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E- Commerce Business In Thailand


24 replies to this topic

#1 MILT

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Posted 2012-11-09 10:48:12

I was curious if anyone on TV would know about the details of doing business of this type in Thailand.
Does a Thai person have to create company name and all that goes into that process or can that person do business of this type
as a individual and pay the required taxes through direct deposits.
Would appreciate any factual feedback
Thanks
Milt

#2 NancyL

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Posted 2012-11-09 22:46:40

Perhaps the moderators could move this to the "Visa" forum because that's probably the biggest issue faced by a foreigner who wants to do e-commerce in Thailand. It's really not a question specific to Chiang Mai.

Edited by NancyL, 2012-11-09 22:47:17.


#3 innerspace

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Posted 2012-11-10 10:26:24

A foreigner working needs a work permit which only a registered company can provide.
Working online makes no difference.

#4 NeverSure

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Posted 2012-11-10 11:01:38

Has anyone ever been busted for it? What if the servers were in a different country, all things drop shipped, and you used an encrypted tunnel to an anonymizing proxy on the way to do your biz?

#5 hellodolly

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Posted 2012-11-10 12:43:28

Has anyone ever been busted for it? What if the servers were in a different country, all things drop shipped, and you used an encrypted tunnel to an anonymizing proxy on the way to do your biz?

Can't answer that. But I did hear a while back that they were going to start cracking down on e business.
Of course they are always going to start doing some thing rite and that is about as far as they go.

#6 Support

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Posted 2012-11-10 13:23:14

Moving to Business forum as you are asking about e-commerce licenses and companies.

#7 Stubby

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Posted 2012-11-10 13:51:04

A foreigner working needs a work permit which only a registered company can provide.
Working online makes no difference.


Does that include folks buying personal stocks and shares from the comfort of their notebook computers? And if so, what about all those travellers at the airport doing the same thing during transit? I really think this 'cannot work in any way shape of form without a permit' is sometimes taken a little too seriously, though I might be wrong.

Working for a company, owning a company, employing local people and or services to operate that company, is perfectly understandable, but tapping a few keys moving a few stocks and shares around is perhaps a bit nit-picky. eBay might a little different though, but if it's a sideline using only dropshippers, I doubt anyone would really care one way of the other. Would they?

Stubby

Edited by Stubby, 2012-11-10 13:51:50.


#8 innerspace

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Posted 2012-11-10 17:30:16


A foreigner working needs a work permit which only a registered company can provide.
Working online makes no difference.


Does that include folks buying personal stocks and shares from the comfort of their notebook computers? And if so, what about all those travellers at the airport doing the same thing during transit? I really think this 'cannot work in any way shape of form without a permit' is sometimes taken a little too seriously, though I might be wrong.

Working for a company, owning a company, employing local people and or services to operate that company, is perfectly understandable, but tapping a few keys moving a few stocks and shares around is perhaps a bit nit-picky. eBay might a little different though, but if it's a sideline using only dropshippers, I doubt anyone would really care one way of the other. Would they?

Stubby


Under Thai law, yes it does.

The definition of work under Thai law is "Exerting effort or using knowledge", so simply thinking to check for traffic before picking something you dropped in the road is a double count of work, which should be done only by a Thai or someone with a workpermit.

Legally there are no exceptions, though like most things in Thailand rules are subject to the officials current mood.
Different person, different day (different bribe), different rule.

There are certainly thousands of foreigners working in Thailand without work permits, many actively working, many online or technically working for an overseas company, all of which illegal.
Lots get away with it.
Lots of people working online from home have been deported.
Bar owners have been deported for not lifting a finger, but simply talking to customers without a permit.
Signs were up after the Tsunami stating for all cleanup volunteers to make sure they had their work permit or they would be deported (not heard of it actually happening, but makes the law very clear)

To summarise:

I really think this 'cannot work in any way shape of form without a permit' is sometimes taken a little too seriously, though I might be wrong.

It is taken as seriously as driving when drunk.
It's 100% illegal, it happens all the time, people get away with it, people go to jail for it.

#9 Stubby

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Posted 2012-11-10 19:08:15

Interesting insight innerspace, though I've never come across such reports in the newspapers or Thai TV news channels of foreigners getting deported for any kind of latent work. Perhaps it's so common that it's just not newsworthy?

Still not sure how the bloke at home selling stocks and shares gets on the radar though? There are also lots of folks playing the Thai Stock market on a regular basis, so I guess they're working too, or gambling even, which is also illegal.

Having said that, there are a lot of Thailand related websites in English, openly visible and run by foreigners residing in Thailand, TV being just one of many - I think, though I can't be sure.

These sites are usually information based but the still make money with Google ads and sponsors etc. According to your sources innerspace, one can only assume the owners and operators of such ventures are either working WITH permits, or, they've just been bloody lucky and gone unnoticed by despite being out there and visible.

Stubby

Edited by Stubby, 2012-11-10 19:11:03.


#10 ThailandInvestmentGuide

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Posted 2012-11-11 03:50:32

Stubby, Innerspace is correct yet not entirely correct. The problem is the vagueness of the Thai regulatory regime. In the west there are laws and then underneath them, regulations and then underneath them, policies. You can get a copy of each and also have a reasonable expectation that they will be reflected in on-the-ground reality.

In this case, in reality, there are exceptions to the enforcement of the work permit laws, made for passive investors (e.g. buying shares) and for work-related activities undertaken by people resident in the kingdom for less than 15 days (the shortest time frame for a work permit). I have seen statements by officials that indicate that these are official exceptions, but they are not I believe enshrined in formal regulations. Are there exceptions to these exceptions? Yes, probably. Welcome to Thailand

Edited by ThailandInvestmentGuide, 2012-11-11 03:56:19.


#11 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-11 04:37:00

Lots of people working online from home have been deported.

Can anyone please provide some actual examples / cases?

#12 monty

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Posted 2012-11-11 06:34:39


Lots of people working online from home have been deported.

Can anyone please provide some actual examples / cases?

Boiler rooms for example.
Working out of appartments using voip telephony.

Obviously the arrests come about after complaints of their highly illegal rip of tactics, but the actual arrest and deportation is always done based on working without a permit.

If such deportations happen it will most likely happen through somebody putting in a complaint against you (competition, plain jealousy).
Stupid reasons but they do have the legal framework in place to deport you based on the labor law...



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#13 technologybytes

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Posted 2012-11-11 10:48:04

As always, the letter of the law is not really what matters, its the implementation of the law that matters.. and that can be very different to the letter of the law.

If you sit at home and trade shares etc (as I do) then whilst some people will tell you that you need a work permit to do that in Thailand the important thing is that YOU CANNOT get a work permit to do that. Countless times I have asked immigration and they always say that they are totally not interested and that I can't apply for one anyway. As Immigration DO NOT issue work permits anyway I also check with the department that do, and they say the same..they are not interested.

So, whilst the people who say "you need a work permit" are technically correct, in reality you won't have any problem.

ecommerce is a little more tricky, but if you are "based" overseas (by that I mean that your address on your website is overseas, and payments do not come into Thailand) then unless you are employing staff you really will not have any issues. Assuming of course that you are not breaking any other laws (ie not selling bootleg, pharmaceuticals or porn etc). If you are employing staff the you need to operate it as a proper business (company) and get a work permit.

#14 innerspace

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Posted 2012-11-11 18:09:56

Most work permit busts are due to tip offs from an unhappy or jealous 3rd party.
People working online, stocks etc may not be a priority or actively targeted by immigration but it doesnt mean they cant be arrested if the authorities so wanted.
You can get a work permit for trading stocks, you just need a company and all involved with that.
Lots get away with it but its certainly not 100% safe.

#15 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-11 18:24:26

yes...
so...
are they any known cases of foreigners that were either fined, arrested or deported for working ALONE at home, purely online, with no local activities in Thailand?

Examples:
- employed by a foreign company to work by telecommute and paid into a foreign bank account)
- webmasters working alone
- freelancers working for foreign customers (translating, programming, designing ... whatever)
- financial markets traders
etc.

Or are there cases of immigration actually looking into such a case and taking no action?

Edited by manarak, 2012-11-11 18:25:41.


#16 Khun Jean

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Posted 2012-11-12 15:24:35

Why the question if someone specifically knows someone else is fined/deported or whatever.
The only thing that counts if it is illegal or not.
Everybody can understand that if you get away for it many years, it is just that, you got away with it.
Tomorrow however it can change.
If i would be an overzealous immigration officer i could legally and without real effort deport hundreds if not thousands of foreigners in a few days.
Did it happen, no. Can it happen, yes. Will it happen, depends.
All there is to it, know the risk, take it or leave it.

#17 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-12 16:29:45

Why the question if someone specifically knows someone else is fined/deported or whatever.
The only thing that counts if it is illegal or not.


Quite the contrary, enforcement is what counts. There are many laws also in western countries that are not enforced, i.e. the parliament has enacted the law, but said law has not been made enforceable because either
- the offense has not been transposed into the criminal or civil code
OR
- no directives were issued to the police force to enforce it

And as long as it has never happened, one cannot say for sure if a foreigner trading financial products at home, and exclusively for his own benefit is considered by a Thai court as being working or not.

No work permit is required for leading a business, i.e. controlling accounts, recruit top management and making the big decisions, why should one be required for managing investments?

There are arguments in favor and against of what can be considered work, and only a court verdict can bring some light into the matter, not speculations on a forum.
Therefore the question about known cases = jurisprudence

#18 Naam

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Posted 2012-11-12 17:33:38

No work permit is required for leading a business, i.e. controlling accounts, recruit top management and making the big decisions, why should one be required for managing investments?

Sunbelt Legal Advisors (sponsor of Thaivisa) beg to differ and claim simple signatures, e.g. annual tax returns, of a Farang director who is otherwise not active require a work permit!

#19 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-12 18:09:07

No work permit is required for leading a business, i.e. controlling accounts, recruit top management and making the big decisions, why should one be required for managing investments?

Sunbelt Legal Advisors (sponsor of Thaivisa) beg to differ and claim simple signatures, e.g. annual tax returns, of a Farang director who is otherwise not active require a work permit!

Well, signing tax forms is operational routine work that normally falls into the manager's responsibilities...
That is probably the furthest point up to which someone needs a work permit.
The role of a director is non-operational if not mixed with manager duties.
Board resolutions should not require a work permit to produce.

#20 Naam

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Posted 2012-11-12 18:16:38


No work permit is required for leading a business, i.e. controlling accounts, recruit top management and making the big decisions, why should one be required for managing investments?

Sunbelt Legal Advisors (sponsor of Thaivisa) beg to differ and claim simple signatures, e.g. annual tax returns, of a Farang director who is otherwise not active require a work permit!

Well, signing tax forms is operational routine work that normally falls into the manager's responsibilities...
That is probably the furthest point up to which someone needs a work permit.
The role of a director is non-operational if not mixed with manager duties.
Board resolutions should not require a work permit to produce.

on board resolutions Sunbelt begs to differ too!

#21 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-12 19:06:53



No work permit is required for leading a business, i.e. controlling accounts, recruit top management and making the big decisions, why should one be required for managing investments?

Sunbelt Legal Advisors (sponsor of Thaivisa) beg to differ and claim simple signatures, e.g. annual tax returns, of a Farang director who is otherwise not active require a work permit!

Well, signing tax forms is operational routine work that normally falls into the manager's responsibilities...
That is probably the furthest point up to which someone needs a work permit.
The role of a director is non-operational if not mixed with manager duties.
Board resolutions should not require a work permit to produce.

on board resolutions Sunbelt begs to differ too!

source?

#22 Khun Jean

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Posted 2012-11-12 19:13:35

Sunbelt is the source, was that so difficult?

#23 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-12 19:38:33

Sunbelt is the source, was that so difficult?

Name/title of the publication, author, date, link...
From your other posts you seem quite clever about laws, etc. So I wonder why you made that post?

I got these references:
http://www.thaivisa....25#entry5628964

OK, we had some funny remarks here (including the 5-year work permit LOL), but let's get back to the OP's question.

In theory you need a work permit to attend a meeting here. There is indeed a regulation that makes it possible to get such a temporary work permit (valid for 14 days) within 24 hours.

In practice, the government promotes Thailand for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions) and I have never heard of a single case of foreigners being arrested, or even harassed in any way, for attending meetings.

I have also not heard of any company moving their regional or worldwide meetings to another country because the delegates would theoretically need a work permit, as one poster suggested.

Let's not get carried away: Even the Labour Department (correctly: Department of Employment) is aware that the laws are outdated. If they started to arrest people for attending meetings, all hell would break loose.

Edit: This is not a mod posting, this is my private self speaking.


if you work as a manager/director in a Thai business and you also work as an investor-overseer in other businesses, you do not need to have a Thai work Permit.

http://www.jarrettll...om/publications

and

When may foreign company directors not need a work permit?

First note that I used the word may in the question and that I will used a lot of should in the answer.
I am not trying to cover my ass here but this is one of those questions where the answer must be taken cautiously. If you are a company director without an authorized signature and do not work for the company or do not participate to the affairs of the company you should not need one.
If you are a company director, with an authorized signature and are based overseas (do not live in Thailand), you should not need one even if, from time to time, you sign documents for the company.

from http://www.doingbusi...ork-permit.html

Seems like a classic case of theory and practice. So regarding board and shareholder meetings, theory says "illegal without a work permit" and practice says "not enforced".

Edited by manarak, 2012-11-12 19:38:47.


#24 Khun Jean

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Posted 2012-11-12 19:54:17

My view on "not enforced" and "illegal" is that being "illegal" especially knowingly is of more importance then "not enforced".
The 'not enforced' is often because lack of funds or lack of perceived monetary results.
It is why police forces everywhere in the world like to write tickets to old ladies that throw away food in the wrong container has precedence over other police duties.
Once however a politician or police officer at any moment decide that even when there is no monetary reward a PR reward can be sufficient.
At such a moment you would get hundreds if not thousands of cases that were first not 'enforced'.
If that is the risk you want to take by knowingly doing something illegal, that is fine with me. Just don't present it as something that because it is not enforced yet it is a good way to do things. Especially as a foreigner. Thais get a fine, foreigners can get deported.

Some information is not ready made available on the internet, it is sometimes necessary to talk to an official or a lawyer that knows his stuff.
Sunbelt is as good a source as any, you would still need to check it though as i found out many times with lawyers and advisors.

#25 manarak

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Posted 2012-11-12 21:43:50

My view on "not enforced" and "illegal" is that being "illegal" especially knowingly is of more importance then "not enforced".
The 'not enforced' is often because lack of funds or lack of perceived monetary results.
It is why police forces everywhere in the world like to write tickets to old ladies that throw away food in the wrong container has precedence over other police duties.
Once however a politician or police officer at any moment decide that even when there is no monetary reward a PR reward can be sufficient.
At such a moment you would get hundreds if not thousands of cases that were first not 'enforced'.
If that is the risk you want to take by knowingly doing something illegal, that is fine with me. Just don't present it as something that because it is not enforced yet it is a good way to do things. Especially as a foreigner. Thais get a fine, foreigners can get deported.

Some information is not ready made available on the internet, it is sometimes necessary to talk to an official or a lawyer that knows his stuff.
Sunbelt is as good a source as any, you would still need to check it though as i found out many times with lawyers and advisors.


you are right with what you say, yet misinterpret my intentions - I'm not advocating doing one or the other, I just want to present an accurate picture of reality as it is.
At the end, everyone makes his own decisions, but informed decisions can only be made if aware of all risks and opportunities.





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