Banking, Money and Taxes in Thailand
Banks in Thailand are modern, reliable and easily accessible. There are numerous ATMs and English-speaking personnel can be found in most main branches.
Opening a bank account in Thailand is usually fairly easy. ATMs are widely available and expats that stay in the country for a longer time can apply for local credit.
Most expats will be relieved to learn that Thailand has signed double-taxation avoidance agreements with a number of governments. It should also be relatively simple for expats who retire in Thailand to access their pensions.
Money in Thailand
The official currency in Thailand is the Baht (THB), which is issued by the Bank of Thailand and has been in circulation since 1902. One baht is subdivided into 100 satang.
Notes: 20, 50, 100, 500 and 1,000 THB
Coins: 1, 2, 5, 10 THB and 1, 5, 10, 25 and 50 satang
Smaller satang denominations are usually used in supermarkets and can be difficult to exchange when leaving the country.
Banking in Thailand
Setting up a bank account in Thailand is fairly easy for expats. Technically, foreigners are required to present a work permit at the point of opening, but in practice, some branches will open an account for a foreigner without this document.
Sometimes documentation that needs to be signed will be written in Thai, but expats need only ask for an English translation.
If living in Thailand without a work permit, some banks may reject a request to open an account. However, a different branch of the very same bank may approve the request, so it's worthwhile to keep trying different branches. Neatly dressed customers are more likely to be able to open an account, so dress smartly rather than wearing sandals or shorts. Be respectful of Thai customs and wai the bank manager.
Credit cards and ATMs
It is possible for expats to get a credit card from a Thai bank but this can sometimes be a difficult task. Requirements vary between banks, but most, if not all, require a work permit, ideally one which has been held for a significant length of time such as six months, a year, or even two years. There is also a required minimum income and bank statements for a specified period must be provided. The longer an expat has been a client of a Thai bank the better their chances are of successfully applying for a credit card.
All major banks have easy-to-find ATMs throughout the country. Some banks charge a flat monthly fee for ATM usage and others charge per transaction, sometimes with the bonus of a certain number of free transactions within a particular period.
Taxes in Thailand
Expat tax laws differ slightly for residents and non-residents in Thailand.
Expats who ordinarily live in Thailand less than 180 days a year are classified as non-residents for tax purposes. They can therefore only be taxed on income derived from Thailand. Income from outside of Thailand is not taxed. However, if classified as a resident, expats are taxed both on income derived in Thailand and on income brought into Thailand from foreign sources.
Thailand has signed tax treaties with over 50 countries worldwide, preventing double-taxation for expats.
Tax returns are submitted yearly. Tax forms are usually in Thai so it is advisable to hire a Thai tax planner or a financial adviser to assist with this.