Set Up a Representative Office in Thailand

For foreign companies seeking to establish a presence in Thailand without the complexities of full legal entity formation, a Representative Office (RO) presents a viable option. This guide delves into the key aspects involved in setting up a Representative Office in Thailand, outlining the process, benefits, and essential considerations for a smooth and successful establishment.

Understanding Representative Offices in Thailand

A Representative Office is a non-trading entity authorized to perform limited activities on behalf of its parent company located abroad. It serves as a liaison office for the parent company, enabling them to:

  • Market research and business development: Conduct market research, identify potential business partners, and develop new business opportunities.
  • Promote and advertise the parent company: Promote the parent company’s products and services within Thailand, excluding direct sales activities.
  • Liaise with local authorities and clients: Facilitate communication and relations with Thai government agencies and potential clients.
  • Coordinating logistics and support: Coordinate logistics and support activities related to the parent company’s operations in Thailand.

Benefits of Establishing a Representative Office

Choosing to set up a Representative Office offers several advantages for foreign companies:

  • Reduced Costs: Establishing an RO is generally less expensive and time-consuming compared to setting up a Thai Limited Company (Ltd.).
  • Market Entry and Exploration: ROs provide a cost-effective way to explore the Thai market, assess its potential, and establish a local presence before committing to a full-fledged legal entity.
  • Minimal Legal and Regulatory Burdens: Compared to Ltd.s, ROs operate under less stringent regulations and do not require adherence to complex corporate governance structures.
  • Flexibility: ROs offer flexibility in scaling up operations. If the market proves promising, the parent company can transition to a full-fledged Ltd. in the future.

The RO Establishment Process:

The process of setting up a Representative Office in Thailand typically involves the following steps:

1. Pre-registration Preparation:

  • Decide on the scope of activities: Clearly define the activities the RO will undertake, ensuring they comply with the limitations of a non-trading entity.
  • Appoint a representative: Identify a representative who will act as the legal head of the RO, either a Thai national or a foreigner with a valid work permit.
  • Secure an office space: Secure a physical office space to serve as the registered address for the RO.

2. Application Submission:

  • Prepare and submit an application form to the Department of Business Development (DBD) along with:
    • Company affidavit of the parent company
    • Letter of appointment for the RO representative
    • Lease agreement or proof of ownership of the office space
    • Business plan outlining the RO’s activities
  • Pay the required registration fees.

3. Approval and Registration:

  • The DBD reviews the application and supporting documents.
  • Upon approval, the DBD issues a Certificate of Establishment, signifying the official registration of the Representative Office.

Additional Considerations:

  • Capitalization Requirements: While not required for daily operations, the RO needs a minimum capitalization of 3 million baht (approximately $82,000 USD) at the time of registration. This capital can be gradually injected over a three-year period.
  • Work Permits: Foreign nationals acting as the RO representative or working within the office require appropriate work permits obtained through the Ministry of Labor.
  • Limited Scope of Activities: Remember that ROs are strictly prohibited from engaging in direct sales, revenue generation, or any activity deemed “doing business” in Thailand.


For foreign companies seeking to explore the business potential of Thailand without the immediate commitment of establishing a full-fledged subsidiary, setting up a Representative Office offers a suitable and strategic option. By understanding the benefits, limitations, and following the outlined steps, you can navigate the establishment process efficiently and establish a valuable bridgehead for your company’s future expansion into the Thai market.

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