The Asian Development Bank reported that Thailand’s economy grew more strongly than predicted in 2016, with expectations for further sustained growth into 2017. Tourism is booming in Thailand, helping to fuel the developing economy and drive a healthy GDP growth for the region.
Entrepreneurs and businesses looking to expand into Thailand will find a country with modern legal and banking systems and access to a very dynamic local economy.
If you’re thinking of setting up a new enterprise in Thailand, you'll need to apply for a new, local bank account for your business. Here’s a quick guide to help you do just that.
The Thai legal system recognises the following company structures;
- Sole Proprietorships
- Private or publicly limited companies
- Joint Ventures
The structures have different functions and each comes with its own advantages. If you’re unsure which company type is best for your venture, take local legal advice.
It's possible to open a corporate bank account in Thailand with a foreign corporate entity. The process is similar to a locally registered company, but documents are likely to have to be certified by your local Thai embassy. You may also need to show the government issued certificate or license which allows you to trade in Thailand.
The requirements for opening a bank account as a foreign company at the Bank of Bangkok are set out clearly on their website, and serve as a useful guide.
To open a business bank account in Thailand you'll need to prepare some required documents, complete an application form (which you can download from the bank website), and attend a meeting with a relationship manager at your local branch. It's worth remembering that banking in Thailand is still fairly traditional, and individual bank staff and managers have the final say on your suitability for an account. Attending your appointment in smart dress and with exquisite manners will stand you in good stead.
The specific documents needed will vary between banks, but you can expect to be asked for the following:
- A recent (not more than one month old) copy of your company's Registration Certificate
- Stamped minutes of a Board of Directors meeting which state the reason for requiring the account and who will be authorised to use it
- A tax ID card for the enterprise
- ID for each member of the board of directors - usually a Citizen ID card or 13-digit government photo ID card, or a valid passport
All documents should be presented either as originals, or if this isn't possible, certified copies can sometimes be accepted. Opening an account should take around a week.
You can open a bank account in Thailand as a non-resident. However, if your business is registered overseas then you may only be able to choose from a more limited range of accounts.
It's not possible to open a local business bank account from abroad as you have to visit a branch in person.
However, an international bank such as HSBC or Citibank might be able to help you open an account at your local branch and then transfer it later to the Thai branch closest to you. If you want to open an account before you arrive in Thailand, it's worth talking to your local bank to see if they've a local operation or a partner in Thailand which can help you.
It's not possible to open a business bank account online in Thailand as you're required to present your documents in person, at a branch.
Thailand has a wide range of local banks, with international banks such as HSBC, Citibank and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi also operating. These main local banks are listed below, and all offer some business banking services and products.
Bangkok Bank is Thailand’s largest by total assets. They offer banking for SMEs and larger businesses, including accounts, payment cards and financing. Application forms for accounts and other products are available online, and the Bangkok Bank also serves much of the rest of Asia, the USA and UK. There are regular but varying promotions, such as 12 months free banking for new business customers.
Another of Thailand's largest, Siam Commercial Bank offers a business account it claims breaks all the rules of regular business banking. The SCB One account is interest bearing and offers some fee free services, as well as no minimum deposit.
Kasikorn Bank has 1120 branches and over 9000 ATMs, so you one should never be too far away. It's the fourth largest bank in Thailand, and has a good range of consumer and business banking products.
Established some fifty years ago, Krungthai Bank is part owned by the Thai Government, and offers SMEs current and deposit accounts, alongside payment cards and finance products. Most services can be accessed through their e-Banking site.
It's a good idea to call ahead and make an appointment when you're intending to open a business bank account. You can confirm the documents required and request an English speaking staff member to help you if needed.
Before you choose which business bank account you'll open in Thailand, it's important to read the terms and conditions carefully. Look especially at the section on banking fees and charges.
Fees and charges might not be the same as in your home country. It’s common to find monthly account handling charges, and fixed fees for banking transactions. Even when these fees look small, they can build up over time.
Another costly challenge for entrepreneurs is making international money transfers. From time to time, most businesses need to send money abroad - for example, to pay suppliers based overseas. It’s worth paying special attention to the fees applied by your bank when you move money or make direct payments between accounts which use different currencies.
The problem is that many banks don't offer a good deal to their customers when making international money transfers like this. If your bank’s exchange rate is lower than the real mid-market rate, then you’re paying more in fees than is necessary.
Use an online currency converter to check the actual value of your money before you transfer internationally. To save on your transfers, consider using an alternative service like TransferWise. Not only does TransferWise already offer the true exchange rate you can find on Google, but since your international transfer is made with two local transfers in each respective country, large SWIFT transfer fees are also cut out, leaving you with more money in the end.