Foreign Business in Thailand
Foreign companies or individuals wanting to do business in Thailand need to understand first that they can choose to register a new Thai limited company or to operate their existing foreign company as the way to do their foreign business in Thailand.
1.      Register a Thai Limited Company
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 the Foreign Business Law.
If your 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 foreign business law to find out if you can operate your business right away or you have to obtain a Foreign Business License first, which we will talk in more details later.
Read more for the information about Thai limited company and the process to register a Thai limited company.
2.      Operate your existing foreign 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. Please read our key point summary of Thailand Foreign Business Law.
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.
USA:
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. The company which has the certificate to operate the business this way is often referred to as a Treaty of Amity company.
Here is the full version of Treaty of Amity between Thailand and U.S.A.
Australia:
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 Thai – Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Here is the full version of Thai – Australia Free Trade Agreement.
Japan:
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.

 

Foreign Business in Thailand

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