Foreign Direct Investment

According to the Foreign Business Act BE. 2542, foreigners are not allowed to operate some categories of businesses. While some businesses are able to operate, they need to obtain a license or certificate. Depending on the type of business which will be allowed on a case-by-case basis which must consider the general criteria as follow.


A. Definition of a Foreigner


The following person or juristic person is defined as a foreigner:


  1. Natural person not of Thai nationality

  2. Juristic person not registered in Thailand

  3. Juristic person registered in Thailand having half or more of its capital shares held by person or juristic person as mentioned in (1) or (2)

  4. Juristic person registered in Thailand having half of more of its capital shares held by (1), (2) or (3)


B. The Business Lists


Business List 1


The business that an alien is not allowed to perform with special reasons:


  1. Journalistic enterprise, broadcast radio station enterprise, television station enterprise

  2. Farming and gardening

  3. Animal husbandry

  4. Forestry and transforming of natural wood

  5. Fishery especially in Thai territorial waters and in specific economic zone of Thailand

  6. Thai herb extraction

  7. Trade and sale by auction of Thai antiques or Thai historically worthy items

  8. Founding Buddha images and Buddhist monk's alms-bowls

  9. Land trade


Business List 2


Foreigners can operate business if permitted by the Minister of the Ministry of Commerce with the approval of the Cabinet. These are divided into three groups as follow.


Group 1: Business involving with the safety and the security of the nation

  1. Production, distribution and repair of:(a) Weapon, cartridge set, gunpowder, explosive(b) Weapons' accessories, cartridge set, explosive(c) War materials, ship, aircraft, military vehicles(d) Equipment or accessories of all kinds of war materials

  2. Transportation by land, by water and by air in the country, including domestic aviation


Group 2: Businesses affecting art and culture, custom and tradition and local crafts

  1. Trade of antiques, art materials that are art objects and crafts of Thailand

  2. Production of wood carvings

  3. Silk worm husbandry, production of Thai silk thread, weaving of Thai silk cloth and   printing design on Thai silk cloth

  4. Production of Thai musical instruments

  5. Production of goldware, silverware, nielloware, polished stone goldware or lacquerware

  6. Production of Thai art crockery, pottery


Group 3: Businesses affecting natural resources and environments

  1. Granulation of sugar from sugar canes

  2. Salt Farming including salt farming from salty soil

  3. Rock salt farming

  4. Mining including blasting and crushing rock

  5. Transformation of furniture and utensils


Business List 3


Foreigners can operate business if permitted by the Director - General of the Department of Business Development with the approval of the Committee.  These are 21 businesses that Thais do not have prompt operating abilities to compete with foreigners.


  1. Rice milling and production of flour from rice and farm crops

  2. Fishery especially of aquatic animal

  3. Forestry from planted forest

  4. Production of plywood, veneer, chipboard and hardboard

  5. Production of lime

  6. Accounting service business

  7. Law service business

  8. Architect service business

  9. Engineering service business

  10. Construction except(a) The construction of public fundamental services for public utilities or communication that requires special equipment, machines, technology and skill and that has the capital from Foreigners at minimum of 500 million baht(b) Other constructions stipulated in the ministerial orders

  11. Broker or agent enterprise except(a) Being a broker or an agent for stock trade or service relating to a forward trade of agricultural goods or financial printed document or stocks(b) Being a broker or an agent for trading or providing necessary goods or services for the production and services in the enterprise's group(c) Being a broker or an agent for trading, purchasing or distributing or providing materials both in the country and in foreign countries for selling domestic products or importing product as an international trade with an alien's capital at minimum of 100 million baht(d) Being other kinds of brokers or agents as stipulated in the ministerial orders

  12. Sale at auction except(a) The international auction that is not an auction of ancient objects, antiques, art materials that are art works, crafts or relics of Thai or historically worthy relics of the country(b) Other kinds of auction stipulated in the ministerial order

  13. The domestic trade relating to local agricultural products or produces that has not been forbidden by other laws

  14. Retailing trade of all goods that has the entire capital at the maximum of 100 million baht or has the least capital of each store at the maximum of 20 million baht

  15. All kinds of wholesaling trade that has the least capital of each store at the maximum of 100 million baht

  16. Advertising business

  17. Hotel business except hotel managing service

  18. Tourism

  19. Sales of foods and beverage

  20. Cultivation, propagating and improving plants

  21. Other service businesses unless otherwise stipulated in the ministerial order


However, some foreigners do not need to apply for a license. Just apply for a certificate which is a easier procedure than submitting a request for a license.  Those foreigners are as follows:


  1. Foreigners, who are eligible for the privilege under the Treaty, can request for a certificate for operating a business in List 1, List 2 and List 3.

  2. Foreigners, who are promoted under the investment promotion law, can request for a certificate for operating a business in List 2 and List 3.


C. Minimum Capital and Conditions:


  1. Either licensees or certificate grantees under the Treaty must have the minimum capital as prescribed in the ministerial regulations

  2. No required minimum capital for certificate grantees under the Investment Promotion Certificate.

  3. The followings are the conditions for the foreign licensees to be comply with:(a) The ratio of the capital and loans to be used in the permitted business is 1:3.(b) At least one of foreign directors must have domicile in Thailand.(c) The minimum capital must be kept up until stop operating a business in Thailand ie the minimum capital can be retained in various forms such as fixed assets or current assets.(d) Certificate grantee under the Treaty must comply with the conditions specified in the Treaty.(e) Certificate grantee under Investment Promotion Certificate must comply with the conditions specified in Investment Promotion Certificate.

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