Thailand: E-commerce business operations by foreign companies

Key requirements of the foreign business license

Key requirements of the foreign business license

In principle, the Foreign Business Act prohibits foreign companies from operating e-commerce in Thailand. However, there are two potential options for a foreign company to operate e-commerce business in Thailand. The first, and more common option is applying for the foreign business license with the Department of Business Development (the department). Key requirements of the foreign business license include that the company: 

  • Retains a minimum capital of THB 3 million per business applied for the foreign business license 
  • Provides loans against capital for doing company business do not exceed 7:1 
  • Has at least one authorized director with an address in Thailand 

The department will also consider potential competition against any existing Thai business operators, and the know-how/technology of the business on a case-by-case basis, at the sole discretion of the department.

Apart from the first option, the foreign business license, the second option is that the company can apply for a foreign business certificate with the Board of Investment. This option has the added benefits of tax and non-tax incentives for the company, as described in the table below. 

Key conditions

Key incentives

  • The minimum investment capital of each project must not be less than THB 1.5 million per year, calculated on the basis of the expenditure of salaries for Thai information technology personnel employed after the submission of application for investment promotion.
  • Projects must have the development process of software, digital platforms or digital content in Thailand, as stipulated by the Board of Investment.

Basic incentive (A2)

Tax incentive:

  • Corporate income tax exemption on the profits derived from the promoted business for eight years

Non-tax incentive:

  • Permit to bring skilled workers and experts to work in the promoted business into Thailand

KPMG observation

Considering both options, while companies can obtain both the foreign business certificate and foreign business license if all conditions are met, the foreign business license is obtained at the discretion of the department on a case-by-case basis.

Companies operating e-commerce businesses with either the foreign business license or foreign business certificate are still subject to registering the e-commerce business with the department and obtaining a direct marketing license.

Read an August 2022 report prepared by the KPMG member firm in Thailand


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