Representative Office in Thailand

Representative Office in Thailand. Thailand’s thriving economy and strategic location in Southeast Asia make it an attractive destination for foreign companies seeking to expand their reach. The representative office (RO) presents a valuable option for companies not yet ready for a full-fledged Thai subsidiary.

What is a Representative Office?

An RO acts as a non-trading entity in Thailand. Unlike a limited company, it cannot generate revenue or engage in activities that directly lead to sales. Think of it as an extension of your head office abroad, serving to:

  • Market Research and Development: Conduct market research, identify potential business partners, and explore market opportunities.
  • Liaison and Public Relations: Build relationships with Thai businesses and government agencies, and promote brand awareness.
  • Facilitation and Coordination: Support your head office by coordinating logistics, travel arrangements, and communication within Thailand.

Advantages of an RO

  • Simpler and Faster Setup: Establishing an RO is generally less complex and quicker compared to forming a Thai limited company.
  • Lower Costs: ROs do not require the minimum registered capital mandated for Thai companies, reducing initial investment.
  • No Corporate Income Tax: Since ROs do not generate income in Thailand, they are exempt from corporate income tax.
  • Limited Work Permits: The possibility of obtaining work permits for a small number of foreign personnel to manage the RO.

Limitations of an RO

  • No Revenue Generation: ROs cannot engage in activities that directly or indirectly generate income, such as sales, signing contracts, or providing services for a fee.
  • Limited Scope of Activities: Their primary function is to support the head office and gather information, not conduct independent business operations.
  • Financial Dependence: ROs rely entirely on their head office for financial resources.

Who Should Consider an RO?

An RO is ideal for foreign companies in the initial stages of exploring the Thai market. It’s a cost-effective way to:

  • Test the Market: Assess market viability, identify potential partners, and understand the competitive landscape before committing to a larger investment.
  • Establish a Presence: Build brand awareness, develop relationships with local businesses, and position your company for future expansion.
  • Coordinate Activities: Facilitate communication and logistics for business activities conducted from abroad.

Moving Beyond the RO

If your business flourishes in Thailand, and you seek to generate revenue locally, you can transition from an RO to a Thai limited company. This allows for direct sales, greater operational flexibility, and potentially, increased profitability.


The representative office serves as a valuable stepping stone for foreign businesses venturing into Thailand. By understanding its advantages, limitations, and suitability for your specific goals, you can leverage this option to explore the Thai market and pave the way for future success. Remember, consulting with a legal professional familiar with Thai business law can ensure a smooth setup and compliance with regulations.

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