FCF provides a platform and organizational support to Christian ministries that share our values and love for Thai people. We are not an administrative tool for obtaining Thailand visas and work permits. If a foreign volunteer’s primary work is with an FCF Project or is personally fundraising based on their work at an FCF Project, they are required to obtain a work permit through FCF.
Below is a summary of visas, work permits, and government reporting requirements for volunteers. Because the specific requirements and documents often change, we won’t provide all details here. Our HR team has regular contact with these government offices so are always up to date on the latest changes. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or come into the office if you have any questions.
Volunteers all apply for a non-immigrant ‘O’ visa based on either their work for a foundation or based on having a Thai citizen family member. In both cases, a work permit is still required by law. HR will prepare the application documents for you and walk with you through the process.
The original visa you receive may be valid for a few months or one year. Regardless of the visa’s length of validity, you are able to apply for an extension in Thailand without leaving the country to do a “visa run.” This is not a new visa, but an extension of the original. Once you receive a 1 year extension, you can continue doing 1 year extensions indefinitely. HR will remind you when it’s time to apply for the extension, prepare your documents, and walk with you through the process. It is imperative that you communicate international travel plans with HR so that they can help ensure you don’t invalidate your visa.
There are 4 kinds of TM Documents you need to be aware of.
TM.30 Notification of Residence For Foreigners (ตม.๓๐ การแจ้งที่พักคนต่างด้าว)
Submitting the TM.30 Report of Address to immigration is required within 24 hours of re-entering Thailand or of moving to a new house. The purpose is to ensure that immigration always has a permanent address for you on file. You will receive a notification document that needs to be kept safe or stapled in your passport. If this applies to you, please contact HR so we can walk you through the process.
TM.47 90 Day Report (ตม.๔๗ การรับแจ้งอยู่เกิน ๙๐ วัน)
Submitting the 90 Day Report to immigration is required every 90 days. It can be done in person, online, or through the mail. You can submit your notification 15 days early or up to 7 days late. You will receive a notification document that needs to be kept safe or stapled in your passport. As soon as you do this notification, we recommend you add a reminder to your personal calendar immediately. If you forget to report, contact HR and we can go with you to immigration to pay the fine. Volunteers are responsible for remembering to do this report.
TM.6 Departure Card (ตม.๖ บัตรขาออก)
This is the little blue print card you filled out on the plane or at the land border when entering Thailand. Immigration kept the arrival card and should have stapled the TM.6 Departure Card to your passport. This needs to remain in your passport until you depart the country again.
TM.8 Re-Entry Permit (ตม.๘ การขออนุญาตกลับเข้ามา)
To avoid invalidating your non-immigrant 'O' visa when you travel outside of Thailand, volunteers need to obtain a re-entry permit from immigration. If you forget to do this, you will have to restart the entire visa application again. This can be done at immigration or at the airport on your way out. We recommend getting it done at immigration before you travel in case there are ever any unexpected changes to its availability in the airport. This will give you peace of mind and it's one less thing to worry about when traveling. All re-entry permits are a stamp in your passport.
If you lose one of the physical TM cards, contact HR and we can help you obtain a new one. You will likely be assessed a fine, but immigration is very understanding of situations like this when it's dealt with in a timely manner.
Even though you are an unpaid volunteer, you are still legally considered staff of FCF. This means each volunteer must apply for a work permit. On the application you must detail your job title, job description, and many other personal details that qualify you for this position. HR will prepare your documents and walk with you through the process. It’s important that you know what is on your application because you will be interviewed about it and expected to report on your activities related to it.
Learn About the Government Offices
The entire process of making sure a volunteer can work legally under a foundation is complicated. Even if you don’t want or need to know the details of an application, it’s good for everyone to understand exactly who in the government is authorizing you to be here.
The Immigration Bureau is a division of the Royal Thai Police, issues your visa, and manages border entries and departures. Most people just call it “Immigration.”
The Department of Employment is a division of the Ministry of Labor and issues your work permit. Most people call it the Labor Department which technically isn’t correct, but gets the point across.
The Department of Social Development & Welfare under the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security does not issue you any documents, but receives an annual report of your activities. Sometimes they even request 2 years of activity reports, hence the reason we keep a database! Many of our Projects work directly with social workers and other staff in this office. It’s nickname is พมจ (paw maw jaw) and is a good acronym to remember. They drive the pink vans and manage the 1300 social emergency hotline.
The Provincial Governor is appointed by the Ministry of Interior and signs a letter of invitation on your behalf, in order to apply for a visa. Sometimes you’ll hear people talk about waiting for a letter from city hall or provincial hall. This is what they are referring to.
The Community Development Department under the Ministry of Interior does not issue you any documents but receives an annual report of your activities. Most volunteers don’t have any interaction with this Ministry, but it is where foundations are legally registered. You can view our legal documents on this page.