How to Start a Business in Thailand

How to Start a Business in Thailand

How to Start a Business in Thailand

How to Start a Business in Thailand

Thailand, the land of smiles, ranked 28th as the best country in the world. It is a country that has a lot to offer. From their rich history to traditional & cultural wonders, to many beautiful places to wander around to and their delicious cuisines. Undoubtingly, Thailand is a place that has a lot of potential in many areas, and knowing that there are a lot of potentials that the country has, one specific area that stands out from the rest, that you might find interest in, is opening up a business in the country.

Throughout the years Thailand has been consistent in being the 2nd largest economy in SouthEast Asia. In this current year, 2021, out of 190 countries all over the world, Thailand is ranked 26th in GDP ranking. Also, not forgetting to mention that in the U.S. News and World Report report, Thailand is ranked 10th in the best countries to start a business.

Why is Thailand known as one of the best countries to start a business? Well, Thailand is known as the Gateway to Asia. They are known for their strategic location, the country’s position between India and China makes them the home of the largest growing economic market in the world. They are also known to having a government that supports any business size, it is one of the factors as to why it attracts foreigners in starting a business in the country. The country is also known for their consistency, strong exports, and their vibrant domestic consumer market. They are rich in natural resources and a skilled and cost-effective workforce which helps them to attract foreign investors and it enables them to grow in Thailand.

Starting a Business?

There are things that you might want to know before setting up a business in Thailand. It was stated in the Foreign Business Act of 1999, that there is no general prohibition in owning a business in Thailand, but there are, however under Section 8 of the Act, limitations for foreigners in carrying out a business in Thailand. 

Under Section 8, there were three listed limitations of businesses that a foreigner can have but only the 1st in the list is 100% not permissible, unlike the 2nd and 3rd which is allowed with approval. Listed below are the following businesses that foreigners cannot engage in: 

  1. The Press, radio broadcasting station, or radio and television station business
  2. Rice farming, plantation, or crop growing
  3. Livestock farming
  4. Forestry and timber processing from a natural forest
  5. Fishery, only in respect of the catchment of aquatic animals in Thai waters and specific economic zones of Thailand
  6. Extraction of Thai medicinal herbs
  7. Trading and auction sale of antique objects of Thailand or objects of the historical value of the country
  8. Making or casting Buddha Images and monk alms-bowls
  9. Land trading

How to Start a Business

There are different ways that you can start your business depending on the type of business that you are going to have. But, listed below are general steps on how to start a business in the country that you will surely grow, and be successful with.

  1. Choose your Type of Business/Company
    Here are some types of business that you could choose from: 
    • Registered Ordinary or Limited Partnership
      • In this type of business, this run by 2 persons. One having limited liability and the other having unlimited liability.
    • Representative Office, Regional Office, and Branch Office
      • Representative office and Regional office are options for any international companies who want to obtain a juristic person number from the Thai government authority without having to set up a separate entity or apply for a Foreign Business License (FBL). And able to open physical offices in Thailand to conduct activities and engage in the “non-income related activities,” as permitted by Thai law.
      • Branch office can obtain a juristic person number and do any “income-related activity” on behalf of its head office in Thailand.
    • Limited Company (which you have two options)
      • Private or closely held company has limited numbers of shareholders.
      • Public company which requires you to have a minimum of 15 shareholders for it to be formed and registered.
  2. Choose your Name of Business/Company

    If you are going to proceed with starting up a business in Thailand, it is best to prepare a name for your business. Choose 3 possible business names for you to check if the name is already taken or already registered by someone. Choosing or preparing a name is for you to have a smooth process in registering your business.

    Also, to remind you, that along with the business name one must also already have a business address that you could set up your business within Thailand.

  3. Plan your Business/Company

    One must prepare and have detailed information about the business. From visions and missions to goals of such a company. Identify what the business is all about, the services, the products, identify those kinds of things in your business.

  4. List your Shareholders
  5. Have a list of your shareholder. One important thing to remind you of listing your shareholder is that at least one of your shareholders is Thai. One purpose of having a Thai shareholder is the fact that they know Thailand better than you. They know how they run business in their own country and another thing is the fact that they are local and know how to communicate with other Thai citizens.

    Once you already have a list of shareholders, one must have an agreement with each other of each other’s shares, liability, and other responsibilities within the business. And make sure to have documentation or proof of the agreement.

    Now, this is the part where one might hesitate in starting a business in Thailand. One important thing to know about owning a business in Thailand is that foreigners cannot own more than 49% of the business. But there is a way to own 100% of your business, it is different and it is the Amity Treaty. Another downside is that the Amity Treaty can be only set up for Americans.

  6. Register your Business

    Now that you have your proposed name of the business, details that describe your business, the address of your business, and the list of your shareholders. You can register your company in the Department of Business and Development (DBD). Along with the registration, are the payments required. A reminder to those who cannot read the Thai language, the language used upon registering will be in the Thai language. So, one might need assistance in filling up some forms.

    In this part of the process, you will obtain licenses to open the business and taxpayer identification for your business. If you register a private business, it will take weeks to obtain it. If it is a public business, it will take months. And, once you are registered, you can open a bank account for your business.

Visas and Work Permits

In Thailand, a non-immigrant visa B is required before you may apply for or be granted a work permit. It is best if you can get it before you arrive in Thailand. 

Though it takes a lot of effort, a lot of processes for you to have a business in Thailand. It will be easier once already registered. A reminder once you are done with all the processes: Always be responsible, pay taxes and follow rules to avoid troubles and added complications in your stay and business in Thailand.

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