IDC Guide

Freelance Dive Instructors

To be able to be employed diving above the law in most ‘dive destination’ countries you need to have a valid visa and work permit. In Thailand you shouldn’t start working until the work permit you have applied for has been set up. Having experienced first hand the Thailand authorities when working without the correct documentation I really don’t recommend it. You may end up in Jail, Getting deported or having to pay a large ‘fine’ aka bribe.
To work legally in Thailand (Bangkok, Phuket , Koh Tao, Koh Samui, Phi Phi, Pattaya) you will need a obtain a work permit. If you are not employed directly by a dive centre then you will be responsible in obtaining one yourself. Most dive centers will not take you on knowing you are ‘illegal’ . Work Permits are  are fairly easy to get but depending on the lawyer you choose it could take some time and cost a lots.
To get yourself a work permit if you decided to work on a freelance basis or for yourself you will need to set up your own Thai limited company and then you are automatically entitled to have one. This in theory is quite a simple process, but be prepared for loads of trips to your lawyer and loads of paperwork and expense. It will also take some weeks to organise so be prepared for a wait. It will cost around 65000 THB  (£1300 / $2100 2011 figure) to set up a new Thai Limited company, and it can take up to eight weeks, and will require two trips out of the country to obtain the required visas. So you can see already, If you only plan to work in Thailand for a few months it’s a lot of hassle and expense. If you plan on being here longer then it becomes worthwhile. It should be noted that if or when you decide to leave, then you can try to sell the company or simply close it.
There are always new divers arriving who will buy these companies, as it saves them a lot of the headache involved with starting from scratch. Once you have your own company and Work Permit, you are able to work as a freelance dive instructor. The company with the work will employ your company to carry out the Instructing and diving Services.

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