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Part 2: Interviews with the board of investment Thailand

My last post covered the steps I took to decide I wanted to promote by business with the Board of Investment Thailand (BOI), and gave an outline of what it took to get my application in order.

Here’s what happened next…

After clicking send, my updated application was successfully sent through to my contact in the Thai board of investment office, but then all went quiet. After being initially told I’d have an interview lined up before the end of the week, a number of follow up emails, calls, and 13 days passed before hearing back from the BOI. Seems a trend was developing, and my hopes to get my application processed quickly were rapidly disappearing.

Once I secured the interview timings, a number of additional changes were requested in my application, which I needed to update before the interview. Not a problem. In short what I had done wrong was:

  1. The total of items 1-6 in Section 3, “Investment” needs a total over 1 million THB
  2. My cost/number of assets didn’t align to the headcount (a simple typo)

I was also requested to put together a hard copy presentation of my project. From talking to my contacts who had done this before, the board of investment team in Thailand was after a detailed presentation of my business plan, covering each point (from the application form) in more detail. Not wanting to leave anything to chance, I went for overkill, and put together 31 pages of supporting data, growth forecasts and justifications for setting my company up. The agent wasn’t going to know what hit him.

Fixing the two errors on my application, and bringing my project presentation, a copy of my resume and my passport, and it was time to meet my contact in the BOI. The interview was held at their offices in Chatuchak, which was a simple drive on the expressway, following the GPS to their location. There was easy parking in the government complex, but it also would have been possible to get the BTS to Mo Chit, and grab a motorbike the last leg of the way if you don’t drive or want to avoid the traffic.

Map to the board of investment Thailand

The Board of Investment Office
555 Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road, Chatuchak
Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Tel. (+66) 2553 8111

Swapping my photo ID for a visitor badge, the agent I met with was on the ground floor of the board of investment Thailand building, in the offices just to the right of the reception desk. He spoke decent English, and the interview was relatively straightforward as I walked him through my business plan, which followed a similar format to the application form. I was here on my own at this stage, no Thai translator, and it wasn’t a problem at all. It took around 30 minutes to run through my proposed project, and he asked a number of questions all centering around:

1) What made me qualified to run this type of business
2) Specific questions related to my business, to ensure it fit within a promotion category for Thailand’s board of investment

As the interview came to a close, I was informed there would be no problems getting BOI approval, and to expect a timeline along these lines:

1) Wait for 1 month to get a formal approval letter from the board of investment Thailand
2) I’ll need to officially accept the approval letter within 1 month of it being issued
3) I’ll need to register my business within 6 months of the acceptance of being BOI promoted

Of course, if any of these timelines can’t be met, I can submit extensions on either point 2 or point 3, and they will be taken on a case by case basis. Personally, I just can’t wait to get started, and there’s no way I’m going to be missing one of these deadlines!

The next step was to simply wait for the approval letter to be issued. The timeline for this came and went, and after 3 weeks of chasing my contact, I received a call from a different agent who told me I could come and pick up the documents. I’d recommend being on the ball here and chasing the BOI, as my approval was issued at the end of the month, and despite following their team up it was almost two weeks later before I had it in my hands – leaving only 2 weeks to fill out and return the next set of paperwork to them (to formally accept the BOI promotion). Great.

board of investment Thailand from the front

Entering into the BOI complex, their offices are on the right

Getting the documents was simple, except I had to pick these up myself from their offices. The entire collection process took about 3 minutes, and I’ve now got a formal copy of the promotion incentives being offered, and three separate forms to fill out and return within the end of the month. These documents are all straight forward, but being written entirely in Thai you’re going to need to employ the help of a local to help you fill them out. The team at Sutlet can guide you through all of these, and you can be sure it will be done correctly.

Tomorrow, I’m dropping my acceptance of proposal documents back to the BOI, and from here I’ve got 6 months to register my company, and get operational.

[Edit 17th Nov: On returning to the BOI to drop off the correctly filled out “acceptance” forms (in Thai) to the staff on the third floor, they asked why I hadn’t been using the English forms, and if I’d like a copy of these. Why yes, yes I would. The acceptance form is only a single page, and in addition to copying across your basic application information all you need to fill is the planned timelines. If you’ve got a good idea of when you plan to register your company, hire your first staff, and start operations, you could probably fill this out on the spot and save yourself a second trip out to the BOI’s office. In retrospect, I should have gone up to the third floor with the Thai form I was given, and asked their help in filling this out, as well as a copy in English. Lesson learnt.]

Stay tuned to see how I go with the next steps, as I register my company.