Conversion and Transfer Policies
All foreign exchange transactions must be conducted through commercial banks and authorized non-banks, namely money changers, money transfer agents, and companies that are granted foreign exchange licenses by the Minister of Finance. Inward remittances are free of controls. Repatriation of investment funds and repayment of overseas loans can be remitted freely but upon submission of supporting documents to commercial banks.
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, except the latest exemption mentioned above. The new regulation, however, also increases the limit of overseas fund remittances in foreign currencies up to US$1 million by Thai individuals. 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. In 2010, the repatriation requirement is exempted if the export proceeds are less than US$50,000.
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.
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 checkpoint. Foreigners staying in Thailand for less than three months, as well as those working for foreign embassies and international organizations, are exempt from this requirement.
Due to the substantial appreciation of the Thai Baht in 2010, the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Thailand relaxed regulations on capital outflows. The changes included allowing Thai export companies to transfer funds from their foreign currency deposit accounts to counterparties in Thailand for payment of goods and services without exchanging into Thai Baht and increasing the foreign exchange transactions threshold amount for which a foreign exchange transaction form must be submitted from US$20,000 to US$50,000. The Ministry of Finance abolished the US$200 million per year limit of lending and direct investment of Thai companies to affiliated companies abroad and relaxed the pre-approval requirement for all transactions of Thai companies' lending to non-affiliated companies abroad to only transactions above US$50 million per year. The government also increased the limit for purchase of immovable properties abroad from US$5 million per year to US$10 million per year; raised the outstanding balance limit of foreign currency accounts that are deposited with funds converted from Thai Baht without future obligations with commercial banks in the country to US$500,000 for both companies and individuals; abolished a pre-approval requirement on unwinding of foreign exchange hedging transactions for goods and services; and relaxed regulations on corporate treasury centers on both lending, deposit and fund transfer activities.
In 2007, the Bank of Thailand and the Ministry of Finance doubled the ceiling on 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. 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.