Basic Business Laws
Any foreigner setting up a business in Thailand needs to understand the basic business laws of the country. Information below will hopefully help you familiarise yourself with requirements to ensure a successful, legal and correct platform on which to base business.
There are a number of laws relating to business operations in Thailand. If you have an international business it is possible to set up a branch office, representative office or regional office. These opportunities will allow a company to take full advantage of local business opportunities as well as possible tax advantages.
In general foreigners are prohibited by Thai law to conduct business as a sole proprietor. One exception is for citizens of the United States of America who register with the countries Department of Business Development under the U.S. – Thailand Amity Treaty. By doing this the law allows them to run sole proprietorships in most industries.
Two types of business partnerships are recognized and can be legally registered with the Commercial Registration Office. The registration fee will be assessed as 1 pct. of the registered capital and will cost between 1,000 and 5,000 Thai Baht.
These can be established by law with a minimum of 2 owners. Ordinary partnerships have no requirement to register with the Commercial Registration Office, however, many individuals involved in such a partnership do so because they wish to be taxed as juristic individuals.
These partnerships are required to issue annual financial statements and to pay corporate income taxes. If not, income has to be stated on each partner’s individual tax return.
Thai Limited Liability Partnership:
This is known as a Thai LLP and allows for 2 types of partners.
These partnerships must register with the Commercial Registration Office and tax wise are classed as corporate entities. Thai LLP’s are required to make an annual financial statement.
Thai Limited Companies:
Limited companies are governed by Thailand’s Civil and Commercial Code. It is a requirement for every Private Limited company to register their Memorandum of Association and their Articles of Association.
To establish a company, 3 promoters are required before registration can be accepted. Each of these promoters must be at least 20 years old and must hold at least one share in the company. Shareholders do not have to be Thai citizens. but foreign shareholders can only hold a maximum of 49% shares in a company.
A Limited Company must have at least 3 shareholders at all times. This is a Thai law which should be adhered to.
While all shares must be subscribed to upon incorporation, only 25 pct. of these have to be paid up. There is a minimum share price of 5 Thai Baht. It is possible for some shares to have preferential voting power attached, but every share must be given at least one vote.
Limited Companies – Work permits for foreigners:
It is possible for a limited company to employ a foreigner, but these foreigners must have a work permit. By obtaining one this means the foreigner can legally work in Thailand although during employment they are subject to the Alien Employment Act.
There are many stipulations a company must meet to be successful in obtaining a work permit for a foreigner. It should be noted that the foreigner must be in possession of a valid “Non-immigrant” Visa at the time they go through the process of applying for a work permit, and that the granting of a work permit is on a discretionary basis.
The decision as to whether a work permit will be granted will also take into account considerations such as qualifications of the foreigner and their suitability for the position being offered.
While Thai business laws for foreigners may be daunting, they are certainly not insurmountable. The proof of this is the amount of successful foreign businesses and foreign workers in the Kingdom.
In-depth research and sound advice is required, but this should be the case in whichever country a business is established.