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Government Regulations Regarding Foreigners Doing Business in Thailand

Prior to conducting business in Thailand, Americans should be familiar with the restrictions on foreign businesses in Thailand. Important Thai business laws include:

The Alien Business Law (ABL) - also known as the National Executive Announcement No. 281 of 1972, restricts business activity of aliens or non-Thais. "Alien" and "Alien Business" is defined as a natural person or juristic person without Thai Nationality. This includes a business at least one-half of the registered capital held by aliens. The three categories restricted are:

Category A:

is completely closed to foreigners (with a few exceptions exist); services such as accounting, law and architecture are notably included;

Category B:

is closed unless promoted by the Board of Investment and includes fishing, printing, tour agencies and other businesses;

Category C:

requires an Alien Business License, and includes retail, wholesale and others businesses. A full list of restricted industries can be provided upon request.

American companies are exempt from many of these restrictions under the U.S. Thai Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations of 1966.

The Alien Employment Act (Decree No. 322) - effective as of 1978, this Act requires non-Thais to obtain a work permit before engaging in any work activity. There are 39 restriction occupations, including accounting, engineering and legal professions. Foreign professionals in these fields sometimes work as consultants in conjunction with local counterparts. Currently, this act is under judicial review.

The Immigration Act of 1979 - grants Americans up to a 30-day visit in Thailand without a visa. For business visits of longer duration, the Immigration Department requires a non-immigrant visa, category B. The visa is valid for 90 days for a single entry of 180 days for multiple entry, and must be obtained before entering Thailand.

Contact Information

Department of Business Development
Ministry of Commerce
44/100 Moo 1, Nonthaburi 1 Rd., (Sanam Binnam),
Bangkrasor, Muang Nonthaburi
11000 Thailand
Tel: (662) 547-4425-6
Fax: (662) 547-4427
Email: foreign@dbd.go.th
Website: http://www.dbd.go.th/mainsite/index.php?id=35&L=1

Office of Foreign Workers Administration
Department of Employment
Mit Maitri Road, Din Daeng Distric
Bangkok 10400
Tel: (662) 245-2745
Website: www.doe.go.th

Immigration Department
The Royal Thai Police Department
507 Soi Suan Phlu, South Sathorn Road,
Bangkok 10120 Thailand
Tel: (662) 278-3101-10
Fax: (662) 287-1310
Website: http://www.immigration.go.th/