foreign company containers

Can a Foreigner Own a Limited Company?

Foreign ownership of businesses in Thailand is feasible but involves a more intricate process. A foreign-owned business is defined as one where more than 49% of shares are held by foreign nationals. The regulation of such enterprises falls under the Foreign Business Act, requiring businesses in this category to secure a Foreign Business License prior to commencing operations in Thailand.
a man with a beard sitting at a desk with his foreign company in Thailand

Foreign Company Restrictions

  • The Foreign Business Act (FBA) imposes restrictions on foreigners from engaging in approximately 50 types of business activities, categorized into three lists.

    LIST ONE comprises activities such as newspaper businesses, animal farming, and land trading, among others. Foreigners are completely barred from operating businesses listed here due to “special reasons,” with no avenue for obtaining approval.

    LIST TWO encompasses businesses related to national security and domestic transportation via land, waterway, or air, including domestic airline operations. While foreigners or foreign entities can engage in list two activities, approval from the Minister of Commerce and the Cabinet is required. However, securing such approval is notably challenging.

    LIST THREE includes activities where foreigners and foreign entities are restricted from participation due to the perceived unpreparedness of Thai nationals to compete. Approval for list three activities is attainable through the Director-General of the Commercial Registration of the Department of Business Development and the Foreign Business Committee. List three comprises various service businesses not otherwise specified by ministerial regulations.


    To engage in activities from LIST 2 and LIST 3 a foreign entity would need to obtain a Foreign Business License, filing an application with the Business Department to be reviewed by the Cabinet or Foreign Business Committee.

    Foreign Business Licenses, while possible are difficult to obtain, which is why most entities choose to partner with a majority Thai shareholder. Approval of a FBL will be reviewed based on how it benefits Thai society and national safety, how it would impact and benefit the development of the nation and how it would create local employment opportunities. The business must not be seen to be in direct competition with Thai owned businesses.

    Once documents are submitted to the Director General a decision will be made within 60 days and a license issued with 15 days thereafter. Due to the protective nature of Thailand in regards to foreign businesses the process can take longer, and without having a qualified lawyer present the application will more than likely fail.

three people working on an office presentation in a foreign company

Requirements For Setting Up a Foreign Company

**Personal Qualifications:**

– Being at least 20 years of age
– Having a residence in Thailand or temporary entry permission under immigration laws
– Not being declared incompetent or quasi-incompetent
– Not being bankrupt
– Not having been convicted by a court judgment or fined under the Foreign Business Act (FBA) or related regulations, unless discharged for at least five years prior to the application date
– Not having been imprisoned for certain specified offenses under the Penal Code or immigration laws, unless discharged for at least five years prior to the application date
– Not having had a previous FBA license revoked within the past five years

**Documents Required:**

– Copy of the juristic person certificate
– Copy of passport or identification document
– Certification by the applicant confirming qualifications and absence of prohibitions
– Map of business location.
– Declaration of business type and license required
– Financial statements of the last three years with Thai translation
– Power of attorney if represented by another person
– Copy of house registration, residence certificate in Thailand, or evidence of temporary stay permission.