a British globetrotter with Indian ancestry might find themselves at a comparative disadvantage with regard to their Caucasian peers, despite comparable qualifications.
Some recommend to conveniently “forget” the photograph that is common when applying for a job in Thailand from abroad. On the other hand, you can do exactly the opposite and make contact in person while staying in Thailand on a tourist visa.
Finding the Right TEFL Employer
Many teaching jobs are advertised internationally on Ajarn.com. However, you should make sure to apply from your home country. Teaching positions can be found at international schools and Bangkok universities (which require a far higher level of expertise). In addition, regular Thai schools and language institutes most frequently offer employment as an EFL teacher.
Useful Tips for TEFL Candidates
Before sending off your application, let alone signing an employment contract, you should take several factors into consideration:
- When applying to a language school, make sure to check whether it’s one of the big national chains. If it isn’t, you should find out how long it has been in business. Also try to find any foreigners who have worked there and can tell you more about it.
- Don’t go for contracts that require you to work more than approximately 25 hours a week on five days. You still need to prepare your classes and mark your students’ homework. If you want to have some time to explore Bangkok, learn more about the Thai culture, etc., you shouldn’t pack your schedule too tightly.
- High schools schedules usually have fewer periods, free weekends, and longer holidays than private language schools. However, teaching at a high school can mean poorer facilities, bigger classes, lots of tests to mark, and additional duties to take over.
- As far as your salary is concerned, 30,000-35,000 BHT per month are often considered the absolute minimum for getting by in Bangkok as a single foreigner without kids. However, the competition for high-paying teaching jobs is rather tough. Keep in mind that your Thai friends and colleagues are likely to earn a lower salary, sometimes considerably so.
- Whichever employer you find, do not get involved with an agency, do not agree to work without a proper visa, and do not give your official documents to your company. Even though most schools in Bangkok are perfectly respectable institutions, these unwritten rules can help avoid the few “bad eggs”.
Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a comprehensive range of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!