Primary Laws Governing the Operations of Foreign NGOs in Thailand
As mentioned in the previous article (Operating a Foreign Non-governmental Organization in Thailand), one of the two primary laws governing the operations of foreign NGOs in Thailand is the Regulations of the Ministry of Labor and Social Welfare on the Entry of Foreign Private Organizations to Operate in Thailand B.E.2541 (1998). The aforementioned regulations detail the basic requirements necessary for a foreign NGO to apply for permission to operate in Thailand from the relevant government committee. According to the regulations, in order for a foreign NGO to be eligible it must possess the following qualifications:
- It cannot have a profit-making or a political purpose
- Its objectives must be to “provide assistance to or promote development for a person, a group of persons or a juristic person and/or a government agency or a State enterprise in conformity with the development policy and security of Thailand, and also having an operation plan that is not contrary to the policy of the Thai Government.”
Furthermore, applications for permission to operate must be submitted to the government committee through the Department of Employment. The details required for the application depend on the manner in which a foreign NGO will operate in Thailand. According to the regulation, there are four different types of applications that a foreign NGO may submit:
- The NGO will be establishing an office in Thailand or will be transferring its officials to serve at an office in Thailand;
- The NGO will not actually be operating in Thailand itself but will be offering financial or other type of assistance in Thailand;
- The NGO will be arranging a seminar in Thailand;
- The NGO will be offering financial or other type of assistance to a seminar to be arranged in Thailand, but will not actually be arranging the seminar itself.
In the case where a foreign NGO intends to establish an office in Thailand or to transfer any of its official to work here, it must include the following information in its application:
- Objectives of the organization;
- Policies of the organization;
- Any project or work plan and operation plan which are clear and sufficient according to the form prescribed by the committee;
- Names of members of the executive committee or the executives;
- Particulars concerning budget, revenue and financial sources;
- Evidence or certificate of status as a juristic person from the country which is the domicile of such foreign private organization or from its embassy or consulate;
- In the case a foreign private organization is not a juristic person under the law, a certificate of the embassy or consulate of the country which is the domicile of such foreign private organization certifying its domicile and financial status;
- A letter appointing the representative of the foreign NGO who will be able to coordinate with the Committee in the case other necessary information or documents are required for considering the grant of permission.
The Thai bureaucratic system can be quite complex and daunting. Foreign NGOs interested in operating in Thailand are recommended to consult with competent legal counsel before beginning operations.
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