The Treaty of Amity and Economic Relations between the United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand (so called US-Thai Amity Treaty) was signed in 1966 and gives special rights and benefits to American citizens, both corporations and individuals, wishing to establish a business activity in Thailand.
American citizens are exempt from most of the restrictions imposed by the Foreign Business Act. They are allowed to own the majority or all of the shares of a company, branch office, or representative office established in Thailand.
The US Treaty of Amity basically gives American investors the same benefits Thai nationals enjoy, except for the following:
• Owning land
• Engaging in the business of inland transportation and communication industries
• Engaging in fiduciary functions
• Engaging in banking involving depository functions
• Engaging in domestic trade in indigenous agricultural products
• Exploiting land or other natural resources
In order to qualify for US Amity Treaty protection, the US person(s) or business organization must be registered and established as an American sole proprietorship, partnership, representative office, branch office, joint venture, or limited company under Thai law. US shareholders must hold a majority of shares and comprise a majority of shareholders in the new entity, and the majority of directors must either be US or Thai nationals.
Subsequently, a letter must be obtained from the U.S. Embassy (Commercial Counselor) in Bangkok, to confirm that the applicants are Americans and are entitled to protection under the Amity Treaty. Without it, the entity’s right to do business will not be recognized by other Thai government offices. An application for a Certificate of Treaty Protection, also called Foreign Business Certificate, must be filed with the Department of Business Development.
Treaty-protected companies need to satisfy the minimum capital as prescribed in the ministerial regulations (not less than 25% of the average per year of three year estimated expenditure). The minimum capital must be 2 million Baht, and if the business is required to obtain a Foreign Business License, the minimum capital must be 3 million Baht for each business activity. The estimated timescale for the certificate application is 30 days.
American citizens must apply for a visa and work permit without privileged status.