The main activities of foreigners staying in Thailand are: Bars, cafes, guest houses and restaurants, massage centers or tourism agencies. In cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai or in tourist centers like Phuket and Koh Samui, there are dozens of businesses run by foreigners and doing quite well. In Thailand, it is not difficult to start and run a business, as confirmed by the World Bank’s report on the ease of doing business, in which Thailand is ranked 26th in the world, ahead of countries like France.
Start a business in Thailand
Any foreign citizen can start a business in Thailand, and the formalities are usually not very costly. When starting a business in Thailand, a Thai partner is required to own at least 51% of the company. (There are also some types of activities where a foreigner can register 100%, but these are situations that do not involve the most common activities). So, you have no choice but to register a regular LTD and find a Thai partner who owns at least 51% of the company shares.
If you do not have partners or do not want them, there are two options:
- Contact a reputable law firm and set up a joint venture that gives you full control. This service costs about 25,000/30,000 baht per year
- Contact one of the many Thai law firms that can register 51% of the company. from the company to a farmer in the jungle without him knowing. This is an illegal practice and can be very risky
Remember that with an outlay of $1,500 to $2,000, it is possible to start a business whose administrative costs amount to about $10 per month. Even if a Thai owns 51% of the company, you can be the director of the company and thus control all money movements.
Work permit in Thailand
To work for your company, you need a work visa and a work permit. To obtain these, you must be hired by your company and receive a salary of at least 50,000 baht (about $1,400 at the current exchange rate), the minimum wage that must legally be paid to a foreign worker from a Western European country (the salary is lower for other countries of origin).
So your company must first prepare an application to leave Thailand for you and visit a Thai embassy to apply for an annual nonimmigrant (B) work visa (cost about $400). Once you have obtained the visa, you will need to apply for an annual work permit upon your return to Thailand (cost approx. €400 + taxes).
Workers in Thailand
For every foreign employee hired, by law you must hire four Thai employees, and since you already have one foreign employee in the company (namely yourself), you must hire four Thais. Fortunately, the minimum wage in Thailand is not very high, it is $250 per month.
In any case, that means you have about another $1,000 per month in fixed salary costs for your employees. But many Thai law firms, in order to save costs, find four associates who are taken on by the firm without actually working. Only contributions are paid to him, about 1,000 baht/month per employee ($30 per month).
Taxes in Thailand
If your business does not generate more than 400,000 baht per year (about $11,000), you do not have to pay taxes. For larger turnovers, a profit tax of about 20% is levied,
In short, Thailand is a country where, despite the competition, you can try to start a business if you have clear ideas and, above all, if you realize that running a business means working 12/14 hours a day. On the other hand, if you want to open a bar and spend all day at the beach, come back in the afternoon to get the money from the cash register, and then spend the evening in some disco. Forget it
I refer you to the Thai government website, which also has useful information about doing business in Thailand.
For those interested in living in Thailand, I recommend reading the article: Moving to Thailand
For those interested in working in Thailand, I recommend reading the article: Working in Thailand