corporate – legal
Relocate your company from Hong Kong to Thailand
Hong Kong is no longer the attractive hub it used to be for expats and young foreigners looking to tap into the growing Asian economies and lifestyles.
While Hong Kong may be declining as a viable destination for foreign expats and entrepreneurs, Thailand has steadily been developing its infrastructure, while keeping its vibrant culture and attractiveness.
In this article, we take a look at everything you need to know about moving your business and living in Thailand as an expat in 2022. We cover the practical details you should consider before making the move, including visa requirements, work Permits, legal structure and tax.
- Visa: You can obtain the Thai Pass within 1 to 4 days (on average).
- Soft structure: You can keep your HK Company and use hosting employment services to get a Work Permit or set up a Representative Office.
- Full structure: You can register a 100% foreign owned company for certain business activities.
- Tax: Corporate Income Tax rate is 20%, Dividend Tax rate is 10%, Revenues from abroad are generally exempt from the Personal Income Tax.
- Living Cost: A 150 sqm apartment in a modern condo or a villa by the beach starts from USD 1,800 per month.
1 • Visa Requirements
Quick arrival in Thailand from Hong Kong
If you are still in Hong Kong and want to arrive in Thailand as soon as possible, you will be able to take advantage of the Visa exemption scheme that allows entry from almost every country (including UK, France, Germany and all other EU countries). Entering Thailand using a Visa exemption allows you to stay for up to 30 days. If you have the APAC card, you can stay up to 90 days.
As of today (14 March 2022), Thailand has removed most restrictions for entering Thailand. The main requirement you need to satisfy is obtaining a Thai pass.
The Thai Pass is essentially a pre-approval of your trip in Thailand. The application is done online here and takes around 5 minutes.
The main documents applicants need to prepared are:
- A copy of your passport
- A round trip flight ticket
- An insurance policy which covers Covid. The policy value of the insurance must be at least $20,000 USD.
- A negative PCR test taken no more than 72 hours before departure
- Booking for one room in a hotel which has been approved for Thailand Pass applicants (these are known as SHA +++ hotel and a list can be found here)
- Prepaid a PCR test on arrival
Please note, Thailand Pass’ registration scheme as been lifted the 1 July 2022
Upon arrival in Thailand, you will need to undergo a PCR test. Upon completion of the test you will be driven to your Hotel where you must stay until the results return (usually between 5 to 8 hours). If the results are negative, you are free to go anywhere in Thailand. If the result is positive, you will have to stay in a quarantine hotel (also known as Hospitels) for 10 days. The quarantine hotels offer good comfort and range from 3 to 5 star hotels. It is important to note that the price of the quarantine required for a positive test may not be covered by your Covid Insurance, it is important to check your policy carefully.
On the fifth day of your trip, you must take a second COVID test (ATK test). Much like the first test, if you test negative for COVID-19, you will be allowed to travel anywhere in the country. If you test positive, you need to do a confirmatory RT PCR test to make sure you have been infected with COVID and receive the necessary medical treatment.
As the news is often changing quickly, please follow Thai Visa Belaws to keep updated.
Normal arrival in Thailand from Hong Kong or any other countries
If you are not in a hurry to come to Thailand, you can take the time and study the best options for your business and then apply for the relevant Visa from the Thai Embassy/Consulate where you live. Keep in mind that not all types of Visa allow you to work in Thailand. Also certain Visa types cannot be changed into another type of Visa in Thailand, forcing you to leave the country and return if you need to change the purpose of your stay. An example of this is the Special Tourist Visa (STV), which cannot be changed into another type of Visa and can only be extended twice.
Extensions of stay in Thailand
Now that you are in Thailand, you have several options to extend your stay:
- A Working Visa (a Non-Immigrant B Visa + Work Permit) allows you to legally work in Thailand. You can also extend this Visa yearly. The applicant’s spouse and children can also accompany the applicant to Thailand under a Dependent Visa. We will focus on this option as it is the most common outcome.
- Visa Elite: This Visa allows you to stay in Thailand for 5 years at a time and can be renewed for up to 20 years. There are family packages available too. The starting price for the Visa Elite is THB 600,000 per person. Please note that the Visa Elite does not allow the holder to work in Thailand, unless you qualify for the Flexible Plus program offered by the same providers (minimum investment of THB 30 million (approximately 900,000 USD).
- Digital Nomad Visa: The Thai government has been discussing introducing this type of Visa for years but at this moment in time it has not come to fruition.
- Retirement Visa: Eligible if you are over 50 years old. This Visa does not allow you to work in Thailand but you can hold shares in a Thai company.
- Marriage Visa: If you are married to a Thai citizen, you can apply for a year long extension of stay based on Thai Marriage. This extension of stay does permit the holder to work in Thailand.
2 • Working from Thailand
In order to legally work in Thailand, you need to obtain a Work Permit. It is generally easier to obtain a work permit in Thailand compared to Hong Kong. However, if you plan to employ several foreign employees, you have to choose the company structure of your business wisely due to the legal requirements for hiring foreigners. Business structures (with the exception of BOI promoted companies) are subject to a ratio of Thai employees and investment (registered capital) required per foreign employee hired. The main options are as follows:
- Employee of Record (or “sponsored work permit”): A Thai company will host the employee and charge your company in Hong Kong monthly to cover the employee’s salary. The employee will get a one-year Visa and Work permit. This is the easiest and fastest solution as it does not require the setting up of a legal entity in Thailand. More information here.
- Representative Office: A Representative Office generally allows the company to hire up to 4 employees with an investment of 2 million Baht over 3 years. In order to hire foreign staff, a Representative office is subject to a quota of 1 Thai employee per Foreign employee. The Representative Office is limited to 5 activities and cannot generate any income. The Hong Kong company will be the head office and will be responsible for invoicing your clients. More information can be found here.
- Register a Private Limited Company: A Private Limited Company is the most common structure for doing business in Thailand. In order to hire foreign staff, a Private Limited Company is subject to a quota of 4 Thai employees and 2 million Baht (USD 60,000) of investment per foreign employee. Depending on the business activities, the company may have to obtain specific licenses and/or have a majority Thai shareholders. More information about Private Limited Companies can be found here.
- License from the Board of Investment: Certain business activities that are deemed important for the development of Thailand such as software, are eligible for special promotions designed to attract investors and companies to establish a presence in Thailand. With a BOI promotion, many of the obstacles for doing business in Thailand are removed. BOI companies are also eligible for many perks such as tax incentives and removal of restrictions for supporting Work Permits for foreigners. More information about the BOI can be found here.
Unlike Hong Kong, it is easy to open a bank account for a company in Thailand.
3 • Thailand versus Hong Kong for Tax
Taxes in Thailand are slightly higher than Hong Kong. The main difference is related to Personal Income Tax which is subject to higher tax brackets than in Hong Kong. However, expats generating income out of Thailand are exempt from tax on their foreign sources of income if they wait at least one fiscal year before transferring those funds into Thailand.
|Corporate Income Tax||16,5%||20%|
|Personal Income Tax||From 2 to 17%||From 0 to 35%|
|Personal income Tax on foreign sources||Exempt||Exempt: provided the funds are repatriated to Thailand in the next fiscal year|
Thailand is becoming the new hub in Asia and has begun to attract expats from Hong Kong and Singapore.
The reason for this rise is clear, Thailand has great infrastructure already in place, is safe for both your business and your family to relocate your company, salaries are still relatively low and workers skills have been increasing steadily. Furthermore, the price for schools and accommodation are still affordable, and we have not even begun to talk about the pleasure of living in such a beautiful country with many nice places to travel to and kind and welcoming people. When are you coming?
If you need more information about relocating yourself or your business to Thailand, you can book a consultation with our market entry expert. This consultation will allow you to receive dependable advice and quickly figure out how you can relocate your business to Thailand. During the call, we will notably cover key areas such as; Visa and Work Permit options, Taxes (personal, corporate, real estate), accounting and other general aspects of doing business in Thailand.
Please note that this article is for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.
Scope of work:
Up to an hour consultation on the process to relocate from Hong Kong to Thailand. We will provide information on the visa process, the corporate need, and the tax obligations. We will also answer other legal questions you may have to provide you with a clear overview.
If some research is necessary to reply to your questions, our expert will check and revert to you with complementary elements by email.
This consultation is only for new cases. This consultation is provided by legal experts in English or in French.
USD 200 / USDT 200
Up to 1 Hour
Online payment (Paypal or Credit card)
Legal consultation can be conducted in English, French or Thai
Legal consultations are handled by Legal experts.
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