Thailand at a Glance
Doing Business in ThailandiStockphoto
Before you open your own business in Thailand, you should be well informed.
Doing Business and Trading in Thailand
Foreigners who do not consider working in Thailand, but would rather like to invest in business or even open one, should also inform themselves on various restrictions. For instance, fields of business like trading in antiquities are completely out of bounds for foreign residents.
Other fields of business – e.g. professions like accountancy, law, or architecture – require an extra license from the Ministry of Commerce. Therefore, always remember to ask for detailed legal advice before working in Thailand, even as a self-employed person or entrepreneur.
Furthermore, never think about setting up a “shell company” just in order to obtain a long-term visa or to circumvent the restrictions on foreigners buying property and land in Thailand. Just like foreign residents jobbing without a proper work permit, this is anything but a laughing matter for Thai law enforcement.
Opening Your Own Business in Thailand
Many foreign residents who do decide to open their own small business in Thailand choose the legal structure of a Private Limited Company. For this purpose, they have to fulfill the following requirements:
- The company needs at least seven shareholders /”promoters”. They do not all have to be Thai citizens, though. However, 51% of the company shares need to be in Thai hands if you want to be exempt from the Foreign Business Act and its restrictions. For example, a PLC whose shareholders are mostly Thai would be able to buy and sell property, even if a foreign national holds part of the shares.
- The company should have a minimum capital of at the very least 30,000 THB. Later on, once you start employing staff, you need a capital of 2,000,000 THB for every foreign work permit you’d like to apply for. For every million of initial capital, you pay a registration fee of 5,000 THB.
- You need to draw up articles of incorporation and articles of association in accordance with Thai business law. You must also hold an official inaugural meeting with all your shareholders.
- Moreover, you have to register for tax purposes within 30 days of founding the company and apply for a tax number.
- You have to do proper accounting according to Thai law (civil code, code of commerce, fiscal law, etc.) and withhold income tax from the employees’ salaries. Handing in an annual balance sheet at the Thai tax office is an absolute must as well.
If you plan on starting your own business in Thailand, getting input and support from an experienced lawyer and/or tax advisor is most strongly recommended. Do make sure you have skilled, knowledgeable and trustworthy persons to advise you on legal and financial matters.
If you need more information about the Thai market, reliable data on foreign trade, recommendations of experienced lawyers, etc, do not hesitate to contact your country’s chamber of commerce in Bangkok.