Foreign Business Licenses

Foreign Business Licenses

Starting a business in Thailand as a foreigner presents some challenging obstacles for the uninitiated. The Foreign Business Act restricts foreigners from obtaining a Foreign Business License (FBL) (for entities with 50% or more foreign-owned shareholding) for certain industries, listed below:

Business ListProhibited Business Activities
1. Prohibited for foreigners without permission.Broadcast media, animal husbandry, fishing, herb extraction, land trade, anything related to Buddhism.
2. Permission may be granted by the Minister of the Ministry of Commerce with cabinet approval.Firearm and military production, transportation, antiques trade, wood carvings, silk production, Thai musical instrument production, gold and silverware production, pottery production, sugar production, salt farming, mining, furniture and utensil transformation.
3. Permission may be granted by the Director-General of the Department of Business Development with Committee approval.Agriculture, fishing, forestry, accounting services, lime production, legal services, architecture, engineering, construction, stock or material brokerage, auctions, large-scale wholesale, advertising, hospitality, tourism, food and beverages.

Your business must have a registered capital of no less than 25% of your average annual estimated expenditure (using a projection of 3 years to establish the average). For instance, if you expect to spend ฿100 million per year, you must demonstrate a ฿25 million registered capital.

Realistically, foreign companies may only apply for permission to operate the businesses under Schedule 3, and each business applied will require a minimum capital investment of at least Baht 3 million. In order to be permitted to operate the business, foreign companies must apply for the FBL from the Bureau of Foreign Business Administration (BFBA), operating under the Department of Business Development, the Ministry of Commerce. Under the current practice, the FBL application process is at least 90 days, and requires a detailed presentation of information relating to the business to be applied, such as business plan, financial forecast and transfer of technology, to be presented to the relevant authorities.

Silk Legal has expertise in the specialized service of procuring FBL for our clients. Our team would be happy to consult with your company on all your activity and advice on procuring the right licenses for the right business activities. After evaluating your business, Silk Legal can advise you about your options for doing business in Thailand, and if the FBL is needed, we are able to give detailed advice on how to approach and plan the FBL application efficiently and effectively.