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Phuket: The teacher will see you now

PHUKET: Welcome to our third installment of Ask the Ajarn. Before we examine this month’s issue, allow us to provide Phuket’s teachers with a public service announcement:

By Eric Haeg

Monday 10 December 2012, 11:28AM

Phuket Immigration Office is now asking for additional copies of passport pages. For passports, they need a copy of pages that include the passport’s photo, the original visa, the last entry stamp into Thailand, the departure card and, if you’re on a renewed visa, the most recently updated visa stamp.

That being said, most long-term expats simply bring two copies of each page of their passport and work permit—which is not a bad idea at all.

And now for this month’s question:

What’s the deal with medical certificates? Where can I get one and what needs to be done?

More often than not, a medical certificate can be obtained at most neighborhood clinics and the actual visit won’t take more than five minutes. The doctor will dutifully check both your heartbeat and your blood pressure. That’s it; I like to call it the Proof of Life test.

Once vital signs have been established, the doctor whisks you out of the office and the all-important white envelope is exchanged for a minimal fee (50-150 baht). You then take it to the school and never see it again. That’s the most common scenario anyway.

Some teachers assume they have to go to one of Phuket’s fancy international hospitals, where all kinds of superfluous tests are run over the course of a half-day. Once finished, the pin-cushioned teacher is presented with the same white envelope and relieved of something like 3,500 baht. But hey, the hospital usually offers unlimited free orange juice and water—which is nice, but that better be some pretty fresh OJ. That’s the second-most common scenario.

However, recent word on Thailand’s teacher forums is that the days of the Proof of Life tests are over. As recently as last month, many teachers were reporting a change in requirements. More accurately, they were simply experiencing officials’ better efforts to observe and adhere to long-standing Ministry of Labour requirements.


Officially, foreigners applying for a work permit must obtain a medical certificate that clears the applicant of the following afflictions: leprosy, elephantiasis, tuberculosis, drug addiction, alcoholism, tertiary syphilis and mental illness.

While we all know anyone willing to teach a class of 50 M3 students is a bit off their rocker, checking for TB, STDs and other ailments requires blood work and more out-of-pocket expense (350-500 baht). A few even reported testing for illegal substances.

“They did a urine drug test looking for amphetamine - cannabis was on the paper but unchecked,” reported one member of Thai Visa.

To ensure your first trip to the doctor is the only visit you’ll need in order to obtain a valid medical certificate, we encourage teachers to ask the school what is needed. Although medical checks are technically a matter for the Ministry of Labour, school officials will often know exactly what officials are looking for.

For those who want to be 100% sure, teachers can visit the Ministry Of Labour’s office where they can find an official medical certificate form that can be presented to the doctor.

If you have any questions for Ask the Ajarn, please email




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