How to Start a Startup in Bangkok as a Foreigner














Thailand is supporting new business, and you could be a part of the growth by starting a business in Bangkok! Not only is it a beautiful city with a lot of cultures and amazing food, but it’s a great place for people looking to set out on a new business adventure. While it may seem a bit scary at first, it’s quite easy to do as long as you do your research first. Here are some things you need to know if you plan on starting a business in Thailand as a foreigner.

Bangkok Business Opportunities

People who want to be successful in business need to go into a growing market. This is especially ideal for people who want to push a technology startup. The technology industry is truly growing in Asia, especially in Thailand.

Thailand may not seem like the obvious answer when you think of a location to start a new business, but that’s what makes it so effective. Thailand has a large population for such a small country, and millions of tourists visit every single year, providing plenty of customers. Furthermore, it’s in a great location for trade.

Bangkok was named the 3rd best city for startups by Nomads List in 2014. It’s only been growing ever since. Thailand also saw more than a 41% increase in trade, demonstrating that the country truly knows the potential it has as a trade spot. This means more traffic and more consumers. They have also started work on a very ambitious transportation system that will help people get to work or shops and connects the country with China, Laos, Malaysia, and Singapore.

You can even meet other people with similar goals to bounce ideas off of each other and learn the best ways to succeed. There are organized events specifically for this purpose.

What Business to Do in Thailand?

Thailand welcomes business, but it also must ensure that their people don’t have too much competition. There are a number of businesses that aren’t allowed to do work in Thailand including:

  • Television broadcasting
  • Farming
  • Fishing
  • Trading Thai antiques
  • Selling Thai medicinal herbs
  • Making Buddha figurines

Make sure that you’re able to start the business you want before you pack your suitcase. Technology startups are doing especially well in the area.

Company Formation

You have plenty of options for creating your company in Thailand: registered office or limited partnership, regional office or branch office, and limited company. Each will have its own benefits and problems. If you want to own the entirety of your company, you must register it with the board of investment (BOI). These companies are also tax exempt. There are specific requirements in order to register with the BOI, so talk to a business lawyer to determine if your company meets those requirements. US nationals have a benefit because of a treaty in place between the two countries, but there are still strict guidelines. If you can’t, you can register through the Limited Company. This is the most common method. Unfortunately, Thailand limits the number of shares that foreign business people can own of a company to 49%. While that may seem scary, there is significantly less paperwork and fewer capital requirements this way.

Registering The Company, Tax ID, and Operational Licensing

As Thailand is trying to support business, they make Thailand business registration quite easy for you. You can get your company registered in as little as 7 days for private companies and 30 days for public companies.

Corporate taxes are generally between 15 – 20%, but it can be as low as 10% if the company makes more than 300,000 baht per year. Luckily, Thailand offers foreign businesses starting out in Bangkok with 0% taxes for eighteen months.

Finding Office Spaces in Bangkok

It’s extremely important to find the right office space if you want to succeed. Bangkok is a bustling city with a large corporate center. Look for the safest area possible if you want to rent an office in Bangkok. Certain areas can be dangerous at night. This might not be a situation where the cheapest option is the best option, so be sure to do your research and examine the neighborhood before you sign anything. If you’re starting a retail business, make sure that the area you open your store gets plenty of foot traffic. You can also look into getting a serviced office or a shared office to help with the costs. Make sure to meet the people you will be sharing your coworking space in Bangkok.

Open Bank Account & Visa / Work Permit Handling

Starting a business in Thailand, you’re going to need to open a bank account in the area and ensure that you have a work permit to stay in the country. In order to register your company, you need to contribute 25% of the investment capital into a corporate bank account. If you register your company with the Limited Company, any person with shares in the company is eligible for a work permit. A work permit requires detailed employment history with specific mention of your role with the business in question and proof of education. You can talk to your lawyer to finalize the paperwork. You’ll need a special stamp that acts as an official signature, and that will cost between 400 – 800 Baht.

Keep in mind that Thailand has strict laws regarding foreign business, and failing to adhere to the laws can have expensive consequences and can even result in jail time. For this reason, it’s extremely important that you follow all laws regarding your new startup in Bangkok.

Many people have dreams of owning their own company. You don’t have to answer to a boss, and the potential is unlimited. When you decide to take this journey, you should seriously consider Bangkok as a place to start your new adventure. It’s a great place for people with big dreams to make them come true. Take the next steps toward your future now!

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