Thailand Money Transfer: Regulations, Tax and Fees
Part 1: Exchange Control Regulations in Thailand (as prepared by The Bank of Thailand in 2013)
a. Rules and Regulations
The legal basis for exchange control in Thailand is derived from the Exchange Control Act (B.E. 2485) and Ministerial Regulation No. 13 (B.E. 2497) issued under the Exchange Control Act. These laws set out the principles of controls under which Notifications of the Ministry of Finance and Notices of the Competent Officer are issued.
The Bank of Thailand has been entrusted by the Ministry of Finance with the responsibility of administering foreign exchange. The governor of the Bank of Thailand shall appoint the officials of the Bank of Thailand as the Competent Officers under the Exchange Control Act (B.E. 2485).
c. Currency Regulations
Foreign currencies can be transferred or brought into Thailand without limit. Any person receiving foreign currencies from abroad is required to repatriate such funds immediately and sell to an authorized bank or deposit them in a foreign currency account within three-hundred-and-sixty business days of receipt, except for foreigners temporarily staying in Thailand for not more than three months, international organizations including their staff with diplomatic privileges and immunities, foreign embassies, and Thai emigrants who are permanent residents overseas or working overseas.
Purchase of foreign currency from authorized banks is generally allowed upon submission of documents indicating international trade and investment. Companies in Thailand can engage in derivatives transactions with authorized banks to hedge against foreign exchange risk provided that supporting documents indicating future foreign currency / international bank transfer receipts or obligations are submitted.
d. Bank deposit
Regarding Bank Deposit regulation, Bank of Thailand distinguishes the Foreign Currency Account of Thai Residents, the Foreign Currency Account of Nonresidents, and the Nonresident Baht Account.
1. Foreign Currency Account of Thai Residents
Thai residents are allowed to maintain foreign currency accounts with authorized banks, and deposit or withdraw funds from such accounts under the following conditions/ electronic money regulations:
Foreign currencies originating from abroad (foreign-source, sending money to Thailand from from their home country) can be deposited into foreign currency accounts without limit/ hidden fees. Foreign currencies purchased or borrowed from authorized banks (domestic-source) can be deposited into 2 types of foreign currency accounts:
– Foreign currency accounts with future obligations: deposits can be made in a transfer amount not exceeding future obligations to pay in foreign currencies to entities abroad. Such obligations include loan repayment to authorized banks.
– Foreign currency accounts without future obligations: the total outstanding balance shall not exceed USD 5 million for both a natural person and a juristic person.
– Deposit of foreign currency notes and coins must not exceed USD 10,000 per person per day.
– For payment to entities abroad of the account holder's own obligations or its subsidiaries' obligations.
– For payment to authorized banks of the account holder's own foreign currency liabilities or its subsidiaries' foreign currency liabilities.
– For deposits/ online money transfers to another foreign currency account of the same account holder.
– For conversion into another foreign currency, prior to depositing into another foreign currency account of the same account holder or for payment to an entity abroad or for payment of liabilities to an authorized bank.
– For conversion into baht.
Thai companies having export proceeds in foreign currency from overseas are allowed to send money via bank transfer from their foreign-source foreign currency accounts to send money to foreign currency debit or credit accounts of their counterparts in Thailand for payment of goods or services.
2. Foreign Currency Account of Nonresidents
Nonresidents may maintain foreign currency accounts with authorized banks in Thailand without limit. The debit or credit accounts can be freely credited with funds originating from abroad. Payments from Thai residents or borrowing from authorized banks can be deposited subject to supporting evidences. Balances on such accounts may be freely withdrawn, provided that the associated interest charges are paid.
3. Nonresident Baht Account
Nonresidents may open Thai Baht accounts with authorized banks in Thailand as follows:
– Non-resident Baht Account for Securities (NRBS): The account may be debited or credited via international transfers for the purpose of investment in securities and other financial instruments such as equity instruments, debt instruments, unit trusts, derivatives transactions traded on the Thailand Futures Exchange and the Agricultural Futures Exchange of Thailand.
– Non-resident Baht Account (NRBA): The account may be debited or credited for general purposes (i.e. other than investment in securities) such as trade, services, foreign direct investment, investment in immovable assets, and loans.
– The total daily outstanding balances for each type of account shall not exceed THB 300 million per nonresident. Transfers between different types of accounts are not allowed.
Part 2: TRANSFER/ SEND MONEY TO THAILAND
a. Bank transfer fees
If you need to transfer large amounts of money at once, or need bank records of your transfers (like a TT3 for buying property) then transferring money from a foreign bank account may be the best answer. You can move money from a foreign bank account to a Thai one via 3 different methods: wire transfer, cheque, or bank draft.
1. Transfer bank to bank
When transferring funds into a Thai Bank account from abroad via SWIFT, remember to have the below information on hand before attempting bank transfers:
– The account number
– The account name
– The address of the bank branch (if required by the remitting bank abroad)
– SWIFT of the Bangkok Bank Account
Depending on the amount and the banks involved the transfer fees could cost anywhere from a minimum of THB 200 to THB 2,400 for very large transfers, and it may take several days, which means that they will not be fast transfers. If the amount involved is greater than USD 50,000, the Thai bank will require the recipient to complete a Foreign Exchange Transaction Form when the funds arrive. There are transfer fees taken from both the receiving and sending banks.
Some Thai banks will accept foreign cheque, so though you can send a cheque to cash in a Thai account, you need to be sure that the receiving bank will take the cheque. Processing cheque can take between 4-6 weeks and accrue charges up to 2,000 THB.
Bank drafts can be prepared by your home bank and sent to a Thai bank account. The processing takes only 3-7 days and fees for any amount tend not to exceed 1200 THB (i.e. relatively low fees/ low cost). An international money order, which is different only in that the certificate is pre-paid, can also be used for many banks, but again may not be accepted by all banks.
3. Wire money transfer services
Western Union, MoneyGram and Transfer Wise are three wire transfer services that are extremely quick, handling fast transfers from abroad to Thailand in a matter of minutes.
Western Union is the fastest way to send money but is the most expensive way with even 20% on small amounts, and does not have great exchange rates. MoneyGram works just like Western Union but you get a better exchange rate with MoneyGram and lower fees, compared to Western Union.
Transfer Wise remain cheaper than the two others mentioned above, but does not have the best exchange rates.
b. Currency conversion charge
Additionally, your bank will make more money by adding a margin on the exchange rate.
The exchange rate is the rate at which banks and brokers buy and sell money to each other. Private individuals and small-to-medium-sized businesses cannot access these exchange rates. Remember exchange rates often change by the minute, so to compare providers properly you need to do it one after the other.
The rate you are offered will be dependent upon a number of factors including:
– The exact amount of money you are transferring
– The time-frames you are working to (i.e. details such as whether you are looking to lock into an exchange rate for up to 12 months)
– The currencies you are buying and selling and the volatility of those currencies
– The exchange rate levels at the time of purchase
c. Transfer money in order to purchase a condominium
As mentioned in our previous Newsletter: Buying a condominium in Thailand, there are no restrictions on nationality and every foreigner (there are no visa-class requirements) can buy and own a condo unit within the foreign ownership quota of the condominium but only two conditions to acquire 100% :
1) The ratio of foreign ownership must not exceed 49% of the total floor area of all units combined. The law looks at the whole condominium building or condominium project.
2) Additionally, the foreign individual or foreign company who wishes to acquire 100% must personally qualify for ownership under section 19 of the Condominium Act.
Usually this means that the purchase price for the condo must have been transferred into Thailand as foreign currency (via bank transfer) and exchanged into Thai baht by a licensed financial institution inside Thailand.
Under the 1991 Condominium Act, non-residents who purchase condominium units must transfer money to pay for the unit from overseas, with the money entering Thailand as foreign currency. Purchasers need to obtain a “Foreign Exchange Transaction Form” certificate for each payment from the beneficiary bank, and all these certificates must be shown to the Land Department in order to register the condominium.
For foreigners to be eligible to purchase a condominium unit in Thailand, they must present proof to the Department of Lands that the money has been remitted from overseas in foreign currency. Without such proof, the Department of Lands will not register the transfer of ownership to the foreign buyer.
In this process, 4 conditions must be respected:
1. Remittance must be sent in exactly (to the letter) the same name as appearing on the purchase contract. If the buyers are two individuals, then two names should appear on the contract (sign with both names) and two separate remittances should be made by such two persons, in equal amounts
2. Transfer of funds must be made in foreign currency only and not in Thai baht
3. The purpose of the remittance must be stated on the remittance advice. This should be: For the purchase of buying a condominium, unit…… In tower……. In the project”
4. Money transfer: There are 2 options to transfer money to the developer as described below:
– Transfer the funds into the local bank account/ free account of the buyer in Thailand in the prescribed format as outlined above, and execute a domestic transfer of this amount onwards to the Developer. In this case, the buyer must request the local bank of the buyer to issue the Foreign Exchange Transaction Form. The amounts transferred should be at or greater than USD 50.000 in order to automatically qualify for a Foreign Exchange Form. The buyer must request this document directly to a Thai Bank. If the amount is less than USD 50.000, the buyer must send a letter to the bank who will in turn send you a letter confirming the purpose of the remittance is for purchasing a condominium unit. Please note that without providing either the foreign Exchange Transaction Form or the letter from the bank, the lands Department will not register the transfer of the condominium unit into your name.
– Transfer the funds directly to the developer's bank account in the prescribed format, and the Developer will arrange for the foreign exchange transaction form to be issued by the Developer's Bank.
Part III: PROPERTY TRANSFER TAX
Taxation is another factor that needs to be taken into account when making your purchase. Those considering investing in property in Thailand are often unaware of the taxes that may arise when buying and selling property.
a. Transfer Fee
The transfer Fee applies to purchases of freehold properties. It is equivalent to 2% of the official appraised value of the property. Whether the buyer or the seller pays the Transfer fee depends on the terms agreed to both parties in the sale and purchase agreement. At the date of the ownership transfer, the transfer fee is paid to the District Land Office where the property is located.
b. Specific Business Tax (SBT)
SBT is payable by companies and individuals who wish to sell a property that has been held for less than a period of 5 years. The tax rate is calculated at 3.3% (including municipal tax) of either the sale price or the official appraised value of the property.
c. Stamp duty
Stamp duty is imposed at varying rates on certain legal instruments Stamps duty only applicable in cases where SBT is not applied. Stamp duty does not have to be paid if specific business tax is applicable. The stamp duty in Thailand for the transaction is 0, 5% of the sale price of the property.
d. Withholding tax (WHT)
Where the seller is a company, the WHT is calculated at 1% of either the Land Department's official appraised value or the contracted sale price (whichever is greater).
If the seller is a company withholding tax is fixed at 1% over the registered sale value or appraised value (whichever is higher). If the seller is a private person withholding tax is calculated at a progressive rate based on the appraised value of the property.
An individual who earns income from selling a property, which includes condominium units, is subject to WHT under the Revenue Code of Thailand. The WHT is calculated at progressive rate based on the official appraised value of the property.
f. The specific business tax
The specific business tax does not need to be paid if the seller is a person and not a company under the following conditions:
– The property is being transferred (gifted) to a church, temple or mosque;
– The property is transferred (gifted) to a government agency;
– The property is transferred to a legitimate child not an adopted child;
– The property is transferred to a legal heir or heir in a will in an estate;
– The seller has had the property for more than 5 years and it was the seller's principle place of residence and the sellers name is in the house papers for at least 1 year before the sale.
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