For setting up a business in Thailand, one needs to have a business license or permit depending on the type of business. Applying for a business license can be complicated and time-taking if your business activities are controlled by a government body. Therefore, it is a good idea to approach a reliable and experienced legal firm that will assist you and provide free consultations when applying for the license or permit. Tourism, schools and childcare, medical, liquor, food and beverage industries require specific licenses to perform their business activities in Thailand.

A Thai business license is issued by the Thai government or its agency which allows the company to carry out its business activities in Thailand legally. Once the company has been registered with the Ministry of Commerce, it can apply for the license thereafter.

Following are the most common forms of business registration in Thailand with their related licenses:

Opening a Restaurant and Bar in Thailand

Setting up a restaurant requires the issuance of food license from the local district office. There should be a principal location for selling food and beverages before applying for the license. The government authorities will inspect the business premises before granting approval. In addition, serving liquor will also require an "alcohol license" which is granted by the local Excise Deapartment. There are certain limitations on the timing for the sale of liquor in Thailand. These licenses are valid for up to one year and require annual renewal by the company.

Setting up a financial services business

A company providing financial services also requires the issuance of a specific license from the Bank of Thailand. The Bank of Thailand actively monitors the most common forms of financial services such as finance companies, commercial banks, credit finance companies, asset management companies and e payment channel services. There will be an additional license requirement for specialized finance institutions that provide services to support the government policies to promote investment and economic development for Thailand.

Establishing an Import & Export Company

Thai companies engaging in import and export activities also require a certain business license depending on the type of goods. If the goods imported are managed, there will be requirement of specific licenses from the Food and Drugs Administration of Thailand. The goods that are being imported may include food, medicines and cosmetics. Importing electronic gadgets and devices such as mobile phones also requires additional permission from the National Broadcasting Department in Thailand. Under normal cases, the company will need to apply for customs paperless license from the Customs Department in Thailand to enable importing and exporting of goods under the company’s name. It is always better to hire a local director to review and sign on these applications so as to simplify the process of issuance and obtain the license within a short period of time.

Running an Employment Agency or Consultancy

A recruitment license is required for employment-centered businesses that include hiring, staffing and search companies and employment agencies. The Department of Employment issues this license. Moreover, the company should be able to fulfill certain requirements in terms of local directorship, shareholding and office space. There will be a mandatory inspection of the office premise before the license approval. The company is accountable for its recruitment activities to the Department of Employment once the license is approved.

Setting up a Travel Agency

For setting up a travel agency, a tourism license from the Tourism Authority of Thailand is required before starting activities or offering tour and travels packages to the customers. This license permits the agency to engage in tourism activities such as organizing tours and packages, scheduling accommodations and ticketing and more. The tourism license is categorized as inbound, outbound and domestic tourism. Additionally, the company must have Thai ownership majorly and a local director to sign for the tourism license. The authority of the local director to sign the license can be confined to matters associated with tourism license only.

Opening an Educational Institution

Establishing and registering an educational business in Thailand also requires licensing and approval from the Ministry of Education or the Department of Social Welfare depending on the type of education provided. There are certain factors related to the business premise and legal structure of the company that requires your attention when setting up the business. Incorporating the business and a Thai company structure is the first and important step to get started with the business setup.