Buying a Business in Thailand
Many over the years have either started a business in Thailand or have bought a business in Thailand. There has been a large cross section of business types in Thailand as many foreigners look at Thailand and want to buy a bar in Pattaya which was very common a few years ago. Many of these businesses have over the years changed hands many times.
There used to be the saying that the bars in Thailand do not go broke they only change hands. This for the most part has been very true. Running a business in Thailand can be very difficult be this a bar, restaurant or other venture you are considering. Many have in the past made the mistake of placing the business into the name of their Thai wife or girlfriend with disastrous consequences. There are a few things you should consider when buying a business in Thailand – what can you afford to lose?
Getting a work permit is very difficult in Thailand as it is going to depend on what type of employment you will be taking up. There is a long list of prohibited occupations in Thailand for foreigners and you can find that list here. You also need to have a registered Thai company with Thai employers who pay social security. You would have to speak to an attorney in Thailand for more information as to the sequence of the setup and work permit. Those who own the business normally write their occupation as manager and doing anything outside of that would be considered illegal.
Specific Business Types
When you buy an existing business you would want to keep the staff as they already know how to run the business. The business however might have for years been setup as a business where Australians meet and changing that to a Brit does not do the business well as that is not what it was known for. Many times the customers only use the business because they know the owner. If you are looking at a B2B business, then replacing the current owner might be difficult as they might only have done business for specific reasons such as friendship. The other problem in Thailand has also been that one of the staff try to start a similar type business and work towards your customer base since you are new and inexperienced. This is not new.
If you are buying a restaurant, then you will need to check the lease agreement with the owner. If it included the property, then there exists another problem as foreigners are not allowed to own land in Thailand except within a very narrow legal framework. Restaurant in Thailand require a liquor license as well as a cigarette license. There are a number of licenses which you will need for this.
Buying a business in Thailand has over the years ventured more to people buying into a franchise but these can be difficult. The franchise holder can open another store 300 meters away from where you are. This is very common in Thailand where you can have the same franchise within walking distance of each other. There is no guarantee that you will make a profit, however the risk is much lower than starting a business from scratch in a country you might not know very well. If you wish to go down this road, then speak to an attorney about starting a business in Thailand to see what the process is for company registration as well as obtaining your Thai work permit.