Setting up Thailand business for foreigners for over 15 years, we have come to a conclusion that the two best ways for foreigners set up their business in Thailand are as follows:
1. Register a Limited Company in Thailand
A limited company registered in Thailand is considered a Thai company only if the majority of the shares are owned by Thais. If not, then that company is considered foreign according to Thailand Foreign Business Law.
If your Thailand company is Thai majority owned, you can do almost any kind of legal business. However, if it is a foreign majority company, then you have to consult the Thailand foreign business law, which we will talk in more details later.
Read more for the Thailand business setup process.
2. Operate your existing overseas company
If you have a company registered in your home country or any other country, you can choose for that company to operate business in Thailand.
Now this is important, as a foreign company operating in Thailand or as a company registered in Thailand but with majority foreign ownership (thus considered a foreigner), if your business is manufacturing or export of products from Thailand, you do not need to obtain a foreign business license. However, if you want to do other businesses, you need to apply for a “License to Operate Business” with the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration, Department of Business Development, Ministry of Commerce.
If yours is an American, Australian or Japanese company, you will not need a License to Operate Business, but you will have to notify the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration in order to get “Certificate of Business Operation”. It is not a license, but a certificate. This is because Thailand has treaties with those countries so it has to let the businesses in those countries operate in Thailand within the framework of the treaties.
Thailand and Australia have Thai – Australia Free Trade Agreement. The persons who conduct the business according to the Foreign Business Act and who are under Thai – Australia Free Trade Agreement condition can request for the Certificate of Business Operation from the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration, Department of Business Development details of which are included in Guideline for Requesting Business Operations Certificate according to Section 10 of Foreign Business Acts B.E.2542 under Thailand – Australia Free Trade Agreement
Here is the full version of Thailand – Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Since Thailand and Japan have the JTEPA agreement, the persons who conduct the business according to the Foreign Business Act and who are under JTEPA condition can request for the Certificate of Business Operation from the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration, Department of Business Development details of which are included in Request for Business Operations Certificate under JTEPA.
Here is the full Japan – Thailand Economic Partnership Agreement.
Thailand and the USA signed the Treaty of Amity (the Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the Kingdom of Thailand and the United States of America) on 29 May 1966. Because of the Treaty of Amity, American citizens and American majority owned companies can operate their business in Thailand without having to have a Foreign Business License. However, they still have to request for the Certificate of Business Operation from the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration, Department of Business Development of the Ministry of Commerce, Thailand.
Here is the full version of Treaty of Amity between Thailand and U.S.A.
Please read our Summary of Thailand Foreign Business Law.