Common Licenses needed by Thai Businesses
If you decide to open a business in Thailand it is important to find out what licenses or permits might be required, which varies depending on what you do.
Below are some of the most common, although this is far from an exhaustive list.
Alcohol Selling License
If you have a bar, restaurant or shop and plan to sell Alcoholic drinks then an Alcohol License is essential.
Applications are made at the Excise Department, part of the Ministry of Finance.
Different licenses apply depending on what you plan to do, eg. Retail sales, Wholesale, or Importing Alcohol. Even transporting alcohol requires a license.
Licenses expire at the end of every year, with renewals accepted from the 1st of October.
In the case that a business has its alcohol license revoked it will be inelligble to apply for a new license for 1 year.
Regulations for alcohol sales (liquor sales)
- Alcohol sales are allowed from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. and from 5:00 p.m. to midnight.
- Alcohol sales are prohibited on the following days: Buddhist Lent Day, End of Buddhist Lent Day, Asalha Puja Day, Magha Puja Day, and Vesak Day.
- Alcohol sales to individuals under 20 years of age or to those who are visibly intoxicated and unable to control themselves are prohibited.
- Alcohol sales through vending machines, price reductions, or sales promotions are prohibited.
It is not possible to obtain an alcohol license for any premises that are:
- Inside or in close proximity to schools
- Temple, mosque, royal monastery, or religious institution premises, including adjacent areas.
- Fuel service station premises according to the fuel control law, including adjacent areas.
- A location that was previously used by a person whose alcohol sales license was revoked, unless five years have passed since the license revocation date. (Applicable only for retail alcohol sales)
- Locations where alcohol sales are prohibited by the Alcoholic Beverage Control Act or other laws.
Cigarette Selling License
Selling Cigarettes requires a separate license, which is also handled by the Excise Department.
Type 1: For selling tobacco in quantities of 1,000 rolls or more, or selling tobacco strands in quantities of 2 kilograms or more, or selling prepared tobacco strands or chewing tobacco in quantities of 200 grams or more.
Type 2: For retail sale of tobacco in quantities not exceeding 1,000 rolls, or selling tobacco strands in quantities not exceeding 2 kilograms, or selling prepared tobacco strands or chewing tobacco in quantities not exceeding 200 grams.
Type 3: For selling other types of tobacco products.
The application process is similar to the Alcohol license and often submitted together.
Restricted locations are similar to alcohol license with the exception that fuel stations are allowed.
Food licenses are most commonly required for restaurants and shops selling food.
But this also applies to any businesses involved in producing, importing, storing or transporting food.
Shops, food producers etc will typically require 2 licenses
- License for your facilities to sell food (different versions depending on the size of your premises)
- Food Storage License (different types for different foods, eg. frozen/fresh)
A restaurant license is required to operate a restaurant legally.
For Thai nationals this can be registered in an individuals name, providing they have completed an individual trade registration first.
More commonly it will be applied under a company, in which case the companies registration documents must state restaurant in the list of activities that the company conducts.
Restaurants will apply at the local Municipality, while food production and import will need to apply with the Thai Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
Any business that plays music on their premises is required to have a music license.
This applies whether you are playing live music, radio or your own cds/downloaded tracks.
2 Licenses are available, depending whether you will play Thai or International music, with rates varying by size of venue and if you sell alcohol.
Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) License
Any business providing services for tourists will need to register for a license with the TAT.
This includes hotels, tour guides, dive schools and other tourism aimed activities.
Tour Business License
A tour business involves organising and assisting travellers in visiting tourist destinations or travelling for other purposes, by providing services or facilitating various aspects such as accommodation, food, and tour guides.
Entrepreneurs who wish to operate a tour business must apply for a tour business license from the Tour Business Registrar. Once granted a tour business license, they can then operate their tour business.
A security deposit will be required, with values ranging from 3000-60000 THB depending on the nature of the business.
Health Establishment (massage parlour / spa)
A "health business establishment" according to the Health Business Establishment Act B.E. 2559 means a place established for the conduct of the following businesses:
- Spa businesses providing services related to health care and promotion through water treatments and body massage as the main services, along with other services.
- Health massage businesses.
- Massage businesses for enhancing beauty.
The operators of the aforementioned health businesses must obtain a health business establishment license from the Ministry of Public Health before opening the business. The health business establishment license is valid for five years from the date of issuance. The establishment must display the health business establishment license in a visible and easily accessible location at the specified health business establishment in the license. To renew a health business establishment license, an application must be submitted before the expiration date of the license.
In addition, managers or operators, and service providers in health business establishments must also apply for a license to operate in a health business establishment.
Hotel Business License
A hotel refers to an establishment set up for business purposes to provide temporary accommodation for travellers or other individuals for a fee. This does not include:
(1) Accommodation facilities established for temporary stays without profit or shared income, such as government agencies, state enterprises, charities, or educational institutions.
(2) Accommodation facilities set up to provide lodging services charged on a monthly basis.
According to the Hotel Act B.E. 2547 (2004), Section 15, "No person shall operate a hotel business unless licensed by the Registrar." Therefore, anyone wishing to operate a hotel business must obtain a license from the Ministry of Interior before commencing operations.
There are four types of hotels, as follows:
(1) Type 1 hotels are those that provide only accommodation services with no more than 50 rooms. Each room must have an area of at least 8 square meters, excluding the bathroom, toilet, and balcony. The room must be adequately sanitary.
(2) Type 2 hotels provide accommodation and dining services, or a place for food services or food preparation. Each room must have an area of at least 8 square meters, excluding the bathroom, toilet, and balcony. The room must be adequately sanitary.
(3) Type 3 hotels provide accommodation, dining services, or a place for food services or food preparation, and services in accordance with the law on service establishments or conference rooms. Each room must have an area of at least 14 square meters, excluding the bathroom, toilet, and balcony. Every room must have a bathroom and a toilet that meet sanitary standards.
(4) Type 4 hotels provide accommodation, dining services, or a place for food services or food preparation, services in accordance with the law on service establishments, and conference rooms. Each room must have an area of at least 14 square meters, excluding the bathroom, toilet, and balcony. Every room must have a bathroom and a toilet that meet sanitary standards.
Type 3 and Type 4 hotels with no more than 80 rooms are not allowed to have service establishments, except in permitted areas.
Factory Establishment Permit
A factory means a building, location, or vehicle that uses machinery with a total power of at least fifty horsepower or an equivalent of fifty horsepower or more, or employs at least fifty workers, whether using machinery or not, for the purpose of operating a factory. This is in accordance with the types or categories of factories defined by the Ministry's regulations.
According to the Factory Act B.E. 2535, factories are divided into three categories based on the type or category of the factory as follows:
- Category 1 factories include factories of various types, sizes, and capabilities that can operate immediately according to the business owner's intention, with machinery not exceeding 20 horsepower and a workforce not exceeding 20 people.
- Category 2 factories include factories of various types and sizes that must notify the relevant officials before commencing operations.
- Category 3 factories include factories of various types and sizes that must obtain a permit before being able to operate, with machinery exceeding 50 horsepower and a workforce exceeding 50 people.
Business operators who wish to engage in import-export businesses must register as import-export operators and apply for an import-export identification card with the Department of Foreign Trade.
They can only import or export goods after receiving the proper permissions. If the products to be exported meet export standards, the business operator must register as an exporter of standard products and obtain permission from the Department of Foreign Trade and relevant agencies for that specific product.
For example, if one wishes to import or export agricultural products, they must obtain permission from the Department of Agricultural Extension. Food and drink requires approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Foreign Business License
Certain business activities are restricted for foreigners under the Foreign Business Act. If you are engaging in such activities, you may need to obtain a Foreign Business License from the Ministry of Commerce or seek permission from the Board of Investment (BOI) if your business qualifies for BOI promotion.