Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Doing Business In Thailand

How can a foreign investor set up a business in Thailand?
Under Thai law, there are a wide range of formats available.  These include:

  • sole proprietorship;
  • partnership;
  • representative or branch office; or
  • formation of a private limited-liability, or public limited, company.

After becoming thoroughly acquainted with the facts, we advise Clients of the most suitable option and how to complete all necessary formalities to set up the business.

How long does in take to set up a private limited company?
Approximately one month will suffice in most cases.

Is there a minimum shareholder requirement?
A limited company must have a minimum of seven registered shareholders.

How many authorized directors are required?
A minimum of one director is required but there is no upper limit.

Which agency is responsible for the promotion of inward investment in Thailand?
The primary agency is known as the Board of Investment (“BoI”).

What incentives are available to potential foreign investors?
The Kingdom offers a range of fiscal and regulatory incentives to encourage inward investment. The BoI can assist with assessing suitability for government tax-waivers and duty exemptions; location issues; and most importantly will advise you on the procedures necessary to qualify for promotional status.  Once your business proposal receives this official sanction, your access to a wide range of official assistance is enhanced.  

Is it possible for a foreign venture to enjoy 100% ownership?
The short answer is YES.  However it must operate in a business sector which is not exclusively reserved for Thai Nationals.  Additionally, it must conform to the requirements of the Foreign Business Operations Act of 1999, and be in possession of a Foreign Operation License issued by the Ministry of Commerce or the Board of Investment.

If I enter into a joint venture agreement, do I need to register it with the government registrar?
No, the legal position is that these are private agreements enforceable between the parties.

Can Thai and non-Thai nationals be parties to joint venture agreements?
Yes, providing that their method of operation is not prohibited or contrary to public order and good morals; and that work permit and immigration procedures are followed.

Do foreigners have the right to work in Thailand?
Yes, subject to obtaining the necessary permission.

What about expatriate workers who are paid outside the country?
Anyone who is working legally in the Kingdom requires a permit to do so, regardless of the source of remuneration.

How long is the application process for a work permit?
The procedure takes approximately three weeks though it may take longer in some more complex cases.

Can a foreigners work in Thailand indefinitely?
Yes, subject to seeking periodic renewal of the work permit.

Can work commence from the point of application for the work permit?
Generally, it is illegal to commence employment until receipt of the permit.  However, there are some special circumstances where permission to work will be provisionally granted prior to or without a work permit being issued.  For example, it is possible for a foreigner to work inside the Kingdom for up to fifteen days without a formal permit if the work is necessary and urgent. However notification and registration is required with the appropriate department.