When you venture out to start a new business in Thailand, the journey can seem complicated at first, but once you know the in’s and out’s of setting up a business in Thailand, you will find your experience is financially rewarding.
There are several steps that you need to follow in order to adhere to Thailand’s laws, rules, and regulations. We will walk you through the steps to follow in order to set up a business in Thailand. Improve your finances and create the ultimate success by working for yourself and owning your own company. Thailand is the second largest country in the Southeast Asia economy; the possibilities are limitless there!
The Foreign Business Act of 1999 was created by late Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and this law was set up to protect Thailand nationalists and the economy. Thai business law and regulations need to be properly learned and retained, otherwise, large fines could be imposed — if new business protocols are not correctly followed.
Foreign Business Restrictions
Foreigners are not prohibited from owning businesses in Thailand. Although, it is important to know ahead of time that engaging in the following types of businesses is prohibited for foreigners in Thailand:
- Property trading
- Buddha and alms bowl manufacturing
- Thai antique(s) — auctions and trades are prohibited
- Foreigners cannot extract medicinal herbs
- Thai ocean, marine life, and fishery businesses are prohibited
- Foreigners cannot process wood deriving from forests or any natural forestry
- Orchard, arable, and rice farming types of businesses are prohibited
- Foreigners rearing livestock as a business is also prohibited
- Television broadcasting, radio, or publishing (newspaper) is prohibited
What type of businesses can foreigners start in Thailand?
- Limited Partnerships and/ or Registered Ordinaries
- Limited Companies
- Branch, Regional, or Representative Offices
You can read more about the specific types of businesses here.
‘Nominee Shareholders’ Are Prohibited
When foreigners begin to set up a company in Thailand, the words, nominee, and shareholder are common terms. A ‘nominee shareholder’ is known as a ‘name only individual’ who doesn’t have a large financial interest or stake in the company.
Note* The Foreign Business Act of 1999, prohibits ‘nominee shareholder’ practices, this is illegal — punishable by imprisonment and possible fines. Foreigners can have control over a company, under a minority shareholder, although the Managing Director needs to allow this.
Pay Registration Fees And Follow Procedures
If you are looking at registering a company in Thailand, there will be registration fees due. Private companies are required to have a minimum of seven shareholders, and they are also regulated by Commercial and Civil codes.
The business registration fees in Thailand can vary from 50 — 25,000 baht.
Nationals that are non-Thai can register public businesses, but the company must be 51% owned by a Thai national. Make sure that a minimum of half of your board is Thai if you want your public business registration process to run smoothly.
There are three ways foreigners can gain 100% control over a company in Thailand. The following methods can work:
- Foreigners can get a foreign business license
- Foreigners can gain this status through a promotion via the Board of Investment (BOI)
- US citizens (only) can register via Treaty of Amity
If you are registering a private company, the timeframe to register your business in Thailand can take seven days, and it takes thirty days for a privately owned company to become registered.
Local Agency Help
Many foreigners find the Thai language barrier difficult, hence why many business owners don’t register companies in Thailand. There are local agencies that exist solely to limit this barrier. These local agencies can assist you when it comes to setting up a new business in Thailand.
Find out more information about local agency help at the Institute for Small and Medium Enterprise Development.
Steps To Register A Business In Thailand
- Secure and reserve a company name
- Next, gather and submit the following vital documents:
- The Articles and Memorandum of Association
- A list of all shareholders and an application form
- Signatures of each Director involved (New Director Form)
- Reservation of the company name
- The Declaration of Business Operation form
- Information regarding the company branches and office details
You may need to get your documents certified by the appropriate officials before you submit your business registration documents.
You will need to register your new business at the Thai Board of Investment. You can find more information regarding the registration process for new companies in Thailand here. You will also have access to financial incentives via Thailand investors.
Once you fill out all of the proper documents and send them to the right agencies in Thailand, you will need to notify Thailand’s tax authorities about recently registering your new business. Before 60 days is up, you need to retrieve a tax id card for the newly registered business.
Business Registration Completion
After you’ve completed the registration process for your business, you need to make sure that you keep up with the labor regulations in Thailand at all times. Registering a business in Thailand is similar to registering a business in the US, considering there are many documents and much paperwork involved, along with fees, plus long wait times.
It can seem like a lot of work and a daunting experience when you are registering a business in Thailand for the first time, but with the right consultation of local Thailand agencies, knowing what documents to file, what fees to pay, and what laws to abide by, you can achieve lucrative success in Thailand before you know it!
An Alternate Method: Virtual Phone Numbers
If all of the aforementioned seems to be beyond your business’ reach, there may be an alternate method of setting up a business and establishing a presence in the Thai marketplace: Thailand virtual phone numbers. Thailand virtual phone numbers allow your business to route calls to a destination phone number. For instance, if you wanted to capture part of the Thai market, you can post a Thailand virtual phone number on your website, which is indistinguishable from phone numbers that originate in Thailand. Thai callers can then reach your business, where you can provide them with services and products to meet their needs. Consider contacting Global Call Forwarding for all of your virtual phone number needs today!
About the Author
Tom Senkus is a freelance writer with over fifteen years of experience. When he’s not writing, Tom is traveling the world and helping others experience the wonders of a life well-lived.