This study investigates the incidence of temporary and permanent recurrent laryngeal nerve palsy (RLNP) and possible risk factors for patients with different types of thyroid gland diseases. 1224 consecutive patients who underwent thyroidectomy for treatment of various thyroid diseases between the years 2001–2005. The rates of RLNP were evaluated. The surgeon and type of thyroid gland disorder were recognised as possible risk factors for RLNP. The incidence of temporary/permanent RLNP for the whole group was 4.5/0.8%. The rates of temporary RLNP for groups, classified as multinodular goitre, Graves’ disease, thyroid cancer or Hashimoto’s disease were 4.3%, 4.3%, 5.2% and 5.7%, respectively. The rates of permanent RLNP for the same groups were 0.4%, 0.9%, 1.6% and 1.9%, respectively. The frequency of temporary RLNP for individual surgeons ranges from 2.8 to 7.0% and the rates of permanent RLNP is between 0–3.1%. There was no relationship between the surgeon’s experience (the number of procedures performed) and RLNP rates. Total thyroidectomy is a safe procedure associated with a low incidence of RLNP not only for benign multinodular goitre, but also for Graves’disease, thyroid cancer and Hashimoto’s disease. The rates of RLNP among individual surgeons are acceptable with small inter-individual differences.