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Retired but active.


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I'm currently on an OA VISA, apparently the only non-imm VISA that doesn't allow a work permit. The reason MOL gives is that you're suppose to be retired, no work!

But I don't want to be like so many ex-pats I see who starts the day off at the local pub and closes the place down. There are many activities I cannot do without fear of being busted for not having a work permit. I'm not talking about making ANY money, just want to be active in the things I've always been interested in and have the skills for including starting up a free spay/neuter day at my local vet clinic. Offering free English classes at the local schools. Taking my non-diving friends scuba diving (DSD) Kata Reef. And several other activities that could land me in trouble with the law.

I do NOT want to change my VISA status because it's an easy extension process and hopefully apply for permanent residence status someday.

Is there any way for me to get SOME kind of work permit so that I can have an active retirement with the things I love? Or should I just succumb to becoming an alcoholic?

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I have trouble understanding your concerns. None of the three examples you cite seem to be in contravention of the laws concerning work. Of course you can take friends to Kata Reef. Working for free at a vet clinic strikes me as a charitable activity, not work. And as far as teaching goes, I have taught at a government-run matthayom for free with no problems. And worst case, suppose you get "busted" (hard for me to imagine), what is the worst that could happen? Cease and desist most likely. So I think that your alternative is not becoming a drunk. If you're striving to make the world a better place, just cowboy up and do it. Am I naive?

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JusMe is correct. As seen here: http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/working-thailand.php

"The term “work” in Thai law is defined very broadly, covering both physical and mental activities, whether or not for wages or other form of compensation. Even volunteer or charity work requires a work permit in Thailand."

I realize MANY people do things like this under the table. Even for pay. But that does not make it legal and it could come bite them in the butt someday. I just want to keep legal and hopefully there is SOME way to do this.

I haven't asked any officials but was wondering if I started a Thai Foundation, could I get a volunteer work permit with this Foundation and keep my OA? Anyone with a guess?

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The O-A visa isn't the only visa which doesn't allow a work permit. Anyone with an O visa and an extension due to retirement can't get a work permit. It's doubtful you'll be able to obtain permanent resident status with this visa extension because you aren't working and paying taxes.

I know dozens of retirees in Chiang Mai who manage to keep themselves productively busy without ever setting foot in a pub. They engage in hobbies and social activities that better their community.

Some of what the OP mentioned strike me as a hobby "Taking my non-diving friends scuba diving (DSD) Kata Reef" How is this any different than the CM Bridge club teaching newbies how to play bridge?

Here in Chiang Mai there's an "International" Rotary Club that engages in projects that help the local communities and those along the border with Burma. Often they work in partnership with a Thai Rotary Club and they always have the option of getting temporary work permits thru the local labor dept for a specific project. The local labor dept has been very good about granting these short-term work permits for organized activities undertaken by several groups of foreigners who are mostly retirees.

Perhaps the OP needs explore the options in Phuket for like-minded retirees to be able to utilize existing social or community service organizations and the current temporary-work permit process to legitimately engage in volunteer activities, like we do here in Chiang Mai.

Edited by NancyL
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Nancy. Like I mention, I also know many who take part of such activities without a WP but that does not make it legal. As per your specific question about comparing teaching bridge with showing diving, I don't know specifically about bridge but I DO know specifically about diving because I asked MOL directly. This is VERY prohibited and WILL land someone in jail and/or a huge fine. I think if you look at the law and ask the MOL, ANY type of teaching will fall into the same category.

And I have asked like minded retirees and expat's as you suggested. These are the people, again as I mention, that are doing these things under the table and just taking the risk. And I have contacted various organizations in some of the areas I have training and interest in. They all say the same. They cannot provide a work permit. Again, everything is under the table just like what Seligne2 said he was doing. Or they will not accept a non-thai volunteer at all.

Am I being too cautious? Should I treat this like speeding violations (which I admit doing all the time)?

I would like to know about the temporary work permits you mentioned. Can you point me to a website with details on that?

Edited by PhuketFarang
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This page has the best explanation I could find on the internet of work permit basics, including an explanation of the temporary work permit.

http://www.expat-blog.com/forum/viewtopic.php?id=139896

Here in Chiang Mai the labor dept has been very good about suggesting the temporary work permit as a way for foreigners to engage in activities in partnership with Thai people that clearly better the community. Tree-planting projects, fairs to raise funds for Thai charities, fund-raising concerts, etc.

This is not something used by a lone wolf who wants to go out and do something for himself.

Edited by NancyL
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Thanks Nancy! Got it.



"Fifteen (15) day temporary work permits are available only to foreigners urgently needing to travel to Thailand to engage in business or provide services for a limited period of 2 weeks or less. The list of work considered urgent is extensive and includes attending conferences and seminars, conducting negotiations and inspections, to engage in demonstrations, testing or training, to recruit or to purchase or even non-profit activities."



Not sure if they will let me go back to get a new one every 2 weeks. After 15-20 times, they may not consider that I am "urgently needing" it anymore. They would do that in CM?


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No, we don't get back-to-back temporary work permits here in Chiang Mai. Normally there is a committee (Thai and foreigners) who work together to organize a specific event and then close to the time of the event there is a temporary work permit obtained for everyone who is on the committee and those participating in the event on the day -- the musicians, people selling raffle tickets, those who come to plant trees, etc.

This works well for "one-off" events and the organizing activities leading up to the event, but doesn't work for on-going activities like teaching English every week.

Edited by NancyL
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Find a group of people that already know how to dive, and go with them. Not sure, but if you joined the Lions Club etc. that could keep you busy, as well as GOMS ( Grumpy Old Mens Society http://phuketgoms.org/ ) which a member here Valentine is a part of. Seems there are a number of groups to join where you can give back and stay active at the same time.

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The O-A visa isn't the only visa which doesn't allow a work permit. Anyone with an O visa and an extension due to retirement can't get a work permit. It's doubtful you'll be able to obtain permanent resident status with this visa extension because you aren't working and paying taxes.

I know dozens of retirees in Chiang Mai who manage to keep themselves productively busy without ever setting foot in a pub. They engage in hobbies and social activities that better their community.

Some of what the OP mentioned strike me as a hobby "Taking my non-diving friends scuba diving (DSD) Kata Reef" How is this any different than the CM Bridge club teaching newbies how to play bridge?

Here in Chiang Mai there's an "International" Rotary Club that engages in projects that help the local communities and those along the border with Burma. Often they work in partnership with a Thai Rotary Club and they always have the option of getting temporary work permits thru the local labor dept for a specific project. The local labor dept has been very good about granting these short-term work permits for organized activities undertaken by several groups of foreigners who are mostly retirees.

Perhaps the OP needs explore the options in Phuket for like-minded retirees to be able to utilize existing social or community service organizations and the current temporary-work permit process to legitimately engage in volunteer activities, like we do here in Chiang Mai.

Ref O visa. It is possible to get a WP on an O visa. Multi entry and extensions. I have done many times for short term and long term work over the past ten years. It is just the fact that many offices are not aware that it is possible.

Retirement O and extensions can also be used for a WP but again it depends on the local office and how they interpret, or, how well they know the regulations.

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Thanks Steele. I think I'm posting more on how can I do my hobbies and interests legally while retired instead of asking for things to do.

One thing about diving here VS where I used to live, there's really not that many living here that dive recreationally. They are mostly all pro's. You go on a dive boat and the only people you see repeatedly are the ones who are instructors. Where I used to dive, the boat is always filled with locals and you eventually get to know everyone in the area where you can almost always call up a friend for a last minute shore or night dive somewhere.

The other things can easily be done with my Thai friends.... I'm just not allowed to do it with them.

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Ref O visa. It is possible to get a WP on an O visa. Multi entry and extensions. I have done many times for short term and long term work over the past ten years. It is just the fact that many offices are not aware that it is possible.

Retirement O and extensions can also be used for a WP but again it depends on the local office and how they interpret, or, how well they know the regulations.

I couldn't agree with you more Overhere. That's why I keep going back to the office every other month. The official stance in the Phuket office is that you can get a WP for any O VISA with the exception of the retirement OA visa. I'm hoping that one day I get someone who will go ahead and grant me a WP or the office changes it's position. It's bee a long haul so far but I'm not giving up.

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Find a group of people that already know how to dive, and go with them. Not sure, but if you joined the Lions Club etc. that could keep you busy, as well as GOMS ( Grumpy Old Mens Society http://phuketgoms.org/ ) which a member here Valentine is a part of. Seems there are a number of groups to join where you can give back and stay active at the same time.

Yes, this is EXACTLY the sort of group I had in mind when I was writing in answer to the OP's questions about how someone can stay out of the pubs in retirement and engage in productive and meaningful activity with friends. Now as we go on with the thread, it appears what he really wants to do is be able to is go diving with friends.

If this were Chiang Mai, I'd encourage him to form an "Outside Group Activity" within the CM Expats Club. They're clubs-within-a-club. Computer club, Bridge Club, Hiking Club, Scrabble Club. No reason why there couldn't be a Diving Club. Well except for the fact that there's no ocean anywhere near Chiang Mai. As long as no one is making money from a OGA's activities, none of them have attracted any negative attention from authorities. They're just social clubs of like-minded friends engaging in hobbies.

(I suppose if someone went to Immigration or Labor officials and asked "do you need a work permit to teach someone how to play Bridge or Scrabble or to lead a hike for a club?" the answer would be yes. But, come on, let's get real.)

Edited by NancyL
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Nancy.. so you're saying I'm being over cautious and ignore the Thai law in this case?

Funny thing about leading hikes, it's a HUGE no-no to lead dives. Leading a group is one of the protected Thai jobs and they really burn you down here for doing that.

I think things are so much easier up in CM then it is down here. Maybe because there are more people to abuse any leeway that the authorities may give.

I'll just keep hoping that I get a sympathetic ear from an MOL officer one day.

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No I'm not saying to ignore the Thai law, I'm saying to be sensitive to it. If you're leading dives with a group of tourists -- i.e. taking a job away from someone with a WP, then obviously that's a no-no.

If you and a bunch of retired, resident expats form your own private club, then why can't you go diving together? How is this any different than my Ladies Lunch groups? Someone has to decide where we'll eat, make the reservations, negotiate the menu, etc. Doesn't a dive leader serve the same purpose for a private club of friends.

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"I'm hoping that one day I get someone who will go ahead and grant me a WP or the office changes it's position. It's bee a long haul so far but I'm not giving up."

There's a lot more to getting a WP then just being on the right kind of visa / extension.

I notice you haven't commented on a post Nancy made.

"It's doubtful you'll be able to obtain permanent resident status with this visa extension because you aren't working and paying taxes."

Not sure how important that is to you, but a WP and paying taxes for three years is one of the requirements.

Good luck.

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I have trouble understanding your concerns. None of the three examples you cite seem to be in contravention of the laws concerning work. Of course you can take friends to Kata Reef. Working for free at a vet clinic strikes me as a charitable activity, not work. And as far as teaching goes, I have taught at a government-run matthayom for free with no problems. And worst case, suppose you get "busted" (hard for me to imagine), what is the worst that could happen? Cease and desist most likely. So I think that your alternative is not becoming a drunk. If you're striving to make the world a better place, just cowboy up and do it. Am I naive?

Working for free needs a work permit too. What is the worst that could happen?

You spend some time in jail than pay a fine get deported and blacklisted.

Don't give advise to people if you don't know what you are talking about.

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JusMe is correct. As seen here: http://www.thaiembassy.com/thailand/working-thailand.php

"The term “work” in Thai law is defined very broadly, covering both physical and mental activities, whether or not for wages or other form of compensation. Even volunteer or charity work requires a work permit in Thailand."

I realize MANY people do things like this under the table. Even for pay. But that does not make it legal and it could come bite them in the butt someday. I just want to keep legal and hopefully there is SOME way to do this.

I haven't asked any officials but was wondering if I started a Thai Foundation, could I get a volunteer work permit with this Foundation and keep my OA? Anyone with a guess?

Legal is a very abstract term in Thailand.

I will venture a guess that fewer laws are enforced here than enforced!

As long as you haven't p*ssed off the wrong person, or taken work away from a Thai,

If they like or appreciate what you are doing, they will probably turn a blind eye.

There is a little risk involved.

But, unless you are still a real Boy Scout at your age..

I say live a little and get out there and do some good deeds!

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I have trouble understanding your concerns. None of the three examples you cite seem to be in contravention of the laws concerning work. Of course you can take friends to Kata Reef. Working for free at a vet clinic strikes me as a charitable activity, not work. And as far as teaching goes, I have taught at a government-run matthayom for free with no problems. And worst case, suppose you get "busted" (hard for me to imagine), what is the worst that could happen? Cease and desist most likely. So I think that your alternative is not becoming a drunk. If you're striving to make the world a better place, just cowboy up and do it. Am I naive?

Working for free needs a work permit too. What is the worst that could happen?

You spend some time in jail than pay a fine get deported and blacklisted.

Don't give advise to people if you don't know what you are talking about.

Thank you, friend. My intention is to relate my own experience. I worked for free for two NGOs. At my last job I worked in a government frigging school for a year. No work permit, and was told none was needed. That's my story and I guess I'll have to stick with it.

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I have trouble understanding your concerns. None of the three examples you cite seem to be in contravention of the laws concerning work. Of course you can take friends to Kata Reef. Working for free at a vet clinic strikes me as a charitable activity, not work. And as far as teaching goes, I have taught at a government-run matthayom for free with no problems. And worst case, suppose you get "busted" (hard for me to imagine), what is the worst that could happen? Cease and desist most likely. So I think that your alternative is not becoming a drunk. If you're striving to make the world a better place, just cowboy up and do it. Am I naive?

Working for free needs a work permit too. What is the worst that could happen?

You spend some time in jail than pay a fine get deported and blacklisted.

Don't give advise to people if you don't know what you are talking about.

Thank you, friend. My intention is to relate my own experience. I worked for free for two NGOs. At my last job I worked in a government frigging school for a year. No work permit, and was told none was needed. That's my story and I guess I'll have to stick with it.

The fact that you worked 3 times illegally but never got caught and people misinforming you doesn't make it right.

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Why don't you learn to speak Thai? Or learn something else? Seems like you want to work. You are retired that's why you have a retirement visa.

Voluntary work except on a one off basis is prohibited only exceptions being a voluntary cop or you could own a business but not be active in running it.

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No, it's not that he wants to work, per se, it's that he wants to lead diving groups. I admit I don't know much about what's involved in a dive. Never been on one and don't have any desire to start now, but I've been deep sea fishing.

What's to stop the OP from chartering a boat and inviting a bunch of friends to go diving together? How is this illegal? Don't they have private diving parties in Phuket? Doesn't someone have to organize them -- hire the boat, figure out where you're going, point out interesting sites to everyone along the way.

How is this any different from when a friend of mine organized a weekend trip to the Textile Festival in Mae Chaem, sent out emails to her friends, asked them to forward to other friends and before long we had a couple mini vans of ladies going out of Chiang Mai for a fun weekend of shopping, taking in native culture and girl-time? Was this friend engaging in work without a permit? Nobody stopped us and the local town officials in Mae Chaem (and along the way) seemed to like have 20 ladies from Chiang Mai come in to spend money.

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No, it's not that he wants to work, per se, it's that he wants to lead diving groups. I admit I don't know much about what's involved in a dive. Never been on one and don't have any desire to start now, but I've been deep sea fishing.

What's to stop the OP from chartering a boat and inviting a bunch of friends to go diving together? How is this illegal? Don't they have private diving parties in Phuket? Doesn't someone have to organize them -- hire the boat, figure out where you're going, point out interesting sites to everyone along the way.

How is this any different from when a friend of mine organized a weekend trip to the Textile Festival in Mae Chaem, sent out emails to her friends, asked them to forward to other friends and before long we had a couple mini vans of ladies going out of Chiang Mai for a fun weekend of shopping, taking in native culture and girl-time? Was this friend engaging in work without a permit? Nobody stopped us and the local town officials in Mae Chaem (and along the way) seemed to like have 20 ladies from Chiang Mai come in to spend money.

If you read the original email, showing my non-diving friends a DSD dive is the LAST thing on the list. What about the others? Like offering free weekly spay/neutering? Heck, I know someone who got into trouble because he helped another friend set up wifi without a work permit.

As for your question.... how is taking a bunch of friends diving illegal? Because you're guiding them. And that is not permitted even with a work permit. I guess the police would take your word that they are your friends and not customers, because a farang would never lie about that, right?

As for your tour, if a police officer in a bad mood decided he wanted to take someone to jail and stopped your van, you (or whoever would confess to be leading this group) could easily end up in jail or pay him an on-the-spot fine... or both... and then you would have to sort out the legalities of it later, if you can.

Again, you would probably get the same answer as I gave from the MOL. I come up with new questions like this to them every other month.

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I don't think wanting to do things legally is living in fear, is it? Or is life only living in anarchy?

Never run foul of the law in 25 years, I'd take people diving in a heartbeat.

Have you joined up because you have a vested interest in the diving business or just generally trying to instill fear?

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There are quite a few recreational divers here actually, but the hassle and expense of a 1.5 hour boat ride out and back to the same dive sites gets redundant. Now if you had a boat and were looking for recreational divers to go with you to new spots, you'd get quite a bit of interest I would think.

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