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Setting up a Business

What You Need to Know About Setting up a Business in Thailand
The following is an overview of establishing a business in Thailand.

As in most countries, there are three kinds of business organizations in Thailand: Sole proprietorships, partnerships, and limited companies. The most popular form of business organization among foreign investors is the private limited company.  

Private limited companies require a minimum of seven promoters and must file a memorandum of association, convene a statutory meeting, register the company, and obtain a company income tax identity card. They must also follow accounting procedures specified in the Civil and Commercial code, the Revenue Code and the Accounts Act. A balance sheet must be prepared once a year and filed with the Department of Revenue and Commercial Registration. In addition, companies are required to withhold income tax from the salary of all regular employees.  

The Ministry of Industry administers The Factory Act, which governs factory construction and operation, as well as safety and pollution-control requirements. In some cases, factories do not require licenses, in other instances the requirement is simply to notify officials in advance of start-up, and in some cases licenses are required prior to commencing operations. Licenses are valid for five years, and are renewable.  

Thailand recognizes three kinds of intellectual property rights: patents, trademarks, and copyrights.  

The Patent Act protects both inventions and product designs and pharmaceuticals. The Copyright Act protects literary, artistic works, and performance rights, by making it unlawful to reproduce or publish such works without the owner's permission. The Trademark Act governs registration of, and provides protection for, trademarks.  

The Alien Occupation Law requires all foreigners working in Thailand to obtain a Work Permit prior to starting work in the Kingdom, except when they are applying under the Investment Promotion Law, in which case they have 30 days to apply.  

Non-Immigrant visas provide the holder with eligibility to apply for a work permit, and allow the holder to work while the work permit application is being considered.  

Through the links below, you can learn more about topics such as industrial licensing, taxation, patents and trademarks , and the cost of doing business in Thailand. You can also find out about the status of Thai infrastructure, including facilities such as airports, deep sea ports, and highways, and the availability of power, water and telecommunications.  

In addition, there is a link to a page of statistics, which displays tables of utility, communications and labor costs, tax rates, information about air, sea, rail and road freight pricing, and information about availability and cost of land within industrial estates. Other charts and tables provide costs of establishing and running an office in Bangkok, and the results of a survey of expatriate living costs in Bangkok.  

This page also contains information about industrial production of selected products in Thailand, tables breaking down Thai imports and exports by product and a table displaying interest rate movements for the past 5 years. 

By the time you have finished visiting all these pages, you will have a complete picture about the business climate in Thailand.
Typical Costs of Starting and Operating a Business
Typical Costs of Starting a Business (2004)
Baht US $
1. Visas(1)
Work permit (new) 
14 days
750/1,500/3,000 19/38/75
One year visa
30 days
1,900 48
Re-entry visa 2 days 1,000*/3,800** 25*/96**
Notes: * relects price for single re-entry ** relects price for multiple re-rentry permit
2. Registration (Official Government Fee)
Company registration 
21 days
5,500/1 million(*)

(275,000 maximum)


(US$6,875 maximum)

List 2 Alien business license, 60 days 40,000-500,000 1,006-12,581
List 3 Alien business license, 60 days 20,000-250,000 503-6,291
Factory license 30 days 500-60,000 13-1,500
2a. Registration (Typical fee charged by a law firm to process)(1)
Company registration, 15 days 40,000 1,006
Alien business license 200,000 5,032
Factory license, 30 days 100,000 2,516
Note: (*) = registered capital
Tax returns and VAT 20,000 yearly 503
Translation, per page 1.400 35
Review/draft contracts and agreements 35,000 up  880
4. Office achieved rents (2) (As of Q1, 2004) (Baht/sq.m/mth)
  Central Business District Non-CBD
Grade A 477 (US$12.18) 400 (US$10.21)
Grade B 346 (US$ 8.83) 293 (US$7.48)
Notes: These rents are inclusive of management fees and air-conditioning.

The rent-free period ranges between one to two months.

Grade A indicates superior premises, Grade B somewhat less so.

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