Department of Employment issues reminder about jobs in Thailand prohibited to foreigners

Work permit. File Photo

A recent story about a Korean national in Thailand who had begun working as a barber sparked much debate among Thai netizens.

The barber, who cut hair in the style of stars from hit Korean TV shows, ever popular in Thailand, went viral on the social media platform TikTok.

His sudden popularity led scores of comments from users informing the barber that he was actually breaking the law.

In response to the incident, the Department of Employment issued a statement to clarify that under Thai employment law, foreigners are prohibited from engaging in certain occupations.

Despite easing some restrictions in 2018, a total of 27 occupations remain reserved for Thai nationals and off limits to foreigners, while 13 other occupations are permitted for foreigners under certain conditions.

All foreign workers in Thailand are also required to have a work permit, which is sponsored by the company they work for.

The 27 occupations prohibited to foreigners are:

  1. Wood carving
  2. Driving motor vehicles, driving a non-mechanically propelled carrier or driving a domestic mechanically propelled carrier, except for piloting international aircraft or forklift driving
  3. Auction
  4. Cutting or polishing diamond or precious stones
  5. Haircutting, hairdressing or beauty treatment
  6. Cloth weaving by hand
  7. Mat weaving or utensil making from reeds, rattan, hemp, straw, bamboo, bamboo pellicle, grass, chicken feather, coconut leaf stick, fibre, wire or other materials
  8. Mulberry paper making by hand
  9. Lacquerware making
  10. Making Thai musical instruments
  11. Nielloware making
  12. Gold ornaments, silverware or pink gold making
  13. Bronze ware making
  14. Thai dolls making
  15. Alms bowl making
  16. Silk products making by hand
  17. Buddha images making
  18. Paper or cloth umbrella making
  19. Brokerage or agency work, except brokerage or agency working in international trade or investment
  20. Thai massage
  21. Cigarette rolling by hand
  22. Tour guide or sightseeing tour operation
  23. Peddling
  24. Manual typesetting of Thai characters
  25. Silk reeling and twisting by hand
  26. Clerical or secretarial work
  27. Legal services or services in legal proceedings, except for the following occupations:
    1. Performing duties of arbitration
    2. Providing assistance or representation in the arbitral proceedings in the event that the law applicable to the dispute being considered by the arbitrators is not the Thai law

The 13 occupations permitted to foreigners under certain conditions:

  1. Controlling, auditing, performing or providing accounting services, except:Occasional internal audit work
    Work under international agreements or obligations to which Thailand is bound, which the Professional Association provides a certificate
  2. Civil engineering concerning counselling, project planning, design and calculation, construction supervision or manufacturing, inspection, administration work to organise the system, research and test, except those who are registered under the ASEAN Mutual Recognition Arrangement (MRA) and other international agreements
  3. Professional architectural work concerning project study, design, construction management and supervision, inspection or consulting, except for professional architects under the ASEAN MRA for architectural services and other international agreements
  4. Agriculture, animal husbandry, forestry or fishery
  5. Bricklaying, carpentry or construction works
  6. Mattress or quilt blanket making
  7. Knifemaking
  8. Shoemaking
  9. Hat making
  10. Dress making
  11. Pottery or ceramic ware making
  12. Labour (manual work and simple work which requires physical strength)
  13. Shop front sellers (selling goods at a wholesale or retail establishment as well as selling goods at stalls or shops located in markets or roadsides)

Strict penalties for violators

The Department of Employment also warned of the strict penalties in place for both employers and employees who violate the rules on foreign workers.

For employers, an organisation which is found to be hiring a foreigner without a work permit or allowing the foreigner to work beyond what is permitted by law faces fines of between 10,000 and 100,000 baht per illegal foreign worker.

Repeated violations of the law are subject to up to 1 year in jail and/or fines of between 50,000 and 200,000 baht, as well as a three year ban on hiring foreign workers.

For employees, any foreigner found to be working without a work permit or working beyond what is permitted by Thai law, face fines of between 5,000 and 50,000 baht and could also be deported.

Mr. Pairote Chotikasthira, Director-General of the Department of Employment, said that anyone with information about foreigners working illegally in Thailand can file a report with their local Provincial Employment Office.

Reports can also be filed by calling the Ministry of Labour hotline on 1506 option 2, or the Department of Employment hotline on 1694.

*list of prohibited jobs courtesy of