How to do business in Thailand
Companies wanting a permanent presence in Thailand must set up a legal entity that is compliant with Thai legal and tax requirements. The Foreign Business Act (FBA) 1999 imposes restrictions on 43 categories of business according to a classification under three schedules:
Schedule 1 businesses are open to 49% foreign ownership without a licence. It is not possible to have majority foreign control of a business in Schedule 1.
Schedule 2 activities allow 49% foreign ownership without a licence, and 60 to 75% foreign ownership with Cabinet permission provided that two- thirds of the directors are Thai.
Schedule 3 activities allow 49% foreign ownership without a licence and up to 100% foreign ownership with a Ministry of Commerce licence.
In addition to the FBA there are several industry-specific pieces of legislation governing banking and financial institutions; general and life insurance; insurance brokerages; securities and telecommunications.
The Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) has power to grant permission for majority foreign ownership of a List 2 or List 3 business, if the business activity is eligible for promotion under BOI rules. See: www.boi.go.th/index.php?page=index&language=en
Contact the DIT team at the British Embassy in Bangkok to help find tax advisers and contact DLA Piper Thailand for legal advice, before entering into agreements. See the ‘Resourcse’ section later in this guide.
Standards and technical regulations
The Thai Industrial Standards Institute (TISI) has responsibility for standards. See: www.app.tisi.go.th
The labelling of products in Thailand is regulated by the Consumer Protection Act BE 2522 (1979). See: www.wipo.int/wipolex/en/details.jsp?id=6820
Labels on controlled goods must feature:
name or trademark of the manufacturer or importer
place of manufacture or the place of operating import business
statements indicating the nature of the goods
name of the manufacturing country, in the case of imported goods
price, quantity, usage, recommendations, caution and expiry date
Contact the Office of the Consumer Protection Board for more information on labelling in Thailand. See: www.ocpb.go.th/ewtadmin/ewt/ocpb_eng/main.php?filename=index___EN
Intellectual Property (IP)
Thailand is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
The Thai Department of Intellectual Property (DIP) has responsibility for IP. See: www.ipthailand.go.th/en
See the IP section under 'Local laws and customs' in this guide, for more-detailed information on IP in Thailand. Also contact the Foreign and Commonwealth’s (FCO’s) IP lead for south-east Asia, Christabel Koh based at the British High Commission Singapore for advice on IP matters.
The Intellectual Property Office (IPO), the official UK Government body responsible for intellectual property (IP) rights including patents, designs, trademarks and copyright, can also provide further information and advice: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/intellectual-property-office
[Source: Department for International Trade (DIT)/gov.uk]
Tax and customs considerations
The UK and Thailand have signed a double taxation convention. The UK Government has a 38-page document “1981 Thailand-UK Double Taxation Convention – in force” downloadable at: www.gov.uk/government/publications/thailand-tax-treaties
Value Added Tax (VAT)
The current VAT rate is 7%.
Corporate income tax
Companies incorporated in Thailand are subject to corporate income tax on worldwide income, gains and profits.
A foreign company with a branch in Thailand is subject only to income, gains and profits arising from business carried on in Thailand.
The standard rate of corporate income is 20%. Some industries are subject to a separate taxation regime.
The Revenue Department of Thailand provides details of personal income tax rates. See: www.rd.go.th/publish/6045.0.html
The Thai Customs Department has responsibility for customs issues. See: www.internet1.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/CustEn/Home/HomeWelCome
A number of goods entering Thailand are subject to import controls. The Customs Department provides more information on restricted goods. See: www.internet1.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/custen/traders+and+business/prohibited+and+
As a member of ASEAN Thailand is subject to the agreed import duty reduction plan applying to trade between all the ASEAN countries.
You can find more about import tariffs in the EU’s Market Access Database. See: www.madb.europa.eu/madb/indexPubli.htm
UK Export Finance
The government can provide finance or credit insurance specifically to support UK exports through UK Export Finance – the UK’s export credit agency. See: www.gov.uk/government/organisations/uk-export-finance
For up-to-date country-specific information on the support available see: UK Export Finance’s country cover policy and indicators at: www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators. Details for Thailand are available at: www.gov.uk/guidance/country-cover-policy-and-indicators#thailand
[Source: UK Export Finance/gov.uk]
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