How to Start a Restaurant in Thailand

Updated on Friday 17th May 2019

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Many entrepreneurs from around the world invest in the food industry in Thailand because of the great flux of businessmen and tourists who visit the country annually. In order to establish an enterprise commercializing food, a foreign investor needs to respect the provisions of the Thai kingdom in matters of business registration as well as consumer protection.

Our law firm in Thailand is open to offering professional legal advice to anyone who is interested in starting a restaurant in this country. You can rely on us for assistance in starting a restaurant business in Thailand.
 

Main provisions regulating the functioning of restaurants in Thailand

Apart from the employment law, which gives the legal framework for the working hours and the rights of your employees, as a restaurant owner, you need to be aware as well of the specific laws which deal with consumer protection. Food safety is a constant concern for the Thai kingdom and restaurants must closely follow the local regulations in order to attract their customers and maintain their interest in the restaurant’s products

Food law is another important act which requires the attention of a restaurant owner. The main authority responsible for controlling and granting the good functioning of restaurants is the Secretary General of the Food and Drug Administration. If you have any questions regarding particular demands that a food business needs to comply with in Thailand you can easily discuss with one of our Thai lawyers.
 

Steps in opening a restaurant in Thailand


No matter if you are a local or foreign investor who wants to set up a business in the food sector in Thailand, the steps to complete are pretty much the same. In the case of foreign investors, the business visa requirements must be complied with first, after which the procedure will imply:
 
  • choosing a suitable location for the restaurant as it must be accessible to clients;
  • choosing the best structure for the Thai restaurant and start drafting the incorporation papers;
  • appointing a local director (a resident director must be appointed no matter the chosen business form);
  • register the company with the Companies Register and the tax authorities in Thailand;
  • start the licensing procedure which will imply obtaining various permits and licenses;
  • applying for employment visas if foreign workers will be hired in the restaurant.


If you need help in choosing the right business structure for the restaurant, you can benefit from assistance from our attorneys in Thailand. Most of the times, the limited liability company is preferred by foreign entrepreneurs moving to Thailand.
 

What are the licensing requirements for setting up a Thai restaurant?


Depending on the services offered by the restaurant, the number of licenses can vary. However, there are a few mandatory licenses which need to be obtained when opening a restaurant in Thailand.

These are:
 
  • the restaurant license which must be obtained by companies planning to open restaurants with premises of minimum 200 sqm;
  • a certification of notice is required for Thai restaurants with premises below the size of 200 sqm;
  • the liquor license is another permit required when serving alcoholic drinks on the premises;
  • a music license can also be obtained if the restaurant will have music playing on its premises;
  • a construction permit is needed when the business owner plans on building a new construction for the restaurant.

Among these, most businesspersons opening restaurants in Thailand will request the restaurant, liquor and music licenses. These must be obtained with the governmental agency in the region the restaurant will operate in the case of the restaurant license, with the District Office or Local Excise Department in the case of the liquor license and with the Department of Intellectual Property in the case of the music license.

If you need assistance in obtaining a restaurant license, our Thai lawyers are at your disposal for guidance.
 

Documents required for obtaining a restaurant license in Thailand


The set of documents which needs to be filed with the Thai authorities when opening a restaurant in Thailand are:
 
  1. the business’ affidavit issued by the Thai Trade Register, which cannot be older than 6 months;
  2. the certification of registration of the building (the construction permit in case of buildings to be constructed);
  3. copy of the identification papers of the business owner and proof of residential address in Thailand;
  4. copy of the identification papers of the company director and proof of his/her residential address in Thailand;
  5. the application form for the issuance of the license (it must be dated and signed by the representative of the company);
  6. a power of attorney for the representative in charge with the licensing application;
  7. a map indicating the location of the Thai restaurant and photos of the outside and inside of the premises;
  8. information about the size of the restaurant (the number of square meters of each space);
  9. the blueprints of the restaurant with clear delimitations of the kitchen, storage and sitting places.

The restaurant license for a Thai food business is usually issued within 2 months.

There are also various fees which need to be paid upon the issuance of the special licenses and permits for Thai restaurants.

With respect to the music license, it should be noted that there are 3 types of permits which can be obtained. These are issued based on the size of the restaurant and on whether the Thai business will serve alcohol or not.

You can obtain more information on the licensing requirements for restaurant businesses from our lawyers in Thailand.
 

Important aspects regarding the set-up of a restaurant in Thailand

Just like any other business, a restaurant needs to be registered with the Department of Business Development (BOD) before being allowed to function in a Thai city and foreign investors need to apply for a Thai business visa. One of our attorneys in Thailand can help foreign investors to gather the necessary documentation and to apply for business registration. 

If you want to open a restaurant in Thailand, you must invest an important amount in the storage places at the same ensuring that the health rules are respected and that the personnel of the restaurant can work in safe conditions. More investment is required for specific cooking equipment as well as for an attractive design of the customer area. 
 

Other requirements for opening a Thai restaurant


One of the most important requirements for opening a restaurant in Thailand is related to hiring employees. These must pass certain tests which prove they are qualified for their positions. Also, an inspection of the premises will be completed before the restaurant license is issued. The license has a one-year validity period which expires on December 31st, however, it can be renewed.

Don’t hesitate to contact our law firm in Thailand in any issues regarding company formation so that your restaurant in this country to be able to bring profit as soon as possible.