A wide range of lifestyle options and a warm welcome make Thailand a popular choice for expats looking for a taste of the exotic. There are many different ways you might come to Thailand to work - from looking for a job in financial services in Bangkok, to teaching yoga in Chiang Mai, or getting a gig at a hotel in Pattaya.
Whatever is drawing you to Thailand, you’ll need to find that dream job, and make sure you have a visa and work permissions sorted. This guide gives a starting point for your research.
We’ll also cover a smart way to manage your money when moving abroad with low cost international transfers from Wise. Get cross border payments which use the Google exchange rate, and charge only a small transparent fee - perfect if you need to pay an advance rental deposit, or cover your costs from your Australian account when you first arrive. The Wise multi-currency borderless account is another great way to reduce the costs of your cross border payments for the long term - more on that later. Let’s get started.
If you’ve been to Thailand as a tourist, you’ll have doubtless met friendly, good humoured locals, and enjoyed the enviable climate and beautiful natural and manmade scenery. Thailand has a lot to offer, and with a low unemployment rate, there are often jobs available for expats willing to work in the demand areas, such as English teaching, translation, tourism, and connected fields. There are also a large number of international organisations - especially in Bangkok - leading to openings in IT, finance and other professions¹.
Before you consider working in Thailand you’ll need to take time to learn about Thai culture, as this will impact you a lot more as a resident than as a visitor. Thais are proud of their independent history - being one of the few countries in the region which wasn’t a colony at one time or another - and protect their local culture fiercely.
In work this may mean a more formal approach to some things - such as dress and introductions, a hierarchical system in which age is key to respect, and a desire to avoid conflict, and the resulting loss of face, at all costs. Even in modern, outward looking cities, you’ll likely find the working culture is different to home - ignore it at your peril.
Although you may be able to visit Thailand as a tourist without a visa, you’ll need to get a visa arranged in advance if you’re intending to work there².
There are a wide range of visas to choose from, but in most cases you’ll need a B class non-immigrant visa which you can apply for in advance from the local Thai Embassy wherever you live³. This visa will give you the right to enter Thailand - but you’ll then need to apply for a work permit in addition once you arrive. Your employer may do this on your behalf or you might have them help you with your application.
To apply for a non-immigrant visa you’ll need supporting documents including:
- Application form
- Additional passport sized photos
- Evidence of your ability to support yourself financially in Thailand
- Company information for your employer, such as business license and registration
The exact documentation and information you need to provide will depend on the vias you apply for and the type of work you’ll be doing, so check out the full details for your situation online.
There’s no published age limit when applying for a Thai visa and work permit. However, you may have different options available depending on your age.
If you’re aged between 18 and 30, you could apply for a work and holiday visa instead of a full work permit, if you’re intending on doing casual work to cover your costs while travelling.
Thailand and Australia have an income tax treaty⁴ which should mean that you’re never forced to pay tax twice on the same income. Payments you make in one country are offset against your obligations in the other.
However, where you pay tax will depend on a number of factors, including your tax residency and where your income is derived. You’ll probably need to get some professional advice to make sure you’re fulfilling your duties in both countries, especially in the first year you’re in Thailand, as the cross over between the Australian and Thai tax systems can make the situation confusing.
If you need to pay personal income tax in Thailand, you’ll pay on a progressive scale which runs up to 35% for the very highest earners, but which also comes with a range of exemptions and reliefs⁵.
If you want to work in Thailand you can start to apply from home, using resources such as Jobs DB⁶, or the listings on LinkedIn⁷.
There are also many specialist websites for jobs such as teaching English as a foreign language, or tourism related roles - a Google search will help you find a range of sites to start your job hunt. You will also find that there are jobs pages specific to the area you’re headed to. Thailand is a big country, so it might pay to narrow your search to a local jobs board if you know exactly where you want to live.
Having access to a local bank account can make it easier to settle in Thailand. You’ll avoid excessive bank and ATM fees, and can also get utilities and essential services set up more easily. You’ll usually be able to get a Thai bank account if you have a work permit and all of the paperwork requested - such as proof of identity, residency, and work documentation. You may also need a referral letter from your home bank to show you’re a reliable customer.
Many of the larger Thai banks have account products which will suit incoming expats - check out Bangkok Bank⁸, Kasikorn Bank⁹ or TMB Bank¹⁰ as a starting point.
One disadvantage of the usual process is that you’ll need to be in Thailand - and have your visa and work permit to hand - to get your account opened. If you need easy access to funds in Thai baht before you arrive - to pay a deposit on a rental property for example, you’ll probably need to cover this from your Australian account. This can come with high fees and a poor exchange rate - unless you choose your cross border payment provider carefully.
Check out the low cost international transfers available from Wise to help you save money compared to your regular bank.
If you want a functional multi-currency account to use while you’re moving to Thailand, you may benefit from opening a borderless account with Wise as an alternative to a traditional bank account.
You can hold money in over 40 currencies including Australian dollars and Thai baht, and you can get local account details for AUD, USD, NZD, GBP and EUR, which means you can receive money in these currencies via local payment methods. Simply pay the currency you have into the account - and switch to the currency you need using the Google exchange rate and for just a low transparent fee. You’ll also have a linked ATM card for easy spending while you’re home or abroad.
If you’re planning your move to Thailand it’s a busy and exciting time. Make sure you hit the ground running in the Land of Smiles, by getting essentials like a visa, job and bank account sorted in advance. Check out the Wise borderless account to find out how you can save money while you travel, giving you one less thing to worry about.
All sources accurate as of 20 September 2019
This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.
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