The Ministry of Commerce has issued a ministerial regulation removing certain businesses from the category of restricted business activities under the Foreign Business Act (FBA), effective from 9 June 2017.

The exempted businesses can be divided into two groups, as follows:

  • Group 1 Businesses governed by the laws on financial institutions such as financial institution businesses; connected businesses or necessary businesses for financial institutions; other businesses of financial institutions; and businesses of companies within the financial business group of financial institutions.
  • Group 2 Businesses covered by specific laws such as asset management businesses; representative offices; regional offices; and business operators who are contracted to provide services to government agencies or state-owned enterprises.

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The exemption of commercial banking business as well as representative offices of foreign banks is not new as they have already been exempted under the previous ministerial regulation. As the above businesses are now exempted from the licensing requirements under the FBA, foreign companies wishing to operate these businesses in Thailand will no longer require a foreign business license. However, the foreign companies will still be subject to licensing requirements and foreign shareholding limit requirements under specific regulations, particularly for those operating businesses under Group 1.

Foreign companies operating Group 2 businesses will not be subject to the foreign business license requirements under the FBA. However, in order to comply with the requirements for preparation and filing of accounts under the Accounting Act, foreign companies operating Group 2 businesses must request a registration number and notify the authority of the place they are operating the businesses in Thailand, pursuant to the Notification of the Department of Business Development.