Set Up a Representative Office in Thailand

For businesses seeking to explore the Thai market without the full commitment of establishing a full-fledged legal entity, setting up a representative office (RO) offers a viable option. ROs act as an extension of a foreign company, allowing them to conduct limited activities and build a presence in Thailand.

Understanding an RO’s Scope:

It’s crucial to understand that ROs in Thailand have restrictions on their activities. They primarily serve as liaison offices and are prohibited from engaging in direct commercial activities such as selling goods or services, entering into contracts, or employing staff directly.

Permitted Activities:

ROs can typically engage in the following activities:

  • Market research and promotion: Conducting market research, gathering information, and promoting the company’s products or services.
  • Liaison and communication: Facilitating communication between the foreign company and potential Thai partners, customers, or government agencies.
  • Administrative support: Providing administrative and logistical support to the foreign company’s operations in Thailand.
  • Information dissemination: Disseminating information about the foreign company’s products or services to potential customers and partners.

Benefits of Setting Up an RO:

  • Market Entry: ROs offer a cost-effective way to test the Thai market, assess its potential, and establish a local presence before committing to a full-fledged legal entity.
  • Relationship Building: ROs facilitate building relationships with potential Thai partners, customers, and government agencies.
  • Brand Awareness: ROs help raise brand awareness and establish a local identity for the foreign company.
  • Business Development: ROs can support business development activities such as identifying potential customers and partners, conducting market research, and facilitating communication.

Steps to Setting Up an RO:

  1. Company Registration: Register the RO with the Department of Business Development (DBD) by submitting necessary documents, including:

    • Application form
    • Letter of appointment from the foreign company
    • Memorandum of Association of the foreign company
    • Power of Attorney for the RO representative
  2. Work Permit: Obtain a work permit for the RO representative, who will be responsible for managing the office’s operations.

  3. Non-Immigrant Visa: Secure a non-immigrant visa for the RO representative based on the nature of their work and the duration of their stay.

  4. Office Establishment: Secure office space and set up necessary infrastructure for the RO’s operations.

  5. Bank Account: Open a bank account for the RO to manage its limited financial transactions, such as rent, utilities, and administrative expenses.

Additional Considerations:

  • Taxation: While ROs are not subject to corporate income tax, they may be liable for withholding tax on certain expenses, such as rent and employee salaries. Consulting with a tax advisor is recommended.
  • Accounting and Reporting: Maintaining proper accounting records and submitting annual reports to the DBD are mandatory for ROs.
  • Compliance with Regulations: ROs must comply with all relevant Thai laws and regulations, including labor laws, immigration regulations, and visa requirements.


Setting up a representative office in Thailand can be a strategic step for foreign businesses seeking to explore the market and establish a local presence. Understanding the limitations and permitted activities, along with careful planning and adherence to legal requirements, can ensure a smooth and successful establishment process. It’s also advisable to seek professional guidance from lawyers, accountants, and business consultants familiar with Thai regulations to navigate the process effectively.

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