Thailand Tourism License
To operate a tourism business, a Tourism License must be obtained. The governing law in this regard is the Tourism Business and Guide Act B.E.2535 (1992). According to the Act, there are numerous requirements which must be satisfied and documents which must be submitted before a License will be issued. It should be noted that the documents preparation and application process may take up to three months.
The government organization in charge of this matter is the Tourism Business and Guide Register Office (TBGR).
Definition of “Tourism Business”
‘Tourism Business’ refers to a business operation providing services for tourists such as sightseeing tours and tourist guide services. It does not include vehicle leasing, transportation of passengers, hotel or restaurant reservations or arranging field trips.
A tourism business operator must have direct contact with the tourists in order to provide tourism services. Therefore the tourists buy services direct from the operator as opposed from a business acting as an agent for the actual service provider.
Qualification of Licensee
To limit liability and act professionally, it is advisable to set up a juristic entity, such as a limited company, to operate a tourism business. The following are requirements for a limited company to qualify as a tourism licensee:
1. The business must be registered under Thai Law
2. The business must have an office in Thailand
3. At least half of the directors must be Thai nationals
4. No less than 51% of the company shares must be held by Thai natural persons
5. The Managing Director must be at least 20 years old, domiciled or residing in Thailand, credit-worthy, not incapacitated, never have been imprisoned unless for a negligence offence or a minor offence
6. The business must not have had a Tourism License suspended
7. The business must not have had a Tourism License revoked, except for the revocation of a Tourism License exceeding 3 years
The TBGR regulations require a Tourism Business to hold ‘Tourist & Guide’ insurance. The insurance company will need to know approximately how many clients will use the business services per day. The Insurance cover will then be based on that number of persons. For example, if you think you will have 500 clients a day, your policy will cover a maximum of 500 clients.
The annual insurance premium is approximately 15 Baht per person. Therefore, if your policy insures 500 people, your premium will be 7,500 Thai baht per annum.
Further, the insurance only covers each client for periods of 15 days or less.
In the event of injury an insured tourist will receive 100,000 Baht for medical bills and in the event of death, the estate of the deceased will receive 200,000 Baht.
The insurance company will issue an insurance policy which the Tourism Business must submit to the TBGR, together with other documents.
Tourism is a vulnerable business considering the effect on a country’s national reputation. Therefore, it is crucial that a tourism business operator is credible. The TBGR has a criteria to screen applicants in this regard.
In order to obtain a reference on credibility, an applicant has two options. One is to submit a document issued by the TBGR to a police station where the applicant (a managing director in case of a limited company) is domiciled. The police will hopefully certify that the applicant has no criminal record. Then, the applicant returns the certified document back to TBGR.
The other option is to find two licensed tourism business operators who will certify the applicant’s credibility. The two operators will have to complete a part of the tourism application form and furnish a copy of their Tourism License. Thereafter, they will have to submit these to the TBGR.
In the case of a limited company, on the submission date, the applicant must furnish a copy of all company documents including the tax identification card, director’s identification card (passport) and/or work permit to the TBGR official. The said copies shall be accompanied by the original version.
Additionally, an applicant should prepare the following documents:
1. Two photos, size 7.6 x 12.7 cm, of the front and inside of the office
2. A map of the office
3. Ownership or possession evidence of the office such as a sale agreement, lease agreement, a letter of consent to use the place issued by the owner or the lessor
4. Power of Attorney (if any)
All of the above documents must be certified true copies and must be marked with the director’s signature and the company seal (if required).
Submission, Time Frame and Penalty
Applications for a Tourism License must be submitted to the TBGR branch which has jurisdiction over the area where the Business Tourism office is located. For instance, a registered company in Phuket must submit an application to the Phuket branch of the TBGR. The TBGR official should issue a temporary receipt for reference. This receipt explicitly specifies that it cannot be used in lieu of an actual Tourism License. This, in turn, means that during the consideration period, which is approximately 60 days, the operator has no right to operate the tourism business. Anyone who violates this rule may be fined between 100,000-500,000 Baht.
As for the business trade name, it must not be identical to any other licensed tourism operator.
Official Fees and Security Deposit
Once the application has been approved, the TBGR will send a letter to the applicant to advise that the Tourism License is ready for collection. On the collection date, the applicant will have to pay official fees and a security deposit as stated below:-.
Area of Tourism Operation Official Fees
|Official Fees (baht)||Security Deposit (baht)|
The security deposit can be in the form of cash, bank security letter and government or state enterprise bond.
Validity and Extension
The Tourism License is valid for 2 years from the date of issue. The operator must renew the license within 120 days prior to the expiry date. In the event the operator wishes to dissolve the Tourism Business, the license must be returned within 30 days of the expiry date. Any breach of this regulation is subject to a fine equivalent to 1,000 Baht.
If the operator wishes to display advertisement materials, such as brochures or posters, such documents must contain the following details:
1. Name of operator, office place and Tourism License number
2. Period of tourism service
3. Service charge
4. Type of vehicles used for traveling
5. Destination, accommodation area including tourist attraction place in the tour program
6. Type of accommodation and number of meal provided
Prior to distribution, at least three specimens of such material must be submitted to the TBGR. Furthermore, any amendment of the documents must be reported to the TBGR without delay.
The Tourism License is the key to a tourism business operation. The license must be displayed at the office where it has been registered at all times. It is advisable that the operator contacts an attorney who is familiar with tourism business for further details.