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Alcohol, Tobacco, and Restaurant Licenses in Thailand

Transcript of the above video:

In this video, we are going to briefly discuss restaurant, alcohol and tobacco licensing in the Kingdom.

Basically, those who are looking to do business in Thailand in the form of a restaurant or a bar, or really anything in the F&B Industry, this is probably a video to gain at least a little bit of insight: I am not going to go into total detail on how this stuff works but there are some rather interesting recent developments with respect to these topics and it’s worth discussing.

So basically, what are they? Obviously, alcohol licence sort of speaks for itself. It is like a liquor licence in the United States or what we would call in the US, a liquor licence but  they are basically the same thing, an alcohol licence; a licence to serve alcohol. The other thing is a tobacco licence. This is a little bit more interesting.  It is at least extensively a licence to sell tobacco but what’s also interesting about a tobacco license, tobacco licensing is, where there’s sort of doubt on an enforcement level as to whether or not somebody actually purchased the tobacco their smoking on one’s premises, within those premises, it can create problems for a proprietor if they have got someone smoking on their premises and various authorities, police show up and say “where’s your tobacco licence?”  They say “well we don’t have a tobacco licence, we don’t sell tobacco”. “Well that person over there is smoking. How do we know that he didn’t buy it here?”  I am not saying this happens frequently but it’s not impossible for that to occur so for this reason, a tobacco licence is a pretty recommended thing to just have in order to sort of forestall those kind of confusing situations which can lead to problems and which can lead to legal issues with respect to the possibility that an Inspector basically says, “Look, I just don’t buy it, I think that individual bought that product here, I am going to go ahead and write up a citation for that!” Or just the mere act of having to deal with, you know, communicating to the officer the situation. It’s oftentimes just easier to be able to just flash the licence, “Here, here it is. I have it!” or post it on the wall. “There’s my tobacco licence.  I don’t sell tobacco, but there you go”. The other thing is the so called Restaurant Licence. I often refer to this as a Health and Sanitation Licence. It is basically a licence that says an establishment has met the requisite sanitation standards in order to be a food service establishment. This will require a certain amount of inspection from the Health Ministry but again all of these processes are fairly straightforward.

In another video on this channel we do discuss recent speculation regarding the increase in liquor excise taxes here in Thailand. Another thing to keep in mind is, within the same tranche of laws that have come into effect or that are coming into effect, being promulgated as of the time of this filming, there is speculation that the licensing fees associated with alcohol and tobacco licenses and possibly restaurants licenses may be subject to increase in the fairly near future. So it’s possible that we are going to see some fee increases with respect to alcohol and tobacco licensing. As of yet, it is my understanding that such fee increases, whenever they may be, are not going to come into effect for at least a little under 180 days from about the timing of this filming and publication, maybe more like 175 days, no let’s call it, no, 160 days from the time that this video is published, I think it’s pretty fair to assume that there’s going to be an increase in alcohol and tobacco licensing fees. That being said, again legal professionals, we handle such matters fairly frequently, at least the Thai staff here does. They are usually relatively straightforward but that being said, does require a fairly high level of documentation, there is some evidentiary proof that needs to be provided and in the instance of the “restaurant license”, an inspection by the Health Ministry may be required and some folks basically like to have somebody on hand to sort of liaise with those folks in order to maintain a good relations a) with the Ministry, and you know, if there are any questions regarding means and methodology of production of food, whatever, it’s always a good idea to have somebody who can concisely and clearly explain the overall situation.