Exchange controls are governed by the Exchange Control Act of 1942, amended in 1984, and Ministerial Regulation Number 13 of 154, and are administered by the Bank of Thailand. Inward remittances are free of controls. However, the Ministry of Finance issued a Ministerial Regulation, effective from October 28, 2007, to require any person who brings foreign currencies in or out of Thailand exceeding US$20,000 or the equivalent must declare the amount at a Customs check point.
Foreigners staying in Thailand for less than three months, foreign embassies, and international organizations are exempt from this requirement.
In July 2007, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Thailand agreed to relax regulations on capital flows to balance capital movements and to increase flexibility for Thai businesses in managing their foreign currency holdings. The changes included abolishing the surrender requirement for all foreign currency receipts from abroad to be sold or deposited within 15 days; doubling the amount of foreign currency deposited with financial institutions in the country from US$0.5 million to US$1 million for individuals and from US$50 million to US$100 million for juristic persons with future foreign exchange obligations within the following 12 months, and increasing to US$0.1 million for individuals and to US$0.3 million for juristic persons without obligation. The deposit ceiling applies only to foreign currencies that are borrowed from financial institutions, but if foreign currencies are earned (not borrowed), the deposit ceiling restriction is not applied.
Thai nationals are subject to quantitative limits on the amount of foreign currency that can be remitted abroad without specific permission of the Bank of Thailand. The limits vary depending upon the purpose of the transaction, and range from US$100 million per annum for business investment or loans to subsidiaries, to US$1 million per annum for remittances to family members. The Bank of Thailand must approve the purchase of immovable assets or securities abroad. The new regulation, however, also increases the limit of overseas fund remittances in foreign currencies up to US$1 million by Thai individual. In addition, the authorities also relaxed the repatriation requirement for exporters with foreign currency receipts by extending the period in which such receipts must be brought into the country from within 120 days, to within 360 days and requiring that the foreign currencies be deposited or sold with financial institutions within another 360 days.
Commercial banks are authorized to undertake most routine foreign remittance transactions without prior approval of the Bank of Thailand. Nonresidents can open and maintain foreign currency accounts without deposit and withdrawal ceilings with authorized banks in Thailand. Such accounts must use funds that originate abroad. If nonresidents have underlying liabilities or transactions in Thailand, they can open and maintain Thai baht accounts under Nonresident Baht Accounts (NRBA) with authorized banks in the country; however, the combined outstanding of all NRBAs for each nonresident at the end of the day cannot exceed 300 million Baht (approximately US$9 million). Since February 2008, the Bank of Thailand has segregated the NRBA into two types: Nonresident Baht Account for Securities (NRBS) for investment in securities and other financial instruments, and Nonresident Baht Account (NRBA) for general purposes. Funds under the two types of NRBA could not be transferred to each other. The cap on NRBAs was introduced in October 2003 with the goal of limiting speculation on the Thai baht. All remittances exceeding US$10,000 for any purpose other than export must be reported to the Bank of Thailand.
Investment Climate Statements provide a thorough description of the overseas environments in which U.S. investors must operate. The statements cover general characteristics, such as openness to foreign investment and treatment of foreign investors, as well as details about procedures for licensing and similar administrative matters. The statements are updated each year as Chapter 7 in the Country Commercial Guides, a series to be found by country at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s website: http://www.export.gov/.
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