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How to Set Up a Company in Thailand in 2024

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To set up a company in Thailand, you should understand the various business structures available.

The company registration process involves reserving a company name, preparing necessary documents, and registering with the business registration office.

Foreigners require a non-immigrant 'B' visa or a Smart Visa to do business.

The Board of Investment (BOI) offers incentives like tax exemptions and non-tax benefits, including 100% foreign ownership and permits for land ownership and more lax hiring of skilled workers.

Setting up a company in Thailand can be challenging, especially if you are new to the country and unsure where to start. However, if done correctly, it can lead to an exceptionally rewarding and profitable future for your business.

This guide is designed primarily for foreigners but will be valuable for locals, too. The Thai government has many regulatory bodies overseeing the creation of your Thai company.

This is good for those who are considering starting a business in Thailand or looking to do business development and expand their existing business into this region.

In this article, we’ll cover the types of businesses you can set up, the requirements, and how to handle registrations and taxes.

What Does Thailand Have to Offer?

If you are interested but unsure about the prospect of setting up a company in Thailand, we’ll give a brief introduction to the country itself and the main factors that make Thailand a compelling choice for the location of your startup or expanding business.

Strategic Location

One of the main reasons that Thailand has become a target for businesses is its convenient and strategic location, which allows it to serve as a gateway into Asia.

Trading between Thailand and ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries, as well as China and India, has become very convenient. 

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Tip: Another popular location to do business is Hong Kong. You can follow this guide on how to set up your company in Hong Kong.

A spring promo for company creation pricing of Statrys

Growing Economy

Over the years, Thailand has dramatically developed as an economy to the point where it has the second-highest GDP in Southeast Asia, according to the IMF, only behind Indonesia.

Thailand had a Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of USD 548.89 billion in 2022, according to official data from the World Bank.

The growth of Thailand’s economy is steady and consistent thanks to many factors, such as the availability of natural resources, demand for exports, a bustling consumer market, and a skilled, cost-efficient workforce. These are some of the many points that attract investors to the country.

Economic development has led to a diversification in new and previously established industries here in Thailand.

The tech industry specifically is expected to grow exponentially in the upcoming years due to increased interest in the country from investors, entrepreneurs, and large corporations.

Excellent Education and Healthcare Services

Education in Thailand maintains a high standard throughout its many international schools, colleges, and universities.

Most universities offer Business English, making it relatively easy to find Thai employees with communication skills and knowledge in the business field.

In addition to education, Thailand's healthcare system also displays a standard that is parallel to modern medical facilities and equipment, as well as highly skilled doctors and medical staff.

Choose Your Thai Legal Vehicle

Foreigners can choose from the following types of company vehicles:

  • Partnerships
  • Representative Office, Regional Office, or Branch Office.
  • Thai Limited Company (Public and Private) 

Unless your company is part of the Board of Investment (Section 3) program, the majority (51% minimum) of shareholders must be Thai.

Partnerships

There are three types of partnerships, which are the following: Ordinary, Ordinary registered, and Limited.

The differences between the three are the tax treatment and degree of liability.

This type of company is not recommended for foreign investors as it has few incentives from the BOI, whose goal is to encourage long-term growth and investment locally. 

Ordinary Unregistered Partnerships: Partners are fully liable, as regular individuals would be. No limited liability protection. Personal tax on net profits is at rates of 5-35 percent.

Ordinary Registered Partnerships: The partnership is a legal entity and, therefore, is separate and distinct from the partners. Tax is payable at the applicable corporate tax rate, typically 15%-20%.

Limited Partnerships: The liability of the partners is determined by the capital. This type of business must be registered. Tax is payable at the applicable corporate tax rate, typically 15%-20%.

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Note: Limited Partnerships have at least 2 founders or shareholders. A Thai Limited Company, on the other hand, has at least 3 persons who are registered as founders or shareholders. 

Branch and Representative Office

A branch office is an extension of the activities of a foreign parent company.

This means that the business activity is dependent and has to be the same as the parent company.

A representative office is another option when implementing a foreign company in the Thai market. However, they are not as popular as other forms as they are unable to perform trading and commercial activities. They may only engage in market research and reporting of information to the head office.

Thai Limited Company

Shareholders who register for a Thai limited company benefit from limited liability for the business’s debts. However, it is important to know that the directors may have unlimited liability if the permitted documents prescribe so. Be sure to check your licensed documents. 

Regarding a Thai Limited Company, there are two types: Private and Public.

Public Companies are primarily regulated by the Public Companies Act.

They are owned by a minimum of 15 shareholders. Shares can only be transferred after two years of holding.

Private Limited Companies are regulated mainly by the Civil and Commercial Code

For this type of business, at least three shareholders must be present at all times.

For both, no specific registered minimum capital is required.

Thailand’s Foreign Business Act

This law governs the setting up of foreign businesses in Thailand, which were set up by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej and pertain to companies that are majority-owned by foreigners.

Compliance is vital and achieved through first knowing the rules and regulations and the penalties, which can add up over time before a business is fully aware of being non-compliant.

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Note: Read the full contents of the act for complete details. 

Thailand Board of Investment (BOI)

The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) is a Thai government division that aims to promote businesses in Thailand, specifically start-ups, with the aim of increasing investments and boosting the Thai economy.

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Tip: See the BOI’s website for full details about incentives - who they apply to and under what conditions.

This includes both tax and non-tax incentives. 

Tax Incentives:

  • Exemption of corporate income tax for up to 13 years (depending on the company’s activities and other conditions).
  • A 50 percent reduction in corporate income tax for five years (only in special investment promotion zones).
  • Exemption of import duties on raw or essential materials used in research and development purposes.

Non-tax incentives:

  • 100% foreign ownership (except certain activities and industries).
  • The permit to own land.
  • The permit to bring in skilled workers and experts to work in Thailand.

Applying for a Visa and Work Permits

To enter Thailand with the purpose of doing business, you will require a non-immigrant ‘B’ (business visa).

This will ensure that you can legally work in Thailand.

The visa fee is 2,000 Baht for a single entry (with three months validity) and 5,000 Baht for multiple entries (with a one-year validity).

The application can be done through the Royal Thai Embassy or consulate in your country of origin.

Smart Visa

In addition to the other visas, the Smart Visa is a good alternative to the regular programs. The program was launched in February 2018 and is targeted at experts in the science and technology fields, investors, and start-ups. It aims to accelerate the development of specific industries in Thailand.

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Tip: More information on the Smart Visa is on the BOI website, including the industries targeted and how to apply.

Smart Visa holders are permitted to stay in the country for a maximum amount of four years, are exempt from work permit requirements, and have access to other privileges. 

This should be useful if your company registration timeline looks longer than expected.

What Is the Company Registration Process in Thailand?

The company registration process for your Thai company can be divided into three sections.

1

Reserving a Company Name

  • The Department of Business Development (DBD) website allows you to reserve the company name online as part of the company registration process. Despite having the name Department of Business Development, this entity has functions similar to the US Department of Commerce, Hong Kong’s Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, or Singapore’s Ministry of Trade or equivalent in other countries. 
  • The application for your company name reservation is normally approved within 1-3 days.
  • Once the company name has been approved, it is only valid for 30 days, and no extension is permitted, so you should have a full timeline for your company registration process mapped out.

2

Preparing the Necessary Documents

The documents required depend on the type of business that you plan to set up.

The required documents may include the Memorandum of Association, which includes:

  • The name of the proposed company.
  • The proposed registered office of the company is in Thailand.
  • The company objectives.
  • A declaration that the liability of the shareholders will be limited.
  • The amount of share capital with which the company purposes to be registered and the divisions thereof into shares.
  • The names, addresses, occupations, and signatures of the promoters and the number of shares subscribed to by each of the promoters.

An application form and list of shareholders, director forms signed by each director of the company, Declaration of Business Operation form, and the details of the offices and branches of your business, among others.

You will also require a company stamp to act as a company signature for business activities.

3

Registering the Company

This can be done at the business registration office in the region where your Thai company is located.

A taxpayer identification number will also be provided to you.

Registration of a company usually takes around a week for private companies and a month for public companies.

Registration Through the Treaty of Amity (US citizens)

The US-Thailand Treaty of Amity is an agreement that allows American-owned companies or entrepreneurs to have a majority or full ownership of a company in Thailand.

Open a Bank Account to Organize Your Capital

After you have successfully registered your company, you should and will be able to open a corporate bank account (also called a company bank account) in Thailand.

At first, depending on the size of your Thai company, the banks may only offer a savings account for your company, which you can use to receive and withdraw money from the company's bank account.

While options for withdrawing cash are limited, such as difficulty in obtaining ATM cards, online banking is popular across Thailand and eases convenience.

A withdrawal slip must be provided to the bank with your signature and company stamp, and the bank will write a corresponding check by request.

Your clients must either be paid in cash or transferred funds at the bank.

Consider using alternatives, such as a digital business account instead, if this process is inconvenient for your new Thai business.

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Pay Your Taxes

When your company starts to generate an income, you will likely be required to pay Corporate Income Tax.

This is a requirement according to the revenue department. This is a direct company corporate tax levied on companies or partnerships that are carrying our business in Thailand or obtaining certain types of income from Thailand.

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Tip: We recommend you read the full information on Corporate Income Tax (CIT) from the official government source, as well. 

Although doing business in Thailand may be more accessible, cheaper, and more efficient than in other countries, there are still responsibilities, laws, and requirements you'll need to gather before entering the Thai market.

How Much Does It Cost to Start a Business in Thailand?

Before we get into the details of the steps to set up your business, it may be important to consider the costs.

As with a lot of things, we cannot give an accurate figure as the costs of starting a business vary on many different factors, such as the size, type, and location of the business.

The number we can quote is the company registration fees for a private limited company is THB 5,500 per THB 1 million of the registered capital. 

However, it can be safely said that for the majority of foreigners, opening a company will be cheaper than doing so in your home country.

This is reflected in Thailand's cost of living ranking, which, according to The Mercer Human Resource Consulting Cost of Living Survey Worldwide Rankings in 2023, Bangkok, Thailand received a ranking of number 40. Despite its low cost of living, Thailand is an excellent alternative to enter the Asian market.

The Board of Investment (BOI) offers a useful chart outlining the typical costs of starting and operating a Thai business

If you already have an existing business registered in Hong Kong, are thinking of expanding your business to Thailand, or are looking for a payment solution for your business, open a business account with Statrys and get access to 11 currencies today.

Statrys mobile application dashboard showing a total balance in a business account.

FAQs

Why should I start a business in Thailand?

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Strategic location. One of the main reasons that Thailand has become a target for businesses is due to its convenient and strategic location which allows it to serve as a gateway into Asia.

How much do you need to pay for the business visa?

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What is Foreign Business Act?

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