Integrity Legal - Law Firm in Bangkok | Bangkok Lawyer | Legal Services Thailand Back to
Integrity Legal

Legal Services & Resources 

Up to date legal information pertaining to Thai, American, & International Law.

Contact us: +66 2-266 3698

ResourcesCorporate and Tax AdvisoryThailand Corporate LawAre Foreigners Restricted from Thai Business Activity?

Are Foreigners Restricted from Thai Business Activity?

Transcript of the above video:

As the title of this video suggests, we are asking, ‘are foreigners restricted from doing certain types of business activity here in Thailand?’ Well the short answer to that is yeah, and they are restricted pretty substantially. Thailand has a very insular kind of outlook when it comes to its own internal economy. In my opinion, full disclosure, I am a naturalized citizen sometimes I may have a bit of the fervour of the converted, doesn't really bother me too much. Thailand has had to weather a lot of storms, had to deal with colonialism, the Cold War, had to deal with multiple other issues associated with not only economics but geo-economics and geo-politics and Thailand has taken a position that they are going to do things to protect their own economy. And in many ways you will see this in the form of not only sort of corporate legal structure which we will get into here in a minute but also when it comes to things like Business Visas, not the easiest thing to get issued. I mean we deal with Business Visas on a routine basis here in our office but it is not something that's by any stretch of the imagination easy to deal with. Meanwhile, there is Thai work authorization. It is illegal for foreigners to just come into Thailand and start working. They need to obtain a Work Permit in order to do so legally. Again this is just another restriction, it is just there, it is what it is.

I thought of making this video after reading a recent article from the Bangkok Post,, the article is titled: Jail threatened for Thai nominees of foreign owned businesses in Chinatown. Quoting directly: "The chief of the Department of Business Development has warned Thai nominees of Chinese-owned shops in Yaowarat, aka Bangkok's Chinatown that they are liable to up to 3 years in jail and/or a fine of up to 1 million baht plus daily finds. Thosapone Dansuputra, Director-general of the Department on Sunday emphasized the restrictions on foreigner-owned businesses in Thailand - and the punishments for violations of law." 

Yeah there are certain activities, even if you have for example a US-Thai Treaty of Amity Certificate which certifies the company as an American Company and therefore allows that Company to operate notwithstanding the restrictions under the Foreign Business Act, there are still things even under the Treaty that are specifically restricted and only allowed to be done by Thais. There are certain activities that are just completely restricted to Thais. There's no license; there is no exemption; there's no waiver. You are either Thai or you are not and if you are not, you can't do that kind of business. And, as noted in this article, and I urge those watching this video to go read that for themselves, creating nominees to sort of try to circumvent this is also illegal and could result in criminal penalties as well as fines as noted in the article. Again, I urge those who are watching this video go read that article in detail, lot of good information there.

So again the thing to take away from this video and understand is, it is kind of a given. If you want to come do business here in Thailand, you are going to have to do business dealing with the regime, dealing with a business environment that is very much in favour of protecting local industry, protecting local jobs and protecting local expertise because at the end of the day it is a big bad world out there and Thailand just has to do what's best for Thailand in a business sense.